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Door Closer Basics: Everything You Need to Know

Tom Rubenoff has worked for over 35 years in the door hardware industry.

What you need to know about door closers

What you need to know about door closers

Types of Door Closers

A door closer is a spring-loaded hydraulic device that closes a door automatically. The most common kind of door closer is the surface mounted door closer, so called because it is mounted to the surface of the door or header. Also available are concealed overhead door closers that are mounted inside the header above the door or inside the door itself, and floor closers that are installed beneath the threshold. Pictures of the different types of door closers are shown in the sections following.

(Note: You can also check out my related article on Door Closer Adjustment.)

Surface mounted closer, standard mount.

Surface mounted closer, standard mount.

Surface mounted closer, top jamb installation.

Surface mounted closer, top jamb installation.

Surface mounted closer, parallel arm installation.

Surface mounted closer, parallel arm installation.

Surface Mount Door Closers

Surface mounted door closers are by far the most common kind of door closers. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Unlike concealed door closers for which doors are almost always prepared by the door manufacturer, surface mounted door closers need no special prep.

As shown above, surface mounted closers can be mounted in standard, top jamb or parallel arm configurations. Standard configuration is used on the pull side of the door whereas parallel arm and top jamb installations are for the push side.

Not shown are surface mounted track closers which use a single arm and a slide track instead of the double lever arm shown in the pictures at right.

Non-track surface mounted door closers are available with different kinds of arms that perform different functions. These functions are discussed below in the section titled "Arms."

Floor closer

Floor closer

Concealed overhead door closer

Concealed overhead door closer

Concealed Door Closers

Examples of two kinds of concealed door closers are shown in photos above. There is a third kind, the overhead concealed-in-door door closer, but since it is so rarely used I did not include a photo here. An example of a concealed-in-door closer is the LCN 3130 series.

Concealed door closers can be used on single acting doors - doors that swing one way - but they are always used when a door is "double acting," that is, a door that swings both ways, in and out. They are often used in high traffic applications, such as the front door of a large office building. As you see above, surface mounted door closers are not about to win any beauty contests. Concealed closers offer designers a cleaner looking finished opening than surface closers.

Floor closers are almost always used with pivot hinges as opposed to butt hinges. Pivot hinges can be stronger and more durable than butt hinges.

What You Need to Know to Order

Here is a list of information that you need to know before you order a door closer:

  • Interior or exterior door?
  • Left-hand or right-hand swing?
  • Door closer to be mounted on the push or pull side?
  • Door width?
  • Pivot hinges or butt hinges?
  • What is the door made of? Wood? Hollow metal? Glass and aluminum?
  • If there is glass, what is the size of the piece of material onto which you want to mount the door closer?

When you have this information, you are ready to call your hardware professional. If you are unsure what kind of closer will best suit your application, your hardware professional can suggest one based on the information above.

Standard Double Lever Arm

Standard Double Lever Arm

Hold Open Arm

Hold Open Arm

Dedicated Parallel Arm

Dedicated Parallel Arm

Stop Arm

Stop Arm

Drop Plate

Drop Plate


In the pictures of surface mounted door closers at the beginning of this article, the closers all have what is called a standard, double lever arm. This arm is pictured above. Below it are shown a few examples of optional arms that are available to give surface mounted door closers more functionality.

  • Hold Open Arm: Most door closer arms are available in a hold open version. Usually, they work by friction. Opening the door to a certain degree tightens a nut which causes the arm to stick at a point, holding the door open.
  • Dedicated Parallel Arm: Called by LCN an Extra Duty Arm and by Norton a Parallel Rigid Arm, this arm is for an extra sturdy, parallel arm only application door closer.
  • Stop Arm: Called a Cush'n'Stop arm by LCN and a Closer Plus arm by Norton, this arm doubles as a stop to keep the door from opening too far and perhaps hitting a wall.
Surface mounted, cam action track closer.

Surface mounted, cam action track closer.

Surface Mount Track Door Closer

Surface Mount Track Door Closer

Surface Mount Track Door Closers

Above is shown the LCN 4040XPT and the Sargent 422 surface mount track door closers. Track closers are used with there are space restrictions that do not allow an arm or parallel arm shoe to protrude past the reveal of the door, or as an aesthetic choice.

Track closers generally are generally somewhat less powerful than their cousins that have traditional arms.

The Sargent 422 has a newer internal design that translates into a door that is easier to open, yet closes with consistent force throughout the arc of the swing.

Drop Plate

At the bottom of the column of pictures of door closer arms is a drawing of an LCN 4040XP door closer from the LCN catalog, parallel arm mount, on a plate that is called a "drop plate." It is used to provide a surface to which you can attach the door closer when the surface of the door is too narrow to do so. In the illustration, the 4041 is mounted on an aluminum-and-glass storefront door. The aluminum is too narrow, so the 18PA plate attaches to the aluminum of the door and the 4041 attaches to the plate.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: The door closer arms are not arrayed at the acute angles shown in your illustrations, or in the manual's illustrations. Could this be affecting how difficult the door is to open?

Answer: It certainly could.

Question: MY door closer will not fully close the door. I have tried adjusting it, but no adjustment works. Is it time for a new door closer? Or am I missing something?

Answer: It could be some things. First, remove the door closer and see if the door shuts with little effort or needs some force to close fully. If the door does not swing well, or a bent hinge or sprung frame causes resistance, these factors can significantly inhibit the closer's ability to close and latch the door. Sometimes the solution is to fix or replace the door and/or door frame.

Air pressure can also be a factor, as I mentioned in the article. Significant air pressure that opposes the motion of the closer can be a severe problem to solve.

If the door swings well and there is no air pressure problem, it sounds to me like the arm may not be installed correctly, or perhaps the closer is not installed correctly. If you can download the manufacturer's install instructions, you can check the mounting hole locations and see if they are right. Also if the arm is installed at the wrong angle on the spindle, the closer may not work correctly.

