Here it Comes; There it Goes

In today’s modern homes, residences have grown up as opposed to growing out.  Having multiple floors give families space to do whatever they like without feeling on top of each other.  However, there can be a drawback.  Running items up and down the stairs be frustrating.  Where is the office in comparison to the kitchen? Where is the laundry room in comparison to the bedrooms? Is the kitchen a couple floors up from the garage?  In all these scenarios, wouldn’t a dumbwaiter be a time-saving and energy-saving investment?  If anyone in the home has mobility challenges or has difficulty carrying multiple objects, installing a dumbwaiter just might be the perfect solution. 

Types of Dumbwaiters

  • Manual dumbwaiters aren’t exactly extinct, but they could be considered for the endangered species.  When they were a new innovation, it made carrying cargo up and down floors a simplified task.  You would often find manual dumbwaiters in commercial buildings and residences of the more affluent who might like to entertain.  These dumbwaiters were used by pulling a cord through a pulley system to raise or lower the cargo placed in the crate or car.
  • Modern dumbwaiters are power operated with the motor mounted above or below the car, the box cargo is placed in.    

Features of a Dumbwaiter

  • Car – This is the main component used to transport items between floors inside the shaft or hoist-way.  It can vary in size, depending on the needs and requests of the homeowner.  Most standard boxes are 20” x 20” x 30”, but most companies offer a couple alternate sizes as well. Cars can have openings on 3 sides to easily accommodate openings on various wall locations. All openings have a gate that closes to keep items in the car while travelling in the shaft.  Gates types vary from bi-fold, roll-top or collapsible.  
  • Weight Capacity – Most residential motorized dumbwaiters can safely carry 45 kg t0 90 kg.  A manual dumbwaiter safely carries about 45 kg.  If more weight is required, the customer can consider a commercial level dumbwaiter.
  • Stops – Obviously, the number of stops will depend on the customer’s needs.  However, with two stops being the minimum, most manufacturers offer three stops up to six.   Of course, if more is needed, that can usually be accommodated.
  • Safety – Dumbwaiters come with interlocks to ensure safety while the car is in use.  Most dumbwaiter manufacturers use electromagnetic locks (EMI), which lock all access doors when the unit is between floors or in use.
  • Speed – Most dumbwaiters travel 20-30 feet per minute (fpm) with the top speed about 50 fpm

The Final  Product

  • Finishes – There are a few choices for interior finishes of a dumbwaiter.  What a consumer wants to consider is how the dumbwaiter will be used.  Will there be a lot of heavy cargo sent back and forth or mainly smaller, lighter fare?  Manufacturers offer powdered coated steel, stainless steel, and some even provide wood panel cabs. What is standard and what is optional depends on the manufacturer.
  • Access Doors – This choice depends on customer choice. Do you want the finish to match current décor, or would you like to choose from a selection the manufacturer can offer?  The manufacturer will supply the interlocks for safety.  

Dumbwaiter Maintenance

As with any mechanical device, it is imperative to ensure timely maintenance schedules be followed. This holds especially true when safety can be an issue. Most residential dumbwaiters should be serviced by a licensed elevator technician only.  Generally, this would be done by the company that installed the unit, and a maintenance schedule is set up at the time of install.  When this is not an option, be sure to find a qualified technician authorized by the manufacturer.  You want to be sure that the suggested maintenance guidelines be followed, so the warranty stays intact.  


Doesn’t a residential dumbwaiter sound like the perfect way to add enjoyment to your home? The professional team at Calgary’s own Ascension Elevators would be happy to meet with you to discuss your options for a residential dumbwaiter.  To make an appointment for a consultation or to gather more information, call us at 587-885—2319 or email us at info@ascensionelevators.com.