Fix it, or replace it? When dealing with critical elevator components such as electric motors, it’s important to weigh the options carefully, taking into account all unique application requirements.

Choosing Motor Replacement Over Repair

Electric motors are used to move elevator cars up and down, with heavy-duty metal cables and pulleys running between the cars and the motor. Anyone who’s been in an elevator knows that a braking system is also part of the setup, as are safety features that protect riders if a cable breaks.

When evaluating the condition of a motor, it’s crucial to identify a repair/replace breakpoint — the motor size below which you should automatically buy a new one. Once a motor dips below a certain size, it’s fiscally prudent to replace it rather than repair it. Sure, repairs cost less — but usually only initially. Total operating costs may actually increase depending on the specific issue and the motor’s age, operating hours, and overall efficiency after the fix.

Elevator Modernization

Elevator Modernization

When weighing repair/replacement options, it’s also important to consider the benefits of elevator modernization. Today, elevators typically have a life span of 20 years, after which modernization may be necessary to ensure optimal performance and safety.

When deciding whether to install new elevators, first consider tenant and patron satisfaction. As the saying goes, time is money, and competitive pressure dictates that a system must run smoothly, without inconvenient delays and breakdowns that prevent people from getting from point A to point B.

Also evaluate the number of service calls you’ve had to make in the past few years. Keeping track of service issues year over year will guide in the decision-making process. Modernizing elevators can greatly improve service reliability and efficiency while also allowing for significant energy savings.

Common Electric Motor Issues

A number of factors can cause an elevator to malfunction or break down. Below are a few of the most common issues.

Power failure

Elevators require a large supply of power from commercial buildings’ utility systems. Therefore, voltage updates can disrupt motor operations. Conducting power-quality surveys allows you to identify faults — such as having too little or too much voltage — before a catastrophic system failure occurs.


With general wear and tear comes the release of small metal particles into the oil, which can hinder proper elevator functioning, as can improper lubrication or worn-out seals. To prevent problems, conduct a thorough analysis; check for oil characteristics that can signal contamination such as worm and gear wear, which will result in high levels of bronze and steel.

Bearing malfunction or loud bearings

More than half of all motor failures are caused by malfunction in the electric motor bearings. Also, vibrations in the motor can cause noisy bearings. While variable frequency drives help reduce a motor’s energy use, they can also result in common-mode current, which raises vibrations to hazardous levels. Installing an inductive absorber, such as Renown Electric’s CoolBLUE, provides protection from malfunctions and potential breakdowns. While installing CoolBLUE inductive absorbers, also ensure grounds are connected and secure, reducing the effects of electrical noise on the ground that can disrupt systems.

Misaligned motor drive

To prevent wear on motor bearings, properly aligned shafts are imperative when another piece of equipment is coupled with an electric motor. Shaft alignment can be ensured through the use of laser measuring equipment — or a straight edge and a string. In geared machines with flange-mounted motors, alignment is not required if the machine is disassembled.

If these issues are ignored, complete system failure is very likely. Preventive maintenance goes a long way in prolonging motor life and eliminating the risk of added expenditures and extra downtime. And, as mentioned earlier, if motor problems persist, chances are it’s time for a replacement.  If replacement is not an option, make sure to call on Renown for a rebuilt exchange or new surplus unit to replace old and obsolete units.

Electric Motor Replacement from Renown Electric

Renown Electric is proud to offer a wide range of new electric elevator motors from some of the most respected manufacturers in the industry, including Torin, TECO Westinghouse, WEG, Imperial Electric, Lafert, Emerson, Lincoln Electric, and U.S. MOTORS®. We can also provide submersible and dry hydraulic elevator pump motors to meet specific application needs. And if you require repairs, our skilled team can quickly handle all types of elevator motors issues, no matter how unusual or complex.

Our experts are on hand to help with any questions you may have. Curious to learn more or discuss your options with an expert? Contact us today! We’re available 24/7 to deliver and pick up motors.

1 Comment

  1. MM Eng Services Ltd

    Through your blog you have explained clearly that replacing a motor is more beneficial than repairing it. I always thought repairing is a good idea. You have cleared all my doubts. Thanks.