How To Adjust Door Closer Spring Power
Door closer spring tension, or commonly known as spring power, refers to the compression of the internal spring inside of the door closer body. As the door opens, the internal spring compresses, essentially storing energy. As the door closes, the spring decompresses or unloads forcing the door closed. All commercial door closers have spiral coil spring inside of the body. Some door closers are known as fixed spring door closers, since they have no tension adjustment for the spring. Most door closers are known as adjustable spring power door closers since they feature a spring power adjustment nut, which allows the installer to change the tension of the spring. In this article we go over how to adjust the spring tension in adjustable spring power door closers.
Identify The Door Closer Type
Commercial door closers come in two basic design types: a standard duty door closer design and a heavy duty door closer design. Depending on the door closer type, will determine how you adjust the tension of the door closer.
Standard Duty Door Closers
On standard duty door closers the adjustment hex key screw is located on the side of the door closer. If the door closer has backcheck, the spring adjustment screw will be directly above it. Typically adjustable door closers are shipped mid-size. Meaning if a door closer is adjustable size 1-6 then it is shipped as size 3. To increase the spring tension the hex key screw must be rotated clockwise in full 360 degree revolutions. To decrease the spring size, the hex key screw must be rotated counter clockwise in full 360 degree revolutions. Before adjusting the spring tension, always refer to the manufacturer's adjustment chart, which identifies how many hex key rotations are needed to adjust the spring tension for a given door size. The chart below is an example of a manufacturer's spring tension adjustment chart. As shown in the example chart, the door closer is shipped with 8 rotations of the spring tension nut. So if the user wishes to adjust the spring tension for a larger size door, he can refer to the manufacturer's adjustment chart to see how many more rotations of the hex key nut would be needed for the desired door size.
Heavy Duty Door Closers
On heavy duty door closers the spring is located in the long cylinder attached to the closer body. At the end of the cylinder is the spring tension adjustment nut. For heavy duty door closers to function properly, the door closer spring must be preloaded before any adjustment to the spring tensioner can be made. This means that the door closer must be mounted with the arm installed so that there is tension on the spring. The manufacturer's installation instructions should be referred to for properly installing the product. Assuming the door closer is properly installed and the spring is preloaded it can be adjusted by rotating the spring adjustment nut. On most heavy duty door closers an 11/16" wrench can be used to turn the spring adjustment nut clockwise a full 360 degrees to increase the spring tension or rotate the spring adjustment nut counter-clockwise a full 360 degree rotation to decrease the spring tension. An example chart below illustrates a heavy duty door closer's adjustment chart. All door closer adjustment charts should be provided with the door closer from the manufacturer.
Since all door closers can vary slightly, it is always best to refer to the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines when adjusting the door closer's spring tension.
From the charts illustrated above, the larger the interior or exterior door, the more tightly tensioned spring needed. It is important to remember that all door closers should abide by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). As stated in the ANSI Standard A156.4 a maximum of 5lb of opening force is allowed for all interior doors. ADA reserves the minimum opening force allowable by the appropriate administrative authority for exterior doors. 8.5lb of opening force for exterior doors is the standard. With that in mind, after door closer installation the opening force should be checked with a force gauge to ensure compliance.
Oil Leaking From Door Closer
If the door closer is leaking oil, this indicates that the hydraulics are no longer function (ie; speed adjustments no longer work). If that is the case, adjusting the spring tension is not a solution. If oil is visible from the door closer, the entire door closer should be replaced, since the leaky door closer is a potential safety hazard.
Fixed Spring Door Closer
If the door closer is a fixed spring model (spring tension is not adjustable), and the door closer is not properly sized to the correct door, then it should be replaced. Fixed spring door closers are acceptable to use on any door, as long as they have the right size spring in relation to the door size. If a fixed spring door closer is undersized or oversized for a given door, it should be replaced with the correct spring sized door closer, as that is a potential safety hazard.
Door Should Never Slam
According to ADA guidelines the door should take atleast 5 seconds to close from 90 degrees to 12 degrees. If the door is closing faster than that the speed should be adjusted. If the speed adjustment does not help, refer to the manufacturer's spring size chart to identify if the door closer spring tension is not set to the correct size for the door size.
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