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Locks and Security News: your weekly locks and security industry newsletter
22nd March 2023 Issue no. 648

Your industry news - first


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Getting into the swing of things

* Swing.jpgDoor closers are essential builders' hardware which all security professionals should be familiar with.

Door closers are appropriate for just about any opening with a swinging door, and are required by Code for Fire Doors.

Why use door closers?


Door closers help control the environment within structures containing heating and cooling, and are therefore significant energy management tools; they keep the door closed when it not being used to pass through.


Door closers keep fire doors where they belong; closed. Of course fire doors are also required to be latched, but the door must be closed before it can be latched. A closed & latched fire door mitigates the spread of smoke, and contains the spread of fire. A properly secured fire door also protects first responders from doors exploding open and causing injuries when they respond to emergencies and attempt to enter a premises which is involved in a fire.

On labelled Fire Door Assemblies use a door closer listed for use on the particular assembly. Check out the label on the edge of the door and obtain the requirements for a suitable device.

If there is any question, submit the cutsheet for the door closer you intend to use to the Fire Marshal or whoever the AHJ is for the building or region and get their approval first.


Closed doors are also consistent with security management and are a necessary element in protecting against the consequences of unauthorized door use.

After installing a new lock or and access control on a door, performing a door inspection, or simply cruising through a premises to complete a service call, you may notice problems with the operation of doors as you pass thru them.

If you observe a door without a door closer you think should have one, you might suggest one, then be ready to go into your routine about the benefits of door closers.


There are many things which may prevent a door assembly from operating correctly, and door closers are a common point of failure.
Sometimes the problem is not the door closer. Be sure to inspect the hinges, the latch, the jamb, the strike, the threshold and condition of the door and frame for problems.

Was the door closer installed correctly?

If an existing installation, you may need to verify that the door closer was correctly installed in the first place.
Refer to the installation instruction for the particular door closer and verify:

* Position of the closer and the shoe
* Determine of the arm was properly preloaded.
* There are hydraulic valves which need to be adjusted properly
* The door closer is the proper rating for the particular door.
If the problem is a damaged arm or adjusting screw which can be repaired, then do that.


If there is hydraulic fluid on the closer or door or floor, this is an indication that the closer has reached the end of the line. If adjusting the valves has no apparent effect on the behavior of the door closer, it might indicate replacing it would be appropriate. If there has been physical damage to the door closer, replace it.

A premium closer has adjustments for:

* Spring Force: (Closing Power Control) increases or decreases the force required to open the door. This setting also affects the closing force. This setting should not exceed ADA opening force requirements and is measured with a door pressure gauge.
* Backcheck: Position The point in the door arc swing where the closer slows the door down prior to reaching full open position. Used to protect the door from damage from abuse or wind gusts.
* Backcheck Cushion The amount of braking the door closer applies. If too much braking is used it will injure or inconvenience door users as they bump into the door from its abrupt stopping. We refer to this as a" face plant".
* Closing Swing: (Sweep) Speed: How fast the door swings from open to closed position. Five seconds is a model timing.
* Latch Engage: The point on the door arc swing where the closer begins to compensate for the friction that can occur when the door engages the jamb, threshold and door strike.
* Latch Speed: The Latch engage will increase the closing speed of the door to help the door get to the fully closed position.
* Fully open position (not an adjustment but where the door closer body is mounted)
* Hold open (optional): if this feature is present, individuals fully open the door and it drops into a open mode and remains open until pulled out of the mode at which time it closes. One drawback of this feature is the door can be inadvertently (or deliberately) left open and there is no security or environmental control (heat and cooling) management.
* Delayed Action: (optional) causes the door to remain in the fully open position for a preset length of time after which it closes normally. Helpful in scenarios where carts or wheelchairs are passing through the door, and a little additional time is needed to navigate.

WHEN TO UPGRADE: The closer is supposed to CONTROL the door at all times. If the closer is not adequate then upgrade to a stronger model.

Building Codes

In the US, Federal, state, and even local building codes can have an impact on determining the door closer that is required.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) & Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) A156.4 DOOR CONTROLS-CLOSERS provides standards for door closers.

If doors are being installed into a high volume area use door closers that have been rated as Grade 1 closers.

The American Disability Act provides a list of clear requirements when looking at doors and door closers.

The ADA states that interior doors should require no more than 5 lbs of force to operate but does not specify the force required for exterior doors.
Typical maximum opening force for exterior doors ranges from 8.5 to 10 lbs. Any door so heavy and difficult to open that it prevents entrance by people with disabilities may deny them access which was why the ADA was originally enacted.

Heavy doors may require the addition of a door operator in order to provide the required accessibility to a building.
The ADA also states that the closing or swing speed shall not be faster than 5 seconds and the latching speed should be quick enough to latch the door, but not slam it. These are parameters which are controlled by the door closer.

29th April 2020

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