Hurricane Irene East Coast Alert

Dan Hunter of Mowrey Elevator gave the following good advice pertaining to the current threat to the Florida coast. . . . Editor

“As I write this, the National Weather Service is forecasting Hurricane Irene to travel up the East Coast of Florida near the end of this week. During this time of the year, we all begin to pay close attention to the tropics. For many of us, hurricanes are just part of living in the South, and preparedness is a way of life. However, most building representatives don’t know how to prepare their elevators prior to the arrival of a storm. Most elevator machine rooms in buildings of 7 landings or less are on the ground floor, and for those of you along the coast, you are aware of what storm surge will do. There is little that can be done to prevent water intrusion into the machine room. However, by following these steps, you can save tens of thousands by not having to replace components on the elevator car itself.

“Just prior to landfall or if the building will be evacuated, it’s best to let the occupants know when the elevator will be out of service. Run the elevator to the uppermost landing, and after it reaches this landing and the doors cycle shut, turn off the main disconnect in the elevator machine room. There is most likely a small disconnect beside the larger one; turn this off, too. This will keep the elevator car up above any storm surge and protect the car components and circuitry from an electrical power surge. This also puts most of your hydraulic oil in the piping and cylinder, protected from water. Place sandbags around the machine room door, about four feet high. It is a good practice to have a sump pump on hand to pump out the pit after the storm passes.

“After a major storm, it is a safe practice to have your elevator contractor look over the elevator before turning the power back on. If there was a storm surge, the pit will most likely be full of water that must be pumped out before the elevator can be turned back on. Additionally, the wiring, switches and controllers will need to be allowed time to properly dry out before they can be powered up and checked for proper operation. Don’t be surprised if the corrosion of salt water requires you to replace the controller; this is a common experience and may be covered by your insurance policy. Your elevator contractor will also pump out the hydraulic oil tank and replace the contaminated oil with new oil to remove the corrosive salt water.

“In summary, there is a great deal of work involved in protecting your elevator before and after a storm. Right now, a storm is poised to strike the Florida East Coast. Be sure to work with your elevator contractor. A wise company will adjust staffing to an affected area to see that its customers are taken care of in a timely manner.

“If you are unsure just how to prepare your elevator in advance of this storm, call your elevator contractor and ask it to prepare it for you, or give me a call at 800-441-4449 x125. We will talk you through how to do this. Waiting until just prior to landfall will be too late to do this, as the demands on elevator companies will be overwhelming.”

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