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A Dumbwaiter Guide

Aug 4, 2008
A Dumbwaiter is a device that has been used in homes, castles, and mansions for many hundreds of years. They are frequently pictured in movies and television as a means of escape for a hero or villain, but they are actually not intended to carry people, but are instead used to quickly and easily transport household goods.

Dumbwaiters are available in two basic designs: Manual and electric. Manual dumbwaiters were used up until recently in many settings. They usually use a rope and pulley system, which helps to reduce the amount of effort it takes to lift and lower the device. Some use a guided rail system, which keeps the car from hitting the wall, keeps it level, and improves stability. While ancient manual dumbwaiters, like those found in castles, were frequently able to support a good deal of weight, they were typically lifted and lowered by several people. Modern manual dumbwaiters usually support less than 50 pounds.

Electric dumbwaiters have grown in popularity as of late. Several changes to the way these devices are installed make it much easier to install them as well. To help speed up the installation process and make it easier, the car system is preinstalled onto a small section of track. The drive system is also pre-installed. The section of track is installed to the top of the shaft and then the rest of the interlocking track is installed, which is easier because mounting and installing the drive system and car was the most time consuming part of installing a dumbwaiter.

An electric dumbwaiter of course requires much less effort to operate. A series of call buttons are used to call and send the unit between floors. They are also able to support much more weight than a normal manual dumbwaiter can. Most residential dumbwaiters can support 100 pounds and most can be configured to support as much as 200 pounds. Commercial dumbwaiters, such as you might find at a hospital or hotel, can often times support as much as 1000 pounds. Even though these devices are able to support a great deal of weight, they are still not intended to be used to transport people. Elevators that transport people must meet several code requirements that are not required for dumbwaiters.

Both manual and electric dumbwaiters require a straight shaft between floors. Usually the shaft must be at least 2 feet wide by 2 feet long, but the dimensions vary by model. They can be configured to open on different sides though, so, if necessary, you could have the dumbwaiter open on one side in the kitchen and a different side in the basement. This must be specified at time of order though, because it will have to be specially configured in order to offer this functionality.

A dumbwaiter is a great way to help make work around the house go quicker and easier. Many people use them to stock their pantry, carry their laundry, and transport firewood. You do not see as many new manual dumbwaiters built, because most people now choose to install electrical dumbwaiters.
About the Author
Brad Brubaker is familiar with many living aids. Installing and using a dumbwaiter is a great way to improve your productivity and ,for those that are mobility challenged, can make the home much safer. To learn more about dumbwaiters or other living aids, visit AmeriGlide.
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