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How to Adjust Your Door Closer

Updated on October 27, 2015

Door closer adjustment is an art that requires knowledge, patience, and an ability to climb up and down a ladder several times, but with these attributes and the appropriate wrench, hex key, or screwdriver, you can do it yourself. This article is primarily about surface-mounted door closers, but the ideas here can be applied to other kinds of door closers as well.

Most of the adjustments are implemented by opening and closing hydraulic valves. When it comes to turning the screws that operate these valves, a little goes a long way. A turn of five degrees can significantly increase or decrease closing speed.

Do Not Completely Unscrew Hydraulic Screws

You will ruin the closer and void the warranty. Also, hydraulic fluid will leak out of the closer and make a mess.

How Door Closers Work

A door closer is a mechanical device designed to close a door slowly but firmly enough to latch. It accomplishes this by using spring tension modulated by hydraulic fluid. As the user opens the door, hydraulic fluid passes from one reservoir to another. As the spring pushes the door closed again, the hydraulic fluid passes back to the previous reservoir through a series of valves that control the speed.

The illustration above shows the effects of the common hydraulic adjustment controls available on most commercial grade door closers. Controls for swing speed and latching speed control how fast the door closes. Many closers also feature a hydraulic control for back check that controls the last few inches of the opening the door so as to prevent the door from being slammed into an adjacent wall.

  • Swing speed adjustment controls how fast the door closes from fully open to within about five degrees of closed.
  • Latching speed adjustment controls how fast the door closes for those last few inches.
  • Back check adjustment controls the amount of resistance to opening the door past a selected point.

The illustration below shows the various hydraulic control valves. These might be located in many configurations, but you will usually see the back check control located somewhat away from the latch speed and swing speed controls.

There are also door closers equipped with an additonal valve for delayed action. Delayed action closers hold the door open for a longer period of time to allow persons with disabilities more time to get through the door.

Control Valve Placement

Notice the spring tension adjustment in the illustration above. Spring tension controls the "size" of a closer. The term is misleading, because it does not actually have anything to do with the physical dimensions of the closer. This type of size is determined by the width of a door. "Sized" closers—that is, closers that have a factory pre-determined spring tension for a particular door width—have no spring tension adjustment. Many door closers today are "non-sized," indicating that you can adjust the spring tension to fit the size of the door.

It is tempting to use the spring tension adjustment to solve problems—for example, in positive pressure situations where air flow is preventing the door from closing properly. However, the tighter you make the spring, the harder it will be to open the door. It is possible to tighten the spring tension so that some people will not be able to open the door.

Making an Adjustment

To adjust the door closer:

  • Bring a step ladder tall enough so that you can easily reach the door closer from the second- or third-highest step.
  • Climb the ladder and examine the closer. If you can't see adjustment screws, chances are the closer has a cover. Usually the cover is plastic, but it could also be metal. If you see no fasteners holding the cover on, that means the cover is held on by tension. Pull it off. If you do see fasteners, usually you can loosen, but not remove, the fasteners and the cover will slide off.
  • If you find that there is oil in the cover or oil on or leaking from the closer body, stop right now. You need a new door closer. If, however, it is not leaking, you can proceed.
  • Now that you have the cover off, you should be able to see the adjustment screws. If you are lucky, they will be marked on the closer body as to what they are or there will be a diagram inside the cover. If not, you may have to experiment a little to see which is which.
  • Remember, when it comes to turning door closer adjustment screws, a little goes a long way. Start with no more than 1/8 of a turn. Turn the adjustment screw clockwise to slow the door closer down, counter-clockwise to speed it up, then get down off the ladder and observe the effect.
  • Open the door and watch it close. If it closes right the first time, check it 10 more times. If it closes correctly every time, you're done. If not, go back up the ladder and make another adjustment, until the closer is doing what you want it to do.
  • When it closes the way you want 10 times in a row, it will probably continue to do so.
  • Ideally a non-delayed action door closer will close and latch the door in seven to eight seconds.

Problems and Trouble Shooting

  • If you expect a door closer to consistently close the door, the door must be able to close properly. If there is a hinge problem, a warped door, or the door must swing uphill to close, a door closer will only go so far to solve the problem. Sometimes a door must be repaired before it will close and lock automatically with a door closer.
  • In vestibule conditions there is an exterior door, a small space, and then an interior door. The trapped air between the inside and outside door can be a factor in door closing. You may have to adjust both closers to get both to work correctly. Wherever air pressure is a factor, including negative or positive pressure situations, I have have been able to get door closers to close and latch the door consistantly by adjusting them to a slow swing-speed and a somewhat fast latch-speed. The slow swing-speed seems to give the air a chance to get out of the way and the fast latch speed gives it a very slight slam at the end to make sure it latches.
  • If the closer stops closing the door before it's closed all the way, or actually spings back when you try to manually shut the door, the arm is probably installed on the shaft incorrectly. Download the instructions from the door closer manufacturer's web site and see if it is installed correctly.
  • If the arm makes noise and bounces up and down while the door is in motion, tighten the fasteners that hold the arm to the closer, to the header, and at the knuckle that holds the two parts of the arm together.

When it's time to replace your door closer:

  • If oil is leaking from your door closer, throw it away and buy a new one.
  • If your door closer is slamming the door and cannot be adjusted to do otherwise, either the fluid has leaked out or the valve seals are worn out. Either way, your best option is to replace it.
  • If the door closer has no spring tension and the spring tension adustment turns round and round with no effect, the spring is broken the door closer must be replaced.

