Elevators can be built in homes and businesses, but all need to follow the elevator codes specified by ASME A17.1. Some states, such as California, even have their own elevator codes. These elevator codes specify certain requirements of the elevator and machine room for safety, including the design of the machine room and use of smoke detectors. Whether you've installed a glass or panoramic elevator into your home or have a standard elevator in an office building, elevator inspections once a year will indicate whether or not the elevator design and machine room are following this code. Although ASME A17.1 isn't a law regarding elevator safety, following this code for commercial and residential elevators is recommended for safe operation.
In terms of the machine room itself, the door size must be at least 30 by 72 inches. Inside, the room should have no foreign wiring or piping and the room should be located on the same side as an earthquake joint, if you live in an area near fault lines. The room itself needs ventilation, which can be through natural or mechanical means. In addition, the door to the machine room must be tagged with a fire rating, which should be equal to that of the hoist way. In case of emergencies like fire, the switch, clearance, and equipment numbering more than two should be disconnected.
Lighting is an important aspect of any machine room for an elevator. In the machine room, the light switch needs to be located within 18 inches of the lock side of the door. Actual lights in the room should be placed at floor level. If any of these lights are placed within eight feet above the floor, they need to be protected with a light guard.
In addition to the layout of the machine room for an elevator and the lighting, the room itself needs to be equipped with other safety devices. For example, the machine room for either a commercial or home elevator needs a class ABC fire extinguisher hung on the wall. In addition, both some and heat detectors need to be visible in the room. In place of a heat detector, a sprinkler with a connected flow can be used with a head guard. To protect users in the machine room from an electrical shock, the room also nees a GFI, or ground fault interrupter, outlet.
While all of these standards by ASME A17.1 apply to both residential and commercial elevator designs, some additional rules apply to commercial elevators. In the state of California, for example, the keys for the elevator machine room need to be in an accessible place which, as of January 2003, is listed as the elevator pit. The location of the keys in the elevator pit must be identified properly and accessible in case of emergencies. For commercial buildings with more than one elevator, the elevator pit with the lowest state identification number should be designated as the location for the elevator machine room keys.
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