Question: The arm is not level after it is fastened into the door frame. How can this be addressed if the door frame is not a smooth surface, but more like crown molding?

Answer: When a decorative molding makes door closer installation challenging, you can 1) use parallel arm installation on the push side of the door, or 2) if the molding is made of wood, cut into the decorative molding on the header to make a flat place to install the shoe. It is very difficult to pull off option 2 and have it not turn out like the hack job it is, but sometimes there is no choice. For example, on an exterior in-swinging door, one cannot install the closer out in the weather.

A second choice for option 1 would be to use a track closer instead of a parallel arm.

Another, much more labor-intensive solution is to use a door closer that is concealed in the door, header, or floor. If you have a lot of extra time and money, a concealed door closer will do the job.

Question: Why would my door closer device be making a loud whirring noise? We just had it repaired because it wouldn't remain open, despite the fact it's supposed to be able to. It stays open now, but the noise is dreadful and annoying. What's wrong with it?

Answer: Without knowing exactly which door closer you have, it is impossible to say for sure. But from your description, I believe what you have is less a door closer than it is a door opener. Devices that are strictly door closers are very unlikely to make a whirring sound, but door openers have a much better chance at it because they have electro-mechanical components. While they are designed to operate quietly, they usually have an electric motor and drive apparatus that certainly have the potential to make a whirring sound.

What it sounds like to me, and I am guessing, is that your door opener was designed to open the door to a certain degree and hold it there. In that case, it would probably have a mechanical device that would be activated when the opener has opened the door to the right angle. I guess this part has worn out, and your repair technician, hearing that the complaint is that the door does not stay open, has found another way for it to do so that involves keeping the motor running.

I would venture to say that the fact of the noise being loud is not a good sign, and points to the possibility that it has been adjusted to do something it was not designed to do.

Question: What is causing the arm on my door closer to keep popping off? I can manually slip the arm back into place but nothing is keeping it fastened. Am I missing a part?

Answer: It does sound like you are missing a part. Usually the arm is attached to the spindle by a screw on modern closers whereas with older closers the end of the arm was a clamp that was made tight by a bolt. Some modern closers use a screw and a washer. It could be that you you have the screw but not the washer.

Question: Does having a door closer propped open and under constant tension effect it?

Answer: I'd say no, not significantly. If it were held open for several decades, it might have some effect. In most closers, the vulnerable aspect is the hydraulics, not the spring. If a closer is installed incorrectly and forcibly opened until it's stopped by the spring, over and over, after a while that might damage the spring.

Question: I have an entry door with a 140mm reveal. The door frame is only visible down each side. Could you recommend a door closer that will work with this setup?

Answer: Your question prompts me to ask a question. Is this reveal on the pull side? If you are mounting the closer on the pull side of the door, having a reveal that is several inches deep is a problem. However, if you are mounting the closer on the header (also called top jamb installation), there are many closers that have extended arms for this application.

In older buildings, I have run into unique situations that prevent any kind of satisfactory install. One can either improvise or compromise. Maybe the compromise is using a corner bracket in an opening that is not tall enough to allow a corner bracket, or maybe it is opting for spring hinges instead.

One thing to avoid is installing the closer contrary to the installation instructions with the idea of adapting the closer to the non-standard situation. This always results in the closer not working properly.

Question: Our Norton door opener is very difficult to open. How do I adjust?

Answer: First, identify it. Look on the Norton Door Controls web site and pick out the one it most looks like. Your model will have its own page. On the page will be a link to the installation instructions. Download the installation instructions, print them out, and bring them with you to the door.

Use the directions to find out if the door opener has been installed in the correct location on the door. If not, it needs to be moved. If so, find the various adjustments in the directions and see which one applies to your situation.

Question: We’ve had two Dorma TS72 closers detach from the door, and the fitter blamed it on vandalism when we know that this is not the case. What could have possibly caused this? The arm stays attached to the door frame, and on one of the doors, a screw snapped in half where the closer had ripped away from the door.

Answer: Is it installed correctly? That is, is the closer installed in the right place on the door according to the instructions? Was the arm installed correctly, or was it installed in such a way as to get more power out of the closer than it was designed to have? These are the things I would check first.

Secondly, if there is this much force being exerted against this door, perhaps you might consider adding an overhead stop that will keep the force away from the closer.

It would be helpful to know whether these closers are installed on the push side or the pull side, but I think, because of the apparent force that is being exerted on the mounting screws, that they are probably mounted on the push side and are therefore in a parallel arm configuration. A parallel arm mount would be the only kind of mount that would apply a direct pull on the mounting screws.

If the closers are mounted in a parallel arm, when the arm is extended until it stops it will, in effect, pull on the closer body. Dorma's instruction sheet on this install actually has almost no words on it and does not say to what degree the door will open when this closer is mounted according to the instructions. It is unusual for mounting screws to pull out of the door or be sheared off. I think we can conclude that the door is being opened with sufficient force to 'bottom out' the arm such that it pulls very hard on the closer body, pulling out or shearing off the screws.

© 2008 Tom rubenoff


Jess the door closer doctor on September 17, 2019:

Isaac, many times the clicking and popping comes from a loose arm, have you made sure the screw holding arm to closer is securely tight?

If this clicking is faint and happening as you are opening the door (and it is NOT the arm screw) it may be the one-way check valve ball in the piston of the closer allowing fluid to pass through, the noise may be loud in some closers but it should not effect dampening effect.

Isaac on September 17, 2019:

I am getting a lot of popping/crackling coming from the closer. I have tried to dry lube the turn points but that has not helped. The closer is only 4 years old with minimal use. The hydraulic oils havent leaked out(my fist guess). How do you prevent it?

