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The Exit Locks You Need in Your Commercial Building: Panic vs. Fire

Emergency Exit Locks

The first rule of any emergency situation is to be prepared. Be prepared with a game plan, an organized response, and an exit strategy. Harry’s Locksmith, your Vancouver locksmith, is here to help you with the latter. We want you to have the correct exit locks in place in case of an emergency.

While we certainly want your commercial building to be secure from unauthorized personnel, we also want you to be able to get out of the building quickly and efficiently when necessary. That’s why we’re going to tell you exactly what exit locks you’ll need in case of a panic or fire emergency.

One of the top concerns we hear from our clients involves the degree of security in their building. We know you work hard and want to protect your business and investments. It makes sense that you would want to ensure your building is impenetrable.

But while your building’s security is of the utmost importance, so too is your safety. That’s why Harry’s Locksmith stocks a variety of exit locks that will allow you to move through and out of the building as needed.

Panic Lock

The first type of safety lock you’ll want to secure on your commercial building is a panic lock. This type of lock can be disabled quickly in the event of an emergency. History has shown us that panic bars are essential in a variety of life and death situations. In fact, panic locks, or bars, came about as a result of the 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire in Chicago, which claimed the lives of 600 people who were unable to exit through the theater’s locked doors.

Panic hardware typically consists of a metal bar placed horizontally across the door. While the door is securely locked from the outside, the metal bar (also known as a push bar or crash bar) can be pushed, thus disabling the latch and allowing for a quick exit from a commercial building. This can help in a variety of emergencies from an active shooter situation to a bomb threat and everything in between.

Panic locks are essential because in heightened situations in which you may panic, you don’t want to be fumbling with locks or otherwise losing precious time. Panic locks ensure that you’re able to exit the building both quickly and efficiently. Not only are they required by certain commercial building codes, they are essential in keeping your tenants, employees, and other building occupants safe.

Fire Exit Locks

Likewise, fire exit locks also allow you to vacate the building quickly in emergency situations. As with panic hardware, fire hardware became standard for commercial buildings following tragic historical events, such as a 1908 fire at the Lake View School in Collinwood, Ohio. As the blog entry notes, “Large numbers of panicking children could not open the latches and ended up crushing each other in an effort to escape.” Following those events, fire safety regulations were altered across the country and the first model of a panic bar was introduced.

Now, many commercial building codes require the use of such locks. So what’s the difference between a fire exit lock and a panic lock? Firstly, fire exit locks are used on fire rated doors. A fire rated door prevents the spread of fire and is typically composed of heavier parts than a panic door.

Another key difference between fire hardware and panic hardware is that a fire exit lock must re-latch upon closing. This requirement helps the door withstand the pressures of the fire and limit its spread to other areas of the building.

How do you know which lock you’ll need for your commercial building? As mentioned, some of that will be determined by international building code. But part of it will also be determined by the purpose of your particular building and its use.

For instance, there are many variations on panic hardware and fire exit hardware that can be installed based on your individual building needs. An infant-care unit at a hospital, for instance, may opt to have a delayed egress locking system installed on its doors. Delayed egress locking systems allow security personnel more time to thoroughly vet those attempting to enter and leave the area.

Such systems also disable the delayed egress locking mechanism once the automatic sprinkler system or automatic fire detection system is activated, thereby allowing occupants to quickly vacate the building in fire emergencies.

On the other hand, you may want to have sensor releases on your doors that will detect when someone is approaching. For example, a building serving the physically disabled may want to ensure occupants are able to quickly exit the building when necessary. Sensors remove the need to physically push the panic bar by detecting when individuals are approaching the door from within the building, allowing for an easy means of egress.

There are many factors to consider when selecting panic and fire exit hardware for your building. One item of importance is that while panic locks and fire exit locks can be life-saving measures, they will only work if properly installed. You don’t want to take any chances when it comes to your safety and security. That’s why it’s important to contact your trusted Vancouver locksmith to ensure proper installation of such locks.

Harry’s Locksmith serves the Greater Vancouver, Portland Metro area and businesses along the Pacific Northwest I-5 corridor. We’re an established regional and community partner since 1949. Our locksmiths are experts in their field and can also answer any questions you have about which lock to place where. After all, locks aren’t one size fits all.

We want to make sure that you are choosing the ones most appropriate for the safety and security of your occupants. That’s why we’ll customize your exit locks to best suit you and your commercial building. And remember, enhanced safety doesn’t have to mean compromised security. We’ll make sure you have the best of both worlds, so that you and your occupants feel safe, as well as secure.

