Modernize Your Elevator the Smart Way: Part I – How Do I Know When to Modernize My Elevator?

Kencor, Inc. has developed a three-part guide to help you decide when to modernize your elevator, what you should modernize, and how to get your project done effectively. Stay tuned for future installments.

The average useful life of an elevator is 20-25 years, but you should consider numerous additional factors to determine when it’s the right time to modernize your elevator equipment.

Choose whether elevator modernization is right for your building and tenants.

Some factors, like building code compliance, will compel you to modernize your elevator equipment. You should have a contract with an elevator maintenance provider who knows the ASME 17.1 safety codes in your Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), as well as the federal mandates for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), for example. These codes are subject to change by year and may require amending elevator parts or whole systems of your vertical transportation equipment. Remember, while your maintenance provider can help inform you of your duties and bring your equipment into compliance, it is ultimately the building owner’s responsibility to have code-compliant equipment.

Additionally, modernization is required when elevator equipment poses a safety risk to your riding public. Check that elevator doors are leveling with floors. Consult your service call log to assess for a pattern of maintenance calls and listen to the feedback from tenants and visitors who use the equipment regularly. If repeated signs of wear or malfunction occur, it’s probably past time to modernize the elevator.

Other reasons for choosing elevator modernization include aesthetics, efficiency, and investment in the value of your property. In “Class A” buildings, or sophisticated high-rises with busy tenants and large-volume visitor traffic, it’s paramount to have speedy and attractive elevators that match the building’s profile. Here, modernization might include cab interior and fixture upgrades, or system replacements that increase responsiveness and improve the ride quality.

Building owners and homeowner associations choose modernization when they wish to cut down on facility energy costs. According to, operating an outdated elevator may indeed be costing building owners the most in energy: “In high-rise multitenant buildings where the HVAC and lighting systems are submetered and paid for by tenants, elevators can become the building owners’ biggest energy expense.” In response, elevator modernization can be tailored to install green operating systems or retrofit old parts with newer equipment that also reduces energy consumption.

Finally, modernizing your elevators raises not only the profile but also the value of the building. When valuable buildings have outmoded vertical transportation, the overall worth of the site diminishes. Elevator modernization projects help return the investment that building owners and tenants have made by contributing to an accurate assessment of the property.

Elevator modernization can take anywhere from a few days to a number of weeks, and, depending on the scope of the project, the cost can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For these reasons and more, it’s important that building owners who choose to modernize have a clear understanding of their reasons for doing so. Usually, a modernization project achieves numerous benefits for the building and the riding public alongside code-compliance. Building owners—and the elevator company who serves them—should be able to explain why it’s necessary and beneficial to complete a modernization project.

Related articles:

Modernize Your Elevator the Smart Way: Part 2 – What You Should Modernize for Updates that Last

Modernize Your Elevator the Smart Way: Part 3 – How to Get Your Modernization Project Completed On-Time & On Budget