Harihara Sudhan on September 08, 2019:

Can door stoppers be fixed for the doors fitted with hydraulic door closures

Karen Teeling on August 11, 2019:

I'm a condo owner in a 72 unit complex. Our hall to stairway door has a parallel door closer. Unfortunately, all 4 of the screws that hold its parallel bracket in place are constantly loose. Please tell me how this effects the efficency of the proper closing of this fire door so I can be more assertative with management on getting it fixed. I've told them before but they replied "both our handyman and the fire department inspection just happened 1 hour ago and it passed. perhaps they left them loose to level them". Seriously, I went out and manually tightened them, but I'm a 68 year old woman without a lot of strength. Please, can you help me

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on April 04, 2018:

I do not know of a manual way to do this. There are motorized gate operators that slide side-by-side gates in opposite directions, such as the Stanley SL540, however they do it by wiring two motors together, one on each side of the gate.

To do it mechanically, one could create a chain and pulley system that would do the job, but the problem would be doing it in a way that does not create an obstruction to those using the gate. If the gate is tall enough, one could build a housing above the gate for the pulley system. One could also bury the housing, but that would make repairs and maintenance difficult.

I think I will leave drawing this fanciful arrangement up to someone more qualified, like a mechanical engineer.

Thank you, Steve

steve beshear on April 03, 2018:

i want to design a gate so that when you slide one door open the other slides in a different direction. do you have a drawing for this?

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on March 17, 2018:

I'm glad I was helpful. :)

Garrett on March 15, 2018:

Thanks Tom! This was a big help.

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on January 31, 2018:

Yes, that sounds correct. That's usually called "regular" or "standard" arm mounting, with the closer body mounted on the pull side of the door and the shoe of the arm mounted on the face of the header.

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on January 18, 2018:

Hi Garrett, I think you are on the right track. It is likely you have a floor closer since they are a popular solution for all glass doors. The same principles of adjustments apply to floor closers as do other hydraulic closers: swing speed, closing speed and back check. You may be able to solve your problem by using the swing and closing speed valves. If on the other hand you pull the threshold and you find the pan is full of oil, it is time to get the closer rebuilt or replaced. Jess the Door Closer Doctor has a lot of experience with these and can certainly advise you as well.

Garrett on January 17, 2018:

Please help. I have a glass door with a metal casing on the bottom only. The door keeps slamming and I cant figure out how to access the mechanism to adjust it. It's for an exterior door.

The only think I can think of is to remove the threshold cover and hope to get access underneath there....Any thoughts?

Jess the door closer doctor on September 30, 2016:

NM and Tom,

If the stack pressure cannot be adjusted so the doors will close, it may be a good idea to use a power operator that has powered closing by means of an electric motor instead of a closer,

On wednesday I came accross a tough to open door at a diner, they had the pressure negatively set, hard to open outer door and a barely closing inner door, my friend whom I was driving with pointed it out to me and I toldnmy observations and flagged down a waitress in hopes she will get owner to turn the HVAC down so its easier to open the door (I may not be in need of a wheelchair but the strong to open door was at top of a ramp)

Other options to combating the preasure war is using spring hinges or floor closers such as Rixson #27 or #28 due to wide range of spring sizes accomodated by them, if you MUST use a surface mount closer, I would choose the LCN 4016, they say that due to dynamic geometric angles if the pull side mounted closer's arm during latch range it will give more power and get the door to latch more efficiently.

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on September 29, 2016:

Yes, the UH4031 has a size five strength spring whereas the 4016 or 4116 has a size six. Not saying that the more powerful spring will do the job, but it would be more powerful than what you have. People have gone to extremes to try to conquer the problem you are doing, including using two closers on the same door (not something I recommend). By far the best thing to do is to get the HVAC people to reduce the pressure.

In one case I used closer speed to get the door to shut about nine times out of ten. I adjusted the swing speed to be very slow, and the latch speed to be very fast. Then I changed the angle of the arm so that the latch phase would only start about two inches from the fully closed position. It worked most of the time.

NM on September 29, 2016:

Thanks for the info. Currently I have a Universal Hardware UH4031, which is brand new, and it is giving me the same issues as the one I replaced.

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on September 27, 2016:

615R is a UL listing that is stamped on many door closers, so it does not tell us what door closer you have, and difficult for me to suggest a solution. There are high spring power door closers, such as the LCN 4116 for push side mounting or 4016 for pull side mounting that offer more closing strength for adverse conditions, however the more force a door closer exerts to hold a door closed, the harder it will be for people to open.

NM on September 27, 2016:

I need a door closer that will hold a door shut when there is a large difference in pressure between rooms. I have 615 R, and I can't seem to adjust it correctly for it to hold the door shut. Any suggestions?

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on May 27, 2016:

I am thinking an LCN 1461T might be just the thing. Is it a situation where this door is the exterior storm door and there is another, perhaps wooden door behind it? If so, what is the distance between them when they are closed? Thank you.

Coy on May 27, 2016:

great article Tom! I really can understand more now about the different types of closers. I am needing to replace a closer, currently being (2) Wright V920 Pnuematic, on our main entry way. This being a residential install for our home.

The door is made of aluminum and I would say it's heavy, like most newer houses have, with a thickness of maybe 2". I have found plenty of explanations of they certain 'types' of closers now but still am uncertain what type would be ideal for this type of residential entryway. The door has a changeable screen/glass option that takes up about 80% of the face of the door. Then there is a regular solid door between the 'screen door' and the inside of my house.

I am interested in putting in something other than the two Pneumatic closers that have been on it. The door swings out Left, is made of heavy aluminum, would be the Exterior door, would have an interior(push) mount and would have an area of about 8" height to mount a closer on the top. I would say the width of the door to be close to 48".

I am hoping to get a stronger style closer that would withstand the constant in and out and beating from children but also be very adjustable in the pressure or amount of time it takes to shut completely. Any help or info would be certainly most appreciated. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on March 31, 2016:

Thank Butch and Jess. :)

doorcloserdoctor on March 31, 2016:

Butch, the number you see most likely is the spring size that it was assemble with if there is no spring tension adjustment.

If there IS a tension nit on end to adjust spring, the 1-4 is the range of spring sizes the closer can be adjusted to.

