“NFPA 80 A.3.3.7 Automatic-Closing Door. Closed fire doors protect open spaces in buildings and homes against the spread of fire and smoke. Automatic-closing doors are normally open, and while they are very reliable, lack of periodic maintenance, blockage, continuous exposure to natural elements, moisture, and dust may cause them to malfunction when needed. It is therefore desirable that these doors are closed even when the buildings are unoccupied.”
Choosing a reliable and good door closer is never easy, and buyers tread with even more caution when it comes to fire doors. They have different priorities in mind and the deciding factors generally boils down to the following categories:
- Different doors, Different door closer?
- Indoor or Outdoor
- Frequency of Opening and Closing
- Clearance Problem
- Total Cost
- Opening Force
Different doors, different door closer?
Fire doors are designed to stop fire and smoke from spreading through the buildings in fire emergency. Failure to do so may not only imperil lives, but also lead to legal problems. It’s therefore imperative to select the perfect door closer to ensure fire door can close properly.
So, do we need different door closers for different doors? Well, the answer is YES and NO.
There are two common types of door closers:
- Floor spring – preferred for heavy weight doors.
- Overhead door closer – preferred for medium weight door
However, people still need to make the proper choice depending on the different force needed to auto-close the doors.
Indoor or Outdoor (Rust and maintenance problem)
While most fire doors are for interior use, some of them may be installed with partial exposure to outdoor environment.
Others may be susceptible to moisture and water damage. Since most of overhead door closer arms are made of metal and floor springs may trap water inside, rust is a universal threat for door closing device. Rust also ultimately lead to door closer repairs.
Not only do they make the structures brittle, it may inhibit smooth operation, and worse yet, may cause the door closers to be completely stuck. In the event of emergency, that’s a big risk to undertake.
Frequency of Opening and closing
Opening and closing frequency of the doors varies significantly, depending on the usage requirements of the area. The Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provide extensive standards for self-closing hinges.
The ANSI A156.17 requirements for self-closing hinges stipulates the durability standards as follows:
- Grade 1: 1,000,000 cycles
- Grade 2: 500,000 cycles
- Grade 3: 250,000 cycles
For locations with high traffic like shopping malls and schools, a Grade 1 self-closing hinge is necessary for the demanding requirement for durability.
The problem of space often inhibits seamless installation of door closers. Traditional models like overhead or floor springs are bulky units, needing sufficient space for their mechanical parts (arm and the main body) to mount. In ADA requirements, door clearance is also a deciding factor for choosing an ideal door hardware (i.e., ADA clearance)
Too often, there just isn’t enough space from ceiling or edge of walls for door closers to fit. In other cases, especially when adhering to Feng Shui （風水）in some Chinese regions, people dislike the closer arm pointing to the room for fear of bad omens. These cause the overhead door closer units to be an unacceptable choice.
Floor spring don’t have arm or a bulky body, but it requires digging and cutting a hole in the floor for installation. Unless factored in during pre-construction, it’s a costly option. Besides, replacement and door closer repairs are difficult.
The cost for a door closer contains not only the purchase, installation fee, constant maintenance, and replacement all have to be considered. One would have to go through these costs again when refurbishing or redesigning is needed. You definitely would want to find a durability solution which minimize the total costs.
Look for a reliable door closer for long-term saving? CLICK HERE to find out more.
Opening Force (ADA compliance)
Typically, door closers with bigger closing force would inevitably make the door harder to open.
Watch the video here to find out more.
As the video explains, for a 130 lbs. fire door, the door closer requires nearly 20 lbs of opening force.
According to 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards (Section 404.2.9) and 2009 edition of ICC A117.1 – Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities (Section 404.2.8), the maximum opening force for interior doors is 5 lbs.
The maximum allowable force to open a fire door is 15 lbs according to the International Building Code. Not so many fire doors fitted with traditional door close can meet the 15 lbs requirement, let alone the 5 lbs limit. This often leads to people prop it open at all times, which is a security risk, and could lead to serious safety issues during an evacuation.
Waterson 3 IN 1 Self-closing hinge meets the 5-lbs requirement, making it an ideal solution for buildings adhering to ADA compliance, and ensuring the best-in-the-class safety for its users.
The Safe Solution
Choosing the perfect door closer means commitment to safety. Auto-closing fire doors prevent the fires and smoke from spreading. While traditional door closers are functional, they bring the hassle of maintenance, hidden costs, installation challenges, and compliance issues.
Opt for the Waterson 3-1 self-closing hinge today to get a product which passes ANSI/BHNA A.156.17 GRADE 1 Test, ensuring 1 million opening and closing cycles with high efficiency.
The stainless-steel body with a special water-resistant cap deliver durable, reliable, and rust-free operation, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.
A minimal opening force of 5 lbs meets the ADA compliance guidelines.
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