On Sunday, February 24, winds in this area reached 60 mph. Semis overturned. Trees were uprooted. Light poles crashed down to the ground. Doors were blown off their hinges.

Brian Paluch, the Anderson Lock lock tech assigned to take emergency calls that week, received a frantic request for help. A door had been torn loose from a small business in Chicago. To secure the building, Brian needed to travel through dangerous, stormy, wintry weather, then install a new Roton hinge and door closer. [The customer texted later that Brian was “a godsend!”]

Due to the wintry weather, we do not have a February 24 photo of Brian Paluch.This picture shows Chris Miller adjusting an interior Grade 1 door closer in a heavy traffic area on Chicago’s Navy Pier.

Typically, door closers can withstand strong wind, but gusts that day, resulting from a powerful low pressure system, caused widespread power outages and major damage throughout the entire northern Illinois and northwest Indiana region.

Anderson Lock receives numerous inquiries on what to do to help protect exterior doors from getting blown open and damaged.

Heavy Duty Closers Often Best Value

“Let’s not forget, it’s called ‘The Windy City!’” quips Service Manager Jim Riddle. Nevertheless, he notes that that February storm was unusual, and that the heaviest winds usually happen a few months later. “We install a lot of door closers in the springtime. Heavier (duty) are always better. We are always interested in our customers’ best value and best interest.”

If strong winds have caused a door to blow open, breaking the closer arm, Anderson Lock technicians can usually replace the arm. If there is further damage, resulting in an oil leak, we recommend a replacement.

Three Most Common Door Closer Problems

Dave Grothe, our Service Estimating Manager, says most of the door closer problems he encounters are due to one of three things:

  1. Wind and weather damage
  2. Incorrect type and size for the application
  3. Incorrect installation

Light duty door closers are not made to withstand the force of high winds. Every day our techs come across door closers that are not the right type or size for the application, based on door size and weight; closers that do not have the strength needed to properly close and latch the door. Some can be adjusted for a quick fix, but generally we recommend replacement with a heavier duty closer to avoid a second service call.

When door closers are installed in a way that restricts the full opening of the door, the pressure people exert to push it wider breaks door closer arms. A new arm, properly installed may extend the life of the closer, but in most cases, a new, properly installed replacement closer is the best solution.

Building Code Requirements

Heavy duty door closers like the LCN 4041, Sargent 351 and CorbinRusswin DC3200 are all designed for interior and exterior, metal and wood, swinging doors. They are made to hold up under extreme conditions and high abuse.

Grade 1 closers are required for high traffic applications in healthcare, educational, institutional and commercial buildings. Because they are non-handed, and have adjustable strength, and versatile installation options, they give dependable service for many years.

Utility / storefront Grade 2 door closers, like LCN’s 1250 and 1450, and the Norton 1601, are also non-handed, and feature a variety of installation and size adjustment options.

Federal, state, and local building codes impact door closer requirements. Generally, each door closer needs to meet different levels of performance broken up in 3 grades with 1 being the highest and 3 being the basic level.

Door closers must meet the following requirements:

Grade 1: 2,000,000 cycles at 60% efficiency

Grade 2: 1,000,000 cycles at 60% efficiency

Grade 3: 500,000 cycles at 50% efficiency

ADA Door Closer Guidelines

The American Disability Act also lists clear requirements for doors and door closers. The ADA states that interior doors should require no more than 5 lbs. of force to operate and exterior doors should have the minimum force possible. The ADA also states that the closing or swing speed shall not be faster than 5 seconds and the latching speed should be quick enough to latch the door, but not slam it.

Energy efficiency and aesthetics should also be taken into account when choosing a door closer. As Dave noted, the incorrect type and size for the application results in door and lock damage as well as service call and replacement costs.

Anderson Lock gives free estimates to commercial and institutional customers, and our hardware sales representatives are a great resource for helping you make the right choice.