Spotlight on elevator maintenance: Honey spills and rescue missions

Elevator buttons

By Annemarie Pottorf

Have you ever dropped your phone and experienced a moment of uncertainty as you wait to survey the damage? What about down an elevator shaft? With about 400 elevators across the Twin Cities campus, accidental drops are bound to happen. According to Dan Anderson, Elevator Program Manager for Facilities Management, phones and keys are  the most common items dropped through the space between floor and door. While the gap is only about 1.25 inches across, you might be surprised by what makes it into the shaft.  Anderson has seen storage shelves, mirrors and dentures, among other things. In fact, a $2,000 bass bow once survived the fall in Ferguson Hall, much to its owner’s relief. Rescue missions aside, there is a lot behind-the-scenes coordination to keep campus elevators working.

Elevators are important to campus accessibility and are part of the Gopher Way system, which means their maintenance is a critical FM service. When issues arise, district staff and our customers initiate service requests. Maintenance  calls are dispatched to Schindler, USA, who provides elevator services to the U. Some service calls are more unique than others, said Anderson. “One time we had to clean up honey that was spilled down the 4 story elevator hoistway at the Weisman due to beekeeping on the roof.”

Repair and improvement initiatives are also common. Cab lighting retrofits and full elevator modernization - to the cab, control equipment and shaft - are all part of the elevator program. One example of an improvement project is the Tate Hall renovation on the East Bank, which is incorporating brand new, energy efficient elevators into the building plan.

Next time you use an elevator to get to your next destination, remember the FM coordination taking place behind the scenes to ensure your ride is safe and reliable. And hold onto your dentures.