© 2008 Tom Rubenoff

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    • profile image

      W Morgan 3 weeks ago

      Are there any ajustment screws on the briton 1003 door closer I can not see any. thanks

    • profile image

      Alan Wiles 8 weeks ago

      I have a cheap Briton 121 door closer which works well but makes a loud graunching noise from I presume the spring inside the main unit on opening and closing. Is there any thing I can do to rectify this? The arm etc are all fitted correctly and the door is silent when I disconnect the closer.

    • profile image

      LWII 4 months ago

      You say it should take 7-8 for the door to close. Is there an industry standard on this?

    • profile image

      Chris 4 months ago

      Is there any way to adjust the arm (that pulls the door close) so that it doesn't rub the top of the door?

    • profile image

      Jess the Door Closer Doctor 5 months ago

      Simeon,

      To repair the door closer you will need to remove it from door and place vertically in a vise with valve end upwards, remove valve and slowly pour in a lightweight oil or transmission fluid while slowly working the arm back and forth to burp out the air and let in the oil, when no more air bubbles come out, place valve in closer then remount closer to the door adjust to your desired speed,

      I hope this helps,

    • profile image

      Simeon 5 months ago

      I got a door closer, while adjusting the speed the the adjustment screw looses and the oil spills, how do i fix it, what kind of oil or what grade of oil can I use to fill it back... Thank

    • profile image

      dan 6 months ago

      can someone tell me how to remove the arms off of the closer??

      the Owner wants to deactivate it but wants to leave the closer on the door because of the screw holes.

    • profile image

      Mirek 8 months ago

      Hi, can I adjust a door closer to keep the door open 90 degrees?

    • profile image

      Nomo open 8 months ago

      Finally got it. The body attached to the door was upside down. Once reversed, everything else turned inward when the door pulled open and shut firmly after loosening the adjustment screws slowly. Not as simple as I thought it would be.

    • profile image

      Nomo Open 8 months ago

      Thanks for the response. I used the same mounting holes as the previous owner, because the door material is a hard steel that I don't have any tools capable of drilling into. I already returned one that was doing the same thing, and the hardware guys said it was too stiff to turn and was defective. I don't think that was the full issue, since this one is doing the same thing.

      I have the body mounted on the right side of the door near the hinges on the right, and the arm and plate are attached to the top door frame, just to the left of the body. The arm attached to the body goes out on almost straight out at 45 deg angle but is just slightly tilted left. There's another option to have it angled even further left, but the arm attached to the door frame isn't short enough to connect at that angle. When I pull the door open, if the arm was going to move, it would move right, towards the hinges, based on how it moves when I manually turn it. Does that sound backwards? Not sure what else I can do here to correct it.

    • profile image

      Jess the door closer doctor 8 months ago

      Nomo, sounds to me that you may have put it up backwards, or the spring may be too strong for the door material,

      Always a good idea to test the door closer arm swing direction before mounting it, you want to make sure the arm will swing away from hinges when you pull against the spring, if it does, it may be the spring is too strong and may need to be adjusted and the bolts "thru-bolted" so the closer will not pull away from the door when opened,

      I hope this helps,

      -Jess the door closer doctor

    • profile image

      Nomo Open 8 months ago

      I recently installed a door closer to almost exactly the same installation as the cartoon at the top of this page. I can't even get to the point of adjusting the speeds, because once it is fully installed the door will not open. If you try to pull with more force, the body attached to the door looks like it wants to lift up and away from the door from the bottom.

      Hopefully that makes sense, but if it doesn't I could imagine if I pulled the door open in this situation, the bottom two screws of the body would rip out of the door. Any help is greatly appreciated.

    • profile image

      Jess the door closer doctor 11 months ago

      Lee,

      I would recommend googling about the access laws reguarding clear egress width the door and then measure it yourself, if door opens less then the code, you may want to contact the landlord and tell him or the council for your jurisdiction.

      Another place to ask about access/fire egress is the fire brigade,

      I hope this helps,

    • profile image

      lee 11 months ago

      I live in an apartment block owned and managed by a local authority.

      The door closing device on my floor was replace but the replacement device seems to be too small or not fitted properly, as it only open and closes at a 70-80 (guessing) degree angle. This has made it difficult to carry in shopping etc, but more significantly I am worried in terms of emergencies; for example ambulances and stretchers as my mother is currently battling illness.

      We have asked on a number of accasions for this to be dealt with. Is there some legal/safety percedures that this is in breach of?

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 11 months ago from United States

      I have a few questions that I would need the answers for before I answer yours: What kind of door closer is it, and how are you trying to install it? How far do you need it to open? Perhaps you can post a web address for a picture that looks like your door closer?

    • profile image

      Tame 11 months ago

      I have one of these door closers and I am not sure how to put it on. I am applying it to a exterior door but when I attached it the thing wasn't long enough. What I mean by that is that it does not attach to the other piece. So how/what can I do to make it long enough to fit?

    • profile image

      Jess The door closer D 11 months ago

      Tom,

      things to remember about Pre-load, if you have too much of it, you LOSE latch valve and your full swing is dependent on sweep screw,

      most of the time a closer is preloaded from between 15 to 45 degrees when arm is mounted, depends on the angle of the pinion and how much travel it has,

      Tom, about the door being stopped by closer due to it reached the end of the rack (piston) I have seen that and it means its OVER preloaded (too much)

      about the door slamming and dampening, that is an indicator of loss of fluid, when a closer loses fluid it will speed up until about 45 degrees or almost all the way shut before it has enough fluid to dampen the movement of the door.

      for a leaker, many options, refill it yourself, send it out and have it rebuilt or just buying a new one to replace it with,

      hope this helps,

      -Jess the door closer doctor

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 11 months ago from United States

      My first thought is that the arm not quite right. The latching and swing speeds are all based on the rotation of the spindle. If the spindle is rotated too far, or not far enough, all you might get is latching speed. That is to say, it ain't got that swing.

