Servicing Door Hardware: Preventative Maintenance

A discussion on basic door maintenance.


The condition of the door and jamb greatly affects the opening and closing, as well as the operation of a door closer and lock(s). Preventative maintenance can keep the door and door hardware operating for many years. Preventative maintenance is also a way for locksmiths to offer customers a service...


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The condition of the door and jamb greatly affects the opening and closing, as well as the operation of a door closer and lock(s). Preventative maintenance can keep the door and door hardware operating for many years. Preventative maintenance is also a way for locksmiths to offer customers a service program that not only helps to ensure a proper operating door(s), but also can increase the locksmith’s bottom line.

To make a preventative maintenance service program much less expensive for your customer and yourself, it can be written in such a way that the service calls will be scheduled around other service calls in the customer’s area. This avoids the necessity of a dedicated service call, making the call much less time expensive.

The time between service calls is determined by amount of traffic through the door(s).

For this article, we will discuss basic door maintenance, including the door, the hinges/pivots, closer, and lock(s).

The first step is to observe the door hardware and the door. Is the door scratched or damaged? Is the hardware worn, loose, corroded or damaged? Is the lock(s) proper for the door’s application? Can the door swing too far and contact the wall? Is the door in the public area? A door whose hardware is scratched or rusted can be an eyesore in public, but not a big deal in a warehouse or employee only area. Consider installing a suitable doorstop. Remember a conventional door stop mounted into the floor can be a trip hazard.

Observe the door when closed. Is there any bow in the door? Does the door fit flush within the jamb? If not, the door may need an intermediate hinge/pivot or to be replaced depending upon the degree of the problem. If there is no warpage problem, does the door fit evenly into the opening? Is there an even gap at the sides? If not, check the hinges or pivots. Tighten all screws including those securing the lock and/or latch into the door and the strike plate into the jamb. Will the screws tighten into the door or the jamb? If not, and the screw is mounting into wood, add material such as a wood toothpick or matchstick to the hole and the screw should tighten. Before inserting the material, use a small amount of white/carpenter's glue to ensure a secure fit. If the screw mounts into metal, a Nutcert may be needed in order to tighten the screw.

For both aluminum and steel frame doors and jambs, hinge mounting plates can become unusable. One solution is to replace the hinges with a continuous hinge. Different types of continuous hinges will accommodate the different jamb types, door weights and opening requirements.

How large is the gap between the lock side of the door and the jamb? If the opening is large enough and the door swings out, it may be a good idea to install a guard plate to protect the latch.

Look at the threshold and the header. Are there any wear marks caused either by the dragging of the door, a loose component or screws? A pivot-equipped center-hung door will have to be lowered in order to examine and tighten the screws.

Try opening and closing the door. Does the door swing smoothly? If the door does not close smoothly, try lubricating the hinges/pivots. Also lubricate the lock, latch and other door hardware. When lubricating the lock, use a lubricant recommended by the manufacturer. Check the operation of the lock using the available keys. See how an original key operates the lock cylinder when the door is closed and when the door is open. If the key is hard to operate when the door is open, the problem is either the lock cylinder or the key. Remember: Duplication of a problem key seldom solves the problem.

If the key is hard to operate when the door is closed but easy to operate when the door is open, there probably is a problem with the latch/strike alignment. If the door is equipped with pivots, check to see if the pivots are worn by opening the door and pushing in and up on the door. If there is movement, try adjusting the pivots. A worn pivot will probably require replacement.

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