Taking on Door Closer Service

The service life of a lock is directly dependant upon how well the door closer performs.


Door closer service and lock service are inter-related. The service life of a lock is directly dependant upon how well the door closer performs. I remember when I got serious about door closers. I was visiting my good friend George Redmond at Redmond’s Key Service. We were about to go to...


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If the door serves a courtroom or library, the latching arc will be especially slow so that the door doesn’t slam and create a distraction.

In Figure 7, door controls can be achieved by turning each hydraulic valve. The delayed-action control is not displayed as this is usually optional and is not featured in this illustration.

Of course the door controls cannot be adjusted correctly if the door closer is too weak or strong for the door it is intended to control.

Closer sizes
It is necessary to match the closer size with the door. All closers are sized by the weight of doors they are to control.
Closer sizes are designated as 2 through 6.
There are two tables to consider as exterior doors are built heavier than interior doors.

Table 1. EXTERIOR DOOR WIDTH
24” to 30” use a #3 closer size
30” to 36” use a #4 closer size
36” to 42” use a #5 closer size
42” to 48” use a #6 closer size

Table 2. INTERIOR DOOR WIDTH
24” to 34” use a #2 closer size
34” to 38” use a #3 closer size
38” to 48” use a #4 closer size
48” to 54” use a #5 closer size
54” to 60” use a #6 closer size

In each case, the width of the door increases the weight proportionately. However, not all doors follow the above tables. Some doors are heavier, resulting in a larger closer size required to adequately close the door.

Some door closers come non-sized. That is they are adjustable from 2 through 6.

In Figure 8, the size increases as the screws is turned clockwise. Usually closers that are size adjustable come pre-set from the factory to #3.

Reduced opening and closing forces
Any manual closer, including those certified by BHMA and ANSI to conform to ANSI Standard A156.4, may not provide sufficient power to reliably close or latch the door. In this case a power operator is recommended.

Power operators can open the door directly or can provide an assist to opening necessary to comply with code requirements. All power operators are directly or indirectly operated by electricity. Some use an electric motor, while others use electro-hydraulic and pneumatics systems powered by electricity.

The ADA defines an “accessible” opening as: one that provides a minimum 32” opening (36” door); easily manipulated handles (lever locks); a maximum opening force; a minimum closing time; and a capability of opening to at least 90 degrees.

These ADA requirements (similar to ANSI A117.1 requirements) are based on opening force. Basically interior doors will be operable with a maximum opening force of 5.0 lbs. and exterior doors may be increased to 8.0 lbs. Different states and municipalities may have different standards. When in doubt, contact your local authority having jurisdiction.

ANSI Standard A156.4 concerns itself with closing and latching force.

A problem occurs when closers rated for A156.4 are adjusted to ADA requirements. When closers are adjusted to open with these minimum forces, the closing force is also tuned down. When adjusted in this manner, closers may not necessarily have enough power to latch reliably. In these cases, power operators or equalizers are recommended.

Handing door closers, doors, and locks
Some door closers are non-handed. There are extra parts provided to switch the hand from left-hand to right-hand.

What about a RHRB (right-hand reverse bevel) or LHRB (left-hand reverse bevel) doors?

Next year I’ll celebrate 30 years as a locksmith and the controversy regarding handing continues.

If you ask a carpenter, doors are either right-handed or left-handed. Their rule-of-thumb is: stand against the hinge-side of the door jamb and swing your hand to simulate the door operation. If you used your left-hand, the door is left-handed; if you used your right, it is right-handed.

If you ask a locksmith, standing on the outside (the locked side) if the hinges are on the left, the door is left-handed; if they are on the right, the door is right-handed. Additionally, if the door opens outward, it is also reverse-beveled.

During my first decade as a locksmith, I thought carpenters were wrong about this. I had carpenters on more than one occasion return locksets because the handing was wrong.

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