Posts Tagged ‘water damaged to fire door’

I was speaking with a colleague today who had a question posed to him by a client in Queensland who had been advised by their service provider that because the fire doors on the ground floor of the building showed a water line from the flooding that the doors had to be replaced.

In speaking to him I think that there is a lot of miss information out there propagated by individuals and companies who either do not really understand fire doors or are just trying to make a quick buck from the recent natural disaster. In either case I would like to put a few suggestions out there for you to consider if you come across this situation before you decide to replace your fire doors.

Water is no good for the core of a fire door (or moisture in general). This is why a door is constructed in a way that ensures a barrier between the outside (moisture/water etc) and the inside (the core of the door).

It helps to know what is actually inside your fire doors so if you don’t know then have a look at these two posts.

Generally following installation a fire door is painted. The bottom of the door, the sides of the door, the top of the door and the faces of the door. Why? to assist in creating a barrier to keep the water from penetrating into the core of the door.

The client my colegue was speaking to had a number of doors possibly affected or at least showing a water line on the face of the door from the flood water. If this is the case, my first suggestion would be to use a little common sense (even though sense is so rear it can hardly be called common).

  1. Tap the door well above the water line and then tap the door below the water line. If water has penetrated into the door the core will be softened and the sound very different to a part of the door above the water line. If you tap the door above and below the water line and the sound is the same things are looking up. If there is a distinct difference in the sound chances are water has penetrated the door and it should be replaced.
  2. Using a set of verniers measure the thickness of the door well above the water line and then below the water line. If water has penetrated then chances are the door will start to swell (or get thicker). If the measurements are the same above and below the water line then things are still looking up. If the measurements are different (3mm or more as a rule of thumb – not scientific but generally the thickness of a door can vary during production so a brand new door be slightly thicker or thinner across the length of the door) then you should probably replace the door to be safe. If the measurements are closely the same then things are still looking up.
  3. The final test would be to look at the door with the highest water line (this being the door which has been most exposed to water penetration). Remove the door, mark the centre of the width of the door and cut it in half. Yes this will destroy the door but if you have a lot of doors it will be a very good reference point to assess the other doors on the same site. With the door cut in half you will be able to see if water has penetrated into the core of the door. If this is the case then you would be advised to replace all the doors as they are possibly similarly affected. If the door does not show signs of water penetration then you could reasonably assess that other doors exposed to similar conditions will be affected in a similar way.
In the end it is a decision for the owner of the fire doors to make, but just because a service company has told you that you have to replace your fire doors because they have a water mark on them from flood water does not mean they are right. As a minimum get a second opinion from another company or from your building certifier or consultant.
Fire doors are designed, installed and maintained as part of the overall fire protection systems within a building. They are complementary to the other protection measures which together are there for life safety. If there is any doubt then consideration of life safety is paramount.
If you do decide to keep your fire doors then as a minimum you would want to clean them down and have the fire doors painted again, including the underside, sides and tops of the fire doors.
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