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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Later in life, I discovered that there are many different ways of looking at the hand of doors.

When ordering door closers there are only left-hand and right-hand versions, the same as ordering doors from a door manufacturer.

Carpenters mostly deal with doors and closers and usually someone else has ordered the lock for the door.

When ordering locks, there are four versions: left-hand and right-hand versions; then the left-hand-reverse-bevel and the right-hand-reverse-bevel versions.
So when locksmiths order doors or closers, the provider of those products do the conversions for the locksmiths.

As in Figure 9, when ordering a closer for a LHRB door, order a right-hand closer. When ordering a closer for a RHRB door, order a left-hand closer.

If a part is missing or broken relating to a door closer, do not attempt improvisation. It might look like a simple bolt or cotter pin might do the job, but in many cases these replacement parts fail.

Door closers are part of the life-safety system; treat them with that respect.

If you encounter jury-rigging, bring it to the customer’s attention for replacement with the manufacturers intended parts.

Figure 10 provides two excellent examples of closers that were found jury-rigged. In the top image a nail is holding the rod together. In the bottom image a 1/4x20 bolt is linking the rod with the forearm.

Before install, determine how far the door is meant to swing open.

The installation instructions and templates provided with the door closer might be for a certain degree of door opening. Make sure that you select the right degrees of opening.

The longer the door is intended to swing open, the further the closer hardware is mounted from the hinge-side. This translates to a greater force necessary to open the door.

In Figure 11, the closer is undersized and not installed correctly. Additionally the door can only open at 90 degrees and the closer does not feature a backcheck.

It’s a guarantee that the closer shoe or body will be torn loose from the door or jamb.

Sometimes conversion is better than replacement. In Figure12, the existing floor closers are deactivated so that top-mounted (surface-mounted) closers can be installed.

The reasons for the conversion is that the floor closer was constantly wet and swelling up. Every time the closer malfunctioned, the door had to be removed, and the closer replaced. The replacement cost of the floor closer was more money than to convert it and install a surface-mounted closer.

There are other instances where conversion makes sense. Storefront doors that swing both directions feature a set of concealed closers mounted in the head rail. The closers are problematic as one or both arms frequently “tweak”. This occurs when the doors are either manually over-extended or caught by the wind. Since there is no backcheck, the arms take the brunt of the force.

Once an arm is tweaked, the door no longer returns to center and is left open by several inches. It is not unusual that these doors are serviced several times a year. Each time one or both of closers or arms are replaced (unnecessarily).

I have found the best way to approach this is to: with the owner’s/manager’s permission, deactivate the concealed closers; install a door stop; and install a top-mounted closer on each door. Once this is done, the problems are solved.

The downside is that the doors no longer swing both directions and must be pulled open.

The upside is that a lot of money is saved eliminating needless door service while providing advanced features the old closer systems did not have.

ackchecks are added; all door controls are made adjustable (not just latch and speed); and the doors can provide real ADA compliance.

What is really cool is the conversion is less than the direct replacement of both closers.

Closer warrantees that work for you
I like to work with closers that feature 10-year or longer warrantees. It works for me as I provide to the customer with this length warranty on parts and a year on labor. This far exceeds the one year on parts and 90 days on labor provided by the customer’s last service company.

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