The Truth Behind Five Elevator Myths

Elevator installation

The modern elevator is a nightmare to anyone with claustrophobia, not to mention the subject of much cursing as they round the third flight of a 20-floor climb. How can you blame them either when watching any movie showing an elevator about to plummet to its doom? Clearly, modern elevators are flimsy, dangerous things. Odd, though, given the danger and the amount in use, a staggering 900,000 in the United States that carry about 20,000 passengers a year, that there are not more stories in the news about some elevator company being sued as a result of the death trap they installed. Or any stories really, except those from a friend of a friend or mid-90’s summer blockbusters. This leaves two possibilities: the massive cover-up of elevator-related deaths that is being perpetrated everywhere in the world, or these common beliefs about elevators are myths. In an attempt to spread some clarity, here are five elevator myths and the reality of the situation.

  1. The classic “one cable” myth: The movie image of the one cable holding the vulnerable car over the long drop is a hard one to break, but the reality is that modern elevators are held up by between four and 12 specially designed ropes, each able to hold the entire weight of the car by itself.
  2. An Elevator Car Can Freefall: In the incredibly unlikely scenario that all of the elevator’s ropes break, there is still an emergency break underneath the car which will automatically slow the car to a complete stop. These are subject to rigorous inspection by an elevator safety company.
  3. You Will Run Out of Air If An Elevator Gets Stuck: Elevators do not require a vacuum to function, nor are they airtight. There are ventilation holes all over a commercial elevator, including in the floor.
  4. The Escape Hatch Is An Option: First, the emergency hatch was placed there for first responders and almost never has an interior handle. Second, where would you go? Sitting on top of an elevator waiting for help seems like a much more dangerous option than inside.
  5. Pressing the Button Over and Over Helps: If an elevator company did make the unconventional decision to give the button this function, it would be broken daily by overuse, leading to astronomical elevator repair bills.

Luckily for those who choose commercial elevator installation as their career path, this is not an industry responsible for countless deaths, only one with some very colorful myths.

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