I do not need to explain the importance of elevators, especially for those of you that work on the 78th floor of a 100-storey building. Nor do I have to explain the overwhelming sense of despair one feels when a ‘Not in Service’ notice is fixed to a bank of elevators, causing you to walk a number of flights to reach your destination.
The reality of an elevator is that the design must be implemented at the beginning. The importance of proper planning is essential insofar as the elevator pit and shaft perform multiple tasks including the housing for the elevator and as the fixing platform for mechanical fixings. Structurally, it needs to be constructed soundly; especially considering it will often be built well below grade (underground). Regardless, the pit will be an integral part of the structure and should be treated as such.
Often times, there can be a general feeling of apathy when it comes to the design and execution of the lift pits. Whether a contractor believes it isn’t a vital part of the overall structure, or believe this might be an opportunity to use cheaper products to save money, some have a disinterest in creating a well-built lift pit. Unfortunately, if not properly accounted for, the design (or lack thereof) of an elevator pit could end up costing a project a lot of capital.
The most important aspect of the planning for elevator pits is keeping stopping the ingress of water. This is an issue from the beginning of construction through to completion and 50 years into the structures life. Water is the most detrimental force attacking concrete, with elevator pits being no different. If an elevator pit’s waterproofing system fails, there are many issues that could follow, including:
- Damage to the lift’s mechanical system;
- The lift itself breaking down;
- Health and safety issues;
- Environmental problems; and
- High maintenance and repair costs.
Thus, using a complete waterproofing that works is vital for the viability of the impending elevators success, but essentially the entire structure. Often times, a waterproofing system for a lift pit fails because of installation issues. For instance, surface applied membranes take time, space, and labor to install correctly, which can also be damaged during the concreting process causing leaks. A crystalline waterproofing admixture, like Krystol Internal Membrane (KIM), is added to the concrete mix, mitigating the risk of installation errors.
Further, the pouring of elevator pits creates construction joints and other details that need to be accounted for. Thus, it isn’t just about the concrete waterproofing product, but instead, more about the complete concrete waterproofing system, using joint protection like the Krystol Waterstop System to ensure a fully tanked elevator pit.
In summary, elevator pits are extremely important to the overall design of a construction project and must be waterproofed to avoid costly repairs and early deterioration.