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How can I lock the elevator to my new condo?
Old 06-17-2010, 12:41 AM   #1
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How can I lock the elevator to my new condo?

OK I have an odd question that, for some reason, I thought people here might know the answer to. There seem to be a lot of smart "Renaissance men" and women on here.

I just blew my early retirement savings on a new condo. There are five units in my four floor building, and we share a common "private" elevator. Each of us gets a key fob with a little plastic thing that you wave in front of the sensor in the elevator, and then the elevator brings you to your floor/unit. I'm on the 3rd floor, and there is another unit on the third floor next to me. The elevator has doors on both sides.

When I wave my plastic fob, the elevator goes up to the third floor and the doors on one side of the elevator open up, and at the same time the outer elevator doors located in my unit also slide open, allowing direct access into my unit. If my next door neighbor waves his key fob, the elevator goes up to the third floor and the opposite doors open into his unit. Got it? We also have normal front doors and outside stairs.

Here's my concern. I have to assume that any elevator repair person would have the elevator codes or a bypass ability and be able to open the elevator directly into my condo. I don't like that. The condo management people say I can buy more key fobs whenever I want, so obviously some people have the technology/ability to get into my unit by pressing a few buttons or duplicating my key fob.

What I'm interested in is whether there's a product that allows me to lock the outer elevator doors in my unit from opening. There's no keyhole in my unit at the elevator and no obvious way to lock it, and the condo sales agent said he didn't think there was any way to do it (i.e. I should just trust elevator repair people and anyone else who has the codes/fobs not to go into my unit).

I think I might be able to create a lock by affixing two powerful magnets (one on each of my outer elevator doors) connected by a horizontal bar roughly the length of the frame of the elevator doors. Then, if someone took the elevator to my unit when I had it "locked," the internal elevator doors would open, but the outer doors in my unit wouldn't open.

I'd rather just by an appropriate lock like this that already exists, but I couldn't find anything online, and no one I've asked knows what I'm talking about. Basically I want "The Club" for condominium private elevator doors. If anyone knows where I can buy something like this or has any other ideas, I would be grateful to hear them.

Thanks.
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:24 AM   #2
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Worrying about an elevator repair person breaking into your condo sounds a bit far-fetched to me. What are you hiding, anyway?
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:09 AM   #3
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If the outer doors are set to automatically open and you force them to remain closed, you might cause a dangerous situation. Maybe these are better places to post your question?

elevatorforum :: Index

TalkLifts :: Forums Elevators Lifts
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Old 06-17-2010, 08:06 AM   #4
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This is not a trivial problem and can represent a major building defect. Anyone whose dwelling can be entered by an electronic code faces the same invasion risk but in addition this case describes a well known fire hazard related to elevators. Many elevator control mechanisms are vulnerable to fire and heat can cause the doors to open unpredictably. This could both spread smoke to or from an apartment and allow a person to fall down an open elevator shaft door.
The normal response is to install a manual "swinging" door into the unit, a door which can be separately locked
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:07 AM   #5
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This is not a trivial problem and can represent a major building defect. Anyone whose dwelling can be entered by an electronic code faces the same invasion risk but in addition this case describes a well known fire hazard related to elevators. Many elevator control mechanisms are vulnerable to fire and heat can cause the doors to open unpredictably. This could both spread smoke to or from an apartment and allow a person to fall down an open elevator shaft door.
The normal response is to install a manual "swinging" door into the unit, a door which can be separately locked
You win the award for most cynical poster on here...are you ever happy?
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:24 AM   #6
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I'd try calling a few elevator companies . They have probably had this request before .
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:25 AM   #7
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This is not a trivial problem and can represent a major building defect.
+1
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:36 AM   #8
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So when your same floor neighbor arrives they can walk into your apartment if they choose? Seems a bit chummy. Or are there inner and outer doors on each side of the elevator and the concern is that elevator repairpeople can access all outer elevator doors?

Gotta tell you, there are all sorts of people who can get into your apartment. Some of them are called "locksmiths", others are called guys with a brick. A club is a good deterrent.
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:46 AM   #9
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You win the award for most cynical poster on here...are you ever happy?
I'm happy every day, life is a gift. That's why they call it the present. I am blessed with health, a wonderful family, no reasonable financial worries and work which is productive and worthwhile.

As to Cynical, that is not related to being happy. I have perhaps been exposed to more than the usual number of corporate and political liars, cheats, scoundrels and fools whose actions have lead to death and misery for innocent people. I am also appalled by those who are sucked in by megacorp PR on so many issues.

I know exactly the kind of bizarre claims that were made to regulators to approve the kind of construction described here. We pick up the pieces of this kind of garbage every day.
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:00 AM   #10
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My first question would have been... why buy the place with this known defect

And I do think it is a defect in design. Almost every elevator I have ever seen you can force the doors open. So your neighbor might be passing out keys to everybody they know.. and someone decides to force open the door when it stops.

