Older elevators may take longer to fix due to obsolete parts

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Three of the 42-story Regency Tower Condominium elevators were out of service for more than a week due to storm damage. According to the general manager at Otis Elevator Company, which services them, one elevator is up and running as of Wednesday afternoon.

The high-rise was built in 1974. The age of the elevator and its parts likely played a role in how long it took to fix it.

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There are roughly 8,000 elevators in Hawaii. According to Todd Williams, President of Heide & Cook, an elevator servicing company, 75% to 80% of them would be considered old. Williams said getting the parts to fix lifts more than 20 years, or even 10 years old, can be a challenge.

“Elevator useful life is about 20 years, so many of the elevators that are in operation today are well past their useful life,” Williams explained.

“When we look back 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, 30 years ago, many of the parts just simply aren’t available anymore, particularly the early versions of the computer boards, you know, the integrated circuitry that goes into the control systems.”

Williams said the shortage of computer chips and other circuitry worldwide only adds to the problem and can delay availability of parts another five to seven months.

“It’s just universal,” he said. “Whether it’s an automobile, an air conditioning unit, and an elevator system, anything that has integrated circuitry or computer chips. You’re either going to experience a long delay in delivery, or you’re going to be paying an extraordinarily high price.”

Upgrading a system and using non-proprietary parts may save money long term.

Elevators are required to be up to code for the year they were built or modified, according to Norman Ahu, the administrator for Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health (HIOSH).

“If you do a major alteration, then you have to look at what codes were in existence for that year, for that portion that was altered or modified,” said Ahu.

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Elevator inspections and permitting are another issue. Ahu said they’ve been backlogged for years and added that Regency Tower was last inspected in 2019.

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