      This could happen for a couple of reasons. The shoe might be installed contrary to the installation instructions. The forearm (the adjustable part of the arm) might be extended too far or not far enough. Or the spindle might be "pre-loaded" - that is, rotated with a wrench prior to arm installation in order to increase closing force.

      Your best bet is to download the manufacturer's install instructions and make sure all is well with the screw locations. If the arm is pre-loaded, however, that may be because your closer does now have enough power without pre-loading to shut the door.

      Often you can tell if an arm is pre-loaded if you find you can't open the door to a full 90 degrees because the closer stops it.

      Another possibility is that over time your closer has lost a small amount of hydraulic fluid. The swing and latch speeds are controlled hydraulically, so if there is not enough fluid the closer may behave unpredictably.

    • profile image

      Sudi 11 months ago

      I have a weird situation. The door closes correctly (sweep slow + latch fast) as long as the door is released from the full open position. But if the door is only partially opened and released, the sweep + latch are both too fast and the door just slams shut. What could be wrong?

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 14 months ago from United States

      Hi Noel,

      Increasing the distance of the closer from the hinge will decrease the number of degrees the door will be able to swing. For example, if the door closer is designed to allow the door to swing open to 110 degrees when installed according to the instructions, it may only open to a 90- or 100-degree angle if installed further from the hinge. Also, the closing force of the closer will be slightly increased in the new position.

    • profile image

      Noel 14 months ago

      Can the hinge to door closer distance be changed? The installation instructions are very precise. For the installation I am planning I need to move the body of the closer 25 mm further from the hinge to clear an obstruction. How will this affect the operation of the closer?

      Thanks!

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 14 months ago from United States

      Jess, thanks so much again for your comments. Your knowledgeable answers are wonderful and much appreciated.

    • profile image

      Freddie S 14 months ago

      Thank you so much, Jess. I moved the body of the closer 1 and 3/4 inches towards the hinge edge. I did not move the arm because I found that the door is easier to open the further away the arm is from the closer itself. It's now working exactly how I wanted....it's no longer staying open and the door opens quite easily. So, once again, thank you!

    • profile image

      Jess the door closer doctor 14 months ago

      Freddy S,

      Move body towards hinge edge of door, as for how many inches, I would say 1 inch at a time (25mm)

      May also want to bring arm location nearer to hinge as well, or else it will still stay open,

      Hope this helps,

      -Jess the door closer doctor

    • profile image

      Freddie S 14 months ago

      Thanks, Tom and Jeff. Yes I have the rack and pinion type. It's mounted in a standard installation (with the closer on the pull side of the door and the arm shoe on the frame above it). When you say to move the body of the closer nearer to the "edge of the door" do you mean closer to the hinge edge or the outside edge or top edge of the door? And, right now it doesn't close until it's about 70 degreees open; how many inches /centimeters should I shift it?

    • profile image

      Jess The Door Closer Doctor 14 months ago

      Hello Freddie S.

      from what I read, you are referring to the rack-and-pinion based hold open, there is a video on youtube that shows just how it works,

      as for disabling it, you can mount closer body more closer to edge of door so it does not engage at the angle it is suppose to engage (most of them its at 90 degrees)

      this video demonstrates the "rack-and-pinion" type hold open,

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixsxn7N85OQ

      the only other option other then adjusting placement of arm or length of forearm (if its adjustable) is to swap it out for another closer of same bolt hole locations that does not have the hold open function,

      I hope this helps with understanding and how to get it to not hold open,

      -Jess the door closer doctor

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 14 months ago from United States

      It is a common problem. Thank you for your comment!

    • profile image

      Freddie S 14 months ago

      Great article, Tom and thank you! I have just read all the comments posted here and am very impressed with your knowledge and expertise. I'm a door closer novice -- I installed my first one today on our powder room door because guests always leave it open after use and I hate seeing the toilet from my kitchen! I just realized that my closer (inexpensive TELL brand) has a Hold Open feature I would like to disable. How can I determine what type of Hold Open mechanism mine has so I'll know whether or not the nut loosening you mentioned as a fix for this problem, is possible or not?

    • profile image

      Jess the Door Closer Doctor 15 months ago

      Hudson 3331,

      sounds to me that your problem is having to do with proper pre-loading of the arm, when properly pre-loaded, the arm should sit at a V from frame of door or with secondary arm at a 90 from face of door,

      most of the closers will have a series of numbers and a mark on the square shaft of the closer, these are to help position the arm on the shaft according to what type of mounting you are putting the closer up as,

      another thing that could cause the latch to just contact the frame instead of going in, closer spring too weak, to increase it (if this closer does NOT have a spring tension adjustment nut) you move the whole closer about 1 inch to inch and half more away from hinge to give the closer a better advantage to closing (and latching) the door

      hope this helps!

      -Jess the door closer doctor

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 15 months ago from United States

      Sounds to me like your door closer is not installed correctly. Either the closer is not located in the correct place, or the arm is improperly installed. Alternatively, the hinges may be bent or the door frame sprung, but at first thought I would guess it is an installation error.

    • profile image

      Hudson3331 15 months ago

      Hi

      I have a Cal Royal 430P door closer installed. The problem I need support on is it will not shut. The door opens, then swings close but stops a finger or two shy of catching on the doorframe and rests with the doors latch just outside of the doorframe . Any ideas?

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 2 years ago from United States

      Quite right, Rod. Usually I hear of transom closers referred to as 'overhead concealed closers' and floor spring closers as simply floor closers, but a rose by any other name will close the door just the same. Thank you for your comment.

