Door closers play a vital role in ensuring that the door meets these requirements and, therefore, should be given more than passing consideration when it comes to product selection.
Choosing the cheapest door closer available may enable the door package to be competitively priced at tender, but this initial, short term saving may not be the most economic solution when it comes to whole life costing.
In addition, certain projects will require door closers which are, shall we say, less ordinary, door closers which deliver benefits beyond the minimum required fire and accessibility performance.
Design professionals, specifiers and facilities managers are becoming increasingly aware of the added benefits that concealed door closers can provide in areas such as safety, risk reduction, reliability and maintenance costs.
These factors can have a significant effect on the ability of the door closer, and fire door, to perform reliably, but also on the quality of the user experience in terms of safety, comfort and well-being, as well as on the aesthetics of the building.
The main reasons for a door closer failing to perform correctly are poor reliability and the likelihood of fire doors being wedged open.
Failure of a door closer can lead to failure of the entire fire door to perform the duty for which it is intended; to keep fire and smoke at bay. In the case of fire, such a failure could be devastating.
Quality of design and manufacture, together with cycle testing of door closers, certainly provide some assurance of a product’s durability, but other factors can have a considerable effect on the ability of a door closer, and fire door, to function at all times.
The need to properly maintain a door closer during its life can impose an undesirable burden on building managers. Door closers such as Powermatic are designed to be maintenance-free and come with lengthy guarantees for added assurance.
If a door closer is damaged, either through some misplaced prank or vandalism, this too can have a detrimental effect on the fire door’s performance, perhaps even stopping the door working all together.
In educational buildings and other public facilities, where the users’ duty of care may not be so high, such risks, whether accidental or deliberate, are significant.
Surface mounted door closers, with their obvious control boxes and mechanical arms can present a real temptation for pranksters, whereas concealed door closers, particularly jamb-mounted models, virtually eliminate such a risk. Samuel Heath’s Powermatic controlled, concealed door closers are invisible when the door is closed and have very few visible parts when the door is open, thereby reducing the likelihood of damage through vandalism.
Wedging fire doors open will obviously prevent the fire door performing its primary function and should be avoided at all times. Despite notices, best practice guides and individual instructions, the practice still goes on, especially in care homes, but also in other facilities.
Removing the temptation to wedge the door open is the first step in resolving the issue. The solution is either to use hold-open devices or to use free swing door closers, such as Powermatic Free Swing which allows the door to operate manually until the door closer is activated by the building’s fire alarm system.
There is one further element of safety and risk reduction that is probably not given consideration beyond specialist facilities and that is the risk of a door closer being used as a point of ligature.
Sensitive and uncomfortable as the subject might be, the risk should be recognised, perhaps particularly in educational learning and accommodation facilities.
Whilst full anti-ligature measures would be unnecessary, the risk can be significantly reduced by removing opportunity and certain types of concealed door closers can offer a useful alternative to their more obvious surface-mounted counterparts.
Great looking interiors are not the sole preserve of the designer who wishes to create interiors unencumbered by unattractive mechanical devices. Many health and care professionals recognise the contribution that more homely, less institutionalised interiors can make towards the well-being and recovery of clients in mental health, psychiatric and elderly care facilities.
The highly visible mechanical boxes and control arms that are unavoidable with surface-mounted door closers spoil the appearance of doors and decorative schemes, interfering with the designer’s vision. They can also result in interiors which have a functional rather than comfortable ambience.
Powermatic concealed door closers are jamb-mounted and present no such problems. Totally concealed when the door is closed and hardly noticeable when the door is open, such door closers offer the ideal solution for a wide variety of applications where aesthetics and comfort are valued.
Making the right choice
When selecting the right door closer for any fire or non-fire door situation, the first task will always be to ensure that the product meets the relevant performance requirements in terms of fire safety and accessibility. Once these criteria have been satisfied, other factors should be taken into consideration which can enhance the safety, comfort and well-being of the building’s users, and it is in such areas that Powermatic concealed door closers become the natural choice.
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