Another location you may see the numbers is on arm where it connects to the shaft of closer, those numbers are imdex marks, its to help properly position the arm during the installation

I hope this helps solve the mystery of the numbers you are seeing on a closer.

-Jess the door closer doctor

Butch on March 30, 2016:

I see door closers have a number 1-4. What is this number for

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on April 13, 2015:

Hi Dale. I have seen this kind of thing before. Sounds to me like your door frame is wood with a wooden decorative molding called a casing, and your closer shoe was mounted to just the casing and not to the header. It is a common problem with modern (post WW II) wood door frame installations that the frames are put in with nothing supporting the header. If that's the case, the real surprise is that it did not pull off the casing long ago.

Since casings are usually connected at the corner miters with nails to pull them together and make the seams tidy, it is not a surprise that the side molding should also be pulled off. They are usually nailed on with small finish nails.

I've seen i rare cases that the internal closer spring breaks in such a way as to jam up the closer so that the door cannot be opened except by using excessive force. If this is the case you may be able to have your door closer spring replaced by a professional (do not do this yourself), or you could replace your closer.

When you repair your door casing, try to include a piece of wood to reinforce the header inside and to give you a solid place to which you can fasten your door closer shoe. This will help ensure this does not happen again.

Dale on April 12, 2015:

I've had my door closer (a surface mounted closer, standard mount) on my door for 15 years. I went to open my door the other day and it completely ripped out the top moulding it was attached to and part of the side moulding from the wall as well. Why or how did this happen??

doorcloserdoctor on April 10, 2015:

your welcome Tom!!

-Jess the door closer doctor

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on April 10, 2015:

Thanks, Jess, for another great, in-depth answer.

doorcloserdoctor on April 10, 2015:

Joe Giunta,

if the closer is one of them old LCN "potbelly" or "traditional" types, you can simply unhook the spring tension under its arm and adjust the valve to allow it to not dampen the movement.

if this is one of them LCN 4040XP/4041 or the 4110 (handed rack and pinion type closers seen in schools and office buildings) a rebuilder may be who is best to talk to about this, as it would require getting into the closer and removing the spring to make them freeswinging.

about the oil/fluid, if I was approached with this situation, I would say to leave the fluid in the closer and adjust the valves so they are open all the way (not removed from closer body) this way it will not hinder the normal freeswinging feel but will slow it down if someone tries to slam it (in anger or wind take the door)

as for the internal parts, this is best left to the experts/professionals to deal with, there is a really strong spring inside them that if taken out wrong or the wrong procedure used, can result in serious personal injury/damage to closer

Tom, a closer that has no fluid or piston/spring is often called a "dummy closer" these are common in use where a concealed overhead closer was used and removed for prepping door for surface or floor closer use, 2 closers is not really recommended for ADA codes, as well as could contribute to premature wear on pivot points

-Jess the door closer doctor

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on April 03, 2015:

If your LCN is one of the models with adjustable spring tension you can adjust it down all the way, and that will reduce, but not eliminate the closing action. You can also adjust the back check, swing and latch speeds to approximate the feel of a free swinging door.

If your closer does not have adjustable spring tension you might consider replacing it with one that does. Also, you could contact LCN tech support and ask if LCN might make a closer with no oil or spring tension to replace the one you have. If you choose to call them, I suggest you first find out what model LCN you have by comparing the dimensions and screw pattern of your closer with installation instructions online at LCN.

Since I am not a rebuilder of door closers I cannot speak with authority about removing the internal parts of a closer - basically the spring and the hydraulic fluid - that make it close the door in an adjustable fashion.

Joe Giunta on April 02, 2015:

I have an LCN closer on the active leave of an unequal pair of doors with a coordinator bar and I don't want the closer function but also don't want to remove the closer and coordinator etc. and have to fill all the holes. Is there a way to disable the closer function but keep the arms and stop? (Basically I would have an expensive overhead stop).

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on March 05, 2015:

Thank you, Jess. Your answers are always on target.

On a couple of jobs I found that no exterior hardware would help because the door was used so often, and because the door was so flimsy, the reinforcements I used tended to compress the door like peanut butter in a sandwich and things just would not work right.

Hollow core wood doors are basically wood veneer boxes. Sheets of veneer are glued to a thin wooden frame that comprises the edges of the door. An extra block of wood is glued in where the lock goes so that the lock does not break through the veneer.

When I found that no hardware would adequately reinforce the door, I removed the strip of wood from the top of the door and replaced it with a piece of 2x4 pine. That made it possible to install what is called a "drop plate", basically a flat metal plate with pre-drilled and tapped screw holes designed to enable installation of the closer on a thinner top rail. One example would be the Norton 1688 plate, designed for use with the Norton 1601.

The challenge of replacing the top piece of wood in a hollow wood door is avoiding shredding the veneer. Although it would cost more money, it might be a quicker and easier solution to replace the door with a wood core door. It would certainly get the most professional results. Of course installing a much heavier wood core door onto a door frame designed for a hollow core wood door may present its own challenges as well.

Good luck on your hardware adventure. Please stop back and let us know how it all turns out.

doorcloserdoctor on March 04, 2015:


many of the big heavy duty closers are not recommended for hollow core doors, they are mainly for use with solid core or hollow METAL doors,

if you MUST install a closer to a hollow WOOD door, you should sandwich the door between a metal plate (on opposite side of door in closer area) and the closer with thru bolts (to secure plate to other side of door) using a metal plate on opposite side of door then closer is mounted gives a broader area of pressure and will reduce changes that the closer will pull away from the door while in use, if not using a plate and thru bolts, you will go to open the door to find that the closer is hanging there by its arm with chunks of door and bolts still attached to closer,

same process if you are installing closer body to frame and arm mounted to door, thru bolt and use an aluminum or steel plate on the other side of door for reinforcement.

also, you will want to keep tension sizes down to no more then 3 or 4, any higher can risk cracking the door

hope this helps,

-Jess the door closer doctor

Bill on March 02, 2015:


What if the wood door is hollow? We mounted the door closer and it lasted about a dozen closes before coming loose...solid door or is there a hardware kit available for hollow doors?? Did not know the door was hollow till we drilled it..

