A door closer is just what it sounds like. It closes the door. Modern door closers can do even more, some hold the door open, some open automatically and some even respond to fire alarms!
The need to have doors remain closed has existed since doors were first invented. Before door closers were developed, we used devices made of springs and weights to help close doors and keep them closed. These devices were noisy and inconsistent in terms of closing speed.
However, once inventors started to improve door closers, they got a lot more effective and efficient very quickly.
Between 1873 and 1916, door closers went from being ugly, noisy, unreliable, and as likely to slam as not close at all to elegant and efficient devices similar to what we use today. The US Patent Office issued the first US patent for a door closing device to Francis Richards on November 25, 1873. It consisted of a tube that contained a spring and a screw that operated as a closing speed valve. On June 15, 1880, the Patent Office issued Lewis C. Norton a patent on a pneumatic door closer. This device built on Richards’ door closer by adding air pressure in the cylinder. The air pressure prevented the door from slamming closed.
Then on January 3, 1882, the Patent Office issued Norton a second patent. The new closer had improved closing performance, speed control, and was more effective in closing the door. On June 17, 1882, Norton founded the Norton Door Check and Spring Company. On August 1, 1882, Edward Gillon and W.C. Clark of Boston were issued a variation patent to the Norton closer. These two inventors used an external torsion spring on the arm rather than inside the cylinder.
Eugene Blount received the first US liquid door closer patent on July 9, 1889. The first US liquid door patent was issued to William Gilfillan on March 2, 1897. And on February 1, 1916, John Gerard of New Britain, Connecticut, invented the first concealed-in-the-door liquid closer.
Today, every fire door must be self-latching. This requires a door closer. Apartment vestibule and hotel doors also need to lock behind people as they leave. So these doors also require door closers. Door closers play an important role in saving energy. They keep cooled or heated air from escaping and more doors than ever require closers due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
If your door closer is leaking hydraulic oil, or if your door is closing too fast or slow you will need to take immediate action. If your door is hard to open or opens so fast you can't control it you will need take immediate action. These conditions indicate an unsafe condition which could lead to a lawsuit if anyone is injured and result in damage to the frame, lock and hinges/pivots.
To test your door closer, open it a full 90 degrees. Let it go and count -
1 - One thousandths
2 - One thousandths
3 - One thousandths
4 - One thousandths
5 - One thousandths
If your door closers without slamming and there is "positive latching", your closer is doing its job. If it slams sooner or closers later, Call your local SOPL Locksmith to receive professional advice and service to make the proper adjustments.
Members of he Society of Professional Locksmiths participate in continuing education and professional development programs.
Tom Lynch, CRL