Door Closer Maintenance, Repair and Adjustment Info

EXCERPT: For adjustment and repair of Door Closers, often used in offices and commercial buildings.  Also known as: Mechanical door closer, office door closer, automatic door closer.

For information on pneumatic storm door closers, see this article: Storm Door Closer Maintenance, Repair and Adjustment

Disclaimer: This information may be inaccurate, incomplete, or dangerous.  You are responsible for your actions.  I caution you to NOT disassemble the main cylinder, your closer may have a strong spring inside that can cause serious injury if an end cap is removed.

This article is an updated version of the original page.

Basic Operation

  • Hydraulic Door Closers close a door automatically at an adjustable speed.
  • A Door Closer is usually mounted at the top of a door or above it on the jamb.  There are also internal models that are installed hidden inside the door frame for a cleaner look.
  • An internal Spring applies force to the Arm to close the door.  Hydraulic fluid (oil) flows through pathways inside the closer.  The resistance/restriction to fluid flow determines the door closing speed.
  • Spring strength and adjustment (if any) varies by model.  Heavier doors require stronger door closers.
  • Door closers are matched to their application, based on door size and weight, and the corresponding strength needed to close them properly.
  • Adjustable Spring tension allows models so equipped to work well for doors of sizes within their range of adjustment.

The operation of a door is controlled by the Door Closer in 3 basic zones:


Instructions here are for a properly functioning door closer.  If your door closer is not functioning properly, see Troubleshooting section before adjusting.

  • Adjustment screws usually require a hex wrench.
  • Your closer may have a cover that must be removed before you can access the adjustment screws.
  • Do not unscrew the adjustment screws, they will fall out, and oil will spill!
  • Generally, turning a screw Clockwise will increase resistance or slow the door, Counter-Clockwise will do the opposite.
  • Adjustments can be sensitive, start with a 1/4 turn

Adjustment: Things to consider

  • I prefer a slow-moderate sweep and a slow, quiet latch.  Sometimes environmental factors do not allow an ideal adjustment.
  • If your door won’t latch when adjusted to a slow latch speed, perhaps your latch bolt is not functioning smoothly or installed correctly.
  • Perhaps your door requires a higher closing force, adjust your PA (power assist) or Spring Tension if available
  • Variables to take into account:
  • Weather conditions: Wind, Snow, Ice, etc.  You may need to adjust your door to close properly across ALL conditions
  • HVAC: Positive or Negative pressure in your building.  Some ventilation systems will cause the door to blow open or pull shut, you may need to adjust your latch speed to a little faster to overcome a positive pressure, or slower to handle a negative pressure.
  • Your latch zone may be lengthened or shortened by adjusting your arm length.
  • Adjusting your arm length may also cause your max open angle, or backcheck zone to engage earlier

Typical door closer

e.g. LCN, Norton/Sargent/Arrow may have the following adjustments:

Adjustments (typical)
S Sweep Rate adjustment for long closing swing of door
L Latch Rate adjustment for short latch swing of door
BC Backcheck Adjustment to slow/limit the door’s max open angle
PA Power Adjust Adjustment for spring tension (less common)

To adjust a typical closer:  Adjust a little at a time – try a 1/4 turn to start, open the door between adjustments to check the difference.

Adjust in this order:

  1. Sweep speed (and Power Adjust if necessary/applicable)
  2. Latch speed
  3. Backcheck
Norton Adjustment Screws
Picture of Norton Adjustment Screws

Kawneer door closer

For Kawneer models with a single combination adjustment for Sweep and Latch. One screw adjusts both settings:

Kawneer Adjustments
Screw type/loc. The Sweep and Latch are both adjusted with a single screw
Beveled Edge (see chart below) Sweep Sweep is adjusted by turning screw CW to increase resistance/slow closing speed
Latch Latch is adjusted  from least to max within 1 revolution
Opposite side Backcheck Adjustment to slow/limit the door’s max open angle

To adjust Kawneer closers:  Set your Sweep speed first, then turn adjustment screw +/- one half turn in either direction to attain proper Latch speed.