    • profile image

      Rod Fathers 2 years ago

      There are a few other types of door closers, namely transom closers/overhead closers and floor springs/floor closers. Transom closers are concealed units set into the transom of a door frame, floor springs or floor closers are set into the floor near the doorjamb sometimes called the door post. Both of these type closers work generally on the principle of extension or compression of a spring or springs and the drawing of oil into a piston at the same time. The rate at which the oil is released from the piston is the speed at which the door closes. For information and pictures of some historical floor springs see the gallery at www.midlandsfloorsprings.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 2 years ago from United States

      Have you viewed the closer from above? Sometimes covers are held on by hex head cap screws in the top.

      Perhaps your cover is held on by tension, but was put on the closer while there was wet paint on the door. The cover may be held on by the paint. In that case, carefully trace the edges of the over all round with a blade to free it from the paint.

      It would be helpful to know the manufacturer, but you may not be able to tell with the cover on.

      Please stop back and let us know how you made out.

    • profile image

      Becca 2 years ago

      Hi Tom,

      I have a surface mounted closer that I am trying to adjust, however I can not get the cover off. It's not held on by screws of any type I can see and won't come off when I pull it. Any tips?

    • profile image

      doorcloserdoctor 2 years ago

      Jeff,

      I just emailed you with some help about the Taymor, hope this helps, I tried to send a comment about it here but at the time hubpages didn't want to cooperate, so found it easier to send an email,

      please read the email, it is from JLD902 (at) aim (dot) com

      -Jess the door closer doctor

    • profile image

      Jeff 2 years ago

      Tom,

      I haven't figured out Facebook yet. You can email me at jeff3 at freemars dot org.

      I downloaded one of Taymor's PDF files of specifications for its 600/620 series closers. The photo shows the hexagonal indent on one end just like

      on the 97Y7 I have, but the drawing shows three holes on the other end. The closer I have has hexagonal indents on both ends. I get that the top screw on one end is the latch speed and the bottom screw is the swing speed. I presume that the single screw on the other end is back check.

      Maybe the closers with three holes are adjustable but those with only hex indents are not?

      -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 2 years ago from United States

      I was not able to find anything on the 979 closer online, either. I think photos of the adjustment valves and both ends of the closer body without the cover might be helpful. Can you contact me via Facebook?

    • profile image

      Jeff 2 years ago

      I can't find specific instructions for a Taymor 979y closer. Taymor's

      website is no help at all.

      The problem is pretty clearly that the spring is sprung too hard. It is

      hard to open the door and once open, it tries to bite the person going

      through. Can the spring be adjusted? Each end of the cylinder has a

      1" hexagonal depression, suggesting a very, very hefty tool to adjust it.

      Also, as the door is being opened, just a few inches wide, it makes a

      thunking sound that I doubt it should make. Not a sharp crack,

      though -- just a thunk.

      -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

    • LocksmithsPerth profile image

      James Beveridge 2 years ago from Western Australia

      Amazing article and the after discussion.. Quite informative.. :)

    • profile image

      doorcloserdoctor 2 years ago

      Ruben, your welcome! :D

      glad my help has helped with getting the door to close all the way and to stay shut keeping the heat in and the cold out.

      -Jess the door closer doctor

    • profile image

      Ruben 2 years ago

      Thank you for the response. The door does not have a latch, the spring was adjusted and has helped a lot, thank you again.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 2 years ago from United States

      Welcome, Ruben. Thank you, Jess.

      One question I would ask - does the door have a latch to keep it closed?

    • profile image

      Jess 2 years ago

      Hello Ruben,

      common one I hear these days(before winter) to preevnt the door from being blonw open, do you mean blowout, where the HVAC system makes door open slightly??? to adjust that you will have to haveHVAC mechanic adjust the blower motor speed on the heating/air conditioner.

      if you cannot adjust the HVAC system orhave a guy do it for you, may be a good idea to increase the door closer spring size,

      if its a surface closer, the spring tension is located on teh end of the door closer usually labelled as spring ([/\/\]) or PA (power adjust)

      if its a concealed in top jamb closer (such a Jackson 20-330) you will need to order another closer as they are fixed spring size. ?

      if its a closer concealed in the FLOOR, take noteof the brand, as they are different from brand to brand if you have a Dorma, you can simply use a wrench to adjust the spring tension, (much like adjusting the surface mount closers)

      if you have a Rixson, this one its best to call a door installer, as a special tool with studs on it is required to adjust the spring, if adjusted wrong by end user/owner, owner can get hurt or leak/damage to closer can result,

      if you have a dor-o-matic, these are adjustable as well, but high risk of dirt contamination into the fluid because you have to open a port cap on closer body to gain access to the spring tension adjuster.

      if not sure what you have, please send a picture of the closer?? JLD902 @ AIM. com

    • profile image

      Ruben 2 years ago

      Is there a way to adjust to keep wind from blowing door open?

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Jess!

    • profile image

      Jess 3 years ago

      Hello Tom and Lori,

      there is a way to fix the little hold open washer on the screen door closers,

      remove from closer, put flat part (with hole) in a vise, then with a hammer, tap the "tab" part that contacts the tube of the closer, many times the angle is not enough to "bite" the rod to hold it open, also, many of these screen door closers are made overseas and sold to USA, sometimes quality of things made overseas can be questionable.

      another option, buy one of them "touch n hold" type closers, that use a pushbutton on the closer tube itself instead of the washer that you slide down the rod.

