Floodplains and Home Elevators: 3 Guidelines You Need to Know

Is your home or project located on a floodplain? When installing a residential elevator on a floodplain FEMA has provided specific guidelines to protect against the damage caused in the event of a flood; here are the top three.

1. Control System Must be Mounted Above Base Flood Elevation

Base Flood Elevation (BFE), as defined by FEMA, is the computed elevation to which floodwater is anticipated to rise during the base flood. BFE is also sometimes referred to as the 100-year floodplain.

There are two primary drive systems that are appropriate for floodplain applications. A Hydraulic Drive requires that the machine room is located on a level above BFE.  The Inline Gear Drive (IGD) has a motor that is mounted to the top of the guiderail structure and is by nature above BFE.  The IGD controller can be mounted inside the elevator shaft at the top of the hoistway or remotely up to 40 feet away from the motor.

2. The Elevator Needs to Avoid a Flooded Area

To prevent the elevator from entering a flooded area, a float switch is installed, which will indicate to the controller if a measureable amount of water is in the hoistway. If water is present, the float switch will keep the elevator from accessing the lowest floor, which will protect the elevator car from water damage thereby decreasing the amount of damage done to the elevator.

3. The Elevator Should Retreat to a Level that is Above BFE

A homing timer is used to automatically return the elevator to a designated floor above BFE. The homing timer is adjustable in time from 5 minutes to several hours. This will assist in protecting the elevator car from being damaged by flood water as it will move the elevator car to a level above BFE.

To see the complete information provided by FEMA, download the Elevator Installation for Buildings Located in Special Flood Hazard Areas in Accordance with the National Flood Insurance Program document.

Know Your Local Elevator Codes Too

There may also be local codes and code enforcement officials’ standards that are greater than the national codes and can affect the construction practices of the elevator and shaftway.  Contact your local Symmetry Elevating Solutions representative to help determine the best practices for construction and installation for your location.

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