Graph of Kawneer adjustment screw function

Picture of Kawneer Adjustment Screws


Most problems are caused by low oil.

Low oil level can look like:

  • Door swings too fast to a point mid-swing, at which it closes at a normal slow pace
  • Door swings closed without any resistance, slamming against door jamb/frame
  • Changing adjustment screws is of no effect
  • Oil puddle underneath door closer unit
  • Oil drops on bottom of arm

Oil loss is usually due to:

  • An adjustment screw being removed
  • Leaking adjustment screw seals (o-rings)
  • Leaking arm shaft seals (o-rings)
Picture of Kawneer Adjustment Screw with new O-Ring seal installed
Kawneer adjustment screw with o-ring replacement


Smaller Door Closers are relatively inexpensive, figure in your time, and consider replacing them.

Heavy Duty Door Closers can be expensive and hard to find replacements for

Check to see that your door closer is not under warranty.  The following instructions may void any warranty you have.

Repair seals / Refill Oil:

Consider Hydraulic Jack Oil in the automotive section of a major store.  I have also successfully refilled door closers using 3-in-1 household oil

  1. Wear Safety Glasses
  2. Note the leaks, and their apparent origin
  3. Remove the door closer unit from the door or top jamb
  4. Move unit to a suitable workspace (oil will drain, and sometimes squirt from unit during refill process)
  5. Remove adjustment screws or other hardware to gain access to seals
  6. Remove seals, or take the screw/shaft with the o-ring on it to the hardware store
    • Match the o-ring with a new one at the hardware store
    • optionally, buy an assortment of o-rings from Harbor Freight
  7. Typical: re-insert BC adjustment screw, tilt and hold closer so that it’s on it’s end, with the S and L adjustment screw ports facing upward
  8. Fill port(s) with oil, slowly moving the closer Arm to distribute oil internally.  If you move too fast oil may squirt out!
  9. Fill to top and re-insert adjustment screws with fresh seals

Tip: If you want to save yourself some time adjusting, count the number of turns while you remove the adjustment screws.  When you reassemble you can turn them in the same number of times to get close to your original settings.

Arm Shaft Seals:  If you’re changing the Arm shaft seals, here’s a few tips.  Be careful if removing the internal Spring.  The Arm shaft seals on your closer might be accessible after removing the retaining ring on the pinion shaft (where the arm is attached to the closer) note the position of the arm on the pinion shaft, you will need to correctly align the arm and pinion shaft when you reassemble.  Replace the o-rings on both sides of the pinion shaft

Pinion Shaft Illustration
Pinion Shaft Illustration

99 thoughts on “Door Closer Maintenance, Repair and Adjustment Info

  1. Could you direct me please how to deal with a squeaky sound when I open and close the Appartment entrance door. The closer is working, but the sound just making all my family to wake up…

  2. @ Jacqui

    On this occasion and as this problem seems to be on a school door I feel it would be better to get a door closer technician/school maintenace to replace your Arrow rather than Mums attempting adjustment (No offence intended Mums of the World)? Is it worth the risk if little fingers could be harmed?

  3. Ramesh Singh:

    what series dorma?? what is it doing that makes you say it does not work anymore?? I hope I am able to help, if want to Email me, JLD902 @aim .com (remove spaces)

    if you have Facebook, please show an image of the closer and tell what its doing to the page “Jess the door closer doctor” and I will get back to you about how to fix it and what series the Dorma is.


    from what you explain, the closer on the classroom door is low on oil ok and smooth opening when half open, but really rapid on full open to certain angle then shuts smooth. couple options on that one is repair the pinion shaft seal where the arm enters the closer and refill or replace it and put a new one up.

    from how you said “mum” I take it your in UK or AU?? same as above, please send photo of the closer to email address or “Jess the door closer doctor” facebook page.

