Friday, August 12, 2011

The solenoid is bad…

A few weeks back I attended an all day seminar for Electronic Exit Device Training sponsored by Ingersoll Rand.  I have been remiss in keeping up with my industry education so I was grateful to get the invitation from my local representative.

a-fabco offers one stop shopping for their customers and since radiation shielding is typically in healthcare facilities I sell a lot of hardware to hospitals and cancer centers.  Security is very important and electronic hardware is everywhere.  In fact I have three current hospital floor remodels projects and all three had electronics specified.

I walked into the class and 90% of the attendees were healthcare or education maintenance employees, which was great.  I liked seeing that facilities are educating the employees that take care of their buildings.  We sat four to a table so I picked a table with men that looked like they knew what they were doing – because I didn’t.  I started getting nervous when I saw a voltage tester sitting on the table along with a Von Duprin EL Rim Device.  Oh and extension cords.  In my head I kept thinking do I really want to play with electricity?

Our instructor was Shawn Mahoney who is the National Training Manager for Ingersoll Rand.  Having been with the company for 26 years Shawn is a guru at troubleshooting EL devices.  First up was a 15 min. video reviewing IR’s electronic products.  Shawn then discussed the new regs for fire door inspections and though the 2009 IBC code has not taken effect in FL as yet, be prepared! 

Eventually we got to the hands on part of the class.  A standard 99 Rim Panic Device was provided along with an EL Conversion kit.  Our instructions were to turn the standard device into an EL99. My installer just had to do this on one of my hospital jobs so I was very interested to see how difficult it was.  Turns out not so hard, keeping in mind my rim exit device was not mounted on a doorJ  I am a huge proponent of taking pictures with my Blackberry as I am dismantling anything to make sure I put it back together again correctly. IR also has instructional videos on YouTube which I thought was a great idea.  We had a power supply ready and following Shawn’s instructions hooked up the EL device.  It worked!  I didn’t blow it or anyone up!!  After a few other configurations Shawn got to – what for me was the most helpful part of the class - troubleshooting.

The first point Shawn made is that 99% of the time when an EL device is not working properly everyone thinks the solenoid is bad, turns out that is rarely the case.  He gave us tips on what to look for and try if the device is not working properly. 

1.    Check the wire selection size.  If the wire size is incorrect it can allow the voltage to drop out. 
2.    Confirm the power supply is correct for the opening.
3.    On Vertical Rod devices check the rod adjustment length.  Disconnect the rods and try the EL
device.  If the device engages and holds the rods have been incorrectly installed.
4.    If the latch bolt is twitching look at the potted modular (the black box where the wires run out of the solenoid).
5.     Check the wire nuts in the wire transfer connector.

It was a good class and I appreciate that Ingersoll Rand conducts classes lik
e these all across the U.S.

Funny enough I received a call earlier this week from my installer who was at one of those hospital projects.  He was working with the Automatic Door Operator installers trying to get my EL9927 to work with their hardware.  My installer said and I quote: “the top latch retracts but then pops right back out again – must be a bad solenoid, how fast can we get a new one?”   My response was "I would like you to try a few things first" and dug my list out.  Solution #3 was the answer!  The vertical rod had not been installed according to the instructions.  My installer corrected it and the device is working just fine.

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