Fire Doors, Repair or Replace?
What is a Fire Door?
A fire door is a specialised kind of door that is engineered and manufactured to protect against the spread of fire and smoke.
They are an essential component of any building’s passive fire protection system.
Fire doors can be made from a variety of materials, including timber (timber veneer or other timber-based products), steel, aluminium, glass and even plastic. The materials used will depend on the type of building/application. For example, timber doors are more common in residential buildings whereas steel fire doors are more commonly found in commercial buildings.
There are many components that make up a fire door set, however, it generally consists of:
Fire-rated door leaf – this is the actual door itself. It can be made from timber, steel, aluminium or glass in a range of styles. It is usually fitted with some sort of hardware such as locks, handles and hinges;
Fire seals – these are located around the perimeter of the door leaf and provide an airtight seal between the door leaf and frame to prevent the passage of smoke;
Door frames – these can be made to suit any size or style of building. They can be manufactured from steel or timber depending on your needs;
How will I know if my fire door sets need repair or replacement?
If you own a commercial property, you will have to comply with several, sometimes very specific, regulations regarding fire doors. These include the necessary fire resistance and a certain standard of quality and material. Replacing a fire door can be quite costly since fire doors are not cheap. But it might not always be necessary to replace the entire frame with a new one.
Inspection and Test
Before you can decide whether to repair or replace fire doors, they must be inspected. This is a requirement under the National Construction Code (NCC) and needs to be carried out by a qualified person such as an Accredited Certifier, Licensed Builder or Fire Safety Engineer.
The NCC states that fire doors need to be inspected at least annually and “where practicable” at intervals of not more than six months. A fire door inspection should comprise of a visual examination of all components, including:
Seals and gaskets
Fire door signage (if applicable)
Hardware such as closer assemblies, push plates and panic devices.
If there is any glazing in the door, the door must not fail by radiation through that glazing within the period specified in the door’s FRL criterion of integrity.
In most cases, the NCC requires a fire door to have an FRL of –/60/30. Where a fire door is located in a firewall, a higher FRL is required.
The first criterion of zero minutes is a reference to the structural adequacy of the door. AS 1905.1 does not require a fire door to be tested for structural adequacy.
The final criterion of 30 minutes is a reference to the insulation the door must provide. It is difficult for a fire door to achieve a higher insulation criterion when tested in accordance with AS 1530.4.
Any glass panel in a fire door must not fail through heat radiation during a fire, as measured by the AS 1530.4 test, before the door fails the integrity criterion. If the glass panel fails by radiation, spread of fire could occur due to radiant heat igniting combustible materials.
If you are unsure if your external fire doors are compliant, you can hire a qualified building surveyor to inspect them.
Internal fire doors are required by Australian law to be inspected and certified on a regular basis. They must be tested for compliance with the National Construction Code (NCC) to ensure that they will protect against the spread of fire and smoke, and provide adequate clearance for evacuation in the event of a fire.
The following are some important facts about internal fire door inspections:
–Fire doors must be inspected at least every 6 months
-All inspections must be documented and include the date, location, results of the inspection, any faults identified, recommendations made and timings for repairs or replacements
What’s the difference between internal and external fire doors?
There are three major differences between internal and external fire doors.
First, the external fire door is certified for external use. This means that it is tested against weathering, and has a higher moisture resistance rating than the internal doors.
Second, all fire doors have an intumescent strip fitted along their length. The strip expands in the event of a fire to protect against the movement of heat and smoke around the door set. The internal doors have a lower resistance rating, which means they are less effective at containing smoke and heat within an area of origin.
Third, external fire doors must comply with regulations requiring them to be non-combustible, whereas internal fire doors can be made from combustible materials so long as they are not rated above 30 minutes (FD30s).
In Australia, the fire doors you use must be compliant with the Building Code of Australia (BCA). To be compliant, your external fire doors must have the following:
-A label indicating compliance with Australian Standard AS1905.1
–A certification number and date
–Each door leaf must have a certification label
Tips for Repairing Fire Doors:
- The door and frame need to remain square and should not be able to distort between the sides, top and frame. Minor surface damage can be repaired but if there are major defects in the door or the frame, you must replace them.
- If the intumescent seal is damaged or badly fitted, you’ll need to replace it. Smoke seals need to be replaced in one continuous length, if possible, to avoid leakage at the joints. Many manufacturers produce stick-on door strips either 10mm and 15mm wide to stick to the door or frame.
- You will need to replace the fire door hinges if there is visible wear or any dark marks around the knuckle of the hinge. All fire doors require a minimum of three hinges.
- Hardware such as locks, door knobs and latches with a locking mechanism must be CE marked.
- Fire doors need to shut automatically which requires an overhead door closer. If it is damaged or not working properly and needs replacing.
- With levers, check they fully return to the horizontal after use and that the latch engages smoothly and fully. If there are any problems, adjust, lubricate or replace.
- Don’t forget you must replace all fire-safe components like-for-like, according to the original specification.
- If the paintwork is chipped your fire doors can be painted. Check our detailed guide on painting fire doors for more detailed information.
Fire doors save lives so it’s essential that they are correctly installed and maintained. When considering a fire door repair, ask yourself if you are sure that the work you are doing will comply with fire regulations. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer or speak to a professional installer. Don’t take the risk of an unsafe fire door.
Tips for Replacing Fire Doors
Many fire doors that have been in place for some time may not be functioning properly, or may no longer meet the requirements of current regulations.
- NCC –Specification C3.4 Fire doors, smoke doors, fire windows and shutters Fire Doors,
- AS 1530.4—2005 Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures Part 4: Fire-resistance test of elements of construction
- AS 1905.1-2005 -Components for the protection of openings in fire-resistant walls Fire-resistant doorsets
In these cases it is important to understand how and when to replace fire doors and their components so as not to impact on a building’s fire protection system.
The first step is to identify the age of the door by checking the manufacturer’s details, parts and fixing date stamps. Also consider whether there are any obvious signs of degradation or damage, such as delamination of the laminate on door leaves or door frames, delamination of veneer finishes, flaking paint finishes and splitting timber sections. The presence of rusting ironmongery and corrosion on hinges can also be an indication that a door set is past its best. They could also be broken down completely due to vandalism or vandalism-related damage such as graffiti being sprayed onto them causing irreparable harm
So what’s the cost?
The cost for a replacement door ranges from about $400 for a standard wooden door, to upwards of $1,000 for a steel fire door. The average cost is around $650, with installation included.
A fire door set, on the other hand, costs about $1,000 and can range from $800 to $1,200 depending on the type of materials used and the quality of the installation.
You’ll also want to factor in installation costs when considering whether to replace or repair your fire doors. Installation typically takes about three hours and may require special tools or equipment that would have otherwise been needed in order to do the job correctly.
To get an idea of what you’ll be paying if you decide on a replacement, consider these factors: which type of material is being used; what kind of finish (if any) is desired; how many layers need to be removed from your existing doors; how many hinges will need replacing; what kind of hardware will need replacing; and if additional weatherstripping or other parts are required for proper installation.
“These prices are estimates only, actual costs will largely depend on intial inspection and assessment of your fire doorset capabilities.”
So To Summarise
1. Know the rules
2. Decide if you need to replace or repair
3. Remember that not all problems are immediately apparent
4. Have a plan for replacing your doors with something similar
5. Ensure you select the right size, material and style of door you need
6. Make sure they are installed correctly
7. Keep your doors maintained regularly
As always, if you need some advice on your fire door sets or any other passive fire protection system you have, we are only a phone call away!!
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