Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies
Email: lori_greene@irco.com, Blog: www.idighardware.com or www.ihatehardware.com


Feb 23 2009

Door Opening Force

Category: Accessibility,Automatic Operators,Door ClosersLori @ 11:40 pm Comments (5)
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Door opening force is the measurement of how many pounds of force are required to open a door.  The requirements for door opening force are found in the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), ICC/ANSI A117.1 Standard on Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, and the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board requirements (521 CMR).

In a nutshell:

  • Fire -Rated Doors – Not included in accessibility requirements – size 3 closer recommended for 3′ interior doors per NFPA 80.
  • Interior Doors – 5 pounds of force.
  • Exterior Doors – 15 pounds of force - Massachusetts AAB 521 CMR only - the ADA and A117.1 do not include a requirement for exterior doors.
  • Sliding or Folding Doors – 5 pounds of force.

Note that the maximum forces allowed by the IBC (2003) for an egress door are 15 pounds to release the latch, 30 pounds to set the door in motion, and 15 pounds to swing the door to the full-open position (1008.1.2).  Power-operated doors are subject to the same requirements except that the maximum force to set the door in motion is 50 pounds (1008.1.3.2).

Here is the text from the 2009 edition of ICC A117.1 – Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities:

404.2.8 Door-Opening Force. Fire doors shall have the minimum opening force allowable by the appropriate administrative authority. The force for pushing or pulling open doors other than fire doors shall be as follows:
1. Interior hinged door: 5.0 pounds (22.2 N) maximum
2. Sliding or folding door: 5.0 pounds (22.2 N) maximum
These forces do not apply to the force required to retract latch bolts or disengage other devices that hold the door in a closed position.

Here is the text from the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board Requirements – 521 CMR:

26.8 DOOR OPENING FORCE
The maximum force for pushing or pulling open a door shall be as follows:
26.8.1 Doors: These forces apply only to opening the door, not to the effort required to retract latch bolts or disengage other devices that may hold the door in a closed position.
a. exterior hinged doors: 15 lbs.
b. interior hinged doors: five lbs.
c. sliding or folding doors: five lbs.
Exception: Fire doors shall have the minimum opening force allowable by the appropriate administrative authority.

26.8.2 Compensating devices: Doors requiring greater force shall be equipped with compensating devices to reduce the operating force, or shall be equipped with automatic opening devices.

We use this measuring gauge to measure door opening force.

If the opening force is more than allowed by code, in many cases the door closer can be adjusted in the field.  If the opening force can not be reduced enough to meet the code requirements, using an automatic operator may be a solution.

5 Responses to “Door Opening Force”

  1. questioned man says:

    This question to Lori or anyone who has faced these questions:

    It is agreed that in the case of an interior commercial sliding door, manually operated, the maximum force to push/pull the door open is 5lbs.

    Does the 5lbs force include the force necessary to set the door in motion or not?

    A lot of sliding systems, manually operated but with soft close mechanisms might require slightly more than 5lbs at the very beginning of the opening, to set the door in motion, but then require way less than 5lbs to slide the door open.
    Would that be considered out of ADA requirements?
    Couldn’t the soft close be considered a way to hold the door in a closed position and thus be out of the 5lbs limit?

    Thanks a lot for your help and hopefully quick feedback,

    • Lori says:

      That’s an interesting question, and I don’t think that the standards answer it definitively. With swinging doors, you open the door a few degrees and then measure the opening force. It seems like this same process could be used on sliding doors with the soft close mechanism. I will post the question on an AHJ discussion group and see what the code officials have to say. Do you have any idea what the initial force is to get the door in motion?

  2. Sara says:

    Lori, I am being asked if access control doors must also comply with the 5 lb rule. Some access controlled doors are not closing properly on a project of mine and we cannot secure the opening with only 5 lbs. Any idea where we can find something to substantiate this?

    • Lori says:

      Hi Sara -

      The requirement for a door to open with 5 pounds of force is not specific to the type of lock. An interior door has to open with 5 pounds of force, fire doors and exterior doors do not have to meet that requirement unless the local code requires it (I think California has a 5-pound limit on exterior doors but that’s not typical across the country). In most cases the limit for fire doors and exterior doors is 15 pounds to release the latch, 30 pounds to set the door in motion, and 15 pounds to open the door to the fully-open position.

      If your doors are interior, they are limited to 5 pounds of opening force.

      - Lori

  3. Sara says:

    Lori, meant to include that the doors are very heavy and 5 lbs is just not cutting it on the opening at these particular access controlled doors.

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