Monday 8 January 2018

Door closers create safer homes

Tragic events last year have, understandably, brought the fire safety spotlight on to the social housing sector. Social landlords are having to reassess their approach to fire safety and re-evaluate the fire safety measures in properties they own and manage.

The result appears to be a greater emphasis on the performance, quality and reliability of products used and less emphasis on cost. For reputable manufacturers of quality doors and hardware, this can only be good news, as it should place their products in a more favourable position when it comes to the social housing sector.

Providing safe, secure and comfortable accommodation in the social housing sector imposes enormous responsibilities on social landlords and those delegated to design, build and maintain the housing stock.

So, how can a door closer be expected to contribute towards all of these requirements; fire performance, accessibility, safety, reliability, damage limitation, comfort, aesthetics and so on?

Fire and accessibility

Where performance is concerned, the key areas of consideration when selecting door closers are fire safety and accessibility. The industry will be well-aware of the legislation and performance standards governing these, including CE marking, Building Regulations, the Regulatory Reform Order and the Equality Act.

Most door closers will satisfy these requirements, but the product’s ability to perform reliably time after time, and for many years is critical. This is particularly applicable with the opening forces stipulated by accessibility requirements and the door closer’s ability to deliver the required levels of efficiency when in use. Cycle testing of a selected sample under laboratory test conditions will provide some indication of this, but the design, engineering and quality of the door closer should also be paramount in the selection process, as should the reputation of the manufacturer.

Additional benefits

In addition to the many regulations and performance standards that relate directly to fire safety and accessibility, consideration also needs to be given to the needs of tenants and the situation in which the door closers are being used. Here, again, the performance, functionality and features of particular door closers can provide added benefits that make them more suitable for many social housing applications.

Jamb-mounted, concealed door closers, such as Powermatic, are becoming increasingly popular in the social housing sector. Available in standard and free swing models, they deliver a variety of benefits that ensue from the fact that the door closers are totally concealed when the door is closed.

Where surface mounted door closers have mechanical arms and control boxes on show, the jamb-mounted door closer is completely invisible when the door is closed, and very unobtrusive when the door is open.

Not just a pretty face

Powermatic concealed door closers have long been used by designers and architects to assure the aesthetics of interiors in a wide variety of buildings, notably hotels and high-end apartments. The principle of improved aesthetics is now becoming more widely valued in social housing developments, and it is not only for the sole purpose of a better looking interior; the lack of functional, mechanical devices creates a more homely, less institutionalised atmosphere which contributes towards the comfort and well-being of residents.

A more practical and financially astute reason for selecting a concealed door closer is the fact that they are far less likely to be damaged, whether by a deliberate act, lack of care, misuse or tampering.

This can mean reduced maintenance costs, less inconvenience for residents and more reliable fire safety.

Another benefit of concealment, which is particularly vital in dwellings occupied by tenants with psychological or mental health challenges, is the fact that when the door is closed, concealed door closers do not offer a point from which a ligature can be suspended. Powermatic door closers further reduce this risk as they can be mounted at a low height in the door.

Free swing convenience

Where fire doors need to be free to open in normal operation, or where there might be a risk of a fire door being wedged open, Powermatic Free Swing concealed door closers can provide a useful solution. Connected to the low voltage fire alarm system, the door closer can be set to allow the door to operate normally until the alarm is activated or there is a power shortage, at which point the door closer becomes active and closes the door automatically at a controlled rate. The closer is particularly favoured for care and residential homes, but is equally suited to many similar situations.

Choose wisely

When selecting door closers, specifiers and door manufacturers should be particularly careful to choose products which will stand up to the rigours of day-to-day use in social housing situations and which will perform reliably. Powermatic door closers include a unique twin-power mechanism and undergo exacting cycle testing. They also come with a 10-year warranty and, of course, there is also the comfort of knowing that they are manufactured in the UK by Samuel Heath, which, with more than 50 years’ experience, is probably the foremost authority when it comes to concealed door closers.

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