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on November 19, 2014:

I think that the most effective remedy, although it would be expensive and would require expertise, would be to remove the double acting spring hinges and install overhead concealed or floor closers that are center hung and double acting. The second best (and less expensive) fix would be to make the doors single acting and put surface door closers on them.

Chris on November 19, 2014:


I work in a medical clinic and we have a spring loaded door that leads into our nurses area that is a bit problematic. It swings both ways kind of like a door you would see at a diner where you don't need to use your hands at all. The problem is that it will swing quite abruptly and one of our nurses got her finger pinched. Any recommendations?

WillJenkins9801 on June 03, 2014:

Our door closer shuts the door way too hard. Not sure how to fix it. Keep in mind, I'm not very smart when it comes to these things.

Will Jenkins

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on October 07, 2013:

Hmm, not sure. Can you show me a picture?

preston on October 04, 2013:

Could you help me identify the name of this hinge which allows each half of the platform of the stand to be raised to the vertical position together and then be lowered to the horizontal position without creating a gap between the two horizontal pieces?

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on March 21, 2013:

I am thinking that the lack of rod length is causing you to lose the latching speed adjustment? Or is the door not able to open as fully as you would like? If it is the former problem, then you can either extend the rod as you suggest (weakening the arm) or put a 1 inch thick shim on the door to make up for the shortage (lame and ugly). If it is the latter problem, move the closer to the 121-180 degree opening template location. Then you will be able to open the door wider.

Devon on March 20, 2013:


Great site. Great info.

I recently bought a Hager 5400 series closer based on no knowledge of door closer installation. The door is a heavy, solid, wooden door with a deep reveal of about 4". It's in an industrial looking office space. I didn't realize until I was nearly finished with installing it that I needed a longer connecting rod for the top jamb installation I'm doing. I can't seem to find a longer connecting rod that goes with the 5400 series anywhere.

My question is, can I just buy a small headless bolt and coupler to extend the arm myself? And will that affect the ability for the door to close as intended?

I set it up for a 120º opening even though it might open a little less than that. There's a giant stone pillar the door hits right after 90º open.


Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on October 14, 2012:

All of the closers I know of offer a through bolt package, also called sex nut fasteners. These allow you to bolt the closer to the door without compressing the door. I think that would be the best solution.

Chris on October 14, 2012:

Hi Tom, was doing some adjusting on my auto door closer when the self drilling screws had pulled out of the hollow metal door that it's used on. It's a surface mounted closer, top jamb installation. Was wondering what advice you may have on the best way to keep these screw in. Saw the comment on hollow wooden door but thought there might be some simple solutions ( or not so simple ) to metal doors as well. Really appreciate your time on this.

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on June 27, 2012:

I have used the LCN 1461T in this kind of application before with good success. It only requires 2-3/8 inches clearance - but it does require a 4 inch top rail. It does come in a sprayed brass finish. Search LCN 1460T to locate info.

scott pennington on June 27, 2012:

Hi, I am building a large (43" x 94") storm door and it needs a closer. I am concerned that standard screen door closers won't be strong enough so I am looking for a closer that will fit into the 3 inches between the storm door and comes in brass or bronze. Any thoughts?

max247 on June 22, 2012:

from my understanding, california requirements are 5lbs on an exterior door also/cal title 24 (ca's ada equivalent).. may be some exceptions for fire exits

max247 on June 22, 2012:

so jim, what you're saying is the law/code is specific as to how to measure the pressure to open the door?

please cite specific chapter/verse.. :) i would like to have this info to show to any who would dispute what i tell them.



ps. going forward, i may ask you very specific questions as i get differing info from different people in this industry

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on June 22, 2012:

Thanks so much, Jim!

Jim Thompson from Orlando, Florida on June 22, 2012:

When measuring door pressure for ADA compliance it is done with the door open slightly for two reasons. Firstly it overcomes any latching friction. Secondly it overcomes any stack pressure due to air conditioning.

LCN makes a model that we use. On the push side of the door you mimic a person pushing the door open using the gauge. For an interior door this pressure should be 5 lbs or less and for an exterior door it should be 8.5 lbs. Some states this is lower for exterior doors and in some cases local fire codes will have a lower requirement and this usurps the ADA code in this case.

One thing often overlooked is the closing speed. It needs to be adjusted to allow a minimum 3 second sweep from 70 degrees to 3 inches from latching. The lowest part of the closer that intrudes on the door opening must also be 80 inches or more.

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on June 04, 2012:

Oh, I forgot about your pressure gauging question. I will try to get back to this in a day or two.

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on June 04, 2012:

Sounds ingenious! I was often faced with challenging situations like these when I worked in the field. They are both aggravating and kind of interesting at the same time :)

max247 on June 02, 2012:

just looked at the norton 78 b/f closer. looks like it might fill the bill quite nicely.

in pool gate installs, i like to be able to run the arm in parallel mount configuration to deter the kids (vandals? hehe) from going monkey bar on the arms. funny about those door closers being non outdoor rated.. once put a 4041 on a 4'x8' metal pool gate and it was still working good 4 years later with little corrosion. :)

in case it wasn't obvious, i did my own welding and mounting/bracketry install with 1/8" flat bar, 14-16 ga. square tubing of whatever size and 1/8" angle iron. [g]

i did once run across the round top metal gate but since it was about 9ft tall AND inside was 'masked' by mesh/flat expanded metal, was able to install horizontal crossbar at 7' minimum height and fit 4041 to it and have it both not in the way and looking ok.

max247 on June 02, 2012:

also, there seems to be some variance where one applies the tip of a door pressure gauge.. some of your wisdom, please Tom. :)

say you have a 'storefront' type of door - logic might tell you that somewhere in the width of the 1-3/4" to 2" vertical aluminum stile.. same idea for hollow metal or wood door...

also, for gauging door opening forces where there are air-handling/stacks pressure issues.. i was thinking it could be 'measured' in this manner - open the door about 3-4 inches from closed position, this allows any 'wind' to be not really a factor in holding the door closed, once this gap is allowed for, then the pressure gauge can can be applied to the door at the appropriate range and the other end can be set at the door stop and a reading taken (not much of an angle difference...)

am i making any sense?

thanks for any constructive feedback/advice.


max247 on June 02, 2012:

additionally, i'd like to find a digital door pressure gauge.. could a fishing scale be used in a pinch (rigged of course to apply "pressure" from either side..)