The other problem you might have... fire codes. You might not be able to lock the doors or you would violate fire codes. And you might not be able to build a foyer that has a locked door because of fire codes. (say there is a fire and someone happens to have just entered your foyer.... and can NOT get to a fire escape)...

So, I would be very careful in what you do. Something bad might never happen... but if it did you might be charged with a crime. (this is just speculation... nothing to back it up)>...
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:30 AM   #11
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You need to consider security from the outside stairs, too. Hopefully that door is lockable.

I would only buy such an apartment if I was willing and ready to hire a contractor to build a lockable antechamber inside the elevator door. By this I mean a small room with two entries: The elevator door, and a lockable door.

In the antechamber that I would have built, I would also put a chair and a small table with a pretty, classical sculpture and a basket for mail or other items that I might want to drop off without hassling with the lockable door. You could use the same type of lock as exists on the door to the stairs, or maybe you could put a numeric keypad lock on the lockable door.

Of course, the idea of building a lockable antechamber pretty much cancels out any advantages of automatic entry using your keyfob.
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:38 AM   #12
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It sounds like a mighty nice condo--congratulations. Does your neighbor on your floor share your concern?

You should check the condo docs to see if you're allowed to alter the entrance. And ask the condo board (even a five-condo building I believe must have a board) what to do.

I'd get a safe and put anything in it I wouldn't want a nosy intruder to find.
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Old 06-17-2010, 11:19 AM   #13
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Just build a vestibule in front of your elevator door. Bronze or titanium clad and high security locks. Ergo, when you arrive at your floor, whip out your special key and enter. And/or have special keypad, and maybe a thumbprint ID. Retinal scanner is an option.

Like the Air force says: you can make a barn fly if enough money is applied.

One little hitch. If elevator departs you will be in a small confined space until you open your door. Don't bother if closed space is a problem.

Cheers.
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Old 06-17-2010, 11:51 AM   #14
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This is not a trivial problem and can represent a major building defect. Anyone whose dwelling can be entered by an electronic code faces the same invasion risk but in addition this case describes a well known fire hazard related to elevators. Many elevator control mechanisms are vulnerable to fire and heat can cause the doors to open unpredictably. This could both spread smoke to or from an apartment and allow a person to fall down an open elevator shaft door.
Well, here we go again. You made an immediate leap from a security concern to a blanket indictment of elevator design. Apparently in your view, everything is defective, represents a litigation opportunity safety hazard, and any company who manufactures and sells anything needs to be held hostage retroactively redesign their products to nebulous, ever-changing codes and regulations. Products that meet applicable safety standards in effect at the time of their installation should not be retoactively subject to subsequent safety standards or design improvements. In essence you are demanding a cradle-to-grave warranty for all products- I can just imagine you arguing that Ford should be responsible for putting anti-lock brakes and airbags in a Model T. No manufacturer could stay in business if they had to go back and retrofit/repair/replace everything they ever manufactured, forever. The OP should accept the elevator door as-is at the time of sale or be prepared to bear the cost and responsibility of having a new door system installed (with the features and benefits he/she feels are important), period. Product hysteria coaching from those who benefit solely from the subsequent litigation is gutting our manufacturing base and hampering competitiveness in this country, IMO.

I do see something positive in your post- in that the hypothetical intruder stands a good chance of falling down the elevator shaft due to hypothetical design deficiencies.
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:04 PM   #15
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Well, here we go again. You made an immediate leap from a security concern to a blanket indictment of elevator design. Apparently in your view, everything is defective, represents a litigation opportunity safety hazard, and any company who manufactures and sells anything needs to be held hostage retroactively redesign their products to nebulous, ever-changing codes and regulations. Products that meet applicable safety standards in effect at the time of their installation should not be retoactively subject to subsequent safety standards or design improvements. In essence you are demanding a cradle-to-grave warranty for all products- I can just imagine you arguing that Ford should be responsible for putting anti-lock brakes and airbags in a Model T. No manufacturer could stay in business if they had to go back and retrofit/repair/replace everything they ever manufactured, forever. The OP should accept the elevator door as-is at the time of sale or be prepared to bear the cost and responsibility of having a new door system installed (with the features and benefits he/she feels are important), period. Product hysteria coaching from those who benefit solely from the subsequent litigation is gutting our manufacturing base and hampering competitiveness in this country, IMO.

