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Is Your Home Elevator Safe Enough?

Is Your Home Elevator Up to Code?

Home elevators are becoming an increasingly common sight in homes across the country. Quality of life is greatly improved with the installation of a home elevator: Older Americans can stay in their homes much longer while maintaining independence and the mobility challenges of countless disabled individuals are eased significantly.

The Doors are the Difference

While the home elevator performs the same job as a commercial elevator, it features one key difference: Instead of a single set of doors that open on the platform and close once you are inside, the home elevator uses an exterior hoistway door and a gate for the elevator car.

With home elevators, the exterior door locks automatically when closed; this action also clears all safety locks—allowing the operation of the elevator. If a child happens to become trapped in the gap between the two doors, serious injury can occur if someone on another floor presses the call button.

Mind the Gap

But why have a gap at all? The simplest answer is cost and (if you can believe it) safety. Several types of home elevator gates are available, but the accordion-fold type of door (right) is the most common choice when the elevator is installed. As you might expect, this door folds like an accordion and requires enough space between it and the exterior door to work properly. Unfortunately, this space, if too large, is what can lead to injury.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), created what is most often called the 3” x 5” rule several years ago to address this safety issue. The rule implied that there should be no more than five inches between the exterior door and the gate to prevent a child from becoming trapped. While this change dramatically improved safety, sporadic accidents still occurred.

Mere Inches Make a Difference

Last year the ASME recognized the need for further improvements to the code and made several additional safety revisions. The focus of these updates is to decrease the gap between the hoistway door and the outside elevator car door—further reducing the possibility of an accident. The ASME now requires that:

  • The space between the hoistway door and the car door is no more than four inches and will reject a four-inch diameter ball at all points along the gate.
  • The distance from the inside face of the hoistway/exterior door to the inside edge of the doorsill can be no more than ¾” to minimize the possible “give” of the accordion-fold door and reduce the chance that a child can become trapped. 
  • Any car door must be able to withstand a force of 75 pounds without warping or displacing the car door from its guide tracks. This rule will ensure small children are not able to wedge themselves between the two doors.

Make the Call

Liftavator, always focused on safety, is adopting these new code changes in all new installations. If your home elevator was installed prior to 2017, we encourage you to call and speak with a representative to learn if your system is in compliance. If not, we would be happy to schedule a quick inspection. Thankfully, several options are available to update a non-compliant elevator and we can discuss each option and determine what will best work for you and your family. 

It is recommended that if your home elevator has more space than the new safety rule allows it should be shut down and disabled as soon as possible. When it comes to the safety of your children, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

About Liftavator

Liftavator, the number-one source for residential, limited use/limited application (LU/LA) in North Carolina, designs, builds, and installs only the highest quality elevators and platform lifts. In addition to the company’s revolutionary designs and ideas, it offers a 90-day guarantee on all labor and materials. Liftavator doesn’t consider a job complete until the customer is 100% satisfied.

For more information on residential and commercial elevators, stairlifts, vertilifts, ramps, and more, visit or call (252) 634-1717 today.

(Sources: Liftavator Inc.; Savaria Corporation; National Elevator Industry, Inc.; The American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME); N.C. Department of Labor; and

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