Lift off hinges. What are they and why do we need them? Can these little hinges really save a life? Important components in a new home construction.
1 What are We Talking About?
Lift off hinges have one critical difference to ordinary hinges. They are designed to easily come apart.
Standard hinges, as per the diagram below, have two leafs and a pin which effectively locks the two leafs together. The leafs can then rotate around the pin as the door is opened or closed.
The key difference with a lift of hinge is that the leafs are not locked together. Essentially one leaf, generally the lower leaf, has the pin integrated into the leaf and the upper leave has a sleave which sits around the pin as per the following examples:
2 Why Would You Do This?
The key benefit of a lift of hinge is that the door which is attached to the hinge can be lifted off the hinge without removing the hinge from the door?
Does this mean the door has to be opened to be able to lift the door off the hinge? Ordinarily yes but in special cases sufficient room is left between the top of the door and head of the door frame to enable the door to be lifted off the hinges even if the door is closed and locked.
3 When Would You Ever Need To Do This?
Imagine a person in a small domestic wash room/toilet containing a toilet and a small hand basin. There is minimal distance between the toilet pan and the door. The person suffers a heart attack and falls onto the floor between the door and the toilet pan. The door cannot be opened because the person is lying on the floor between the door and the toilet pan. Emergency first aid cannot be provided to the critically ill person.
Time for lift off hinges to shine! It is possible to place a lever of some description (i.e. a large screw driver or kitchen utensil) under the foot of the door and lift the door upward (because of the lift off hinges) and pop the entire door off the hinges which enables the door to be opened from the reverse side.
In an emergency, the lift off hinges can provide critical access to somebody in need of first aid. Most ambulance officers are well aware of lift off hinges and are trained to pop the doors off the hinges when required.
4 Nice to Have or Building Code Requirement?
The National Construction Code (Building Code of Australia) Volume 2 requires that:
188.8.131.52 Construction of sanitary compartments
The door to a fully enclosed sanitary compartment must—
(a) open outwards; or
(b) slide; or
(c) be readily removable from the outside of the compartment,
unless there is a clear space of at least 1.2 m, measured in accordance with Figure 184.108.40.206, between the closet pan within the sanitary compartment and the doorway.
So in short where there is less than 1200 mm clear space between the door hinges and the toilet pan, the door must:
- Open outwards
- Be removable form the outside – I.e. LIFT OFF HINGES
5 Does Every Property Have to Have Lift Off Hinges?
No. As per the above, options are only required when there is a lack of clear space and there are several solutions to deal with the issue.
The requirements for BCA 220.127.116.11 were introduced into the BCA in 2009. So essentially the requirements will extend to all residential properties with a building permit issued after this date. The requirements of 18.104.22.168 are not retrospective so homes built prior to this date are not required to comply with these requirements.
While 22.214.171.124 will not apply to homes constructed prior to 2009, it still makes good sense to have lift off hinges installed when required. Lift off hinges can be retro fitted to most doors.
When undertaking a construction inspection, Houspect building inspectors will check that lift off hinges have been installed when required.
Build, Buy, Invest in property with confidence.