Today I was able to spend some time on the trade show floor at CoNEXTions 2012, the Door & Hardware Institute conference.  It was great to see so many old friends and some new products.  My pal and code aficionado, Steve Bettge, tracked me down and escorted me to a booth where there was a product that was right up my alley.

I run into this issue all the time…when stairwells are pressurized to prevent smoke from entering the stair, the doors can become incredibly difficult to open and/or close because of the air pressure.  We’ve looked at various hardware solutions to no avail – the pressure needs to be released somehow.  The added complication is that stair doors are fire rated.

The CPE – Closer Pressure Equalizer is a really clever way of releasing some of the air pressure while maintaining the fire rating.  It has been successfully tested per UL 10B and UL 10C for use on hollow metal fire doors with a rating up to and including 90 minutes.

To install the damper, a 15 1/4″ wide x 2 3/4″ high cutout is made in the door face, 8 1/4″ from the top edge and 2 3/4″ from the lock edge.  An additional cutout (1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″) is made in the top of the door.  (Note that these cutouts must be made in accordance with UL listing procedures, typically in a UL shop.)  Double channels are installed around the cutout, a latch receiver (like a spacer) is installed in the top channel of the door, and the damper assembly is installed in the face cutout.  Faceplates are installed over the damper assembly, as well as a trim ring.  A latchbolt is installed in the top edge along with a flat strike (no hole) in the frame head, and this latchbolt interfaces with a gear mechanism that controls the damper.

When the door is opened slightly, the latch projects out of the top of the door and the damper opens, releasing some of the air pressure.  When the door closes, the latch is retracted into the door, and closes the damper.  It’s really an interesting and unique design.  Check out the photos and video below and let me know what you think.  If you have a better solution to this air pressure problem, I’m all ears!

And if you’d like more information about this product, please contact Hubert Cote of CHILCO Development – 603-315-3512 or

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