Whether you are an occupant or business owner looking to boost the safety of your premises, you may be wondering, ‘how do you lock and unlock a push bar door?’.
The push bar, also called as panic bar, crash bar or exit device, is a type of mechanical hardware fixed on an outward opening door. It is a metal bar that is installed horizontally across the door.
By pushing the bar, users can open the push bar or crash bar from inside. It was originally meant to be a method of preventing stampede and crowd crushing during emergencies.
They were designed and developed in 1911 after many lives were lost due to fires where iron gates or inward opening doors prevented people from exiting.
The Life Safety Code or NFPA 101 has requirements related to installing panic doors. According to the fire standards, doors have to be fitted with push bars in buildings where other types of opening mechanisms may slow down evacuation in an emergency.
In many buildings, particularly commercial buildings and healthcare facilities, push bars have now become the main door opening mechanism.
How do you lock and unlock a push bar door?
The Life Safety Code also mandates that the push door should open the door with just a horizontal force on the push rail or cross bar.
The design of the push bar should be such that the user does not need to have any prior knowledge about opening the door.
Unlocking a push bar door is easy and does not require any key. Panic bars or push bars have a horizontal, flat bar that is attached on the inside of an outward-opening door.
When you push the flat bar, the latch mechanism retracts and unlocks the door to allow quick exit. Doors that have classic crash or push bars don’t require you to have any keys or knowledge on how to operate them.
Most safety codes require the activating part of the release mechanism in the push bar to extend halfway at a minimum across the door.
In some heavy traffic areas like retail stores, a dogging device is used. This device locks down the release bar, so the push bar latch remains retracted and allows users to push open the door from either side.
The dog down feature allows the door to remain in an unlocked or open position for a long time. To use this feature, you will need to press the bar that retracts the latch and then use a dogging hex key to latch the bar. A mortise cylinder or key rim can also be used in some cases instead of a hex key.
For exit devices that are specifically meant for fire exit, the dogging device cannot be used.
Locking the push bar door
You can use the mortise cylinder key or the dogging hex key and release the bar. This allows the latch to engage the strike plate and the push bar door will remain locked.
To lock a push door when you are inside the building, you can follow these steps:
- Find the keyhole on the push bar. If the doorknob has a lock, look for a jagged slit on the door’s outward-facing knob.
- Make sure the key fits.
- Insert the key within the outer doorknob keyhole
- Lock the door both from outside and inside.
- Check if the door is locked.
Ensure push bars function optimally at all times
Panic bars or push bars are crucial life-saving devices during emergencies. This makes it all the more important for you to ensure they are installed by professionals who carry out regular maintenance.
From providing answers to ‘how do you lock and unlock a push bar door?’ to exit device installation, we are available to assist you.