Thursday, October 8, 2015

Heavy Door Closer Hardware is NOT Necessary

I am a person with a disability. I rely on a power wheelchair to get around. I also have a torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders. One will be operated on soon.

The shoulder issue opened my eyes to a huge barrier we have in this province. I can’t open most doors that don’t have power door openers installed on them.

The current AODA states that power door openers need only to be added to newly built buildings or in buildings undergoing extensive renovations. This will not accomplish the goal of making Ontario fully accessible by 2025. Besides, if people only rely on the AODA and not the impact of the Human Rights Code as well, people who install heavy door closing hardware are putting themselves at risk for some pretty hefty fines.

For this reason I decided to write this Blog. My eyes were opened one day when I took a trip to Montreal and found out the hotel room doors were super easy to open. They also closed quickly, but without enough force to hurt me or cause damage to my wheelchair. Here is an example of a spring loaded door hinge.

The tension can be adjusted with an allen key.

Picture of someone adjusting door hinge strength using an allen key

Some doors close so quickly and with enough force that I've had them knock my joystick right off the mount. It's not only expensive to fix, it's also dangerous.

In places where the hydraulic type of door closer hardware, such as the one depicted below, makes the door so heavy I can’t open it.  Even with adjustments I've rarely seen the door made light enough to independently open.

If I manage to push a door with this kind of door closer hardware open with my wheelchair to get in, the challenge then becomes I can’t get out. I’ve spent far too many times trapped in a washroom panicking because I can't open the door to get out.

This heavy door dilemma has led me to do some research. What I found was intriguing. This is not new news.

I found two government published Communiques, published in 1996, on this very topic. 

  1. A Communique, Questions and Answers - Door Closing Hardware for Residential Suite Doors that was written in 1996 regarding the Fire Code. It stated the door closing hinges had to be added to certain types of public buildings because, if an occupant ran out during a fire alarm and forgot to close the door, the fire would spread more quickly. 
  2. Another Communique, Self-Closing Hardware on Residential Suite Doors. It states that care must be taken to ensure that the doors are not too heavy for seniors, people with disabilities, or children to open them.


My guess is, builders and building inspectors don't likely think about it. They don't likely have much exposure to people who are unable to open the heavy doors on their own. Hence the purpose of this Blog - to educate.

FACT: The spring loaded hinges are a lot cheaper to buy. Why not install them on doors that must, under fire code rules, close automatically when the occupant leaves?

Why not save money by not installing spring closers on the doors that are not required to have them by law? 

Knowledge of these Communiques must be spread far and wide. It will increase safety and accessibility for all Ontarians. Remember, the AODA is not the only law to abide by. Human Rights must be taken into consideration as well. 

Outside entry doors into a building will still require a power door opener, because a heavier hinge is needed to keep the door closed in the wind.


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