An article in the June 2020 issue of Construction Specifier provides a succinct overview of door closers for swinging doors, yet contains an oversight. It says, “There are five basic types of door closers,” and describes 1) Surface-mounted, 2) Floor, 3) Concealed, 4) High-security, and 5) Electronic closer devices. To these categories, we need to add “6) Closer hinges,” sometimes referred to as “spring hinges” “spring-loaded hinges” or “self-closing hinges”. Here are the top 3 most important criteria to make the best choice of door self-closing hardware.

Fire safety

Fire doors must be self-closing unless otherwise specified.Doors in smoke partitions and smoke barriers must also be self-closing. An open doorway cannot protect against the spread of fire or smoke. Fire-rated doors are required in many types of building occupancies, particularly in doorways leading to egress paths. They are also needed in occupied spaces and areas with combustible or hazardous contents, including between living areas and attached garages in residential buildings.

Changes to building codes frequently are in response to disasters. A recent example was precipitated by a fatal fire in a Bronx (New York) apartment building. A fire in one unit quickly spread to the building’s open stairwell because the door to the apartment of fire origin was left open; 12 people died and four more critically injured. In response, the New York City Building Code (NYCBC) has been amended to require, “All doors leading to interior stairways or corridors in R-1 and R-2 buildings must be self-closing.” The new requirement becomes effective July 31, 2021, and applies retroactively to existing buildings.

fire-door

Hygiene

Hygiene has taken on new urgency as we learn to design and operate buildings that simplify and improve cleanliness. It is prudent to reduce the need for touch door and gate hardware surfaces that have the potential to transmit pathogens. About half of incidents requiring someone to touch a door are occasioned by closing the door. Using door closers as a hands-free way to shut doors is a strategy deserving increased consideration.

Convenience

Issues of hygiene aside, closing a door manually is inconvenient if hands are otherwise engaged in carrying packages, attending to children, operating a hand-held device, or whatnot. Closing can also be challenging for individuals with restricted use of their forelimbs.

Convenience

Waterson Closer Hinge System

Waterson Closer Hinge Systems combine door closers, spring hinges, and an optional hold open feature into one attractive & unobtrusive component that is ideal for commercial swing, gate, and glass doors. Our closer hinges are easily adjustable to comply with ADA & ICC A117.1 requirements for opening force and to assure quiet, secure closing. Made with stainless steel, Waterson closer hinges meet NFPA 80 and are UL 3-hour fire-rated, as well as suitable for both interior and all-weather exterior openings. For more hinge codes, please read this article.

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