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Dumbwaiters |  General Information

Dumbwaiter Types, Features and Maintenance

Harmar DW100 Dumbwaiter | Silver CrossHistorically dumbwaiters were used to bring food up from a basement kitchen up to the dining room; but their uses are much more varied today. Many homes have dumbwaiters going from the garage to the kitchen for groceries, from the upper-level rooms to the basement for laundry or even to carry firewood from the basement to the upper floors. In today’s urban centers, homes are being built on smaller pieces of land, one floor stacked on top of another, requiring the residents to carry heavy loads up and down a large number of stairs. This can be dangerous for anyone, but especially for the elderly. Installing a dumbwaiter in the home may be the answer.

Dumbwaiters travel within a hoist-way carrying various objects. The car (the box that carries the load) moves within the hoist-way along a guide rail to keep it in place. Cables and pulleys are generally used to lift and lower the car.

Types of Dumbwaiters

Manual dumbwaiters are operated by pulling on a hand rope to lift or lower the car. Although some manual models are still available, the predominant dumbwaiter is powered by electricity.

Powered dumbwaiters require just a push of a button to raise or lower the car. The motor is usually mounted above or below the car.

Features of Dumbwaiters

Weight capacity—Residential dumbwaiters usually have a weight capacity of 100 lb. to 200 lb. A commercial dumbwaiter may be purchased if a greater weight capacity is required.

Car—The car of a residential dumbwaiter is the frame (“box”) that moves within a hoist-way (or shaft) carrying items to various different levels. It can have openings on any one of three sides if access is required from different sides on other levels. A standard size for the car is 20″w x 20″d x 30″h, but manufacturers usually offer several standard and custom sizes. All openings will have a gate to keep the items within the car when traveling. There are three main types of gates: bi-fold, roll top and collapsible (like a scissor gate). Manufacturers will offer one of these as standard and others as options. A commercial dumbwaiter may be purchased if a greater car size is required.

Speed—On average, residential dumbwaiters travel about 20–30 fpm (feet per minute), with some models that will travel at about 50 fpm.

Stops—Residential dumbwaiters make a minimum of two stops. Most manufacturers will offer up to three–six stops, although there are some that offer an unlimited number of stops.

Safety—All dumbwaiters should come with interlocks, usually EMI (electro-mechanical interlocks) for safety when the dumbwaiter is in use. These lock the access doors on all levels that the car is not on or when the dumbwaiter is in use.

Interior finishes—For most manufacturers, the standard interior finish is a white or ivory colored powder-coated steel, and some have stainless steel as standard (most offer this as an upgrade). There are residential dumbwaiters that come with wood panel cabs or offer it as an option.

Access doors are usually provided by the homeowner to match existing décor, although some manufacturers offer a selection of access doors as an option. All manufacturers provide the interlocks for safety.

Maintenance of Dumbwaiters

Most manufacturers require residential dumbwaiters be serviced by licensed elevator technicians only, preferably by the company that installed it or one authorized by the manufacturer. Refer to the owner’s manual to make sure that the procedure to maintain the warranty is followed.

How much does a dumbwaiter cost?

The base price for a residential dumbwaiter (without installation) starts from about $4,000. The base price normally includes two stops, two call/send stations, same side entry and exit, a weight capacity of 50 lb. or 100 lb. and 12ꞌ of travel. Anything beyond the base will usually cost extra (more than two stops, travel greater than 12ꞌ, installation, etc.).