Construction hoists act as an integral tool on many construction sites for facilitating the vertical transportation of materials, equipment, and personnel. Unfortunately, when you implement hoists in harsh industrial environments and use them on highly demanding projects, problems can occur overtime. Immediately resolving such issues is essential to ensuring the safety of your workers and preventing the problem from getting worse. If your construction hoist has begun to show signs of struggle, consult this guide on troubleshooting common hoist problems to find a solution to the issue.

The Problem: Load Drift

Load drift refers to when you stop a construction hoist and it continues to drift a distance of at least four inches. Such a shift can pose a significant safety threat as well as alter production and halt the efficiency of a project. If your construction hoist experiences load drift, you should immediately shut it down until you have identified and resolved the issue. In many cases, load drift indicates that the construction hoist may eventually experience a load failure or that the hoist is in violation of OSHA, ANCI, or other safety regulatory bodies.

The Solution to Load Drift

Load drift can have many different causes. If you’re lucky, the issue will simply be that the air gap on the brake of your hoist is too wide. In such a case, you can simply resolve the problem by adjusting the air gap setting on your construction hoist according to the manufacturer guidelines. However, the solution to load drift isn’t always so simple.

In many cases, load drift results from a failing brake lining. If the brake lining has become too worn down or damaged, you will need to have it replaced with a new one. It is also possible in a more modern construction hoist that you are experiencing a problem with the variable frequency drive.

The Problem: The Hoist Has Trouble Lifting of Lowering

Another common construction hoist problem is when the hoist has issues lifting or lowering. In some cases, the hoist will lower, but not lift which is often the result of overloading the hoist, or a loose or broken circuit wire connection, or a tripped lower limit switch contact.

In other cases, the hoist may lift but not lower which may result from a short in the resistor bank, failed resistor coils, or an open hoisting circuit or lower limit switch contact.

In worst case scenarios, the hoist may have trouble both lifting and lowering which often results from a blown fuse, a faulty setting, or an overheated motor. Below, we will address potential solutions to all these issues.

The Solution to Hoist Lifting or Lowering Issues

If your construction hoist lifts but doesn’t lower or lowers but does not lift, the most common solution to the problem will be to check the electrical circuit of your hoist. If you notice any defective components, having them repaired or replaced should resolve the issue. When your hoist lifts, but does not lower, another potential solution is to inspect the hoist’s resistor and repair or replace it if it has incurred damage. In the case that neither of these solutions prove effective, consult the operating manual and electrical diagram of your hoist for more specified solutions.

If your construction hoist does not lift or lower properly, check for a blown fuse and replace it if necessary. You should also check to make sure that the emergency stop button on the hoist is not on and that the mainline switch has been turned on correctly.

The Problem: Strange Noises

While all construction hoists will make some degree of noise when in operation, strange noises are a cause for concern. If you notice that the noises coming from your construction hoist sound different than they usually do, try implementing the following troubleshooting procedures.

The Solution to Strange Noises

Like many of the issues on this list, strange noises coming from your construction hoist can have a variety of different causes and solutions. For example, the source of the strange sounds could simply be a dirty rope pulley that requires cleaning and more lubrication. Or a missing or damaged polyurethane washer. Or perhaps the racks and pinions on your hoist have become worn down and require replacing. You may also be overdue for a typical lubrication and maintenance appointment. If none of these solutions resolve your issue, consult a professional construction hoist mechanic to identify and address the problem. Depending on your local jurisdiction and hoist contractor, you may not be permitted to perform any of these tasks whatsoever and should wait for a qualified mechanic.

The Problem: A Damaged Hoist Frame

Because construction hoists are typically used to complete highly demanding tasks in harsh environments, damage can sometimes occur to the hoist frame. Often, hoist frame damages result from overloading your hoist, dropping the hoist, running the hoist beyond its limits, or subjecting the hoist to side pulls at a substantial angle due to a strike. You may also simply have a low-quality hoist on your site from an irreputable manufacturer who has used inferior materials and assembly practices. Regardless of the cause, if your hoist frame shows signs of cracking or other forms of damage, you should implement the following measures immediately to resolve the problem.

The Solution to a Damaged Hoist Frame

In the case of a damaged hoist frame, make sure to stop production and completely remove it. Upon doing so, you should carefully inspect each component for signs of damage with the proper tools. Once you have identified the cracked or damaged components, remove them and replace them in accordance with the instructions in the hoist’s owner’s manual and with consultation from an engineer A construction hoist carries people, you cannot take chances.

The Problem: Jerky Operation

Overtime, your construction hoist may also begin to experience jerky operation. In other words, the hoist may jump or jolt when lowering or lifting. Such a problem is a cause for concern as sudden jolts could result in injury to workers. As such, you should take measures to identify and resolve the issue as soon as possible.

The Solution to Jerky Construction Hoist Operation

To troubleshoot this common hoist problem, Make sure your construction hoist brakes are correctly adjusted per the manufacturers instructions and wear tolerances. Also, make sure that the parameters of the drive are suitable for the hoist – and that there is no damage or misalignment to the encoder (if present).

Another potential solution is to inspect the rack and tower. It is possible there are “pinch points”, especially if the tower or rack is poorly aligned. The hoist may be striking or rubbing in an area causing the issues. The same applies to hoistway components like enclosures of landing gates which may be in the hoistway.

To avoid construction hoist maintenance issues as much as possible, purchase your next system from a top-quality hoist supplier such as UCEL Inc. Since 1963, we have provided exceptional quality equipment—from construction hoists to skip hoists to buck hoists—that offers uncompromised safety and meets the highest ANSI, TUV, and CSA requirements. In terms of reliability, our track record speaks for itself. With over 700 machines sold in the U.S., zero have been decommissioned from age or maintenance requirements. To find a high-quality system for your construction project at a competitive price, contact us today.

Troubleshooting Common Construction Hoist Problems