Elevator Jack Replacement Cost: A Buyer’s Guide

Hydraulic Elevator Jack Replacements: A Buyer’s Guide To Improve Cost

Elevator cylinder replacement costs and full elevator jack replacement costs can start at $40,000 to $50,000 and run as high as $75,000 if drilling is required.   This guide will help you reduce cost. 

Free Elevator Jack Calculator:
A quick tool to estimate the cost to replace your elevator jack: Calculate Now

​So your elevator jack or elevator cylinder needs to be replaced.  I think you’ll agree when I say:

Elevator work is expensive. Hydraulic elevator jack replacements are extremely expensive.  There’s not much I can do to improve my situation.  

Or is there?

As it turns out, there are a few things to keep in mind to save money and dramatically improve your situation. 

In this post, I’m going to explain what those things are and how you can quickly improve cost. 

Let’s dig into the details of elevator jacks, cylinders, and pistons. 
Elevators are no cheap investment today. They require upkeep, significant installation costs, and consistent monitoring to ensure your building tenants or condo owners are happy with their performance. 

​Since you’re not an elevator expert yourself, from time to time, you have questions about your elevator. 

​More specifically, you have questions about a pending hydraulic elevator cylinder replacement. 

By understanding the answer to each of the below questions, you’ll improve your situation and reduce your overall cost. 

elevator jack replacement

​Do I have a hydraulic or traction elevator?

​Traction elevators are attached to steel hoist cables, supported by a hoisting machine somewhere in the building. These elevators run on long bearing guide rails and come with counterweights to offset their movement. 

Traction elevators will never require elevator cylinder replacements.

Hydraulic elevators (which are the most popular) are raised by forcing pressurized oil through a valve into a steel cylinder that is anchored into the ground. The pressure forces a piston to rise, lifting the elevator platform, and vice versa with lowering. Therefore, the performance of the jack cylinder is essential to the success of this kind of elevator. 

Hydraulic elevators may eventually need a jack replacement. If your elevator is hydraulic, keep reading. 

What are signs of hydraulic elevator jack failure?

Your hydraulic elevator uses many gallons of oil.  Loss of oil needs to be identified and accounted for.  If oil is lost and you can’t find where it went, you should start to look for a  leak in your elevator jack.  

​Oil may leak from the elevator seal or valve, but can usually be accounted for.  If you have unexplained oil loss, it’s time to test if you elevator jack leaks.  It’s entirely possible you’ll find hydraulic elevator cylinder failure. 

hydraulic elevator leak-down test

​How do I test my elevator before buying a hydraulic elevator jack replacement?

Since there’s no easy way to submerge yourself into the earth to examine an elevator cylinder, you can perform a full load static test and monitor the system for oil loss.

This involves loading the elevator to its rated load and checking if the elevator drops. If the elevator has a significant drop and loss of oil (which is unaccounted for), then the elevator would fail the test confirming a leak in the jack. 

This test is often called an “elevator leak-down test”.  The elevator leak-down test usually costs a few thousand dollars. 

The cost of this test is only a small fraction of the total cost to replace the elevator jack.  It’s important to ask for the results of the test, which is how far the elevator dropped and over what period of time. 

Depending on the results, your elevator may warrant a second test before jumping into a costly elevator cylinder replacement.  Buildings have saved thousands of dollars by double checking the results of the test and proving the elevator jack is not leaking. 

​If you already have results, we recommend contacting us and sharing the results. Just having a bit more information could save you from a massive capital expense. 

​Why would my hydraulic elevator cylinder fail?

It could be one of two things: the dirt, water, or air surrounding your piston is tampering with its performance through corrosion; or the welds attached to the single bottom disc are failing or leaking. 

Could I prevent elevator jack failure?

​It’s important to understand the excluded components of your elevator maintenance contract. 

Underground cylinders are impossible to maintain and almost always excluded from your service agreement. 

​Other than new technologies developed to prevent failure, nothing would have stopped the leak. 

hydraulic elevator cylinder replacement

My elevator was made before 1989; should I be worried?

For elevators made before 1989 when PVC liner became mandatory for elevator cylinders, your jacks are more likely subject to underground conditions, which contribute to rusting and wear/tear.  

​ If your elevator was installed before 1971, it might have a single bottom cylinder which would further increase your risk for failure. 

What’s an elevator plunger gripper?

If your single bottom elevator cylinder has not failed, but you’re considering a replacement to meet local code, there is another option to meet code.  Some local authorities accept the installation of an elevator plunger gripper. 

A plunger gripper costs significantly less than a full elevator jack replacement. 

​The elevator plunger gripper automatically detects unintended, and excessive downward motion then deploys the gripper to stop the elevator.  

I think my hydraulic elevator jack failed; what is at risk?

When elevator jacks fail, you not only have a passenger safety issue, you also have an environment danger on your hands as well.

Hydraulic fluid can seep into the soil and groundwater, leading to expensive environmental remediation work. The elevator should be removed from service until repaired.

​Additionally, it can take up to 10-weeks for unplanned jack replacement when it becomes an emergency.  

hydraulic elevator jack replacement

​Do elevator jacks fail slowly or suddenly?

Unfortunately, elevator jacks tend to suddenly fail, with no indications of prior problems. It’s directly related to the complex and varying underground soil and water conditions. 

​If you have old elevators or suspect something is up, it’s financially valuable to understand your options to improve safety. 

How to catch elevator cylinder failure quickly?

As part of your elevator maintenance, your provider should keep an ongoing oil log.

​This helps document oil level changes and helps you identify situations where oil is lost.  

How is an elevator hydraulic jack replaced?

The elevator is hoisted and hung at the top of the hoistway. 

The piston is removed from the elevator cab platform. 

The entire jack assembly is removed from the hole, sometimes cut into multiple pieces.  Then wholly removed from the elevator hoistway.

The empty hole is cleaned from all debris and oil, and the new elevator jack is installed. 

The elevator cab platform is resecured to the piston.  The elevator is tested and then removed from service. 

​Replacing your jacks with PVC protected and top quality elevator cylinders will protect the environment, dramatically reduce future jack replacement time, reduce service interruptions for your building occupants, and improve the longevity of your elevator system.

Here’s a great video created by Guardian Elevator showing you the elevator cylinder replacement process. 

elevator jack replacement cost

What is an elevator jack replacement cost?

​Our free hydraulic elevator jack replacement cost calculator can be used to estimate your cost quickly. 

​This will help you budget and confirm if your price is fair. 

What other risks and unexpected cost should I be aware of?

The existing soil and underground conditions are unpredictable.  When the current cylinder is removed from the ground, the hole may collapse.  

Depending on your proximity to a body of water and elevation, the hole may flood.  If the hole collapses or floods the total cost of your project could significantly increase.  

​In the worst cases, it could double your total cost.  It’s important to understand the overall risk. 

elevator cylinder replacement cost

Does my proposal include all costs?

You have a proposal for your jack replacement.  You’re wondering if the proposal includes everything.  You want to avoid unexpected costs after the proposal is signed. 

​Our free proposal review service will help with that.  Upload your proposal here for free, and get the quick feedback you need. 


​Hydraulic elevator jack replacements are expensive.  By using our free tools above ( Leak-Down Result Review Tool, Jack Replacement Cost Calculator, and Proposal Review Service) you can quickly improve cost and your position during this project.  

If you have additional questions, ElevatorLab was created to help buildings with elevator problems.  You can ask us any question you’d like.  Contact us with any questions you have.  

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