Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
Allegion
Email: lori_greene@allegion.com, Blog: www.idighardware.com or www.ihatehardware.com


Jun 10 2019

QQ: Closer Covers on Fire Doors

Category: Door Closers,Quick QuestionLori @ 12:23 pm Comments (22)
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I could have sworn that I answered this question before but I can’t find a post on it so here goes…

If a door closer on a fire door is missing the cover, is that a deficiency that should be noted on a fire door inspection report?

This question may stir up some debate – I’ll go first.

We have all seen door closers without their covers.  They look like this.  –>

On one hand, hardware installed on a fire door should have all of its parts.  For example, fire exit hardware needs to have its center case cover and end cap in place or it would be noted as a deficiency and must be replaced “without delay.”

On the other hand, not all door closers have covers, and most closer covers are plastic.  They are used to make door closers more aesthetically pleasing to those who don’t appreciate the beauty of the hydraulic miracle that enhances security, safety, and (sometimes) convenience.  A door closer cover serves no other purpose – it does not protect the closer or enhance its ability to reliably close the door.  I don’t think a missing cover is really a deficiency – especially since some closers don’t have covers or the cover is optional.  But where should the line be drawn on missing parts?

What do you think?  I’d love some evidence to point to one way or the other. 

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22 Responses to “QQ: Closer Covers on Fire Doors”

  1. Lach says:

    Lori,

    Since this is an Allegion supported site. Do you know if the LCN 4040XP when UL tested had the closer cover on? Did they test with plastic cover, metal cover, and no cover? Or just one of the above? I suppose this would go back to the test and what UL considered a part of the unit when tested. We could debate till the cows come home. But I would think their interpretation as the testing agency is the final say.

  2. Raymond Holman, AHC says:

    Here’s a question. Did LCN have to get UL’s approval to change from a screw-on cover (4040XP) to the snap-on cover then to a hybrid screw-on / snap-on cover? My guess is no because the cover has no structural or functional purpose. Now if they wanted to make it out of a new material, that might be an issue until they could prove it didn’t contribute to the fire. No cover, no big deal. But I might tell them where they could get a replacement. A missing cover just screams “I’M CHEAP”.

  3. Terry Crump FDAI says:

    This is my thought only.
    If aesthetics make a difference, then we should be testing all wood veneers and finishes as well. Does this door–a Rift White Oak–burn any faster than Plain Sliced White Oak? Does a waterbased finish burn hotter than a factory applied TR-6 finish?
    The cover is plastic and it will melt away long before the fire testing is complete, but I don’t think it will affect the performance of the door.

  4. John Truempy says:

    There are places and even kind of codes (not unlike building codes) that you must remove the cover. Animal colonies for example were insects could nest up behind them. American Association for Laboratory Animal Science has standards that want the covers removed. Same with USDA. BIO safety 3 and above also could not have them. If it cant be sealed it cant be on the door.

  5. Keith Zettler says:

    My assumption is that the closer would have to be tested in each and every possible configuration that is available in order to receive the UL stamp. With plastic cover , with metal cover or no cover at all.
    Pa arm ,cush etc

    If the 4040 without the cover wasn’t approved then Allegion would be liable in the unfortunate event a rated opening didn’t function as designed

  6. Hal Kelton says:

    Hi Lori,
    Lets consider the average melting temperature of common plastics used in commercial door hardware of 500 degrees fahrenheit. Compare that to the Time Temerature Curve of the UL10C fire test. At 5-minutes the temerature is 1000 degrees fahrenheit. It’s very likely that these aestheticly pleasing covers are long gone within minutes of the test procedure, let alone by the time the test reaches 20-minutes and 1462 degrees fahrenheit.
    Hal

    • Lori says:

      Hi Hal –

      Yes – the cover will disappear in minutes during the test, but most of the hardware disappears during the test yet it still has to be present during the inspection. In my opinion, a missing cover is not a deficiency, but I can see where inspectors are having a hard time knowing where to draw the line on missing parts.

      – Lori

  7. Curtis Meskus says:

    Is the light green piece on the end plastic? is the part of the UL listing?

    If the closer-assembly is depend on a cover to pass the test we may have a bigger problem.

    • Lori says:

      Hi Curtis –

      Yes – it’s plastic. It’s to show what “size” (spring-power) the closer is set at, and it is covered by the UL listing.

      – Lori

  8. STEPHEN MEDBERY says:

    I posed this very question to Allegion about LCN closers. There were approximately 10 LCN closers cited in the fire door inspection for not having covers with no other deficiencies. I could not figure out how a missing plastic cover kept the closer from performing it’s designed task. Their response was that they test all their closers in the worst care scenario which is with the closer cover on as it hold the oil against the door causing a flash point and that as long as the closer body and arm bear a UL label the closer is compliant.

  9. john lozano says:

    One thing to think of it protects some people from tampering with the closer? Can wait for the details on the testing. I get asked this question a lot.

  10. (not) John says:

    One of my petpeeves. I hate when I see this. FMC does the trick.

  11. Curtis Meskus says:

    Thinking in a different direction; the closure needs to close the door not keep it closed that is the purpose of the latch. Then it is a function of the door, frame, latch and gasketing (if needed) to keep the rating of the door over the required time and temperature.

    • Lori says:

      Yes – that is correct. As long as the door is closed when a fire occurs, the closer has done its job. During the fire test, the closer is included to make sure that it won’t negatively affect the performance of the door. For example, if the closer contained a type of fluid that caused flaming on the outside of the test furnace, that would be a problem.

      – Lori

  12. Kevin says:

    Lori, As a Fire Marshal, I’m only being honest here……. I really don’t have the time to look at the door closer covers in my inspections of three college campuses of 30+ buildings and COUNTLESS doors. If the door is latched and I open it and it closes and latches….I’m happy and move on!! I know the doors that I have to pay attention to but I don’t look for the covers…. Only being honest!!! 🙂

    • Lori says:

      That’s OK Kevin! It wouldn’t be my top priority either, but some fire door inspectors are citing it, so I’m hoping to find out for sure whether they should be.

      – Lori

  13. rob says:

    “Cover is UL approved for use in fire rated assemblies” This is taken from the Falcon door closer catalogues. What is the purpose, Marketing only?

  14. Brian Jaeger says:

    In the end, the local AHJ will have the final say, be it right or wrong. If they ding you for no cover, put one on. They’re cheap, and since it doesnt involve machining, anyone can do it.

  15. scott l jeli says:

    wouldn’t it be up to the AHJ? As an inspector, I would make a note of the missing cover and leave it up to the AHJ to decide. I personally think it shouldn’t be an issue as it does nothing to affect the operation of the closer.

  16. Matt Schaertl says:

    A cover COULD make a difference. A metal cover would result in part of the door heating up/ cooling down more unevenly than the immediately adjacent part of the door. Like the glass doors on a fireplace its not the heat that breaks the glass, its the cold spot and uneven heating. The cover would make no difference in the closer passing or failing, put could make the difference with a doors structural integrity.

    As I recall, back when they used aircraft hydraulic fluid the marketing spin to going to water-based antifreeze type fluid was that once the O-rings melted, the oil would dump onto the floor, ignite, and possibly flow under the door and ignite on the other side (not so sure I believe that, EPA and cost seam a more realistic reason to change). The plastic covers are not thermo-setting (non-flowing when melted, like a plastic ashtray) but are thermo-plastic (can drip and run while burning).

    Or it could simply be that they are looking for “flame-thru” at the thru-bolt locations?

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