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How to Adjust a Door Closer Speed

The benefits of having door closers are numerous. Building regulations actually require that door closers be installed on fire doors to protect people going into the emergency stairs in case of a fire. In case of strong winds or physical force, door closers ensure that doors don’t slam too hard, causing injury to anyone who might be standing in the doorway.

For optimal safety and in order to ensure proper precautionary measures are in place, it’s important that all door closers have the right speed and force. In this article, we will explain how to adjust a door closer speed.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

A man adjusts a door closer

Why Should I Care About My Door Closer’s Speed and Force?

If you’ve walked through a number of doors with door closers, you may have noticed that there are differences regarding how far the doors open, how fast the doors swing shut, and how much force needs to be used to pull the doors to latch.

Some doors close very slowly to allow you to pass through safely which is particularly useful if you’re carrying a tray full of fragile glasses. Some door closers may startle you as you walk through, shutting the door quickly with a slightly louder slam. This is all because of the door closer’s speed, backcheck, and power. 

What Are the Parts of the Door Closer That I Need to Be Familiar With?

The Door Closer Cover

This is the encasement that helps protect the door closers body from impact, moisture, dust, and debris. Some door closers do not have this part, making them more vulnerable to external forces. The door closer is typically screwed into place and can be removed using a screwdriver.

The Door Closer Arm

The door closer arm connects the door closers body to the door’s frame. Different applications of door closers (e.g. standard, top jamb, parallel arm) tend to have different orientations for the door closer arm. Furthermore, there are special types of door closer arms that can keep the door open using a part called the “friction holder.”

The Door Closer Body

There are three main points of adjustment located on the door closer body: the backcheck valve, the closing valve, and the latching valve. Each of these valves are responsible for different portions/cycles of a closing door. Some door closers also have a power adjustment feature which controls the closing force of the door without affecting the total speed. 

1. Backcheck valve

The backcheck valve controls the last 10 degrees before the door is fully open (a.k.a the backcheck zone). The purpose of this valve is to provide an adjustable “cushion” of counterforce so that the door does not slam against anything behind it. 

You would need to be very mindful of your backcheck in cases such as:

  • Interior/exterior doors that have windows or glass  
  • Exterior doors in windy or storm-prone areas 
  • Interior doors leading to places of sleeping or rest 

2. Closing valve

The closing valve controls how fast the door travels through the middle zone (a.k.a the sweep speed zone) as it closes. 

You would need to be mindful of your closing speed in cases like:

  • Interior/exterior doors that are used by the elderly or wheelchair-bound individuals 
  • Interior/exterior doors that are supposed to keep pets or toddlers from wandering outside
  • Interior/exterior doors that are subject to draft
  • Exterior doors that are supposed to close quickly for security reasons

3. Latching valve

The latching valve controls the speed of the door as it travels the final 10 degrees before the door is closed (a.k.a the latch speed zone). The purpose of the latching valve is to make sure the door does not slam against the frame. 

You would need to be mindful of your latching speed in cases like:

  • Interior/exterior doors that are subject to drafts
  • Exterior doors that are supposed to close quickly for security reasons
  • Fire doors that need to close fast to keep out smoke/flames 

4. Power adjustment

Door closers come with different spring sizes marked from number one to six; this rating depends on the pounds of force that is delivered by the spring. However, a power adjustment feature allows one door closer to have different pounds of closing force available. By increasing the closing power, it also means that the door is harder to open. 

More pounds of force may be needed for heavy exterior doors or fire doors that need to latch properly every time for safety and security reasons. 

A door closer mounted on a wooden door that is open

How Do I Adjust the Door Closer Speed?

Now we will apply all the information from the previous section in a step-by-step on how you can adjust your door closer based on your unique needs. 

You Would Need the Following:

  • An Allen wrench for the bolts
  • A screwdriver to remove the cover of the door closer if necessary

Before We Begin, Here Are a Few Important Points:

  • Clockwise = for reducing speed for the valves
  • Counterclockwise = for increasing speed for the valves
  • Clockwise = for increasing the power from the power adjuster
  • A little goes a long way! In adjusting your door closer, one half-turn or quarter-turn of the Allen wrench can give noticeable results.

And Now, Here Are the Steps: 

  1. First, close the door.
  2. Depending on your door closer, you might need to remove the cover to access the bolts of each valve. You can remove the door closer cover using a screwdriver.
  3. Locate the bolts that correspond to each point of adjustment. Typically, they would be indicated like so:
  • Backcheck valve bolt = noted by a “B” or “backspeed”
  • Closing speed bolt = noted by an “S” or “general speed”
  • Latching speed bolt = noted by an “L” or “latch speed”
  • Power adjustment bolt = noted by “closing power” and located at the end of the spring tube

Note: If there are no indications, you can look for a sticker diagram on the door closer body (as made by certain manufacturers) or refer to the manual of your door closer.

  1. Close the backcheck, closing speed, and latching speed valves by rotating their bolts clockwise.
  2. Next, try to open the door. You will notice that it won’t open the entire way because the backcheck valve is fully closed.
  3. Adjust the backcheck valve gradually by rotating the bolt a turn at a time in a counterclockwise direction. Do this gradually until you have the desired “cushion” of counterforce behind the door. 
  4. At this stage, you will notice that the door isn’t closing. This is because the closing speed valve is fully closed. 
  5. Adjust the closing speed valve by gradually rotating the bolt a half turn at a time in a counterclockwise direction until you get the desired speed.

Note:Regularly, the time that the door swings to 10 degrees from the frame should be 7 seconds but you can tweak this based on your needs. For fire doors, however, the time should be 5 seconds

  1. Next, you will notice that the door does not fully close even with the closing speed valve already adjusted. This is because the latch speed valve is still fully closed. 
  2. Adjust the latch speed valve by gradually rotating the bolt a half turn at a time in a counterclockwise direction until the door closes moderately fast.

Note:Typically, this should be around 1-2 seconds but you can adjust accordingly. Take care to not make the latch speed too slow because this can be a security issue. However, if the latch speed is too fast, it can be a hazard for fingers.

  1. Time to check the door and finetune! Close the door once again and forcibly open it. Observe if the backcheck provides the needed cushion. Time the closing speed and latch speed as the door closes. Make any needed adjustments with gradual quarter turns either clockwise or counterclockwise.  
  2. If the door is not latching properly with your current latching speed settings, use the power adjustment (if available on your door closer) to help add more force to the door closer without affecting the speed. Turn the power adjustment clockwise to increase the force. 

Customizable Doors From Clera Windows + Doors 

That’s all for our tips on how to adjust a door closer! Was this article helpful to you? Clera Windows + Doors has over 41 years of experience and over 40 sales and installation offices across Ontario. Call us today for a consultation on custom-made doors for your home, office, or commercial building.

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