Should I Repair or Replace My Elevator?

Elevator Repair vs. Elevator Modernization. This guide will help you decide if it’s better to repair or replace your elevator. ​

Deciding whether you should repair or replace your elevator can be a tough decision to make, especially if your elevator is out of service and you need to act quick.  While there’s no clear-cut rule, there are some essential items to keep in mind as you make your decision.

Age of Your Elevator:

While averages may state elevators last 20 – 25 years, they don’t consider the amount of usage.  The average life for a car is measured in miles and not years. Similarly, an elevator’s life should be measured by the number of trips it takes.  It would be best if you considered both elevator trips and age. 

Since most elevators don’t keep a running count of total trips, you can make a reasonable estimate based on your building population, usage per day, and elevator age. You can also use our elevator useful life calculator here. 

elevator repair

Outdated Technology:

Elevator technology is changing all the time.  New improvements in elevator maintenance technology are extending the average useful life of elevators. 

​On the flip-side, new technology is driving manufacturers to discontinue support and production of elevator components.  If significant parts are no longer manufactured, a failure may force your elevator to a complete modernization. 

Consider checking any components in your elevator which are no longer manufactured.  Check if an upgrade is available to substitute the obsolete part. ​

Elevator Repair Cost:

Elevator Repair Cost Calculator
Calculate Elevator Repair Cost

Purchasing an elevator repair or upgrade can eliminate some of your failures.  Sometimes upgrading just one component of your elevator will improve reliability.  If you consider an upgrade, make sure you determine if the upgrade can be retained if you do a full modernization later on.  It’s best to invest today if you can apply that investment toward a complete replacement in the future.  

Here are some upgrades to consider:

Elevator Door Operator:
More than half of all elevator failures are from elevator door equipment.  Consider upgrading your elevator door operator. This upgrade can be retained with a modernization.

Elevator Soft Starter
An elevator soft starter cannot be retained if you decide to modernize.  However, the cost for a soft starter is low enough that it may make sense to invest in protecting the longevity of your elevator. 

escalator repair

Elevator Modernization Energy Rebates:

Depending on your location, your local electrical provider may offer a utility rebate for upgrading to a more efficient elevator.  You could benefit from the lump sum rebate and then the long-term monthly savings in energy costs.  Click here to find out if your location offers an energy rebate

Elevator Emergency Service Bills:

When your elevator fails, it may require an elevator repair which is not included in your elevator maintenance contract.  Many contracts only include 8 hours of callback coverage; any overtime labor would be invoiced to you. 

Consider the cost for these billable elevator service calls.  

Elevator Performance:

Reliability is the number one driver for a full elevator modernization.  If your elevator is invariably unreliable, you should replace it. Right?  

Not necessarily. 

Poor elevator performance can be caused by poor maintenance.  Before deciding to modernize your elevator, you should first look into the maintenance program.    Does your elevator maintenance contract include the correct level of maintenance?

An unreliable elevator needs to be carefully managed and reviewed.  Putting performance measurement systems in place can be an essential way to keep track of elevator maintenance in your building.  It will give you the vital information required before you decide to repair or replace. 

Start by setting targets.  It can be challenging to understand the details of the elevator and which items to measure.  Start with the things that are easiest to measure. You might consider the following:

  • Number of elevator failures
  • Number of repeat issues
  • Number of hours spent on preventive maintenance
  • Number of hours it takes to fix an issue

Check the performance history, build a target, and then measure the success of the elevator maintenance. 

Our previous post on conducting an elevator audit will help you kickstart this process.  

Elevator Modernization Cost:

No elevator system is alike.  Estimating based on an average elevator modernization cost will derail your budgeting process from the start. Prices change wildly based on many factors.  The only way to know is to get several on-site estimates. You can also start with our elevator modernization cost guide

The Fifty Percent Rule to Repair or Replace Elevator:

Now that you have reviewed all the items above, how do you make the final decision?  How do you quantify the best outcome? 

As mentioned at the start of this guide, there’s no simple formula to calculate your decision – and we still support that statement.  Each elevator and building comes with a unique set of needs. However, we wanted to comment on the 50% rule when deciding on your elevator.  

The 50% rule is widely recognized in the real estate industry and accepted by FEMA and The Department of Homeland Security in the United States. 

The basic idea of the 50% rule is to compare the cost of elevator repairs to the cost of elevator modernization.  If the elevator repairs exceed 50% of the total elevator modernization cost, then you should replace it. However, if an elevator repair can be completed for less than 50% of the modernization cost, you should repair it. 

Elevator Repair Cost < Elevator Replacement Cost × 50%

Knowing the details from the previous section, you know that the total repair vs. replace cost is more complicated.  You would need to build in all other possible differences in total cost to make your final decision.

Final Thoughts:

Deciding to repair or replace an elevator can be complicated.  A small amount of planning can make your decision easier.  If you still need help with your choice, ElevatorLab‘s team of experts can help with your decision – get in touch to find out how. 

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