What are the plumbing requirements for an elevator pit in the City of Austin?

February 1, 2016 by Chris Drake

What are the plumbing requirements for an elevator pit in the City of Austin?

Elevator related code requirements are set forth in ASME A17.1 “Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators”, CSA B44 “Safety Code for Elevators”, as well as The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations.  The code is published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and is a widely accepted and recognized handbook in the building code and engineering industries.

ASME A17.1/CSA B44 requires that all elevator pits for elevators that have Firefighters’ Emergency Operation, be provided with a drain or sump pump.  The pit drainage shall be designed to remove a minimum capacity of 3,000 gallons per hour (or 50 GPM) per elevator car.

Where this elevator waste is discharged to (and how it is treated) is a different story, that is most often dictated by the Authority Having Jurisdiction.  The jurisdiction will outline whether the discharge is routed to a sanitary sewer or storm system, whether it is directly or indirectly connected, or if additional protection (such as oil/water separation or an oil-sensing alarm) is required.

What are some of the discharge regulations within the City of Austin?

In the City of Austin, elevator discharge must comply with the requirements set forth by the City of Austin Industrial Waste Department.  This department will review substantially complete plans to verify that elevator discharge is compliant with their standards.  Official sign-off is required from Industrial Waste prior to the issuance of a building permit.

Some pertinent City of Austin Elevator Discharge requirements are as follows:

  1. The discharge is required to discharge to the storm system.
  2. An oil/water separator is not required, no matter the type of elevator. Some engineers prefer to err on the side of caution and like to provide a separator for hydraulic-type elevators. It is important early in the design that the engineer and owner discuss the pros/cons of providing added protection on the waste discharge (i.e.  Ongoing maintenance, first costs of adding systems, etc.)  In addition, hydraulic elevators in the City of Austin require a second sump lower than the sump pump to accept hydraulic fluid prior to the pump moving water.
  3. The pumped discharge line shall be tied to the site storm drainage system and is not permitted to be tied to the storm drain system within the building.
  4. A sample port should be provided outside the building on the discharge piping to allow for periodic monitoring and inspection of the elevator wastewater discharge to determine compliance with applicable effluent limitations. The sample well should be located in an accessible location, as approved by the City of Austin.
  5. If an elevator sump pump is located below the 100 year flood plain, its discharge piping shall rise above the 100 year flood plain elevation before connecting to a gravity drainage system.
  6. Piping shall be clearly labeled to define contents.
Sump Detail
Fig 1. Typical design detail for a hydraulic elevator sump pump in the City of Austin

In summary, the requirements for drainage of elevator pits is dictated by ASME A17.1 “Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators”, CSA B44 “Safety Code for Elevators”, as well as The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.  The authority having jurisdiction will provide mandates outlining the requirements for the discharge and treatment of the elevator waste.  It is important to factor in review time necessary for the Jurisdiction’s Industrial Waste/Pretreatment Review as this process can often take weeks to complete and approval is necessary prior to permit issuance.


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Written by Chris Drake

Chris Drake

Chris Drake is the Plumbing Discipline Leader at BIG RED DOG. He received a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and is a registered P.E. His professional experience includes the design of plumbing and HVAC systems in the campus, institutional, sports, federal, and manufacturing markets. His is also experienced in design/build, construction administration, and is a member of ASHRAE and ASPE. Chris originally hails from the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Outside of work, Chris enjoys exploring Austin and the surrounding hill country, traveling, and supporting the Buffalo Bills.