Why is the Electric Strike Lock Door Handle Hot?

Have you ever gone to grab the handle of a door and it felt strangely warm? While your instincts might have been screaming fire, there may have been another explanation for this sensation. And every builder of residential homes and commercial buildings should be aware of it.

New construction buildings that have electrified door locks have all sorts of unique quirks that one new to construction might not be familiar with. But even the experienced builder should learn a thing or two about the new technology available for locks and door handles. Electric strike locks enables the electric release of a locked mechanical latch or bolt. But if you’ve ever passed by an electric strike lock door and felt heat coming off the handle, your gut reaction might be to concern.

Nothing is scarier than feeling heat coming off that metal, especially if you’re mind goes to images of metal working and shaping. But a hot strike lock is a different sort of problem all together. Though it might seem like a sure sign that something is malfunctioning in your electrified door lock, there are reasonable explanations why an electric strike lock might get hot.

We here are Harry’s Locksmith have found the three reasons why your electrified door lock might be hot. While it might seem dangerous, we assure you there is a simple fix if a hot strike lock is your problem.

Why Use An Electrified Door Lock

Many commercial buildings choose electric strike locks because it gives them greater control over the timing of when a door may or may not be accessed. A master control panel will regulate the hours during the day or night when a door is open, or even who has access to that door with the appropriate credentials.

An electrified door lock can make commercial or community spaces more safe and protected. However, just like any door, there are several ways that these types of locks can malfunction and get too hot for comfort.

It’s in Constant Use

Construction professionals hear questions all the time about electric strikes that are hot to the touch. But the number one reason why that might be the case is that the door is in constant use and therefore is being powered continuously.

Often this is a problem if the lock is being used for several hours a day without rest and most electrified door locks run continuously because they use electricity to remain locked for part of the day.

If a door is unlocked through the use of an electrical timer, the lock or the strike that is controlled by the timer is run continuously for part of the timing cycle. Which means that the electric power that flows through the latch and bolt has ‘burned out’ solenoid. Which brings us to the second reason for a hot-to-the-touch electrified door lock.

The Coil Pack is Old

A ‘burnt out’ or ‘burnt in’ solenoid is the result of an old strike. Over time the coil pack inside the solenoid becomes less efficient and eventually the potting inside the solenoids melt or ‘burn in.’

A solenoid can reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but once it exceeds this temperature is when things start to get risky.

When the potting ‘burns in’ it takes more amperage to power the lock because there is more resistance in the electrical circuit as it passes through the coil.

And though the phrase ‘burned out’ might seem scary, when this happens there is no reason to believe that the solenoid will catch on fire. It simply means that the solenoid has been worn so much so that it no longer functions properly. If this is the case, your coil pack may be running toward the end of its life cycle and it will be time to replace the unit with a new electrified door lock.

There are Problems With Your Power Supply

The source of power for your electrified door lock can also be the root of your hot door handle issues. The resistance in your coil will only be exacerbated if there are problems with the your power supply.

A power supply with less than sufficient amperage to consistently power your strike lock will cause your solenoid to “run” hotter. Additionally, a drop in the current of energy, say through a long wire run with inadequate wire gauge, will cause the solenoid to not receive sufficient current, also causing the lock to run hot.

On the hand, a voltage supply that is too high, higher than the solenoid is rated to accept, will also result in a hot strike lock.

But it’s important to remember that sometimes solenoids just run hot. However, if the lock or handle seems like it could cause injury or is unusable, disconnect the device and call a professional locksmith to inspect what the problem might be.

Another great tip, according to Door Hardware Genius, to prevent overheating (after first making sure that your power supply issues have been resolved, if that is the root of the problem) is to use an electrified door strike with full inrush voltage and current upon activation and then reduce the voltage and/or current to a holding level, which will allow the solenoid to run cooler.

If fixing your electric strike lock door temperature seems like a task too dangerous for you to fix on your own, why not let our team at Harry’s Locksmith send over one of our talented technicians to walk you through the process. We offer a full range of commercial and residential locksmith services and have been a part of the Vancouver, Washington community for over 60 years.

Allow us to treat you like family, as we have with all of our customers since we first opened our doors in 1949. Our services include facilities upgrades; lock installation, repair, and replacement; electrified locks, strikes panic hardware, security doors, ada compliance, and mag locks installation and repair; and even door installation, repair, or replacement.

No matter what needs you have for your home or business, we’ll be happy to help.