Volume 35, Number 9, September 2000

Closing Off the Costs

Ways and Means for Faster, More Accurate Door Closer Installations

by Scott Perry

With the purchase price of a door closer just a small fraction of its total cost, new installation methods and door closer adjustments can pave the way for high profits. The surest way to improve closer profits is to reduce some of the related costs such as installation, callbacks and replacements.

 Faster, Error-Free Installation

One of the biggest time-wasters and cause of error is the location of the closer cylinder and arms in relation to the doors and frames. Most problems begin when the installer looks at the instruction sheet in order to establish the proper location of the closer and tries to determine where measurements should begin. Quite often errors in choosing the right starting point are compounded by inaccurate measurements. For fast, error-free installation, on site dimensioning with a tape measure and pencil should be eliminated. Our company has developed full-size, self-adhesive templates that accurately establish the relationship of the closer mounting holes to the hinge and door. Through this method, guesswork and chances for error are reduced because the installer simply applies the template to the door and drills mounting holes for the closer and arm. This approach ensures 100 percent mounting location accuracy and prevents improper closer orientation, as well as arm and body misalignment that can cause wear and premature failure. On large jobs, making a hard template or jig that will provide definite hole locations is another alternative.

Some people may fail to follow installation instructions due to lack of training, or they assume they know how to install the closer. Failure to follow instructions can degrade closer performance severely and cause a potentially hazardous situation. Spending an extra minute or two on improving accuracy can provide you with added years of closer life.

 Faster Fasteners Help
Speed Installation

Another problem arises out of attempts to save time by using off-the-shelf, self-drilling, self-tapping screws to attach door closers and other hardware instead of the screws provided with the closer’s fastener pack. Although this seems quick because it eliminates the need to drill and tap, the replacements are not robust enough for door closer applications. The forces the fasteners must withstand during repeated closer operation are much greater than they encounter in their normal uses (such as mounting drywall to a steel stud). The screws may break, and the holes cannot be re-used if the closer must be removed and replaced. Not only does the resulting callback eat into profits, but also using the improper screws generally voids the manufacturer’s warranty. As a result, small apparent savings up-front often can result in a big loss down the road. The installer often ends up providing a free replacement. To gauge the true impact of the tradeoff, divide the cost of an apparently minor loss by your profit margin to see how much you have to sell to replace it.

To help eliminate this problem and reduce installation time, our company has engineered a custom, self-tapping screw for use with its products. In this case, only screws supplied by the manufacturer should be used since they have been tested and found strong enough for the application. Use of other fasteners will void the warranty and may lead to other problems if the replacements look the same but are of a different grade and strength. The custom, self-tapping screws, supplied by the closer manufacturer, eliminate the need to tap and the possibility of door damage.

 Don’t Overlook Adjustment

Proper adjustment is as critical as installation accuracy. The closer manufacturer’s instruction sheet should be followed closely. To make the job easier and reduce stocking requirements, some closers now feature a wider range of adjustment than most closers, from sizes one to six in a single closer. Various types of dials on the end of the closer body make it easy and fast to adjust the spring power to match the door conditions before mounting the closer body. In timed, side-by-side tests at an independent facility, we determined that a combination of features such as self-adhesive templates and instruction sheets, custom self-tapping screws and the use of wider sizing ranges cut installation times from about 12 to 25 minutes for a conventional closer.

These ideas are just a few ways to keep little things from adding up to subtract from your bottom line. Focus on products and methods that cut installation time without giving up accuracy. Make sure the job is done right the first time so shortcuts don’t shortchange you. Reduce or eliminate these trouble sources, and you’ll see improvements in profits as well as greater customer satisfaction that leads to more repeat business.

Scott Perry is a product marketing manager for LCN’s institutional line of door closers.


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