14 Easy Escalator Maintenance Tips to Avoid Disruption

March 8, 2022

Local codes generally do not provide requirements for regular maintenance. The regulations are in place primarily to provide a safe means of transporting people. It’s in the best interest of any facility to adhere to the standards provided by the original manufacturer. Poorly operating escalators, by OEM standards, will likely run into code non-compliance and the risk of having the local jurisdiction shut the equipment down.

Original equipment manufacturers have established solid programs that provide the foundation for a sound escalator maintenance program. After all, they have a vested interest in ensuring the equipment performs well and safely within the expected lifetime. The procedures are well thought out and are in place for a reason—trying to cut corners and save a bit of time or money is a recipe for disaster.

In addition to OEM guidance, a good service provider will often bring insights into performing activities with regards to maintenance that enhances the longevity and reliability of the equipment. They understand it’s in the best interest of the key parties involved (building owner, service provider and the riding public) to do the best job possible with regards to properly maintaining escalators.

Escalators are complex, with a great number of moving and stationary parts; mechanical, electrical and electronic components along with various surfaces and fixtures that interact with the riding public. While no facility owner or maintenance team can be expected to understand all the nuances between brands or product iterations, there are some general practices to follow that will help avoid major issues or disruption.

  • Check that protective barriers are in place and not damaged. Check that displayed instructions for the riding public are present and in good shape.
  • Check the functions (operation and display) of stop switches, key switches, directional indicators and digital displays – replace as needed.
  • Ensure safety lighting is working, including skirt, comb plate and step gap.
  • Check condition of inner skirts and skirt brushes for wear, proper attachment or damaged pieces.
  • Comb fingers should be replaced if a finger is broken or damaged. Loosen comb finger screws once a year and lubricate the threads.
  • Check comb plates for proper movement and adjustment, confirm that guides are lubricated and electrical contacts are prepped for operation.
  • Inspect steps for broken tread ribs or other damages and replace as needed.
  • Inspect handrails for overall wear or damage in any section including the back side of the handrails. Check handrail belt tension and adjust to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Ensure anti-static brushes are present and functioning. Handrail guides should be aligned and replaced if worn.
  • Check condition of the pit area for damaging standing water and proper lighting in case work needs to be done. Ensure smoke detectors are functioning. Check the water level monitor for operation. Check operation of any ventilating fans.
  • Check the condition of step chains regularly. Inspect for link and axle wear as well as the tracks or guides the chain rides in. Lubrication brushes must be touching the chain itself. Check chain tension and replace the chain if it is excessive.
  • Check condition of any drive chain—motor or handrail—for excessive wear or sagging. Lubricate chains as required. Inspect all drive sprockets for excessive wear.
  • Check the operation of the service and safety brake. Replace any worn parts or brake linings.
  • Inspect the operation of the handrail speed monitor, upthrust sensors, step level sensors, vibration sensors, speed monitors, skirt contacts and handrail entry contacts.

This surely isn’t a one-size-fits-all list, but the concepts offered do apply generally. Escalator maintenance will vary across manufacturer, application requirements, local conditions and the service provider contract. If you do involve a third-party provider, ensure as best as possible that the service provider is qualified to work on your equipment. Escalators are complex systems and well beyond the basics discussed here, technicians are highly trained to rise to the rigors and safety hazards that come along with the occupation.

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