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For several hundred years, dumbwaiters have been a proven convenience in homes and businesses. Dumbwaiters are simply a box that has been enclosed in a shaft that allows it to move between the floors of a building. The box carries heavy loads of anything, including food and laundry, that needs to be moved from floor to floor. Doors provide access to the box wherever needed. Most domestic dumbwaiters can carry loads of 50 to 100 pounds from the basement to as high as a fourth floor. The shaft generally measures about two square feet and can be built into the walls when the building is constructed or retrofitted into an existing structure.

If you are thinking of installing a dumbwaiter, consider the following:

  • The simplest and least expensive dumbwaiters are pulled by a rope from floor to floor. A pulley at the top of the shaft guides the rope and a counterweight helps with the lifting. Tracks within the shaft keep the box from binding or banging against the shaft walls to ensure that the dumbwaiter operates quietly.
  • Electric dumbwaiters are easier to operate. They are powered by a small motor that controls a belt or chain drive that raises or lowers the box at about 30 feet per minute. Most have build-in safety brakes and interlocks that prevent the dumbwaiter from operating if the door is open. They can also be equipped with locks that prevent the system from operating without a key a safety feature that is important if there are children living in the house.
  • Dumbwaiter doors can open on more than one side, and more than one door per floor can be included in the system. Doors can be designed

    to be obvious, or they can be disguised to blend in to the wall.

Commercial dumbwaiters that are larger and can carry heavier loads are also available.

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