    I hope this helps,

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  4. My daughters preschool has a Arrow door closer on a big heavy door. Used to work fine then started just slamming shut. One of the mum’s got up there and tightened the two screws she could see… not sure how much. Now it does a slow sweep = great , but about 10 cm from closing it catches and goes REALLY slow to latch. We could live with this, but the closer only seems to work if you open the door up half way, if you only open it a bit it then slams… little kids do this all the time…. going to chop off some fingers!! Could you please advise how to fix this? Could not find this particular problem listed. Oh and the Top of the closer, arm etc is completely thick with dirty old oil… looks like it’s been there a long time tho. Thanks

  5. I have a Dorma door closer (TS99FL) that no longer stays free swinging to the full extent. After opening to 90 degrees so that the door is free swinging at that angle, when opening the door again some time later it’s only free swinging to 45 degrees. Is there any way to adjust this or to fix this fault?

  6. How do you remove the locking ball that is driven into the spanner nut around the arm shaft of a Sargent 1431 closer? It looks like the tiny ball would have to be removed before the spanner nut can be removed to access the shaft seal (o-ring?).

  7. Thomas,

    from what your saying, (floorpsring) are you in Europe or UK??

    about the Dorma BTS’s, can you describe what they are doing that makes you say there is a problem with them??

    as for finding an expert, I am an expert in door closers, (and floor closers too!)

    hope I am able to help with fixing your BTS closer problem or find an alternative that will fit the floor cavity if you ever have to pull the BTS’s up

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  8. Hi all,

    I am looking for a company which can offer expert advice floor spring maintenance. We have had maintenance issues with the Dorma BTS range of floor springs and was wondering if anyone can offer any advice on a viable alternative.

    Kind Regards

    Tom Biggins

  9. Only oil to use in hydrolic door closer unit!
    many of of you naughty people have been using all soughts of oil incorrectly! Regular oil will eat away at ANY rubber seals, so you have to use Jack Oil, it costs $6 at the auto hardware store. This oil is used to top up hydrolic trolly or bottle car jacks. Cooking oil will go rancide. I am not sure if car synthetic engine oil will do?
    Note, any oil will work, but that does not mean it will not react negatively with internal gaskets and seals. ‘O’ rings. Can be purchased at the Dollar store cheaply. Buy a bag of them all sizes for a buck or 2. Also look for round tap faucet rubber O rings plumbing store. Just use a knife to cut the old one off, and lubricate the new one with the oil and role it on . Men will know how to roll this on to the screw!

  10. well said Hattie,

    depending on the problem and the age of the floor closer can also depend on if its worth getting it repaired or replaced with a new one.

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  11. If you’ve got faulty floor door closers on glass doors they probably need to be replaced rather than adjusted. If you have floor door closers on glass doors and the glass is touching, it can easily smash, making it quite a dangerous problem.

  12. Matt,

    in the commercial door closer world, if it has an arm (jointed arm that sticks out when its mounted on pull side) its HYDRAULIC peneumatic closers are those that are used on a home screen door (rod into tube like a piston or syringe setup)

    as for your problem, if its just the DOOR;

    it’s best to use thru-bolts, to secure it to the door, you will see the sleeve nut ends on the opposite side of the door where you have closer mounted, may be wise to use a sheet of steel on the thru bolted side (side the closer is not on) to help sandwich the door between the closer body and the bolts so they do not dimple the door when you tighten them up.

    now if it’s the door FRAME:

    you can try to move the closer arm over about 3/4 of an inch and drill fresh holes, or you can bolt up a fresh piece of steel on the original frame to create a fresh area to mount the closer arm to new material (metal plate can be welded or bolted to frame)

    hope this helps for your problem

    please note, if this is a FIRE DOOR the “swiss cheese” from the bolt hole location change can effect the ability to hold back heat, smoke and flames if a fire broke out in the building and will need to replace the door and frame to comply with UL and local fire codes.

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  13. When my commercial bathroom door closes, the screws (in metal) have loosened up over the years and occasionally pop out and the pneumatic closer nearly falls off it’s mount. Do I need to drill new holes and shift it over or is there a good way to tighten up the holes? I have already got the biggest sheet metal screws I could find.