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on June 02, 2012:

Round top doors, ah yes, I remember them all too well. There is only one closer I know of that offers a real solution, and that is the Norton 78B/F. Not the most attractive closer on the block, but it does do the job, I can attest first hand. You can find the adjustable bracket for round top doors on page 17 of the Norton 78B/F series catalog. I've tried to include a link here, I hope it works.

Gates are not too bad to work with as long as the customer understand the closer may rust out in five or six years. I usually had a welder come in and weld on a drop plate for the closer and another small plate for the shoe. That made installation easy.

max247 on June 02, 2012:

can you reference a diagram how a standard closer (in any of the 3 standard configurations) would be installed on a round top door?

those are the bane of one's existence, and there are so many goobers out there that use a closer in a non-standard mount and expect it to work - (1) without slamming, (2) foil even the "latch-parkers" (say pool users that leave the gate "ajar" for their friends to come in behind them...

when I install standard door closers in a PA mount configuration on a metal security gate on a pool fence, there has to be for my purposes, a horizontal cross bar at the top of the frame (and at a 7 foot level) to mimic the geometry and mounting dimensions of a standard door frame. I realize this may run counter to some esthetics but only this way can I guarantee this foils the latch parkers, unless they stuff the strike hole with paper or rocks - in which case I call it vandalism and am not responsible for that.


Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on May 02, 2012:

I searched for Ementematic but could not find anything. Many US manufacturers make track closers. Not sure if this is what you mean. But you could check out the Sargent 421 series or the Norton 2800 seris.

Bruce Cameron on April 30, 2012:

Tom- nice site! Are there surface mounting closers that conceal the arm assembly in a track? I've found one that may work (Ementematic- European), but can't tell for sure from their site, and no sign of US dealers.

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on April 29, 2012:

The Touch n' Hold by Greenstar is a heavy duty screen door closer, but it does not offer back check. To have true back check, the closer would need to be hydraulic. For a round top door application, I would usually recommend the Norton 78B/F and the adjustable bracket Norton offers for round top applications. However, this set up would not likely fit between the storm door and the door. I have sold LCN 1461T track closers for this application in the past. Ordered with the optional track bumper, it acts as an overhead stop in addition to being a full featured adjustable door closer.

Argh on April 29, 2012:

I have a round top door. Is there any add-on (or OEM closer) available that allows mounting where my current cheap tubular hydraulic closer is, which is about 18 inches off the threshold? The arm or closer would have to mount on the side jamb, not the top jamb. The cheapo I have now is usually OK but this door recently got caught in a windstorm, the safety chain failed, and I am now rehabbing the door. Would prefer something with adjustable latch speed and back check.

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on April 17, 2012:

I think you can have your cake and eat it, too, if you use an LCN 4011T to close the door and an electromagnetic hold open with a timer. There are many variations on how you could get this to work. You could have the electromagnetic hold open on a timer for two minutes or you could have it activated and deactivated using a wall switch. Alternatively, the catalog section on the LCN 4010T series says to consult the factory if the door is to be held open at 180 degrees. This makes me think that they may have a "special template" solution that would allow you to have your "latter" option.

Byron Persino on April 17, 2012:

Just to be clear, i am looking for one or the other. The 1st solution would be a device to either close the door after a period of time (1 to 2 minutes) or the other device would close the door, but keep it open if opened to 170-180 degrees. I would prefer the latter.

Thank you

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on April 16, 2012:

Off the bat I thought of an electromagnetic door holder with a timer, but I am still researching a mechanical solution. I'll be back. :)

Byron Persino on April 14, 2012:

Hi Tom,

I was wondering if there is a device that would be able to either close a door or keep it open at 170-180 degrees. The door is my pantry door in the kitchen and if left open is always in the walkway path. Since its in the kitchen, a pull side mount would be the only mounting option, but I haven't been able to find anything that can keep the door at that kind of angle and close it if its less than that angle. Also do they have timers that can close the door after a certain period of time and if open less than 170 degrees. Can the door close after 1 - 2 minutes after being open?



Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on March 01, 2012:

Thank you Jess. I only felt a little foolish because here I am in the business for over 30 years, installing and selling LCN 4041's the whole time, and I never knew about the Backcheck Selection Valve! Actually I am delighted to have had the opportunity to learn something new about one of my favorite products.

Jess on March 01, 2012:

Hello Tom,

the body and valve locations on a 4040/4041 LCN can confuse people who do not understand what they are looking at,

i can understand this, when i seen the 4040 (first edition of the 4040 body style) it had no graphical label on the spring tube and just by looking at it i thought right the opposite with the adjustments and though tit was put together much like a screen door closer (adjustment on end of spring tube be sweep/latch) then when i seen the insides were rack and pinion and how the piston travelled inside the closer body, i learned what things did,

i too when i was in 8th grae i seen more and more of the dark gray 4040's (FP fluid years) off their doors getting rebuilt, i once asked one of the repairer's what the mystery valve was, i was told "thats a valve" not telling me much of what it DID,

high school years is when i started seeing more of the 4041's with the graphical spring tube label adjustment instructions and figured out what the BCS valve did

(BCS= my shorthand for BackCheck Selection)

i got finished reading your new hub dedicated to the LCN BCS valve,

i am sorry if i made you feel dumb or embarrassed about the knowledge about what the valve does, being your a locksmith. theres nothing to be a shamed about, many people learn different ways, (by reading or doing or asking)

what also could contribute to the learning, some locksmith courses don't cover the advanced skills and "hints and tips" of closers, but just how to perform "fresh installs" on doors and make the main adjustments.

as for LCN/IR csutomer support, i never had to call them for anything (yet) but i do know everyone at LCN has passion for what they do and do really good at it in the knowledge department, but do email with a couple employees at LCN plant

(no idea why i have not been offered a job working at Norton or LCN, but about every locksmith (on the internet) that i have communicated with and even people at IRST (ingersoll rand security technologies) have told me about visiting the LCN plant to watch closers be made or even take a course in them,

I'm sure if i did it would be like heaven to me.

