Elevator Modernization

Questions & Answers


  • How do elevators work?

    There are two major elevator designs in common use today: the Hydraulic system, which uses a piston and hydraulic fluid to Ďpumpí the car up and down the shaft; and the Cable system, which uses steel ropes and weights to move the car up and down the shaft.

  • What elevator design is in use at the BOE?

    As in most buildings over a few stories tall, the Capital Square building uses the cable system.

  • How safe is the cable system?

    While one cable is considered sufficient to support the weight of a car, the system at the Capital Square building that uses a redundant set of five cables on the low rise bank, Cars 1 to 4, and there is a redundant set of six cables on the high rise bank, Cars 5 to 9.

  • What are some of the other safety features in use at the Capital Square building?

    In addition to having either five or six braided cables for each car, the Capital Square elevators have a built-in braking system that grabs on to the rail if the car moves too quickly. Another safety feature is the electromagnetic brake system that can stop the car in the event of a loss of power. Interestingly, it is power that keeps the brakes off. When power goes out, the brakes default to a position that causes the car to stop. Finally, in the unlikely event that the car reaches the bottom of the shaft before coming to a complete stop, a heavy-duty, oil-filled shock absorber system works like a giant cushion to soften the carís landing.

  • Sometimes the wait is very long for the next car, what can be done to make the cars faster?

    A computer system controls the movement of the cars. To get people around, the elevator needs to know three things: where people want to go, where each floor is, and where the car is located. There are several ways that the system works to be more efficient:

    • When a load sensor detects that a car is full, the car wonít make any more pick-up stops until some people have gotten off.
    • Many elevators (such as here at Capital Square) continue in one direction until there are no more calls for that direction. Then it will reverse until there are no more calls in the other direction. More advanced systems take traffic patterns and the locations of the other cars into account to achieve greater efficiency.
  • Why do the permits in the elevators always seem to be expired?

    The permits seem to be expired because renewing them is a function of a separate agency of the state of California. The Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) has a unit called the Elevator, Ride and Tramway Unit. The DOSH elevator unit inspects elevators in California institutions like those at Capital Square. It tries to schedule regular inspections throughout the year, in order of permit expiration date, but it canít always adhere to a regular timetable.

    Capital Square has experienced many instances when elevators have not been inspected by DOSH in a timely fashion. This is not uncommon ó and it doesnít mean our elevators are unsafe or that they havenít been maintained. It just means that DOSH is behind in its work. And even after the elevator has been inspected, it sometimes takes weeks for the new permit to arrive. http://bfa.sdsu.edu/plant/faqs.htm#Q11


  • Sometimes it seems like only couple of elevators are working at any given time. Whatís up with that?

    The Capitol Square Building elevators get lots of use and, like any machinery with mechanical parts, they break down on occasion. Elevator maintenance is a high priority and DGS has a contractor on call to make repairs as needed. A complete modernization of the elevators is scheduled to begin early 2010.

  • Iíve heard that the elevators at Capital Square are being scheduled for a major upgrade. What is being upgraded?

    All mechanical elevator systems, including the electrical system are included in the modernization project.

  • What is the timeline for repairs?

    According to DGS, the planned schedule for elevator modernization is several months, because the work will be done on one elevator at a time from each bank. The particular elevators being upgraded will be out of service for several weeks while the work is completed. Once the individual elevator work is finished, that elevator will be put back into service and another will be shut down for repair, and so on until all elevators have been modernized. The whole process, according to DGS, is scheduled to take approximately two years.

  • When will the work be done (days, nights, weekends)?

    The work will be completed during normal work hours, weekdays 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

  • Who is paying for these repairs/upgrades?

    This is a DGS modernization project, and is funded out of a portion of the annual rent paid to them by BOE.