Solving Commercial Door Problems

Finding solutions to commercial door problems requires taking the time necessary to discover the causes of the problems.


Size 4-1/2” heavy duty butt hinges are used on standard commercial doors. Doors more than three feet and six inches wide should be equipped with five-inch hinges. There is a significant difference between a 4-1/2” and a 5” hinge. Not only is the surface area larger, but also the leaves are larger, thicker and heavier. The pin is larger, as are the bearing surfaces.

For retrofit applications, when butt hinges screws no longer provide the ability to swing the door open and closed, there are two options, if the door is hollow metal or aluminum. The less expensive option is to try using threaded inserts, which can provide a stopgap measure. A better choice would be a continuous hinge. The continuous hinge runs almost the entire length of the door and jamb, redistributing the pressure on the mounting screws and the leaves. For very heavy or wide doors, threaded inserts may be required.

There are two types of continuous hinges: pin and barrel continuous hinges and aluminum geared continuous hinges. Pin and barrel continuous hinges are available in steel and stainless steel and are designed for high frequency applications of heavy or wide doors. The McKinney® pin and barrel continuous hinges can be used on fire labeled and non-labeled openings. These pin and barrel hinges are held together with a 3/16” stainless steel rod (pin). The hinges work on a flanged nylon bearing assembly, which eliminates premature wear and guarantees proper alignment. The McKinney 3500 Series pin and barrel hinges have a weight capacity of 900 pounds.

Select Products manufactures three models of aluminum geared continuous door hinges. Standard duty is designed for door up to 200 pounds; heavy duty is designed for door up to 600 pounds and extra heavy duty is designed for door up to 1,000 pounds. The patented Select Products continuous hinges are available in different configurations, finishes and rated up to 3 hour UL.

Failure To Close

The most common complaint from the end user is the door does not close, which can include the door does not open easily. Finding the cause can include more than one problem. Locksmiths need to thoroughly inspect both the door and jamb. We need to test the opening and closing operation of the door and check to see if the door is securely mounted to the jamb. Look at the floor and the header on the swing side of the door for evidence of door swing problems.

Here is a relatively short list of “door not closing” problems:

  • Weather strip
  • Door hardware and lock mechanisms damaged
  • Hinges no longer secured to the jamb or door
  • Hinges incorrect, worn, abused or improperly “adjusted”
  • Building settling
  • Jamb no longer plumb
  • Latch not entering strike plate
  • Door closer out of adjustment/ not operable
  • Door operator out of adjustment/not operable
  • Door warps or warped
  • Door damaged

And here is a more detailed list:

The weather strip can be too thick to permit the door to close completely. Install the proper size and type of weather strip for the application.

The door lock or exit device does not retract the latch and/or the bolt. This can be caused by the lock no longer functioning, being installed improperly, building settling or the door warped. Test the operation of the lock hardware. If there is a problem extending the latch, check the level of the device, the opening and for possible warping in the door.

The hinge screws are stripped or the doorframe or jamb is no longer securely attached. Through improper use or wear, hinges can become inoperable. Check to be certain the mounting screws are tight and the hinges operate properly. Lubricate the hinges.

As a building settles, door closing problems can arise. The settling issue is not an easy problem to solve. A building may settle and stay in this position for many years. A building may continue to settle, eventually making it impossible to open or close and latch the door. Each settling opening is unique and there is usually not a single best solution other than watch the problem and begin with the least expensive repairs.

The latch or bolt no longer enters the strike opening. Adjustment can be made.

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