Monthly Archives: October 2017

Pour the Perfect Modular Pit Easily

Anchor Bolts Level NutsOne of the biggest concerns that customers have is regarding the pit. Every elevator needs one, including your new modular elevator. You want to make sure you do everything right for when the elevator arrives, and this article will give you some tips to make it easy. By taking some time now, you can avoid issues and problems down the road.

On the surface, it seems easy enough.  Dig and pour a concrete pit for the hoistway, with cast-in-place anchor bolts in the corners. But, when you mix in the need to engineer the pit foundation and add reinforcements based on the elevator’s pit reactions, all the while accounting for the job site’s soil conditions and your local code requirements, it can seem more daunting. Keep in mind though, we supply the necessary information, plans, and even a template (if requested) to help out.

So, to put everyone’s mind at ease, let’s cover the basics on not only the pit but also the foundation for the modular machine room, if your project is going that route. You can also find this info on our website for easier access later.

  1. Typical pits have 8” thick walls and 12” thick floors. However, always consult your pit layout drawings for precise measurements for your specific job.
  2. If you have a sump hole, cover it with a non-combustible material, typically a sheet of metal.
  3. Pour a concrete slab for the modular machine room, if ordered. Purchase epoxy anchors to bolt it to the foundation after it is set. If the machine room is not adjacent to the hoistway, piping and electrical must be run underground or overhead. Coordinate with PME and the installer to determine any building preparations needed to accommodate this.
  4. Once the pit has been poured and the anchor bolts are in place download this Pit Drawing Form. Fill out all the blanks with exact measurements and make sure to include the project name at the top. Email the form to us. With this completed form the holes on our hoistway for the anchors will be as accurate as possible.

More detail and tips include the following:

Picture8Pit Depth – You only want to pour the pit once so, pay close attention to these instructions. The pit should be exactly 4’ deep, measured from top of finished floor to pit floor. Our tower’s legs are 3’11” long, made to sit an inch off the pit floor, with grout underneath. This allows for some adjustment if the pit floor isn’t perfect. The adjustments are done by putting a ¾” thick leveling nut and washer on the anchor bolts before lowering the tower down. Adjust the nuts as needed to plumb and level the tower. Install washers and nuts on top of the tower base plates and tighten. Grout below the base plates.

What do you do if the pit is too deep? The base plates can sit more than 1” off the floor, but if the anchor bolts are too short as a result of the extra depth, extra in-field welding will be required to produce a stable connection.

Err on the long side on the anchor bolts. They should protrude a minimum of 3.5” from the pit floor, but making them a few inches longer poses no problem with installation and gives you breathing room if the pit is too deep.

(On the other end of the spectrum) Pit too shallow: If minor, this could require grinding away a bit of concrete around the anchor bolt. If major, the pit might have to be re-poured. Avoid this at all costs! Too deep is better than too shallow!

Pit.jpgLength and Width – The pit should be the out-to-out steel dimensions plus 1” on all sides for clearance when sliding the tower into the pit. Note that the enclosure of the elevator shaft stops at the top of the pit. If needed or wanted, for above-ground pits, we can extend that enclosure down further. If the pit is too big, it’s not a big deal. However, you’ll need to make sure it’s properly flashed to keep out water and fire caulked to maintain the fire resistance of the hoistway.

Pit too small: Oops, you’re going to have to tear out some concrete. No easy fix for that.

Wall protuberances – The tower slides in right along the walls on its way to the pit floor, so it will catch on any protrusions. Once it’s set, there are openings in the structural framing that piping can be run through. Before lowering the elevator, terminate any penetrations such as PVC liner or piping at the pit wall. Run any piping/electrical after the tower is set. Note that the diagonal rods are for stabilization while uprighting the tower and may be removed after bolting the tower down, if they’re in the way.

Sump hole in corner – The base plates sit in the 4 corners and need a solid surface to rest on. If your pit has a sump hole, make sure it’s at least 12” from any corner.

Pit 2Anchor Bolts – When you pour the pit, anchor bolt placement is very important for elevator installation as this directly effects where the modular elevator will be placed. Please make sure the distance of the bolts from building is right and make sure to include the building finishes when calculating where to place the “front” anchor bolts. Too far away can be bridged with flooring, drywall, and flashing. Too close means reworking of the anchorage.

Check Please – Check, check and check again! Measure three times. Check your prints twice. Cross square them. This is critical. Incorrect placement may require torching out the base plate holes, moving anchors, or other work to provide alternative anchorage. If you know in advance that the placement is slightly off, we can widen the base plate holes in the factory, which is easier than doing it in the field. We can also supply an anchor bolt template to make bolt placement a little easier and more accurate.

Other Pit Info – If the lowest stop is above grade, alternative construction can be used for the pit. The pit floor can be poured as a slab and then walled in afterwards with CMU. Also, the elevator shaft can be finished down to the pit level to provide the pit “walls.” Note that you should at least have a short stem wall to keep water out of the pit area.

