Door Closer Terminology – FAQ’s | Discount Door Hardware

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Door Closer Terminology – Parallel Arm or Regular Arm? – FAQ About Closers

Door closers are important pieces of door hardware and they are critical and necessary components in all fire rated and handicap accessible assemblies. They also help enhance security, provide convenience and they assist in maintaining room temperatures. Door closers can be confusing at times, but this article will simplify common door closer terminology and provide you with a better understanding of this essential piece of hardware!

Door Closer

door closer is a mechanical device that regulates the closing of a door by means of hydraulic or pneumatic force. The basic function of a door closer is to provide a smooth, controlled closing action for the door after the door has been opened and then released. There are several variations of door closers for a variety of different applications.

Door Opener

Not to be confused with a door closer, an automatic door opener opens the door, typically under the control of a push button, motion detector or other device, and then returns the door to the closed position automatically. This device is also often referred to as an “auto operator”, “auto door opener” or “handicap operator” and is different than conventional door closers.

Mounting Options

Door closers can be installed onto doors and door frames in different ways. Surface mounted door closers are cost-effective and reliable and also the most common choice. These closers can typically be installed three different ways – regular arm mounted, parallel arm
mounted and top jamb mounted.

Regular Arm:
A regular arm mounted door closer is a pull-side application. It is located at the top of the pull-side of the door near the top hinge. In this application, the main arm is attached to the closer and the extension arm is attached to the frame; the two arms are connected to form a pivot point. When the door is in the closed position, the arms project out perpendicular to the door, which is less attractive than other mounting applications; however, this is the most power-efficient option available.

This application is most suitable for interior doors where power or function is critical and aesthetics are not of great importance.

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Parallel Arm:
A parallel arm mounted door closer is a push-side application. It is located at the top of the push side of the door near the top hinge. In this application, the main arm is attached to the closer and the extension arm is attached to a parallel arm bracket or soffit plate on the underside of the frame header; the two arms are connected to form a pivot point. When the door is in the closed position, the arms are tucked underneath the frame header which provides a more aesthetically pleasing installation than either the regular arm or top jamb options. Parallel arm mounting also reduces the risk of vandalism to the arms, particularly in schools and commercial properties.

Due to the configuration of the arms, this application is a little less power efficient than the regular arm or top jamb options, but is still useful, especially for exterior doors.

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Top Jamb:
A top jamb mounted door closer is a push-side application. It is located on the push-side of the door but on the face of the frame header near the top hinge. In this application, the main arm is attached to the closer and the extension arm is attached to the door; the two arms are connected to form a pivot point. Like the regular arm mounted closer, when the door is in the closed position, the arms project out perpendicular to the door, which is less attractive than other mounting applications; and like the regular arm mounted closer, this is the most power-efficient option available.

This application is most suitable and most common for exterior aluminum storefront doors. A drop plate is sometimes required because of the narrow top rail of the door or the narrow frame face.

There is also a sliding track application which is much less common and more costly and is usually only available with higher end door closers and for very specific applications.

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Delayed Action

A door closer equipped with a delayed action feature allows the door to remain open for a period of time before closing at the adjusted speed. This is accomplished by the addition of a “delayed action” adjustment valve on the closer, in addition to the speed and power regulating valves.

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Backcheck

Backcheck is an adjustable feature available on many door closers that provides “resistance” to prevent the door from being thrown open (by people or the wind) and causing personal injury or damage to the door, door handles or walls!

Drop Plates

A drop plate is used to mount a door closer where the top rail on the door is too narrow or the face of the frame header is too narrow to accept a door closer. The drop plate is fastened to the rail or header and the closer is mounted to the drop plate. This is a very common application for closers being installed on aluminum storefront doors.

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Closing Speed

Most door closers are equipped with adjustable closing speed valves which enable adjustment of the speed at which the door closes after being opened.

Latching Speed

Door closers with adjustable latching speed valves enable adjustment of the last few degrees of closing. This is an especially helpful feature to prevent the door from slamming into the frame. Most quality closers are equipped with dual-valve adjustment – that is both closing speed and latching speed adjustment valves to ensure a smooth (and quiet) closing operation.

Door Closer Installation

When the time comes to purchase new door closers or to replace or upgrade your old ones, you can trust Discount Door Hardware.ca to provide you with the best selection of quality door closers to suit a variety of applications and specifications! We also offer a growing inventory of hand tools, drill bits and specialized accessories to facilitate door hardware installations for both homeowners and contractors! Visit our online store today!