  14. Rod,

    I wish I could have heard back from Syl about the Dorma, no idea how well my advice worked for the dorma, that is also one of the options for centering a door that has a dorma floor closer (adjust the bolts that align the body and retighten the anchor screws so it don’t “dance” while it’s closing.

    that is another great tip too, (thicker oil if piston wear) mineral oil, hydraulic bottle jack fluid, are among the “closer friendly” fluids that can be used, automatic tranny and power steering fluid can be used as well

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  15. In reply to Syl and from my experience your problem will probably be down to wear on the arm where it meets the pin from the closer. Try tightening the two allen bolts that hold the arm to the pin or wrap a little tin from a WD40 can around the pin and retighten, this should make up for a little wear. You may also try adjusting the transverse adjustment either in the concrete shoe box or on top of the door where the arm connects dependant on what type of closer you have.

  16. For those people struggling to find hydraulic oil to refill there door closers 10w40 motor oil can be used. If wear in the hydraulic piston is a problem using thicker oil can sometimes make up for a little piston wear.

  17. I have fitted a concealed door closure which is build into the over head door frame it works great but the door is really hard to push & pull open can anybody tell me why this is the door frame is spot on level with a nice even gap around many thanks

  18. Nate:

    LCN, great closer find there! as you said you want to repurpose it, do you mean use it for another application other then on a door or its intended purpose?? if it’s OK, can you tell me what you plan to use the closer for??

    as for the end plugs, many people use heat torch to help in getting them out, but before you do this, drain the oil first by removing a valve (many of these have a valve on both sides of body the one is BC and the other is sweep/latch on one screw) if no luck, you may have to take it to a machine shop and have them remove the end plugs.

    hope this helps,

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  19. I bought an LCN traditional at a habitat for humanity restore… I am planning on repurposing it… and cannot get the end caps to budge. It pipe plugs with square 3/4 female ends. Any trick to getting them off. There is a ‘c’ cast inside the square hole. I don’t know much about these things. What would this model sell for?

  20. Hello Syl,

    dorma door swing, is this a surface door closer or concealed (in floor or above in the frame) the staying open on one side (does this door swing both ways (double acting) has this always happened or just started?? if its alwas happened, could be improper installation,

    if this is a surface mount closer, the closer was not mounted correctly according to the installation directions, if possible, can you leave a link to a photo (from photobucket or imageshack) of the closer your talking about??

    if this is concealed in top of frame or in the floor, (dorma BTS 75v or 80) there may be a problem inside and needs to be addressed by a door closer repair agency or locksmith who can get the closer rebuilt,


    sounds like the arm screw on top of closer body got loose, when it gets loose the closer will knock or rub it’s “elbow” on the top edge of the door when opening or closing, while opening and closing the door, tighten the arm screw on top of closer with a screwdriver, hope this helps

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  21. Hi – my hydraulic door opener is mounted to the door itself, with the arm attached to the door frame. The device has been working properly for over three years up until ~1 month ago. Now the “elbow” of the two arms is dropping about 1/2 inch after you close the door and thus it’s hitting the top of the door as it passes by the “elbow.” I can’t find a scenario like this outlined on YouTube – is there a simple fix for this issue or does it go beyond a simple adjustment and require new parts, etc? Thanks in advance!

  22. Replacing the oil after over-loosening adjustment screws on my Global (size 4) closer worked for me. I used some transmission fluid (ATF) I had lying around. To get it to work, I had to pour the fluid into both swing-adjustment holes, replace the screws, then pour more into the backcheck hole. Good luck!