      -Jess the door closer doctor

      hope this helps

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      Sounds like you have a new screen door or storm door, probably aluminum, and maybe the pneumatic door closer it came with is not so good and is not working properly. Since your door is new, perhaps you can take the closer back to wherever you got your door and they will give you a new closer. If this is not possible you could probably buy a better quality closer and it would not be very expensive. Take the closer with you so that it can be determined whether or not the replacement will fit.

    • profile image

      Lori 3 years ago

      I have a new door put it on but when we slide the little metal thing on the closer to keep the door wide open and stay open it doesn't stay. What can I do?

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      One of our kids was "The Chocolate Detective." They could find chocolate immediately no matter how well hidden. Against some forces no security measures will avail. :)

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 3 years ago from London UK

      lol at slam the curtains!

      A small set of wind chimes is a good tip.I may just alarm or lock it for the best security measures to protect my fav chocolates!!:)

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      Daughters tended to slam their bedroom doors as a means of expression so I threatened to remove the door and put up a curtain. "Slam that."

      A good door closer can also make it difficult to slam the door, but it will not get rid of a squeak. We used to have a small set of wind chimes attached to the front door to mark comings and goings. One could do the same with a cupboard. Yet if the cupboard is bare, I guess it's already too late!

      Thank you, Compu-smart!

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 3 years ago from London UK

      For all those people who will be adjusting or fitting new doors, please make sure they don't squeak because it can be very annoying for neighbors. Having said that, my friend has a squeaky door and when I offered to oil it for him he declined saying, when you have 5 daughters, you wanna know whose coming in and out of the house!. Now, I wish I never oiled my cupboard door which used to be squeaky because I would know who and when my sweets were going missing!

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Lauren. The discussion has taught me a lot! :)

    • Lauren Amy Smith profile image

      Lauren Amy Smith 3 years ago from Suffolk

      Thanks for a wonderfully detailed post, voting up :)

    • profile image

      Jess 3 years ago

      your welcome Tom!

      -Jess the door closer doctor

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
      Author

      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      Perfect! Thank you, Jess!

    • profile image

      Jess 3 years ago

      Hello Ali and Tom,

      the adjusting (turn on or turn off)of the hold open function all depends on if this is a SELECTIVE hold open floor closer or a factory assigned hold open,

      now some questions, the brand?? (RIXSON?? CRL, Dorma??)

      (on rixsons #27/#28) do you see any holes in the coverplate (sweep, latch, backcheck and HO on-off) if you see 4 screw valves and HO, it is selective and you have to turn the HO to the left to ENGAGE it, turn HO to right to turn it off, this may be hard due to how the internal mechanism is designed. to use the hold open turn the screw full 180 degrees, sometimes you may hear a "pop" sound as you turn it, (dont worry, you didn't break anything, also, USE A FIRM GRIP ON SCREWDRIVER as it might slip out of flat head screw

      if you see just 3 valves (RIXSON) it is factory preset hold open, best to take to a door closer repair service or the factory to have the hold open disabled, most likely they will encourage you to buy a new closer as it is dangerous to service yourself if you have no experience with servicing floor closers (rebuilding them)

      if its a dorma (BTS 75/80, longer narrower floor closer coverplate) they are NOT selective (can't turn it off on at will, the hold open function of the Dorma BTS series is a part of the internal mechanism, same as for Rixson, take to a repairer/factory to exchange for one with NON-hold open function

      now as most of these are EXPENSIVE, I am sure there will be attempts to disable the hold open themselves (and save their money) it is highly recommended the end user/owner NOT attempt repairs themselves, as accidents can happen, floor closer springs are EXTREMELY strong and and not all toolshops/home workshops are equipped with the proper tools that are used in (floor)closer disassembly often too there are times that a person gets it back together, they use it, then it has problems (leaks or something fails) also, DIY on a closer (floor, surface or OHC) may also void the manufacturer's warentee.

      hope this helps,

      -Jess the door closer doctor

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      Ali 3 years ago

      Thanks Tom for the advise ;)

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      Sounds like you have a Herculite all-glass door with a floor closer. I know that when these are sold, they are sold either as hold open or non-hold open, so I would advice you to replace your non-hold open closer with a 90-degree hold open version. It may be possible to field convert your closer, I don't know. I do think working with the door closer would be better than adding another piece of hardware if your door is, in fact, all glass with no metal rails top and bottom. If you do have a rail at the top you could use and overhead stop and holder.

      I have taken apart few door closers, but Jess the Door Closer Doctor has much experience in this. She may have more useful advice for you. Check her out at: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/members/174259-d...

    • profile image

      Ali 3 years ago

      Hi everybody,

      My tempered glass door is already set to stop on 90 degree, the complete open position. Actually I need it to close automatically even on 90 degrees. Here is the question, can I do it by the existing floor spring, or I should add some other ceiling spring?

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      Thanks, Jess! I was hoping you would show up. :)

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      Jess (door closer doctor) 4 years ago

      Mark,

      the closer you discrive (code 9N50) that is the UL listings for Cal* Royal door closers, that cap on bottom is just that, a decorative cap to cover up the unused pinion shaft on a rack and pinion door closer, sounds to me you have a worn out O-ring and can be replaced, many find it easier and quicker to reaplce the whole closer,

      many closers these days if you do attempt to change an o-ring on a pinion shaft, it only has a nut surrounding one shaft of the closer, (like most newer nortons and Cal* Royals) and to get to the side that don't have the pinion shaft nut, you must remove the pinion shaft to get to the effected side, and you lose a good amount of oil in the process and also void the manufacturer's warrentee in the process.

      if you have the time and skill for it, by all means go ahead and remove the closer, take to a workbench with a vise and undo the nut around the shaft and replace the o-ring,

      Tom,

      that link is from a site that I have been known to give advice on door closer rebuilding, "DOORDOCTOR" is me, the advice starts at post #9.

      in my feelings, if the person has time, they may be happy to only spend a few dollars on a rubber o-ring instead of 120+ on a new closer of the same model/brand, but I do see your point Tom, not all have time to rebuild or fix a leaker and it's best to buy a new unit.

