Haunted Elevator?

Our elevator, an Oliver and Williams hydraulic, services three levels. At least once an evening, usually after business hours, the doors open on their own, either on the second or third floor. Sometimes it will ride to another floor and open where it stops. As facilities manager I asked the elevator tech if the elevator was performing some kind of nightly maintenance check, or if we have a ghost, "haha." He said there's no way this type of elevator can perform a daily check on itself, it's not that sophisticated. He felt more comfortable telling me that it's a ghost rather than telling me it is something mechanical or a manual routine performance check. He had no other answer as to why it was opening/ascending/descending on its own and was puzzled.

Again it usually does this after business hours. Regular business hours are between 7am-6pm. I have seen it open on its own at 7pm, 1030pm, 3am etc. Only once have I seen it open by itself during the workday, which was today, at around 3pm. The time it opened at 3am I was working very late and it scared the heck out of me, I did all I could not to run out of the building. Two other employees beside myself have witnessed this happening, all after the usual business hours.

If anyone has any insight please let me know.



  • Sounds like moisture condensing on the controls in the elevator or in the controls closet. As the building cools off in the evening and the AC runs less this phenomenon becomes more likely. This is especially true if the AC switches to an energy conserving setting at night and/or the relative humidity in your area is high. If you are in an area with low humidity, it could simply be that the base of the elevator shaft is retaining water. If you live in a high humidity area, you may want to consider putting space heaters in the controls cabinet or running a dehumidifier nearby.
  • I've had an older elevator have issues with hydraulic fluid loss and cause similar issues (seals leaking). The car would drop with the loss very gradually. Not noticeable during the day but after a while at night it would hit a limit and either self level or shut off on over run. Perhaps something like this is at play, but I like the ghost theory.
  • ours did it also. it is from not being used is what the company said. after so much time of no use, it cycles to circulate the oil. doors open and close, and
    changes levels. itold teachers and some kids it was haunted and they will not walk by it any more. LOL it is normal for the doors to open and close
    and to change levels.
  • In reply to Chad:

    I had similar experiences with an Otis Hydraulic , and I used to send the elevator to the basement every night so there'd be no "witnesses".
    It turned out that the oil was leaking due to worn seals at the shaft: the recovery bucket was the evidence as it had to be emptied back to the pump more often .
    Once the oil level goes down, the car drops, the sensors activate the leveler, and as the car gets to level,it opens the doors. Then the doors close on time, as pre-programmed.

    It sounds to me that the tech needs either more training, or more brains.... Replacing the seals is a job that the tech may not want to do, if were aware of the cause.
    Good luck, get a second bid on maintenance too.
  • Have you noticed any type of pattern in time, which might suggest a timer that cycles the system after a certain period of non-use? I would lean in that direction (being of an electrical background), but the hydraulic leaking possibility sounds good, too. However, it never hurts to have a good ghost story ready.
  • Steve/cipoletto — I'm dying to know. Did anybody diagnose the issue correctly? Is your elevator exorcised?
  • In reply to Naomi Millán:

    mine is correct. i have contacted the company
  • Maybe you could check in storage for the humidity like these other guys here are saying, but otherwise it could be possible that the lift was programmed to do so? Is this something that is SUDDENLY happening or has it been happening all the while? Whatever it is, don't let your imagination run away with you. I personally don't like the idea of being in a building with a ghost at all and I don't think you should think about it too much if it doesn't cause any problems.

  • Thanks for all the responses. I did not know there were any since the reply notifications function was turned off.
    What I read points to a purely mechanical cause for the spooky elevator operation. Which is good to know and will bring it to the attention of the tech. However the "official" story will be that it is haunted.
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