Building Design and Construction

Door-Closing Devices

These include overhead closers, either surface-mounted or concealed, and floortype closers. These are some of the hardest-worked items in most buildings. To get the most satisfactory operation at low first cost and low maintenance cost, each closer should be carefully selected and installed to suit the particular requirements and conditions at each door.

Most of these devices are a combination of a spring—the closing element— and an oil-cushioned piston, which dampens the closing action, inside a cylinder (Fig. 11.77). The piston operates with a crank or a rack-and-pinion action. It displaces the fluid through ports in the cylinder wall, which are closed or open according to the position of the piston in the cylinder. Opening of the door energizes the spring, thus storing up closing power. Adjustment screws are provided to change the size of the ports, controlling flow of fluid. This management makes the closer extremely responsive to the conditions of service at each individual door and permits a quiet closure, which at the same time ensures positive latching of the door.
While the fluid type of closer is preferred, pneumatic closers are also used, particularly for light doors, like screen doors.
Overhead door closers are installed in different ways, on the hinge side of the door or on the top jamb on the stop side of the head frame or on a bracket secured to the door frame on the stop side. Various types of brackets are available for different conditions. Also, when it is desired to install a closer between two doors hung from the same frame, or on the inside of a door that opens out, an arrangement with a parallel arm makes this possible. Other types of closers may be mortised into the door or housed in the head above the door.
Closers may be semiconcealed or fully concealed. Total concealment greatly enhances appearance but certain features of operation are limited.
An exposed-type closer should be mounted on the hinge side or stop side of the door unless there is real need for a bracket or parallel-arm mounting.
Whereas the use of brackets reduces headroom and may become a hazard, a parallel-arm closer mounted on the door rides out with the door, leaving the opening entirely clear.
When surface-applied door closers are used, careful consideration should be given to the space required in order that doors may be opened at least 90 before the closers strike an adjacent wall or partition.
Semiconcealed door closers are recommended for hollow metal doors. These closers are mortised into the upper door rail.
Various hold-open features also are available in different closer combinations to meet specific requirements. Another available feature is delayed action. This allows plenty of time to push a loaded vehicle through the opening before the door closes and also permits disabled people time to maneuver through a door opening.

When floor-type checking and closing devices are used, floor conditions should be carefully determined in order that there will be sufficient unobstructed depth available for their installation.
To get maximum performance from any door closer, it must be of ample size to meet the conditions imposed on it. If abnormal conditions exist, such as drafts or severe traffic, a closer of larger than the normal capacity should be employed.
Installing too small a closer is an invitation to trouble. Manufacturers’ charts should be used to determine the proper sizes and types of closers to suit door sizes and job conditions.
It is very important that door closers be installed precisely as recommended by the manufacturer. Experience has shown that a large percentage of troubles with closers results from disregard of mounting instructions.
In response to various code requirements for room-to-corridor protection, closer manufacturers have produced products that provide automatic door closing but still allow flexibility. These units permit the door to be held open in many locations of hold-open and yet upon a signal from a smoke detector, the hold-open mechanism disengages and the closer causes the door to close. A similar type of unit incorporates a device allowing the door to swing free as though it were not equipped with a door closer. As with the multiple-point hold-open device just described, the ‘swing-free’ model, upon a signal from a smoke detector, cancels the closer nullifying device and the closer causes the door to close. These units are suitable in a variety of occupancies, particularly institutional.
Barrier-free provisions for disabled people dictate certain minimum opening resistance of doors. Depending upon the jurisdiction and location of doors, these forces range from a 5-lb force maximum to a 15-lb force maximum. There will be instances, because of the door size or air-pressure conditions, when the necessary closing force exerted by the closer to overcome these conditions will create opening resistance in excess of what is permitted. Power-operated doors or doors with a power assist specially made to solve this problem are recommended as a practical solution.

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