      I do warn that all closers have strong springs that can hurt you if you attempt to remove them, (one brand including discourages the owners from adjusting the spring, Rixson) due to risk of damage/leak to closer or injury to the person performing the adjustment/repair.

      -Jess the door closer doctor

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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      Actually most of the time there is an exception to that statement of mine. Truth is that I personally would rather toss a door closer than rebuild it but most quality door closer can be rebuilt. I found these instructions here: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/hardware-fastene...

      The writer sounds like my friend Jess the Door Closer Doctor, but I could not tell from the information there. The instructions say to use mineral oil or hydraulic jack oil, but I think any oil designed for hydraulic equipment would work. They also mention replacing the O rings and those can be found at most good hardware stores.

      My reasoning is this: in about the time it takes to rebuild a closer I can go buy a new one, come back, get up on the ladder and have it installed and have a cup of coffee before the next job. The customer gets a new door closer guaranteed for ten years. If I rebuilt the closer I would guarantee it for 90 days. That's why, all in all, I feel we are both better off if I replace it.

      However, if you have the time and the inclination, what have you got to lose? Go ahead and give door closer rebuilding a try. Sounds kinda fun.

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      Mark 4 years ago

      Great article Tom, Thanks. I did have one question. I actually found this article when I googled 'door closer 9n50'. You state that if there is oil leaking from the door closer that you might as well throw it away and I was wondering if there was an exception. There is actually oil leaking from mine but it is coming from what appears to be a loose cap underneath that is designed to be unscrewed and used to refill the reservoir if necessary that perhaps someone loosened to create a little mischief. If I remove this cap and I find that is the case is there any specific hydraulic fluid I should use?

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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      Mike, I am sorry I didn't see your comment before. The sagging of your door is a problem that is most likely unrelated to your door closer. Most likely something has settled or changed causing your door frame to go out of alignment. Sometimes this happens for no apparent reason; other times it can occur if some0one is, for example, pouring a new foundation next door. Also if your door frame is not securely anchored to a stud or other structural member it may be quite easy the throw out of alignment.

      I suggest that you take a square and a level and see if 1) the inside corners of the door frame are square and 2) if the header is level and both legs of the frame are plumb. If either of these measurements shows your door frame is out of alignment you have found your culprit. I will write an article about how to test and straighten a hollow metal frame soon.

      Craig, thank you. That a person has found one's writing helpful is the highest praise a writer can hope to achieve. I hope that your common door closer problems are over.

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      Craig Davidson 4 years ago

      Thanks, that is a helpful hub- Hopefully I have finally got our communal stairwell door to close properly! Fingers crossed!

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      Mike Yanczysin 4 years ago from Eastlake, Ohio

      Hi Tom - Great information here. Most door service companies I contacted about my standard surface mount closer did not even want to bother with it, or give me any suggestions about my problem, so was happy to find your blog. I have a 36-inch steel entry door that suddenly sagged in the frame, causing it to stick at the top right side. I thought the top hinge had warped, so I replaced it, but the door is still nearly a quarter inch out of plumb with the frame. I see no oil leaking from the closer and the arm does not appear to be sagging, so I'm really stumped as to what would suddenly cause the door to sag that much. Any thoughts?

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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      You're welcome, Lexie. Looking over all the comments over the past four (!) years here, writing this hub was the start of an amazing journey of discussion and learning on all sides. I am very grateful for the experience. Thanks for visiting.

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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      Thanks for that info. I feel the right remedy for buying the wrong closer is not making the wrong closer work, but buying the correct closer. Nevertheless, what you say is true: it is possible to make a door closer behave in a way it is not designed to do by changing the position of the closer body and/or shoe. In fact I admit I have done this myself. Yet it is not the right way, and in my experience the improvised installation of the wrong closer is never quite as good as the standard installation of the right closer. All the best to you, and again, thank you for commenting.

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      Joseph 4 years ago

      Really useful article Tom, your post makes me know my door closer better, but the problem is: my door closer does not have any spring tension adjustment, it has a fixed spring.

      I do not pay attention to this when I buy it, really disappointed because the spring tension is too high and cause it hard to open. Googling around I bump on this article: http://www.uniquestuff.net/how-to-adjust-door-clos...

      I think the author also has the same problem like mine. Curious, I read and practice his tricks by relocating parts of my door closer. I tell you what: It works! I think I should share this with you too.

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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      Door hardware can be tricky if not downright dangerous. Thanks for your comment, Stan!

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      Stan Murphy 4 years ago from Kansas

      Loved the article. A few years back my garage door tensioner was loose on one side so I decided to tighten it myself. In hindsight, I probably should have had a professional do it, but sometimes pride overtakes common sense. Thanks again for posting this!

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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      Manufacturers make door closers with closing and latching speeds that are infinitely adjustable within a certain range as determined by the strength of the spring that actually does the closing. Manufacturers base closer spring strength on the force necessary to close and latch a door of a given width. Building inspectors, fire marshals and the American Disabilities Act have standards for closing and latching speeds, but these depend upon the use and location of the door closer. Your best bet is to consult the Authority Having Jurisdiction - your local building inspector or fire marshal.

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      4 years ago

      Thank you for the informative article.

      You mentioned that a door closer will close and latch the door in 7 to 8 seconds.

      Do the manufacturers or any standards or building codes specify closing speeds and times for certain doors?