-Jess the door closer doctor

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on February 29, 2012:

My problem was that I have installed hundreds of 4041's and I never new about the backcheck selection valve! Boy do I feel dumb. I kept thinking everyone was talking about the backcheck valve. In my career as a locksmith, I just never had a need for backcheck in a parallel arm installation. Anyway I looked at some closers and some directions and even called LCN tech support and now I know what it is.

And it is always good to have a lesson in humility, too.

Jess on February 29, 2012:


there really isn't any difference in installation method on the LCN 4041 or 4040, being they both have the same adjustments and the same body, the 4041 was out before the 4040XP,

mainly the difference is now is bigger bearings and pinion as well as different "O" rings used in the 4040XP preventing them from leaking.

in the future the 4041 will be phased out and is basically same thing as the 4040XP,

lets put it this way, 4040XP is basically the improved version of the 4041.

It is common with installing the 4040XP/4041 that the installer forget the backcheck position selection valve,

i once seen an installation video (of a brand that has a closer similar to the 4041) where they totally didn't even mention the valve, i told them about it and not heard back from the company about what i seen in the videos.

the instructions that came with my 4040XP, is the SAME installation sheet sent out with 4041's

-Jess the door closer doctor

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on February 28, 2012:

Thanks for that explanation, Jess. I very much appreciate your knowledge. You add a lot to my writing about door closers.

I was under the impression that there was no difference in installation between the 4041 and the 4040XP, and now I know better. Thank you!

Jess on February 28, 2012:


Yes, removal of the 4 bolts from body is required to gain acess to the backcheck selection valve on back of the 4040/4041's, if referring to the valve closest to spring tube (above or below the bolts when mounted, depending if its on a left or a right door) that is just the backcheck and no you will not have to remove your closer to adjust the backcheck regulation,

can drill throught e door to make a port for it on the door, but then you have an unsightly hole in the door on the opposite side of the closer.

due to once installed correctly there will be no need to have to turn it again unless taking closer off and putting it on pull side (if previously installed on a push) hence why its suppose to be set BEFORE putting it on the door (or frame if doing a TJ install)

hope i wasn't too confusing to understand, please email me (you have my email address) if still confused about backcheck selection

-Jess the door closer doctor

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on February 26, 2012:

Awesome, Jess, thank you! If I'm not mistaken, if the backcheck needs adjusting after the closer is installed, one has to remove the door closer to do it. Correct?

Jess on February 22, 2012:

Tom, i know exactly what Jeff is talking about, its called the backcheck selection valve, not seen when mounted to the door since the valve's location is on the mounting surface (surfaces of closer that are in contact with the door)


Yes the valve on the back of the 4041/4040XP is important to adjust when mounting one of these to the push side of a door.

the reason, is because of the hydrualic circuitry in an LCN 4040/4041 backcheck function happens earlier in the door opening cycle if the valve is closed (all has to do with arm geometry) if left open,factory default when they send these closers), the backcheck will arrive later in the door cycle and not recommended.

even though to many the instruction on the "barrel" (called the spring tube) shows the steps "if" with diagram of the 6 hole mounting plate and "then" showing the valve screwed in. here's an easier way to explain it,

push side: close the valve

pull side: open valve (3 full turns)

hope this helps,

-Jess the door closer doctor

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on February 20, 2012:

Not sure what you're referring to, Jeff, but I will say that the 4041 (now the 4040XP) comes with great directions. Best follow them, be it a parallel arm, standard or top jamb install.

jeff on February 19, 2012:

Tom, Is it important to screw in the valve on the back of the closer on 4041 p.a. mounting? Easy step to miss. Jeff

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on February 02, 2012:

Really I feel that is a comparison between apples and oranges. Sure, they both close the door, but spring hinges slam the door, whereas door closers are designed to close the door slowly and quietly. On apartment doors, spring hinges are often used to try to help ensure that the doors are closed in the event of a fire rather than for security, insulation or any other purpose. Door closers are generally used on public entrances where doors need to be more surely closed and with more finesse.

Given that, as far as durability, I have seen both door closers and spring hinges work well for forty or fifty years. I do not think there is an observable difference.

Devin on February 02, 2012:

Hey Tom which is more durable in high traffic areas like apt doors spring loaded hinges or auto door closer and why thanks

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on January 31, 2012:

Some door closers are handed. My initial research has not revealed to me whether your door closer is handed or not, but if it is, you cannot take a right hand closer and put it on a left hand door.

I think your closer is a pot type closer. If it is reversible, you should be able to simply swing the arm around, slide the dog into the spring sprocket and there you go. If, however, your closer is handed, you might find that the arm stops or if you reposition it so that it looks like it will work, you will find it has no spring tension.

Alternatively you might be able to mount in on the push side of the door if the door is at least seven feet, six inches tall, using a corner bracket. Then from the door closer's point of view it will act like a right hand door.

Mark on January 31, 2012:

Tom, I'm trying to switch a right-hand open parallel arm closer to the left-hand open door but I think I need to switch the arm around somehow to make it work. How would I do that? It is an old Yale Amarlite, if that matters.

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on January 27, 2012:

It sounds like you have a "standard mount" installation and that one of the screws that hold the shoe to the header has broken off. You have some leeway about the size of the screw that you use to reattach it. The hard part will be getting the broken off screw out of the header if it's still there, because it's fairly important to get that shoe back in the same place it was if you can.

