Why choosing the right Door Closer for your fire door matters?

How to choose the right door closer for a specific door type or situation can be a challenge?  Door closers are ‘controlled closing devices’.  They can be mounted at the top of a door and frame, morticed into the door and frame (concealed or integrated),  or fitted in the floor known as ‘floor springs’.  When the door is opened, the closer is designed to automatically close and latch the door.  This allows fire and smoke seals to be effective.  Without the door closing the fire door won’t prevent fire spread.  Understanding why a door closer is so important and why it’s important to choose the correct closer for your door is critical.   Whilst it’s such a small element in the overall construction of a building, the door closer is actually one of the most important items of hardware to fit and adjust.  If you select a closer that’s too powerful it could make the door difficult to open and could close too fast causing harm or damage the frame and hinges.   If the closer is not powerful enough and without power adjustment, the door may struggle to close and not overcome air pressures.  To choose the right door closer for your door, consider the size of the door, fitting position and application (push-side/pull-side) and aesthetics (colour/concealed/surface mount).

9 Steps to choosing a door closer

Step 1

Ensure that the door and frame are fitted correctly.  Door closers are not designed to overcome poor joinery, twisted doors, frames out of plumb and excessive or binding smoke seals.  If the door doesn’t close easily with the push of your little finger, then it is very unlikely that a door closer will close the door satisfactorily.

Step 2

Now choose the power size of your door closer.   Most closers are sized from 3 to 6, and often come with power adjustment.   The higher the number the higher the power size.  EN1154 standard for controlled door closing devices recommends which power size to use for the width and weight of the door.  Most door closer manufacturers will advise the maximum door width and weight on their technical data sheet.   For fire doors the minimum power size is EN3.    Most standard adjustable door closers will arrive factory pre-set at size 3.     Minimal door gaps and excessive smoke seals are good for smoke control, however they restrict air movement and may create adverse air pressures which prevent the door closing.   If your budget allows choose a higher power size and with power adjustment.  Power adjustment will give you scope after fitting to increase the power and overcome any hidden obstacles.  Power size doesn’t affect the speed of the closer.   The speed and latch valves are used to get the desired speed of close for your situation.

Step 3

Choose your fitting application.  You will most likely want to fit a surface mounted door closer, unless your door is pre-morticed for a concealed closers.   It is recommended to cut mortices for overhead concealed closers in factory conditions for increased safety and reduced dust on site.  Surface mounted closers are fixed on the surface of the door and frame.  With surface fixed closers you can choose slim profile designs and slide rail options to improve the visual appearance of your doors.  Concealed or integrated closers are fixed inside the door and frame hidden for visual effect.

Step 4

Decide the fitting position or which side of the door to fit the closer.  You can fit the closer on push-side (Standard arm fixing known as Fig 1) or push-side (Parallel arm fixing known as Fig 66).   However choose a door closer tested and designed for the fixing application you need.   The easiest door closers to choose are ‘universal’ application meaning they have all the parts in the kit to fit push-side, pull-side, left or right hand side of the door.

Step 5

Select the right corrosion resistance.   Door closers are identified to EN 1670 with grade 0: no corrosion resistance to grade 4: very high resistance.

Step 6

Check the fire rating of your door.   Fire rated doors will be zoned according to the fire escapes and construction of the building.  Many 30 minute doors will measure 44mm thick and 60 minute FD60 doors will measure 54mm thick however it is critical to ensure the doors are backed by primary fire test evidence and third party certification for your situation.  The closer must be fire-rated.   Look for a metal label fixed to the unit that certifies the fire rating.

Step 7

Choose a door closer finish to match your other hardware.  Most door closers are available in Silver or Satin stainless steel, polished nickel and polished brass finishes.  Rutland door controls make designer finishes including antique brass, bronzes, antique pewter, black and many other RAL colour options.

Step 8

Determine if backcheck is required.  Backcheck will need specifying when ordering as it is an optional feature and not supplied on all door closer models.  When thrown open the Backcheck restricts the door swing, similar to a doorstop.   On doors that open near furniture or equipment and external doors it is recommended to choose backcheck.  In certain exposed sites where extreme wind conditions are experienced the hydraulic backcheck valve of a door closer may not be adequate and additional physical door barrier or stop may be required.

Decide if the situation needs Delayed Action.   If the user requires a delay from when the door is open to when it starts to close a Delayed action door closer can assist.  This is helpful for wheelchair,  walking frames and pushchairs.   Public buildings where the recommendations under BS8300 may require door closers that assist the less able giving equal opportunity and access with Delayed action.   If in doubt check with building control if delayed action is needed in your building.

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