  23. Nigel: I am glad that this article helped you out in getting your door closer refilled and working again, cooking oil can be used in a closer although not the best oil to use in one, but will still dampen the action,

    Dan Gelfand: I do not know the size for them off hand, but there are a few repair places that will repair the KAwneer closer, is this one a concealed “shotgun” or the old surface mount “storefront” closer??

    the shotgun (Kawneer Husky M-1 and M-2)type may be a bit harder to refill then the surface mount

    if you want to do this yourself, have you tried going to harbor freight to get a O-ring assortment kit??? refilling is same as the one on the article, if its the shotgun type (long spring tube, concealed in frame above door) its best you send it to a repair facility or locksmith for proper refill.

    the “shotgun” M-1 and M-2 if refilled the wrong way you could get hurt and/or make a mess of oil please be careful with it.

    hope this helps,

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  24. Just wanted to say this article was really useful. Oil had leaked out of one of the adjustment screws on my hydraulic door closer resulting in the door slamming hard against the frame. For a while I thought the only option was to purchase a new one which would set me back $60 (Australian). Read this article & followed the procedure on how to fill oil back in the fill port & it worked like a charm. Couldn’t get a hold of the hydraulic oil so I used some good old cooking oil .. LoL. Thanks once again for this post – very informative. As some one had stated earlier hardly any info or youtube videos available out there on this subject so this article is a great starting point.

  25. Re: Kawneer door closer:

    what size “O”rings are used on the two adjusting screws to contain the “oil”?
    thank you, dan gelfand

  26. Lynn whatley:

    the glass door, do you see any metal rectangular plates at top or bottom?? or any brands on the plates?? if the closer is RIXSON, there is an adjustment on the edge of door that can push door in or out (to drag ot not to drag)

    if its a DORMA, you will need to remove the coverplate and locate the alignment screws on ends of the closer body (they look like bolts) and shorten the ones farthest away from arm shaft the door sits on and lengthen the bolts on either side of the shaft that push against the back of the closer box the closer is placed in,

    if this does not work, the upper pivot bearing may be worn and may be best to have top pivot bearing replaced.

    Tom Bramhall: concealed closer in household/residential setting, is this closer located in transom on head jamb) or in floor???? this is not common unless its a care home or a high end mansion

    different brands have different spring strengths and settings, can you please tell me what brand it is?? or show a picture of the closer in question??

    Phil: door closer rebuilding is possible but may not be recommended due to the risk of injury to the person or more damage to the closer, you need special tools and the right knoedlge to perform it the right way,
    what brand of closer are you looking to rebuild??? there are a few rebuild facilities around the united states that are willing to rebuild it for you, and send your closer back to you. one popular place is New England Door Closer.

    Sunil: is this a closer similar to what Parod shows here on the website or is it one from 50’s (potbelly closer) different styles the refill process is different,

    if prefer to email me, JLD902 @ Aim. com, (remove spaces) theres only soo much a comment in a blog can help with, I hope I can help further if needed,

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  27. My door is closing too fast..Speed adjusment screw has become ineffective..Oil spills are visible outside.
    I dont know how to refill oil,if need be


  28. Can you direct me to ant possible “how to” videos /info on rebuilding commercial hydraulic door closers? Thank you- Phil .

  29. Residential style concealed door closer to hard to open for elderly client, I couldn’t find an adjustment for that. Any solutions ? Large wooden dble doors , one stationary , thanks!

  30. I am trying to determine how to adjust my commercial glass door with an automatic closer, where the door has begun to drag at the bottom. Any suggestions??

  31. Brian Beswick,

    easy one, sounds to me that your closer is in “freeswing mode” basically means the hook under the arm (that engages into the gear) disconnected by previous owner and not reconnected,

    to get it reconnected, disconnect forearm from closer (or the 2 screws that hold forearm to door) then swing the arm TOWARDS the hinge to about 45 degree angle, then put the hook in the notch on arm then push AWAY from hinges (you will feel a strong spring)and reconnect the arm,

    another way to do this is using a hook spanner wrench in the “teeth” of the gear on top to set the tension. when increasing tension of the “potbelly/traditional” closer, do not increase any more then 1 or 2 notches

    many people the old style closers choose to intentionally disconnect the hook from the gear when they want to have door open long term or like the style of the closer body but don’t need the strong spring to close it.