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      Jess 5 years ago

      Tippy:

      i got it and replied, check your mail!

      -Jess the door closer doctor

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      Tippy 5 years ago

      Jess,

      I emailed a picture of the part to JLD902@aim.com. Is that the correct address? Please let me know if you didn't receive it.

      Tippy

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      Jess 5 years ago

      Hello Tippy,

      thanks for getting back to us about the closer that attacked the guy,

      as you mention the part has 2 prongs on one end, it sounds to me (without seeing a photo) may be an old style forearm that may have snapped in half and hit the man,

      as far as servicing a door closer, only one brand soo far i have seen that warns against repairing the closer body (closer cylinder itself), it is the ryobi doorman (residential series) "no user serviceable parts inside"

      i agree that as time goes, it may be a great idea to have this warning on the body of or the install sheet of the more popular (commercial door) brands (LCN, Norton,Yale, Corbin/russwin, Rixson, Parker and other brands not mentioned)

      some people they figure a closer (commercial)is a basic no-brainer, there's much more to the proper installation/adjustment/repair of a closer besides drilling holes in door and frame and fastening the unit to the frame/door and connecting the arm and turning the adjustments on ends/front to adjust the speed or spring, some even been known to remove the valve screws to find out the hard way their closer is hydraulic, instead of pneumatic.

      a person automatically presumes its pneumatic because of the screen door closers found on many American homes, (hisses as it closes, has one screw, and is tube shaped with a rod on one end and screw on other) they hear the hydraulic type hissing, they think its pneumatic as well and find out when its too late after removing a valve or removing the end plug/end cap to find it has oil inside.

      as for fixing a closer, that should only be done by people who know exactly what they are doing and understand the strength and capabilities of a closer (how easy it is to get injured or damage the door/frame if not done correctly)

      now as to if it was caused by DIY gone wrong or a pro...... I myself has seen successful closer DIY, and seen professional fails, in this case, a photo is worth a thousand words and can explain itself better then words on a blog comment can,

      for emailing me, JLD902 (at) aim (dot) com,

      when I see the photo I will email you back about what the part is, and if I suspect it was done by the end user (owner of the closer) or a door repair guy and his work failed, or if the closer itself failed due to fatigue (worn part)

      hope to hear from you soon,

      -Jess the door closer doctor

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      I don't think it is a matter of experimentation so much as a botched repair. It was wrong from several perspectives to install the wrong part. Apparently there was a bad consequence. Not sure what you are looking for here.

    • profile image

      Tippy 5 years ago

      From what I understand, the wrong part was used (so I gather the spindle, if that's what it was that hit him, either didn't fit or wasn't installed properly). The part that hit him has two prong-like things at one end, if that gives you a better idea of what it might be. I have the photo. Would that help?

      It seems awfully dangerous that someone would experiment with a moving/working part that can generate that kind of force, and operates directly above peoples' heads.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Sounds to me like we are talking about the screw that joins the upper arm - the part that connects to the drive shaft (spindle) of the closer - and the forearm - the part of the arm that connects to the door. Also it seems like there were a couple of factors at play. First, the screw used did not stay where it was intended to stay, and second, the closer was either out of oil or adjusted improperly so that it had nothing to slow it down. When the screw gave away, the arm snapped back fast, throwing the screw like a projectile with a catapult-like action.

      It's easy to say "should have", but I would have to agree that any such malfunction could probably have been avoided if the closer had had attention from an experienced tech.

    • profile image

      Tippy 5 years ago

      Jess -

      Thanks for your input. I never realised how complex doors (and door closers) are. Actually, I have nothing to do with the door in question. I'm inquiring on behalf of a friend who was hit by a bolt/spindle/nut? that flew out of a door closer, causing a serious injury. He said whatever it was that struck him knocked him over. What he's trying to determine is whether of not the fact that the store owner repaired the door himself is the probable cause, and if this is the kind of repair that should only be done by a professional. Would most manufacturers provide a warning to that effect? Would doing this type of repair yourself (especially without the authorized part) normally result in voiding the manufacturers warranty?

      Finally, what would cause this bolt or nut to fall out (or fail) in the first place? Obviously, if it had to be repaired, the original part must have fallen out or failed in some way.

      I have a picture of the part in question, if that would help you determine what it is/exactly where it came from. Do you have an email address where I could send it? I'd rather not publish it on this site, since it's not my photo.

    • profile image

      Jess 5 years ago

      Tom, not only could the wrong spindle cause injury to a person, but cause more damage to the rack and pinion teeth inside the closer, and void the warrentee of the closer (most manufacturers it's 10 years)

      Tippy: this mistake usually is result of end users rebuilding/wanting to repair their closer by themselves, this practice I am aware of can help save the wallet (money) if the person knows what they are doing and how a closer works internally) but due to the spring (as mentioned by tom) the act or rebuilding can put you at high risk of damaging the closer or injury to yourself. also many manufacturers they require special tools to get into the hydraulic cylinder itself (removal of end plugs, seals, and/or the packing nuts) and the oil, that can be messy if the person performing "surgery" on the closer is unaware of the oil, ..it can be a mess if they didn't know that their closer uses oil to dampen movement.

      another problem you may run into, different size bearings, and the diameter of the shaft itself (spindle shaft) and the proper o-ring seals, some brands the bearings are bigger around, some have wider bearing journals, some are narrow, so yes, best to go with a replacement part that is designed to be used with THAT brand and series of closer.

      also using parts that are not made by the brand or for it, (such as if fixing a Norton and using the spindle shaft for a cheapo off-brand closer (using light duty parts in a heavy duty closer) this too, from use can cause the replacement part break (I have seen the pinion shafts break off where it connects to the arm)

      Tippy, is there a problem with a closer causing you to ask the question about the "bolt" (I'm thinking you are describing the pinion shaft or the nut that surrounds it) is it leaking??

      since working on a closer is risky business if going inside the cylinder (no user serviceable parts inside) it's best that if there is a problem, to send the closer to an autherized repair center (New England Door Closer located in West springfeild Mass. or Acme Doorway Technical Solutions, in Ontario if in Canada) a door repair company or a locksmith to have the proper repair performed on it.