I do see something positive in your post- in that the hypothetical intruder stands a good chance of falling down the elevator shaft due to hypothetical design deficiencies.
Didn't say anything about who was responsible for this bad design but
The "intruders" who fall down shafts are routinely fire fighters

The whine that "we complied with all regulations" is heard regularly from makers of defective products who think they scored by sliding some piece of junk past the system and don't want to make a safe product. They do their best to make sure that regulations stay outdated and inadequate. Yes we required the Triangle Shirtwaist company to retrofit the building. We required the DC-10 to fix the defective doors . We put the Concorde in a museum because they couldn't fix the design defect. Makers of defective products may wish your post was the law. But it isn't. The TITANIC's sister ship was sent back to the maker for a double bottom and enough lifeboats. Recalls are ordered all the time for products that manufacturers could slide through a loophole.
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:06 PM   #16
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Are the other folks in your building concerned enough that you could go in together on common solution? Biometric readers (fingerprint) are not very expensive and are reliable now (if your hands aren't wet). I would think it would be simple to add this to the elevator controls. Put finger on external reader--if finger is one of those recognized as valid, keyfob reader is activated for 10 seconds. When keyfob is presented, elevator doors open and take person to the floor authorized by their key fob.

It's just another level of security. In theory, this stops a stolen keyfob from giving anyone access to your building. It also stops people from loaning a keyfob out. I suppose one of your neighbors could still force your door open (if he's authorized to go to a higher floor and he stops the elevator in front of your door). The elevator repairman, or somebody who cut off your finger could also get in. Some of these biometric systems log the identity and entry times of the folks who use them, which is a powerful disincentive to anyone using them to enter your home--the list of suspects would be very small.

No house is burglarproof. The best you can do is make your house too much trouble/more risky to enter than other homes with a similar "payoff."
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:54 PM   #17
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Didn't say anything about who was responsible for this bad design but
The "intruders" who fall down shafts are routinely fire fighters

The whine that "we complied with all regulations" is heard regularly from makers of defective products who think they scored by sliding some piece of junk past the system and don't want to make a safe product. They do their best to make sure that regulations stay outdated and inadequate. Yes we required the Triangle Shirtwaist company to retrofit the building. We required the DC-10 to fix the defective doors . We put the Concorde in a museum because they couldn't fix the design defect. Makers of defective products may wish your post was the law. But it isn't. The TITANIC's sister ship was sent back to the maker for a double bottom and enough lifeboats. Recalls are ordered all the time for products that manufacturers could slide through a loophole.

I am sure there are a number of people who die every year due to elevators... in fact, someone drowned here during a flood when the elevator went down into the basement and the car flooded...


BUT... I have read more than once that the elevator is the safest form of transportation... period... not even walking is safer (getting hit by those pesky cars is no fun)...

So, I will not go into hesteric due to the small chance that I will fall down an elevator shaft...

Sure... if they can add a small piece of equipment to prevent this... great.. if it costs $10,000 per elevator... then maybe not...

As for fixing things... I am sure you know that the ladder can be dangerous when used wrong... but most are designed pretty well... it is the stupidity of the user that causes the most problems... and then the lawyer who sues because there was not a warning label telling the stupid person not to be stupid...

Sure... there are a number of items with design defects (Toyota comes to mind... BTW, are they not happy about BP).. and they should be fixed.. but not everything should be.
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Old 06-17-2010, 02:02 PM   #18
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If you can't make the elevator door secure, make the area immediately beyond the door secure. If you can't do the vestibule that others have suggested, set up a security system immediately beyond the door. Lasers would be cool, or a motion detector, or a pressure pad. You need a delay or a remote for you to be able to disable the system for yourself. You also want it to be very obvious so that the intruder doesn't trip the system, sound the alarm, have the door shut behind them, and put you in a hostage situation if you are home. Heck, just a set of laser-like lights that one would have to cross to get off the elevator, even if it did nothing at all, would be a great deterrent. Maybe with a fake keypad so if someone is on the elevator and sees it, they'll see you "turn off the alarm" and still think it's an active system.
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:40 PM   #19
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You win the award for most cynical poster on here...are you ever happy?
You might think he's cynical, but then so are the folks who write the fire and smoke partition requirements in building codes. Improper design of the elevator shaft and entryway can produce a serious fire hazard, which may not be flagged by residential codes or noted by building inspectors not trained in this area. (And around here, we have contractors who are certified to do their own inspections and signoffs. )
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:54 PM   #20
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If you can't make the elevator door secure, make the area immediately beyond the door secure. If you can't do the vestibule that others have suggested, set up a security system immediately beyond the door. Lasers would be cool, or a motion detector, or a pressure pad. You need a delay or a remote for you to be able to disable the system for yourself. You also want it to be very obvious so that the intruder doesn't trip the system, sound the alarm, have the door shut behind them, and put you in a hostage situation if you are home. Heck, just a set of laser-like lights that one would have to cross to get off the elevator, even if it did nothing at all, would be a great deterrent. Maybe with a fake keypad so if someone is on the elevator and sees it, they'll see you "turn off the alarm" and still think it's an active system.

I would think the vestibule would be out due to fire code... at least here you can not have a place in a building where someone has no access to a fire exit. A locked vestibule is such a place. (remember, you are not supposed to take elevators in a fire)...
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