    I see this question all the time, I hope my answer helps with getting it to close again,

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  32. Hello to Walt, Casper and Sid


    if its possible, can you upload a photo of the door closer to a image host site (such as imageshack or photobucket and drop a link here?? (so I can identify the closer your dealing with to better tell you how to refill them)

    if they are similar to the Norton 1600 (such as the one Parod has on the article above, then it should be easy to remove from door, tilt onto end and remove valve and refill with oil,


    the closer you mention is the “shotgun” style OHC, (the closer is about 2 foot long) the area with the allen screws, yes, that is where the fluid is and the valves, if the screws were loose, yes, fluid can leak from this area, (just how did the screws get loose???)

    these closers are still rebuild-able by door closer service/repair centers. you may try to remove it from the head frame and back out a valve and rotate the shaft while putting in more oil (such as power steering or transmission fluid)

    when reassembling, make sure the 8 allen bolts are tight, you may need to use NON-PERMANENT threadlock (loktite) to help keep the bolts tight

    good luck with the “stout”


    what model is your dorma closer?? is it surface mount?? floorspring, transom(overhead concealed) closer?? most closers you can remove from door, back out a valve and refill with oil while slowly moving arm to work the fluid into the closer’s body. different models of closer it is different way to refill with oil,

    hope this helps,

    still need help??? can email me JLD902 @ Aim .com (remove spaces)

    -Jess the door closer doctor

  33. I have an old Lockwood closer ( No. 2184264 is stamped on the plate). There is a cylinder under the closer with a gear on top, it appears the piece that engages with the gear has slipped out. Any idea on how to re-install it? Or if that is the problem at all?

  34. Door will not adjust with any turn of screw. It slams shut all the way very fast. Not sure what model I have, but I will take it off door for further info. I think it might be completely out of oil.

  35. I manage an apt building have 7-10 doors with closers. I have 3 that aren’t working properly. I’m not too swift on closers. I like to investigate first and then get help before I attempt any repair. If I’m lost I get the repairman. Any help I could receive would be greatly appreciated. I probably have 2-3 different makes of closers.

  36. Hi I perform tech work for the overhead door industry as well as perform repairs and maintain overhead doors garage doors. On occasion I have a customer with a storefront closer or pivots that need attention. The one today is what appears to be one I haven’t worked on or seen it’s concealed and not as wide as the one most common global door systems is what appears to be no markings I just did a image search.
    What it looks to be. It’s real sloppy and slams. Has allen screws that looks to seal a reservoir, some of them screws were loose. You had much dealings with this model? Before I took it apart I just picked up a fairly normal concealed closer it’s to wide and I don’t want to cut out and fab to make it work. I see a fill hole for oil. I’m gonna attempt to service seal repair. It does not have hold open. Oh and it has like a short rack and pinion and a rather large chain link with master link that’s real short. Complaint is slams hard. Thanks

  37. Good day,
    ENCO is n maintenance capmany in ANGOLA jussing DORMA products.
    Am is the maintenance supervisor i want to know if we can refilling the door closer with
    oil.Maintenance Service and Repairs,
    If you can help my with Maintenance and service repairing Manuals/In Formycin will
    be helpful.

  38. Yes, they certainly can. This is especially problematic for closers operating between extreme temperature changes. Of course, all door closers operate differently, and you should proceed with caution when adjusting floor closers. An adjustment may solve the problem, but it also may render the closer inoperable. I may be able to help you with specific issues, as well as reasonably priced replacements and repairs. You can reach Universal Door Controls at (503)-238-1642. I’m in the shop Monday through Friday from 8-4 PST. You can also email me directly at We specialize in commercial door hardware and rebuilt door closers. I’d love to help in any way I can.

  39. Can a door closer, more specifically a floor door closer, ever build up pressure on the inside, especially if it is not in use, even if it has lost some oil? If they are not adjusted right where someone tries to force the door close, that would be the only situation where pressure would build up until the door is released. Love your feedback on this.

    PS: I have been learning how to install various brands of door closers on my demo doors and use the upmost care when I adjust them so everything works properly. I’ve paid for everyone of them and that is why I read the instructions very carefully before I did anything. I’m not lucky enough to have everything given to me.

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