      I hope my post helps with this issue,

      -Jess the door closer doctor

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      Tippy 5 years ago

      Thanks for responding, Tom. I don't think the door itself caused my friend's injury, but the spindle attached to the swing arm shot out and hit him with a great deal of force, enough to knock him down (am I right in referring to the bolt-looking part at the 'elbow' of the arm as a spindle)? It's probably always a good idea to use only the manufacturer's parts, especially when it involves a moving part that might pose a danger, but are the spindles/bolts themselves that specialized a part that using a similar size bolt would (in your opinion) be unsafe? Would a professional repair person only use a manufacturer's replacement spindle/bolt?

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      The spring in a door closer is very powerful. If not slowed by the hydraulic system within the closer, it can swing the arm with force more than adequate to injure a person. Door closers and door closer parts are made of heavy steel or metal castings, and if they fall on you you will feel it. If one replaces a part on a door closer, one should only use manufacturer's original parts.

    • profile image

      Tippy 5 years ago

      How dangerous is it to replace the large bolt (may actually be the spindle, according to the diagram on your site) on a commercial swing arm door with a bolt/part not specifically made for that particular door? I know someone who was hurt when one of these spindles(?) flew off the swing arm and hit him, and it was not the original part.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      If you have a door closer on this door, sounds like there is not enough spring tension. If your closer has a spring tension adjustment, you can increase the spring tension. If not, then you will probably have to get either a closer with a stronger spring or one with adjustable spring tension.

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      scott 5 years ago

      my door keeps opening by itself when the wind gets up. What adjustment is there?

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks, Jess!

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      Jess 5 years ago

      hello iread11

      the adjustments, are these near eachother on end of the closer? these most likely are the sweep and latch valves, usually marked with "S" and "L" or "1" and "2" or if this one is from europe, "0-10" and "10-180" GEZE of germany uses degrees of opening to symbolize what valve does what,

      the other one with allen key, if marked with BC, this is backcheck, it adjusts the dampening effect when opening the door past a certain degree. if not marked or has a [vvvv] symbol, this is spring adjustment.

      if you have a photo of the closer, you can send to my email address (mentioned in a comment above) so i can try to identify the closer.

      -Jess the door closer doctor

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      iread11 5 years ago

      got door closure no name on it. door slams, two adjustments on top and allen key on right. how do i adjust it. thanks

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Actually Steve emailed me privately and I gave him the same advice. Jess, your advice is always accurate and well researched. You are always welcome here.

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      Jess 5 years ago

      Steve, most of the concealed in the frame closers the hold open is not selective, only way to have it not hold open is to replace it with one that isn't hold open,

      sound to me you may have a jackson or a kawneer husky, possible you can take a photo of it?? (so i can better identify it)

      email is jld902 @ aim. com

      (take out spaces)

      (Tom: i try not to "take over" the site by putting my email here, just trying to help with the closer questions)

      -Jess the door closer doctor

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      steve 5 years ago

      How do you adjust the door closer to remove the hold-open option, so that it doesn't stay open?

      Not sure what model I have, but it is concealed and about a year old.

    • profile image

      Jess 5 years ago

      Jim,

      do you mean the angle of the arm when the arm is put on teh closer (Preload) or do you mean the length of the arm to prevent the arm from contacting the door/frame and causing it to snap??

      better explanation is needed here...

      if you are using a closer that doent have a spring tension nut, adjusting angles of the arm can help with reducing or increasing the strength of the spring to get the latch to work properly or to overcome some situations (provide more or less power in latching)

      or do you mean mounting the arm closer to frame or further away from frame then what the installation instructions say??

      please reply soon,

      -Jess the door closer doctor

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      Jim 5 years ago

      is it possible to adjust the initial angle of the swing arm?

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Well, it does sound like a problem by design. Door closers are designed to close a door slowly, with minimal noise. But some locking systems are just plain noisy. There is one electric strike I know that releases with a bang, and there is nothing that will help that.

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      Zac 5 years ago

      Hey Tom. This info is precious. Great advice from a generous expert! Hope you get a proper credit for your experience.

      The thread is long and I read many feedbacks but not sure whether anyone has asked about the issue with noisy latching mechanisms.

      My neighbour starts at 3am in the bakery and snaps me out of sleep when deadlock mechanism is released (my bedroom shares the wall with his main door, my bed lines up right in level with his door). Was about to complain and suggest him to use (GENTLY) the actual deadlock key to close the door behind but wonder if there is a way around the snappy latching mechanisms (20 or so doors in the building do the same frustrating thing). It seems that the snapping sound comes due to latching tounge hitting the internal housing on the door side, rather then hitting the metal doorframe. Please save my bedroom to turn into BADroom.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks, Doctor Jess!

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      Jess 5 years ago

      Moxster and Tom,

      arms loosening up can be a result of no pre-load on the arm during installation or loosening of the forearm segment of the closer.

      to fix, if the closer has a square pinion (where arm attaches to closer body) arm disconnected should sit at 45 degrees to door surface (pointing towards hinges) also make sure that the forearm is at 90 degrees from doorframe when fully closed,

      hope this helps

      -Jess the door closer doctor