Let’s start your condo inspection from the unit entrance doors.
The entrance to your condominium from an enclosed staircase, hallway or a garage must comply with the City of Chicago building / fire code requirements.
- The condo entrance door must be a fire-rated type – no hollow core interior type doors like the ones that you normally install in bedrooms, closets, bathrooms (you can tap on door surface to make sure that it is solid).
There should be a label on the door edge stating fire rating – a “B” labeled door and frame is a typical assembly for stairway enclosures and has been designed to resist fire for a period of at least one hour. Solid wood doors may also meet 1 hour fire resistance requirements, but finding a label …
The condo doors leading to an enclosed staircase must be self and fully closing / equipped with an approved closing mechanism.
The most commonly used closing mechanisms on Chicago condo doors are spring hinges and self closing device mounted along the door top edge – again they are required and must be functional. During the construction process self-closing is often disengaged and forgotten after the completion.
Fire rated condo doors are heavier than regular doors and require at least 2 spring hinges installed – if they don’t work, they might be broken or missing pins / this must be repaired for your safety.
Weather stripping around the condo entrance doors – look for damaged strip (it often happens during the construction process) and proper threshold adjustment. If you see gaps between the threshold – door bottom and between the door frame and door edge, the door rattles, threshold is loose – this needs to be adjusted in order to resist passage of smoke from the hallway / staircase / garage.
- You can easily check if the weather strip seal is tight by looking at the closed door while standing in a dark and having someone else to shine a flashlight along the door frame from opposite side (staircase /hallway/ garage/exterior).
After closing the condo entrance door, make sure that all locks easily engage. Push the door inwards to make sure that striker plate is properly aligned and holds the lock pin.
- Condo entrance door frame / door jamb must be sealed along the wall penetration to resist smoke passage.
- Try closing and opening the condo entrance doors to make sure that they are moving freely. The gap between the closed door and its frame / door jamb should be as uniform as possible.
Check condo exterior entrance doors (balcony, deck, patio), threshold should be secured and sealed along the seam with an exterior surface. There should be no gaps between the door bottom, weather strip – the threshold and along the exterior frame seams / trim.