Important Emergency Hoistway Water Sensor Code Update

Your elevator consultant, BOCA Group, would like to inform you that a new retroactive elevator-related requirement is being considered by the City of Houston as part of the adoption of the 2015 International Building Code. The details of these changes are currently being discussed and are subject to further modifications before they are finalized and passed by the City Council. In consideration of your budget planning for 2022, we are providing this preliminary notice before all of the details are finalized.

We currently expect the new requirements to include the installation of a water sensor in each elevator hoistway within buildings located inside the 100-year and 500-year floodplain, as well as elevators located outside the floodplain that travel below grade level. The water sensor shall be installed to automatically override and limit the elevator controls to prevent the elevator from descending into flooded areas. The sensor will also limit the lowest level of elevator cab travel to a designated floor approved by the fire code official until the flooding has receded. The activation of the automatic water sensor override shall activate visual or audio notification to the building’s management. Return to the normal operation of the elevator control systems shall require a manual reset by a Texas licensed elevator contractor.

The details and timeframes are subject to change, but the code provision shall likely be retroactive and applicable to all existing and annexed structures having elevators. The expected deadline to achieve compliance is on or before December 31, 2026.

Once the requirement is passed, we recommend that you contact your elevator maintenance provider for a proposal to achieve compliance. As your leading vertical transportation consultant, BOCA Group can assist with this process by reviewing proposals, providing guidance and advice, and other related services.

If you would like additional information about BOCA Group’s services, if you have questions and concerns regarding the expected changes to the City of Houston Building Code, or if you’d like to discuss budgets for the upcoming 2022 year, please email your account manager or contact our general mailbox at We will keep you updated with additional information regarding these requirements when the details are finalized.

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