Door Closers: Repair or Replace?

June 3, 2019
The Norton 7500 Series Door Closer’s high performance, strength and quality make it ideal for interior or exterior doors in facilities that demand reliability

Door closers are appropriate for just about any opening, and actually required by code for Fire Doors. However, door closers go pretty much unnoticed until they malfunction. Although door closers are generally very reliable and robust, they frequently require expert attention.

Become an expert and profit from repairing, replacing and adjusting door closers for your customers.

Why use door closers?

Air Handling/Environmental Control. Door closers help control the environment within structures containing heating and cooling, and are therefore significant energy management tools. They keep the door closed and the weather out when not being transgressed.

Fire And Smoke Door Requirements. Door closers keep fire doors where they belong -- closed. Of course fire doors are also required to be latched under most conditions, but the door must be closed before it can be latched.  A closed and 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.

Facility Security. Closed doors are also consistent with security management and are a necessary element in securing an opening.

When To Do A New Install

1. When there is no existing door closer present, and

2. A door closer is required because your client requests one or you’ve added access control to the door, or

3. The Fire Marshal says the door is a Fire Door and a door closer is required to pass inspection.

Remember if it is a fire door, use a door closer listed for use on the particular door.

Check out the label on the edge of the door and obtain the requirements for a suitable device, or submit the cutsheet for the door closer you intend to the Fire Marshal or Local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and get it approved first.

When To Repair/Adjust

After installing a new lock and/or access control unit on a door, you may notice problems where the door does not completely close, or there are other functional issues with how the door closer allows the door to swing either when opening or closing.

Sometimes these issues are associated with the air temperature; sometimes they result from stack pressure inside the building and sometimes the door operator is damaged or worn out.

Occasionally problems occur because the door closer was not installed correctly or it is not the proper rating for the particular door.

Bear in mind that sometimes the problem is NOT the door closer. Be sure to inspect the hinges and condition of the door and frame.

If the problem is a damaged arm or adjusting screw which can be repaired, then do that. If the door closer does not respond to therapy (the appropriate adjustments), it is likely internally damage and needs to be replaced.

If this was an existing installation, you may need to verify that the door closer was correctly installed in the first place. Some things to check out:

  • Position of the closer and the shoe
  • Determine of the arm was properly preloaded.
  • There are hydraulic valves which need to be adjusted properly

A premium closer such as the NORTON #7500 has adjustments for

  • Backcheck Position
  • Backcheck Cushion
  • Closing Swing Speed
  • Latch Engage
  • Latch Speed
  • Closing Power Control

Use an ADA Accessibility Force Gauge when adjusting the door closer.

When To Replace

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.

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.

Sometimes prevailing conditions will warrant a stronger door closer than the door’s size might indicate. For example, exterior doors on a building in Battery Park used to get ripped off their hinges by the strong gusts of wind, and stairwell doors in high towers in Chicago were subject to stack pressure which required special accommodations in order to hold them closed.

The Installation

Begin with a site survey to determine:

·         Size and weight of the door

·         Location of the door (exterior, interior)

·         Opening and closing frequency (main entry or only occasionally used)

·         Mounting location (where you can mount the door closer and arm)

·         Affordability

·         Backswing requirements (how far the door will be able to swing open will determine the mounting and location of the door closer)

Federal, state, and even local building codes can have an impact on determining the door closer required. The Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provide extensive standards for door closers.

Door closers have the following requirements:

·         Grade 1: 2,000,000 cycles at 60% efficiency

·         Grade 2: 1,000,000 cycles at 60% efficiency

·         Grade 3: 500,000 cycles at 50% efficiency

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 (ADA) 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 pounds 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.

Overhead door closers are the most common and perfect for retrofits.

Regular Arm: The regular arm, or standard arm, closer is a pull-side application. The arms, when closed, project out perpendicularly from the door. This is the most power-efficient option available.

Top Jamb: Top jamb door closers, like regular arm closers, have arms that project out from the door perpendicularly.

Parallel Arm: Parallel arm door closers are one of the most common applications, particularly in commercial properties and schools, because they reduce the risk of vandalism to the arm and they are more attractive than other overhead options. These are less power efficient than regular arm and top jamb closers.

Other Types of Door Closers

Concealed: Concealed closers are fitted into recesses in the door and frame. Often storefront doors have closers concealed in the header, and carpenters drill into them when they are trying to install electromagnetic locks. Storefront doors are relatively light in weight, so removing the door to service the closer is not the end of the world.

Floor-Spring: Floor-spring closers are typically used on glass storefront doors. They are mounted in the floor and collect dirt and moisture. They usually attach through the bottom pivot, so replacing them involves Removing the door in order to service it.

 Our installation was on a hollow metal lightweight door with a pretty deep soffit. After explaining all the options, the end-user requested a parallel arm installation and a 90-degree swing. The Norton 7500 door closer met all requirements.

The Norton 7500 Series Door Closer offers customers the ideal combination of superior performance, strength and quality.

Features include:

  • Adjustable spring sizes 1 through 6 (ADA Compliant)
  • Tri-Style® packaging for regular, top jamb or parallel arm mounting
  • Exceeds 25 million cycles
  • Non-handed
  •  Rack-and-pinion design
  •  Cast aluminum body
  •  2-3/16" (56mm) projection
  • 1-1/2" (38mm) diameter piston
  • 5/8" (16mm) diameter pinion journals
  • Staked valves
  • Standard, separate and independent, latch, sweep and backcheck intensity valves
  • Backcheck positioning valve
  •  NorGlide® fluid
  • Molded plastic cover
  • All standard arm applications allow doors to swing 180°, conditions permitting
  • Self-drilling screws
  • Slide Tracks: push or pull side mounting

Optional Features:

  • Heavy-duty arms: Regular Rigid, Parallel Rigid, CloserPlus®, CloserPlus Spring™ and Unitrol®
  • Corrosion resistant model (non-hold open only). Specify 7500SS
  • Metal cover. Specify M suffix
  • Lead lined metal cover. Specify MLL suffix
  • Enhanced backcheck. Specify EBC suffix
  • Delayed action with pressure relief valve
  • Retrofit plates

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