Raymond on January 27, 2012:

Hey Tom,

My door closer in my apartment broke. It is similar to the "Surface mounted closer, standard mount" that you posted above. The screw that connects the door frame to the actual hinge broke off. I am just wondering if any standard screw and cap can fix this issue, or will I have to get some special one that is made specifically for a door closer?



Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on January 05, 2012:

Many closers have a tension adjustment and many do not. To be sure, check the installation instructions. Door closers that do not have a tension adjustment are often sized to a specific size door. If your door is, for example, a 30 inch door and you have a door closer designed for a 36 to 42 inch door, you may find your door difficult to open.

Teri on January 05, 2012:

We just installed our door closers now. Why is it too heavy especially for my 3 year old to open. Is there an adjustment on the resistance?

gilbertC on December 29, 2011:

very helpful info... thank you... that gives me some direction.


Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on December 28, 2011:

Yes you can use an overhead stop and a door closer on the same door. The easy way is to put the closer on the pull side and the stop on the opposite side. Then you can use both a surface mount closer and a surface mount stop without them interfering with one another. But we don't always have this luxury.

The most common way to deal with stop/closer conflict is to use a concealed overhead stop with a surface closer. This also eliminates the conflict, but it is a LOT more work.

Several companies, such as Rixson and LCN/Glynn Johnson, have special application surface closers or special application surface applied stops that are designed to work with each other when both are installed on the same side of the same door. I have an applications book for LCN/Glynn Johnson, but you might cut to the chase and phone LCN or Rixson tech support and ask them what their solution is. They will be happy to tell you.

gilbertC on December 28, 2011:

I am wondering if an overhead door stop and a door closer can be used together? It seems like they would occupy the same area at the top of the door, yet I want something to pull the door shut, (the closer), and something to keep an open door from getting caught up in the wind, (an overhead stop). Since I need both these features, can I use both devices? Or do they make a heavy duty closer that doubles as stop?

Thanks for sharing your expertise.

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on December 08, 2011:

Closers are handed the same as doors. If you push the door and it swings to the left, it is a left hand door. If it pushes to the right, it's a right hand door. Choose your closer accordingly.

JT on December 08, 2011:

How does one determine whether a right or left closer is needed? I have heard that if it opens to the right if you are standing outside the door, a right hand is needed. Is that correct?

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on November 25, 2011:

Hi Julia,

It sounds to me like you need a stop more than a closer. You could use a crash stop chain, that is a kind of spring loaded chain such as the Ives CS115, or you could use something a bit more elaborate like a Rixson 9-236 or similar. You should be able to search these model numbers online and find examples of what I am talking about.

All the best,


Julia on November 25, 2011:

I have french doors from my den, outside swing to a second floor dec,. We use the right door, the wind catches it and often pulls from your hand or just swings it back hard against the house. What type of closer, preferably exterior would you suggest.



Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on September 30, 2011:

Thanks for stopping by!

Baz on September 30, 2011:

Very interesting advise Tom.I think inserting a solid timber block inside the door might be the way to go.alot more time consuming and work but the finished job will look far better than having bolts on the face of the door.I will have to set up a router with a fence and router out the top rail and glue a new piece of 100mm timber in.this will give a much better fixing for the closer.thankyou for your advise.


Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on September 29, 2011:

Your worries are well founded, Baz. A hollow core wood door is not usually designed to support a door closer. Hollow core doors are usually reinforced with solid wood at the lock location so that you can put a passage set on it without breaking it or having it dimple in. But at the top it is likely to only have its thin veneer - nothing to bite into for the screws that hold a surface mounted door closer to the door. And if you through-bolt the closer, the through bolts will crush the door.

In order to make the installation, the installer must reinforce the door. This could be done with metal or plywood plates. On the pull side of the door, the plate should be flush with the top of the door so that it can be screwed to the thin strip of wood inside the top of the door. On the push side, the plate should be through-bolted to the other plate. Between the inside and outside plates, use copper tubing to create sleeves for the through-bolts so as to help stop them from crushing the door.

A better, but bit more involved way to reinforce the door would be to remove the top strip of wood inside the door and replace it with a solid piece of wood of the same thickness that runs the width of the door and extends down inside the door far enough to mount the door closer on. This is difficult, because the veneer is glued to the strip of wood on both sides of the door, and it may be difficult to remove the top strip without damaging the door.

The best solution would be to replace the door with a solid-core door.

Alternatively you could use spring hinges, but these would simply slam the door.

Baz on September 29, 2011:

Are their any special fixing for fitting a door closer to a hollow core door? I am worried the closer may pull away from the door over time. Is their anything I can do to prevent this?

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on July 23, 2011:

It depends on the type of closer you have. If you have a friction hold open that is adjusted using a nut on the arm, you can loosen the nut - just a little, mind you - and render the hold open feature ineffective, or you can replace the arm with a non hold open arm. If your closer has a slide track, it will probably have a hold open clip in the track that you can remove. If your closer has a nut or T handle that you must turn to activate the hold open feature, probably you will have to replace the arm.

Joseph Norman on July 23, 2011:

How do I disable the "Hold Open" mode on my door closer.

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on March 07, 2011:

There are special mounting brackets for door closers for special applications. One is the corner bracket, that allows a standard arm mounting on the push side of a door. Another is an adjustable soffet or door bracket that allows a door closer to be installed on a door with a round or curved top.

Bob on March 07, 2011:

What is a bracket-mounted door closer?

Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on July 23, 2010:

The site you link to carries top line door closers. If you are looking for a good door closer and your first priority is reliability, Rixson and LCN are both good choices.

Tim Woodsmith on July 22, 2010:

Hey Tom,

Thanks for the great information!

I need to buy a door closer and found this site

I was wondering if this hardware is reliable or if you recommend something else?



Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on October 01, 2009:

See my article on door closer adjustment:

toby on October 01, 2009:

How do i keep it from slaming when the door is closing i have a stop arm standard mount door