Elevator Control Valves: Everything You Need to Know

Elevator Control Valves

A simple guide to elevator valve replacement costs, refurbishment options, and how to prevent failure and elevator leveling issues.

As a facility manager, engineer, or building owner, you have likely faced problems related to your elevator’s operation. Whether you are contending with worn sheaves, power failure issues, or a valve failure, your top priority is resolving the problem.

Of these common problems, valve failures present a particular challenge because elevator maintenance providers often recommend a valve upgrade, which can be extremely expensive.

Fortunately, there are some cost-effective options you can explore that can resolve your valve challenges and restore your elevator to its safe operating condition.  These options should be considered before paying for an upgrade. 

Below is a look at the factors to consider when trying to resolving elevator valve issues, or considering an upgrade, and the steps you can take to avoid costs and prevent similar problems from recurring.

What is an elevator valve and how can a worn valve lead to problems?

An elevator valve is one of three key components of your elevator’s hydraulic system. It lies between the cylinder and the reservoir and operates electrically. A valve’s opening and closing mechanism is responsible for lifting and lowering your elevator car. 

​When a valve is not functioning correctly or is defective, many service providers recommend a valve upgrade. This measure can be costly and may not be the best option depending upon your elevator’s maintenance history. Also, if you are planning to fully modernize your elevator in the coming months, you may wish to explore other options.  

What factors should you consider before you take action?

While you might be tempted to accept a costly proposal for a valve upgrade, it is best to carve out some time to review your elevator’s maintenance history in conjunction with your budget and plans for your facility.

​Below are six factors you should consider before taking action on your elevator valve problems.

1) The quality of preventive maintenance undertaken by your maintenance company

“Taking proactive, preventative steps is much easier than fixing an already broken elevator, and regular inspection is the first step to ensuring smooth and reliable operation…thorough inspections combined with routine maintenance can significantly increase productivity by eliminating downtime, and can also decrease energy consumption by up to 15%.”

– Jeff Collins, Industrial Equipment News (IEN) (Source)

There is no substitute for a robust preventive maintenance program in the elevator industry. Unfortunately, preventive maintenance is sometimes neglected or put on the back burner while more urgent problems are addressed. Before you invest in a valve upgrade, take time to carefully review your preventive maintenance records to determine the age and care of your existing valve.

2) Compliance with your elevator’s maintenance control program (MCP) ​

As a building owner or manager, it is your responsibility to be aware of your elevator’s maintenance control program (MCP). If you entrust your building maintenance to an outside service provider, you must ensure that they are aware of your elevator’s MCP and that your service provider is fully compliant. Failure to fully comply with your MCP could be considered an inspection violation and could contribute to problems.  A simple elevator audit could help determine if your elevator maintenance provider was following plan. 

3) The results of an oil analysis

Elevator valve problems could be indicative of other issues with your elevator. For instance, elevated aluminum levels in your elevator’s hydraulic tank can indicate wear on your pump housing. If your regular service provider has not already performed an oil analysis, this measure is recommended to help screen for contamination, motor wear, or other problems.

4) The age and condition of your elevator before the problem 

If you inherit a building in older condition or a facility that has been poorly maintained, then your elevator will be more likely to have a defective valve. Be sure to request any maintenance records that were kept by the previous owners and carefully review them to see what measures, if any, were taken to maintain or repair your elevator.

5) The details of your elevator maintenance contract

Before spending money on a costly upgrade, be sure to carefully review your elevator maintenance contract to see if a valve upgrade or replacement is included as a part of your contract. Or, if you discover that preventive maintenance was not performed as promised, your service provider may be responsible for paying some or all of the fees you incur for work provided.  Make sure your current elevator maintenance type is best for your building. 

6) Upcoming plans to modernize your elevator

It’s important to know roughly how much longer your elevator will last.  If you are planning to modernize your elevator soon, you will likely end up throwing away the existing valve. This would mean that any extra money you spend on a valve upgrade would be lost. If you intend to modernize your whole elevator soon, you may wish to consider one of the more cost-effective options outlined below.

What are some available and cost-effective options?

Once you confirm the presence of a valve problem with your elevator, your next priority is finding a fast, cost-effective solution. Fortunately for building owners, there are some affordable ways to treat your elevator valve problems without paying exorbitant fees for a valve upgrade. They are as follows:

  • Valve repair: In this case, your valve would be repaired by a trained technician
  • Valve exchange: An exchange would involve the removal of your defective valve and replacement with a functional valve
  • Valve rebuilding or refurbishing: Refurbished valves are pre-owned but receive a thorough inspection by trained technicians

​In addition to these options, you may wish to contact one of the many valve suppliers that offer reduced or discounted pricing on elevator parts. This is an especially attractive option for people who own multiple properties, as some suppliers will be eager to earn the business of a multi-unit property owner.

What is the best thing to do if you receive a costly quote for a valve upgrade? 

As discussed above, valve upgrades can be costly and time-consuming. If you receive an expensive proposal to upgrade your elevator valve, the best step to take is to seek the guidance of an experienced elevator consultant. A professional elevator expert will review your proposal or work with you to locate other bidders and many less expensive options than a costly valve upgrade. ​

We invite you to contact us at ElevatorLab to find out why how we have helped clients across the United States find cost-effective solutions to their elevator maintenance problems. In addition to providing affordable solutions for a replacement valve, we will help you prevent future elevator failures by analyzing your current maintenance contract to identify opportunities for cost savings.

We look forward to helping you keep your elevators in top operating condition.​

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