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Do I need an elevator service maintenance contract?

Updated on February 8, 2013

So you are in charge of the facilities of a building. Perhaps a property manager, building owner, or even facilities director. You have maybe been approached by a elevator service salesperson who is telling you need a maintenance contract, and you want unbiased answers to your contract questions. You are likely asking yourself:

Why do I need a maintenance contract? Can't we just pay for repairs when the elevator is down?

It is true you do not technically "need" a maintenance contract. Some state codes require MCP "Maintenance Control Programs" so you may want to check your state code. Google it: "Kansas Elevator Codes" for example. If this is the case for your state, you may need a maintenance control program of some kind, whether that be a elevator company coming out just once a year to do some quick maintenance. This still would not require a contract, but it would require you to have some kind of relationship with a service provider who will come out to service your equipment at whatever frequency is required.

That being said, it can sometimes save you time and money in the long run to have a contract in place. If you are a paying customer to an elevator company, the technicians often come out quickly to fix any problems if they do occur. If you are not a current customer, the company will take some time to load you into their system, get your building information and location, etc. They have no incentive to prioritize you. Also, most contracts include service calls during normal hours. If you have no contract and have to call a company out to fix your equipment at their hourly rate ($300-$400/hour) is very costly. So, the maintenance contracts often pay for themselves.

Here are some factors to consider to help you decide if a elevator maintenance contract is right for you:

  • Usage - If your elevator is heavily used, maintenance would be beneficial so the equipment is being cared for. Also, there are more opportunities for the elevator to break if it is constantly used, thus, it would be beneficial to have a company to come out on service calls.
  • Age - Although it is very important for new elevators to be properly maintained, it is even more important for elevators of an older age to see some TLC. The average life span of an elevator is about 20-30 years before it should be replaced for safety and ease of care reasons.
  • Type of building - If you are in a two-story office building, your elevator is likely less crucial than an elevator in a nursing home or high-rise office building. If your building needs the elevators crucially, it is definitely worth having the elevators maintained regularly. You pay to have security, you pay to have heating and cooling, if the elevator is essential, why wouldn't you pay to have it serviced as well?

After taking these factors into account, it is usually in your best interest to get a maintenance contract. You can call around to all the big elevator companies: Otis, Thyssen-Krupp, Kone, Schindler, etc. to get pricing. Remember that there are differences among pricing for a reason. Not all contracts and service providers are created equal. If a company asks for a premium price, they are also going to provide premium service and visa-versa. Overall, it will still likely make life as a property manager or owner easier by having a company on-call for all your elevator needs.

Best of Luck!

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