Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
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Apr 13 2010

Middle School Entrance

Last night I went to a presentation at one of our 3 local middle schools, which I’m guessing was built in the 70’s.  What struck me right away was that the exterior doors are all about 10′ tall, and the interiors are about 9′ with a transom panel above.  What a strange application for a school.  They still seem to be working pretty well though.

The door below is the main entrance to the school, and when I was using it I was focused on chatting with the cop on duty and subconsciously noted that one door had a newer touchpad exit device and also that there was an automatic operator.  My brain made the connection that those two items were on the same door, and the assumption that the touchpad exit device had the electric latch retraction function to interface with the auto operator.

To my surprise, when I opened the photo I realized that the touchpad exit device and the auto operator are on two different leaves.  Other than an installation screw-up or a damaged panic device that needed to be replaced, I have no other thoughts.  You guys are always good at door opening forensics…any ideas?


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7 Responses to “Middle School Entrance”

  1. Bob Caron says:

    My guess is that there were two different installers and the exit device with ELR was put on first. When the auto operator guy showed up and noticed that his closer wouldn’t fit with the EXIT sign there, they compromised and put it on the other door. During the day when the crossbar device is dogged, the auto operator is functional with push buttons. The other device is for card access when the school is closed. It would have been nice to have them on the same door though.
    It’s hard to tell how huch time elapsed between installations or even if the two pieces of hardware were purchased at the same time and meant to be on the same door.
    It’s another case of “What were they thinking?”

  2. c says:

    If you are talking about the second door to the left, to me it does not appear to be a touchpad exit device

    Know you are in the business, but at the top it has the mechanical latch.

    I see the wiring on the right side of the door

    If it is a touchpad device, what does it do????

    • Lori says:

      Hi Charles –

      A touchpad exit device is the more modern style (aka pushpad, pushbar) on the second door from the left. The type on the other doors is called a crossbar exit device. Crossbar devices don’t offer a lot of options when it comes to electronics, while the touchpad device has plenty of space in the mechanism tube for electrical components.

      The touchpad device in the photo (second door from the left) is an electric latch retraction device. It looks and acts like regular panic hardware but it has the added feature of being able to retract the latch electrically. In this case it’s probably controlled from a switch in the main office. When they want to “buzz someone in,” they can push the button to retract the latch. This function is also used when you have an automatic operator. If the door is latched and someone pushes the auto operator button, the auto operator sends a signal to the panic to retract the latches, and then the door opens.

      The way someone retrofitted this opening, the auto operator can only be used when the crossbar exit device (first door from left) is dogged, creating a push/pull function. This goes against the premise that they keep the doors locked and use the button in the office to buzz people in. The auto operator is useless unless the first door is unlocked/unlatched, and if the first door is unlocked, there’s almost no point of having access control on the second door. As Bob Caron commented, the second door could be used with a card reader, but that application is not typical for most schools in our area.

      – Lori

  3. Bob Caron says:

    Most likely, the frame is filled with mortar, so running a wire for the ELR Device was a lot easier and cheaper running it down the mullion instead of installing conduit or Wiremold along the concrete wall for the other door. The unprotected wires going to the EXIT sign doesn’t look like it meets electrical code. Seems like a comedy of errors.

  4. locksmithlarry says:

    OK, This could be nothing less than an installation by a true McGuyver. Take what you have available to work with and accomplish the job.
    You gotta love public property bids.
    First, an electrician ??? installed an outlet box by tapping off the exit sign instead of the light switch on the wall and hiding the wire in a flush outlet on the wall.
    By Permanently dogging the crossbar exit device on the power operated door the installer chose to have the pushpad device on the adjacent door that was already there for access control set up to release latches 1 second before the motor on the operator starts so that both doors open.
    I’m going to guess the astragal is overlapping somehow that accomplishes this feat and that we do not see the door coordinator because it is on the outside.
    Very interesting picture and I do have to admire the tenacity involved with getting it to work satisfactorily. Almost a brain teaser. I can only guess the hold open arm was kept on the pushpad door for some unknown reason.

  5. John says:

    Well it could be that they have added access control to the the LHR leaf. What was outside?

    And the operator either is not in use or it is only used when the RHR door is dogged is my guess?

    Do you plan on asking why it was done this way?

    • Lori says:

      I agree, they probably added the auto operator and the access control at different times, but they really should have gone on the same leaf. I’m not planning to ask why it was done that way, because nobody will know and they’ll think I’m crazy. 🙂

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