Lastly, we want this to be a success for you. If you have any questions at all, contact our team. Our engineer, Tim House, is always ready and willing to help. Feel free to call or email him at thouse@phoenixmodularelevator.com. Here is a video that walks you through the process of installation. You may find it helpful.

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Cold Hands Means Elevator Delays

elevator installation is easy and fast. Fastest elevator installation.
Cold gray skies in Canada would have stopped a stick built elevator. Not true with modular.

No one wants to work in cold conditions. Turning a wrench in sub-zero temperatures isn’t really a problem on it’s own, but it is a problem when the wrench slips and you find yourself busting your knuckles. Something about cold weather makes hitting your hands feel worse than if the slip occurs on sunny, warm days. So, no one should be blamed for not wanting to work in cold weather. For the major elevator companies, working with cold hands is more than just a thing they hate, it is a thing they won’t deal with at all. In the “Job Conditions” clause of most major elevator purchase contracts you will find language that restricts elevator installation to a comfortable minimum of 55°F (13°C).

If the temperature in the hoistway or machine-room dips below that magical number, expect lunch pails and tools to be packed up and for the elevator service van to be leaving the property posthaste. For the traditional elevator company to install the elevator, you as the building owner must maintain a minimum of 55° in the work area or they simply won’t do the installation. This has lead to the common notion among GCs, owners, and investors that elevator technicians don’t watch the clock, they watch the thermometer!

Now to be completely fair, not working with cold hands is just a perk of optimal machine room operation temperatures. And as the dinosaurs of vertical transportation require movement up and down of the elevator car to do the very basic portions of the installation no heat means no installation on cold days.

As a general contractor or building owner the reason for delays is not important, it just seems that fighting the cold weather is a no win situation. Mother Nature has chosen sides and you have been left out in the cold.  This is despite demanding construction timetables that require the elevator to sometimes be installed before the heating and cooling systems are ready to go or when big gaping holes are still in exterior walls where windows and doors should be. This makes elevator installation a headache that rarely goes smoothly or on time. The pain point is real especially considering the annual average temperature for the United States (excluding Hawaii and Alaska) is 52.7°F.

However, to understand the full impact, according to NOAA and the National Centers for Environmental Information, Milwaukee, Wisconsin only has five months of the year when the average temperature is over 55°F.  The average annual temperature is only 47.7° and the average low is only above 55°F in June, July and August. Good luck getting a job done on time. This means that in many locations the building has to be heated and sealed before the elevator folks can even look in the hoistway.

But, temperature is only the tip of the iceberg as far as job conditions are concerned. There is a laundry list of conditions that would rival a pop star’s dressing room demands. Not that elevator installers wouldn’t appreciate only green M&Ms and bottled water distilled from glacier ice, but the list has more to do with the outmoded way elevators are constructed and installed. The elevator technicians themselves are not usually prima donnas, but there are several requirements that need to be met for them to get the job done due to the very nature of installing an old-fashioned, stick-built elevator. To ready the building for the elevator, in most circumstances you must provide:

  • An unloading area within 25 feet of the hoistway, always available during the entirety of the installation process (weeks and usually months).
  • A dry, enclosed and secure storage area. If you don’t have this, warranties can be null and void.
  • Power must be available before installation begins.
  • Get out your brooms, because you have to make sure that all work areas, the pit and the machine room floor are cleaned up for the installer.
  • Lighting for all the work areas is required.
  • Barricades to prevent a falling hazard must be made available and put in place.
  • Garbage cans must be constantly and readily available.
  • The hoistway has to be finished before the installer shows up with its own laundry list of bells and whistles to be attended to.

The list goes on and on and can create delay upon delay. But, what if there was a high-quality commercial elevator at a competitive price that did away with the above list, including restrictions on temperature?

A modular elevator arrives on a flatbed truck or multiple trucks depending on travel distance with the hoistway, elevator car, rails, wiring, and some roping completely done and your responsibilities are restricted to a pit and a flat slab for a modular machine room, if needed. Picture an elevator that can be put into place in a new or retrofit construction project before, during or after the building were being built, on either the inside or exterior of the structure. Then consider this elevator has a track record that includes it being placed and in use in weather extreme locales such as northern Manitoba, Canada or earthquake and hurricane zones in all sorts of buildings from elementary schools to hotels. A high-quality, commercial, modular elevator is available and can meet all the needs of every building. Eight week lead time. One week installation.

With Phoenix Modular Elevators temperatures don’t matter. They are built to exact specifications in a (temperature controlled) factory.  There is no need for hoistway barricades as the elevator arrives with the hoistway as part of the unit. Also the elevator is put into place in less than a day and the doors are already installed and locked until the unit is up and running. The bulk of the equipment comes installed, including rails and the elevator car. In most cases, everything else is packed in the hoistway, near where the final touches are to be installed, or in the modular machine room, if you need one. Lastly, modular is not restricted by design or distance of travel. Modular solves nearly every problem usually encountered by the old way of cobbling together an elevator.

If you are tired of all of the job conditions in your purchase agreement and long drawn out projects due to the elevator installation, contact us for a quick quote. We strive everyday to make elevators easy.

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