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Aug 07 2018

QQ: Gasketing Continuity

This question recently hit my inbox:

During a fire door assembly inspection, should a flashlight be used to verify whether the gasketing is continuous?

I have not seen this method documented in any codes or standards, so there is no way to know how much light is too much, or how light transmission equates to smoke transmission/air infiltration.  In fact, this practice is addressed in a 2007 bulletin from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):  “It has come to our attention that in limited instances a “light test” has been used to determine if the door gap is adequate or too large. (If the surveyor sees light through the door gap, he/she determines that the gap is too large and the provider is cited for a deficiency.) There is no criterion for a light test anywhere in the LSC or in other NFPA Codes and Standards.”

Based on the lack of documentation for this practice, and the specific response from CMS, the “light test” is not the required or recommended method.  I would look at the gasketing to make sure it is intact, continuous, with no damage.  But there’s something else to consider…is the gasketing actually required? 

The International Building Code (IBC) and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code, require SOME fire doors and smoke doors to have gasketing.  This does not apply to ALL fire doors or ALL smoke doors, so it’s important to understand where gasketing is required; this is explained in the related posts.

Where these doors are required to have gasketing, NFPA 80 and NFPA 105 including gasketing in the list of annual inspection criteria.  NFPA 80 states, “Meeting edge protection, gasketing and edge seals, where required, are inspected to verify their presence and integrity.”

I know what you’re thinking – this is not a fire door. You’re right. I’m just using this photo to illustrate gasketing cut around a parallel arm shoe.

The NFPA 80 Handbook reiterates that gasketing and intumescent materials must be inspected if they are required by code.  The Handbook also addresses the common installation practice of cutting and notching gasketing materials around hardware – like parallel arm brackets for door closers, and strikes for rim and surface vertical rod panic/fire exit hardware, stating: “Gaps and notches in gasketing compromise its ability to resist the passage of smoke and gases around the assemblies. When the top rails of door leaves are mortised for overhead stops and closers, gasketing needs to be applied to the soffit of the door frames in order to properly seal against the door.”

The bottom line:

  • If gasketing on a particular fire door or smoke door is required by code, the annual inspection requirements of NFPA 80 and NFPA 105 include verification that the gasketing is present and continuous.
  • The presence and integrity of the gasketing can be verified by observing the condition of the material – a “light test” is not mandated by the codes or standards.
  • If gasketing is required by code, it should not be notched or cut around hardware that may have been installed prior to the gasketing.
  • If gasketing is not required by code, it is not required to be continuous, but if present on a fire door assembly, it must be listed to UL 10C/NFPA 252.


Related Posts:

Decoded: Smoke Door Requirements of the 2015 International Building Code (January 2016)

QQ: Gasketing Requirements of NFPA 101

Aug 06 2018

Pocket Pivot Follow-Up

Category: Hinges & PivotsLori @ 11:32 am Comments (3)

After last Friday’s post about pocket doors, several people asked for more information about this application.  Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:

a) “I thought a pocket door slid into a pocket.  Can swinging doors also be called ‘pocket doors’?”

Nobody ever said hardware is easy (or it would be called easyware!).  There are two types of pocket doors – one is a sliding door that “disappears” when it slides into a pocket.  Well, they used to disappear…now sliding pocket doors have to project out of the pocket when the hardware needs to be accessible.  The doors in the photos are another type of pocket door, which swings open into a pocket so that it’s flush with the corridor wall when in the hold-open position.

b) “What’s the purpose of a pocket pivot?”

You may be familiar with offset pivots and center pivots, which are pivot sets that include pivots mounted at the top and bottom of the door.  Pocket pivots are not like those pivot sets (again – it’s hardware).  Pocket pivots are used instead of hinges on swinging pocket doors, to swing the door completely out of the door opening.  The push-side face of the door aligns with the frame rabbet, and (hopefully!) with the corridor wall.

c) “Why not just use swing-clear hinges instead of pocket pivots?”

Although swing-clear hinges do swing the door out of the opening, there is a gap between the edge of the door and the face of the frame when the door is open.  With pocket pivots, there is almost no gap.  I actually posted a photo of pocket doors on swing-clear hinges 9 years ago, and there is a photo of a pocket door hung on swing-clear hinges on this post about different types of hinges.

d) “What’s holding the door open, and how does it close?”

I didn’t look behind the door while we were on the college tour, but normally these doors have wall-mounted magnetic holders which hold the doors open until they are released by actuation of the fire alarm.  The closers are usually a special type that is mounted to the wall inside the pocket, with a track attached to the back of the door (the LCN 4000T is an example of this type of closer).  This way, the closer is invisible when the door is in the hold-open position.

I wrote about pocket doors quite a while ago when I saw a pair at another university.  Check out this post for more information on this application and the coordination required.

BTW…the person responsible for the details from last Friday’s post has come forward, and I’m sending him something really nice from the iDH prize vault.  I’d like to share more photos of great applications like this, so if you have some good photos of your work with Allegion products that you want to share, please send them along.  I especially love before and after photos.  If I post the photos of your project on iDigHardware, I’ll send you something that will make your coworkers green with envy.  🙂

Aug 03 2018

FF: Pocket Pivots

In the beginning…I was a detailer.  A detailer’s job is to deal with the details of the shop drawings, hardware schedule, and orders for a project’s doors, frames, and hardware, and sometimes specialty products.  In our office, the detailers also did much of the estimating.  It was where I learned a lot about door openings, and made some of my most stupendous mistakes (sorry, Bob & Ralph).

Working as a detailer also gave me an immense appreciation for difficult coordination.  One of the most common problem applications is incorrect coordination of the hold-open position – like this previous Fixed-it Friday photo.  I saw the doors below during one of our college tours – not only are the cross-corridor doors on pocket pivots and held open parallel to the corridor walls, the stair door is ALSO on pocket pivots and creates a perfect 90-degree corner with one of the corridor doors.  The geometric flooring increases the level of difficulty, AND the doors are more than 3 feet wide and have the correctly sized fire exit hardware!

This is coordination to be celebrated!  In fact, if you can prove to me that you were the detailer for this pocket door application (or otherwise responsible for the details), I’ll send you something from the iDigHardware prize vault!  If you think it looks familiar, the university is in Texas.

UPDATE:  There were some questions about the application shown in these photos, so I answered them in a follow-up post.

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