Hidden Secrets of Concealed Door Closers.

Photo of author

Nick Dardalis

Concealed door closers, transom closers or concealed overhead closers as they are also known are today widely used in all types of metal, wood or steel doors.

concealed overhead closers are ideal as they provide a hidden closer with no visible hinges or closer arms.
Concealed overhead closers are ideal as they provide a hidden closer with no visible hinges or closer arms.

Designed to provide a hidden solution to visible door closers they remain the first choice for shop doors particularly in aluminium, otherwise known as commercial aluminium doors.

What are the benefits of concealed transom closers?

The big advantage of concealed overhead closers is that there is no external closer arm or door hinges visible as with other doors.

The concealed overhead closer works completely differently to typical face mounted door closers insofar as doors using concealed overhead closers will pivot rather than swing on hinges.

The use of a concealed door closer in doors has also enabled doors to open in and out whereby doors on face fixed closers and hinges can typically only open in or out.

Concealed overhead closers will today normally be hidden in the frame of the door but other types also exist that can be floor mounted. These types of closers work with hidden “arms” that assist with controlling the closing of the door as well as helping limit the travel of the door leaf. As concealed closers are effectively the “door hinges” that typical doors hang on, they also work to keep the door connected to the closer at all times.

A quality transom closer also has other features built in.

With doors being required to perform different functions depending upon their application, concealed overhead door closers have advanced in recent years to offer several features. These include:

  • Different strength closers to suit the size or weight of the door they are to fit to.
  • Can either hold a door open or ensure it never holds open and latches shut every time.
  • Has adjustable closing speeds
  • Enables a door to open in or out as well as in and out
  • Provides a clean uniform appearance with no other visible hinges or hardware

How overhead closers have reduce costs for building owners and tenants.

commercial shop doors fitted with concealed closers can be quickly changed to open in, out or double swing doors.
Commercial shop doors fitted with concealed closers can be quickly changed to open in, out or double swing doors.

With concealed door closers enabling doors to open both ways, as well as in or out, this has resulted in substantial cost savings for shop owners as just one example. Here is why.

With a rebated door fitted on traditional hinges and a face mounted overhead closer, these doors can only open in the direction they were intended when they were first made. Therefore if that door was originally intended to be and ordered as an opening in door, it can only ever remain an opening in door.

This is because doors on face fixed closers are more often than not rebated doors meaning when the door is closed it shuts onto a purpose designed rebate. It is very difficult to convert an open in rebated door to an open out door without substantial modification and cost to the existing door and its outer frame. Where this door is connected to a top-light or sidelight such as a big shop window, the costs are even greater.

With doors fitted with concealed closers, they automatically give the shop owner the choice of which direction their door can open and this choice can be determined or changed at any time.

Concealed overhead closers are fitted to pivoting doors not rebated doors and instead of a complete rebate, only a simple door stop is ever required to control whether a door opens in or out. If you remove this simple stop the door is instantly converted to a double action (opens in and out door). If you position it on the outside the door opens it, if you position it on the inside the door will open out.

This simple feature of doors with concealed transom closers means that shop owners can change the direction of their door which is of huge advantage when a shop unit is taken over by a new occupier that wishes his door to open differently.

Concealed closers continue to save money in years to come.

Visit any old hinged door and you will often see visible screw holes, or new metal plates fitted where the original old face fixed closer has been replaced. Often older face fixed closers that are no longer manufactured must be replaced with a new closer, but this new closer does not use the original fixing holes and positions.

A solution is either to drill new holes and leave the old ones exposed or fit a metal plate over the door to accommodate the new fixings. Whilst this will solve the problem, it can leave an existing door leave looking damaged with obvious signs of repair.

With advancements in transom closers over recent years this means that old transom closers can be replaced with brand new ones that leave virtually no visible signs of repair or replacement. This again is a huge advantage of concealed overhead closers.

What to be aware of with concealed overhead closers.

these concealed overhead or transom closers may all look the same but they all differ substantially from high quality closers
These concealed overhead or transom closers may all look the same but they all differ substantially from high quality closers

The first thing to be aware of is cheap imitations. There are many different types of door closers available but they all differ substantially in quality, design and long term reliability. It is often the case that cheaper door closers can leak oil if over adjusted, rendering the door closer useless.

High quality door closers such as the Dorma RTS 85 or RTS87 are high quality door closers that have undergone extensive cycle testing and have proven their reliability in commercial doors for over 30 years.

Importantly these high quality closers also have features built in that prevent over adjustment and the leaking of closer oils.

Whilst door closers may all look the same, our experience having worked with doors and door closers for over 25 years tells us that whilst the cheaper closer may be cost effective initially, longer term choosing the cheap door closer can actually cost you more money in service calls or closer replacements.

It is also important to remember that many door closers can look the same to the inexperienced, but often will not be the correct replacement for a faulty door.

If you are thinking of changing a concealed door closer to one of the cheaper brands you may encounter possible problems such as:

  • the closer may be over or under powered for the size of door and can cause problems opening the door as well as damage to the door leaf
  • the incorrect door closer can cause the door to open past it’s intended stop point or even have an incorrect swing altogether. This will cause damage to the door.
  • The fitting of a cheap or incorrect door closer can cause the door to fall away causing injury
  • Beware of cheap concealed closers that do not meet current requirements for CE Marking, fire safety or compliance with the Equalities Act which is a legal requirement.

Routine maintenance on doors and door closers is also essential.

With concealed door closers being hidden it can be the case that the building owner or user many not be aware of a developing fault or that the door closer may need simple maintenance.

This is particularly the case in high traffic doors and those in heavy use environments such as schools. It is therefore important to observe a regular maintenance programme not only to ensure that the door closer is functioning correctly but that the door set itself is adjusted, correctly aligned and working satisfactorily.

High quality transom closers have been in use daily for over three decades, but as with any high quality product it must be correctly maintained to ensure long service life.