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What is a Door Closer? – A Comprehensive Guide

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

what is a door closer

When we get out of a room, we sometimes forget to close the door behind us, especially when our hands are full. Because of this, our privacy and security gets compromised, since strangers can see what’s beyond the door or even enter the room.

That is why we need a door closing device that can keep us from making this mistake.

Find out the answer to the question “What is a door closer?” and other things that you need to know about this useful tool.

Overview About Door Closer

1. History Of the Door Closer


The first door closers only had a spring mechanism, but as time went by, advancements like a closing speed valve and air pressure in the cylinder were incorporated, mostly thanks to Francis Richards’ mechanical door closer in 1873 and Lewis Norton’s pneumatic closer in 1880.

In 1882, inventors Edward Gillion and W.C. Clark altered Norton’s door closer by moving the torsion spring from the inside of the cylinder to the external arm.

Subsequently, hydraulic designs that use fluid became popular, which differ from pneumatic options that use air pressure. Eugene Blount invented the liquid door closer in 1889. To make such designs inconspicuous, John Gerard created a liquid door closer that is concealed inside the door in 1916.

2. Main purpose of this device


Due to fire hazards, fire doors should have door closers installed so that after they are opened, the doors will close automatically to prevent the spread of flames. This type of controlled closing can also prevent injuries by accidental slamming.

Having a door closer would also prevent other people from entering or breaking into your property, especially for units that automatically lock the door after it is closed.

Another purpose of a closer is that it prevents your door from getting damaged as wind moves it around.

Related: What is an Egress Door? 

Types of Door Closers

There are many types of closers, but we’ll focus on some popular ones here.

1. Concealed door closers.


If you would like to improve aesthetics, a concealed door closer may be the right choice. They are mostly found built inside the door, which prevents them from being tampered or damaged.

Some disadvantages of this type include the need to make a hole in the floor if using floor door closers and a low weight limit for overhead units.

2. Surface-mounted door closers.


If you are looking for an easy-to-install door closer, a surface-mounted one is your best choice. This type of design will just be mounted on the surface of the door, which requires minimum woodwork.

However, its top rail arm may protrude and be vulnerable to intruders.

3. Floor spring door closers.


In order to preserve the overall aesthetic, floor closers are typically used for glass openings where a rod controls the door’s movement. They cost more than overhead closers but can handle heavy doors.

Components of a Door Closer


Here are the parts that make up a door closer:

  • High-tensile spring. This spring compresses and stores energy, which is released when the door closes.
  • Closer body. This is the housing for the spring.
  • Rack and pinion. These are parts of the inner mechanism that help compress the spring to store energy.
  • Arm spindle. This holds the pinion in place.
  • Needle bearings. These provide durability and stability for the arm spindle as it rotates.
  • Closing speed adjustment valve. This controls the speed at which the door closes.
  • Latch speed adjustment valve. This adjusts the speed of the door before it closes.

How Do Door Closers Work?


A door closer works by either using air for a pneumatic door closer or fluid for a hydraulic door opener and closer.

When a door with a pneumatic closer is opened, it sucks up air that is stored within the cylinder. As the door closes, it slowly releases the air so that the door slowly shuts, preventing it from slamming.

On the other hand, hydraulic door closers make use of a lightweight oil or fluid which passess through certain valves to increase the pressure. When the door is released, this oil or fluid goes back to its position, which in turn automatically closes the door.

Benefits of Door Closers


If you’re wondering whether you really need automatic door closers, here are some benefits that you can get if you install one:

1. Fire and smoke protection.

Fire can quickly spread from one room to another. However, with door closers, it can become difficult for the fire to spread as the door closer will ensure that the entry point will not open for long.

2. Energy-saving capability.

Door closers do not need electricity to work, unlike smart and electronic locks. That is why you can save money from paying too much electricity bill.

3. Entrance security.

It’s important for a door to stay closed so that people with nefarious intentions cannot take advantage of an open door. A door closer will ensure that even when you are in a hurry and forget to close the door, your door will still shut itself.

