Door closing gear is found in nearly every commercial structure. This crucial and often overlooked piece of equipment serves vital functional and safety roles. Without door closers, the massive doors found in many commercial buildings could potentially slam shut on occupants, leading to inconvenient and potentially dangerous situations. More importantly, fire codes generally require positive latching mechanisms on interior commercial doors, and door closing equipment can provide this vital function.
Despite their importance and ubiquity, many building owners ignore these essential functional items. Door closers can fail or become misaligned over time, leading to doors that close improperly, potentially hazardous situations, and costly code violations. If you haven't down so recently, then now is the perfect time to inspect your building's doors.
Minor Issues: Signs of Misalignment
A door closer in need of adjustment can exhibit several symptoms. In general, a properly functioning closer should smoothly shut the door when released. More importantly, the door should close fully and latch shut. This final point is known as positive latching, and it is an essential fire code requirement. Note that closing speed can vary between door closer models and by user preference, so you may need to use your judgment when determining if a speed adjustment is required.
For a typical door closer, it is possible to adjust the speed of the closing action for both the majority of the door travel and for the final few degrees before latching. An adjustment is also usually available to adjust the door's resistance to being opened too far. If any of these variables seem off, then your door is likely in need of adjustment rather than repair.
Major Issues: Signs of Repair or Replacement
While most issues with door closers can be addressed with a simple adjustment, there are signs of more serious trouble to note, as well. Before attempting to adjust any door, perform a detailed visual inspection of the door closer. Note the action of the arm as the door closes, and be aware of any usual signs of evidence that the arm may be binding. These symptoms can indicate a lubrication problem that may be easily fixed with some penetrating oil.
Your door closer may require replacement, however, if there is evidence of leaking hydraulic fluid or if there is no longer any resistance in either direction. A door closer that is functioning properly should never allow a door to slam shut, the unit may have reached the end of its life if you can no longer make adjustments to prevent this.
Door closers may be easy to ignore, but they are vital building safety elements. Keeping your building occupants safe means regularly inspecting, adjusting, and replacing your door closers as necessary.