Understanding ADA rules for commercial doors and their hardware can be challenging. How do you know if your door closer follows the rules? And, how do you know if the door needs a closer in the first place? We answer your questions below.
Door Closer Speed
For those with disabilities or mobility challenges to get through the door, the closer needs to be slow enough. Otherwise, it might bump into them. The ADA requires that any door with a closer take at least five seconds for the door to get from 90 degrees open to 12 degrees from the latch (or closed.) It’s not a problem if the door takes a bit longer than this, it is a problem if the door is faster.
There are different rules for doors with spring hinges. These need to take 1.5 seconds to move from 70 degrees open to closed. Spring hinges are not considered door closers under the ADA, so if your door requires a closer, spring hinges are not an option.
Opening Force of the Door
Door closers which are not working properly can apply force to the door even when it is fully closed. This can create a problem and violate the rules of the ADA. Unless the door is a fire door or an exterior hinged door, it needs to be easy to open. The ADA requires the force you need to apply to open the door be no more than five pounds. The initial “engaging” force to open the latch may be more, but then the door has to give very easily. If you’re feeling pressure applied from the door closer, it’s wise to get a commercial door professional’s opinion on whether this violates ADA rules.
Beyond breaking the rules, having a door that is tough to open can negatively impact your business by frustrating staff and customers. Door closers shouldn’t need to impact the opening of the door, in fact they should make the door more convenient overall.
What about spring hinges? These don’t actually exert force on the motion of the door—which is one reason they can’t delay the closing speed too significantly. If you have spring hinges, it is unlikely they are contributing to the opening force of the door.
Which Doors Need Closers?
Under the ADA, certain doors need closers and others do not. The most basic doors that require closers are:
- Fire doors
- Doors to single-stall bathrooms
- Bathroom stalls made for wheelchair access
- Bathroom stalls made for ambulatory access
However, many other doors do not need closers.
Other ADA Door Requirements
If you’re concerned about the ADA compliance of your doors, there are many more rules you should be aware of, including:
- Rules about the types of hardware
- Rules about the door surface, it has to be smooth
- Rules about the height of thresholds, they cannot be more than a half inch high
- Rules about door opening height
- Many more
Your property may be considered “grandfathered” into these rules, other times you may need to make adjustments. It is wise to ask a professional for guidance.