Cost of Door Closers

A common door closer can cost around $61. Depending on the make and model of the door self closing device, it can cost around $11 to $179.

Choosing the Right Door Closer

Before you order a door closer, here are some things you might want to consider first:

  • Door type. There are different door closers for outward opening and inward opening doors.
  • Size of the door and door frame. Heavier doors require powerful closers. There are 6 different power sizes that can cater different door weights and max door widths, such as size 1 for 20 kg and size 6 for 120 kg.
  • Type of closer. If you are going for a door closer for your fire door, it might be best to get a CE-tested, fire-resistant hydraulic door closer with a minimum power size of EN3.

Some products we like are Fortstrong FS-1306 automatic closer, Weight Products V150BL pneumatic closer, and BEST EHD9000 cast iron unit.

Installing a Door Closer


Here are the steps that you can follow if you are going to do a commercial door closer installation with a torsion bar:

  1. Close the door.
  2. Locate the position for the jamb bracket. Make sure the straight edge of the bracket is away from the door.
  3. Screw the jamb bracket into the door frame.
  4. Open the door.
  5. Install the rod’s hold-open washer.
  6. Use the closer pin to attach the door closer to the jamb bracket.
  7. Slightly open the door closer.
  8. Insert the washer and line it up with the rod’s mark.
  9. Let go of the door closer.
  10. Close the door.
  11. Line up the bracket until it touches the door.
  12. Fasten the bracket on the door.

If your door doesn’t close or the speed is wrong, turn the tension screw on the closer (counterclockwise for faster closing speeds and clockwise for slower shuts).

In case there are latching issues, see if the latch and strike are properly aligned. Dirt or debris can also cause the door to rub against the floor.

Adjusting a Door Closer

You should adjust your door closer if it is opening too fast or too flow and/or you struggle to open the door. Here’s how to solve your door closer problems:

  1. Look for the door closer adjustment valves. If you can’t see them, remove the cover of the door closer.
  2. Turn the hydraulic valves clockwise to stop and close them.
  3. To adjust the backcheck, turn the valve counterclockwise 1.25 to 1.5 revolutions.
  4. Open the door and make sure it comes to a stop. The door should slowly and close and not shut immediately.
  5. To adjust the sweep or main speed, turn the valve counterclockwise 1.5 to 2 revolutions.
  6. To adjust the latching speed, turn the valve closest to the hinge in either direction for 1.5 to 2 revolutions. Adjust the latch speed to your liking.
  7. Test the door. Adjust as much as you want to fit your preference.

A common problem for many homeowners is the door not coming to a soft stop. Adjusting the backcheck on the left or right hand arm will help fix this problem and give the door more ‘cushioning’ when it opens.

Maintenance and Care of Door Closers

In order for your door closers to last, here are some maintenance tips that you can follow to fix a door closer:

  • Lubricate your door closers with penetrating oil every six months.
  • Adjust the screw on top of the cylinder of the closer whenever the door starts banging or closing half-way.
  • Prevent the door closer from freezing by not installing it on the exterior side of the entry.

Frequently Asked Questions


How long does it take to install a door closer?

It only takes about 10 minutes to have a door closer installed. It will depends on whether you do it yourself or hire a professional for the task.

What is the average lifespan of a door closer?

The average lifespan of a door closer depends on its grade. You can expect a lifespan of 30+ years for grade 1 door closers, 10+ years for grade 2 door closers, and 3 years for grade 3 door closers.

How do I know if my door needs to be adjusted?

Wear and tear can disrupt the door closer function. Here are some signs that your door needs adjusting:

  1. The top corner of your door hits the frame when the door is closed.
  2. There’s a large gap found between the door and the frame.
  3. There is a gap between the unhinged side of the door and the door frame.


It’s important to understand that investing in security measures will improve your welfare and lifestyle. It’s better to spend money on your safety than worrying about potential dangers to your home or business.

Knowing the answer to the question “what is a door closer?” will help you provide the security that your family and valuables deserve.

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