Hurricane season officially is here.
It’s an opportune reminder to homeowners in hurricane prone regions to prepare in advance to make sure your home is secure if a storm hits.
The garage door is the largest moving part on your home and may pose a major threat to your property if you live in a hurricane prone region.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), the loss of a garage door during a hurricane can cause an uncontrolled buildup of internal pressure resulting in a blowout of the roof and supporting walls.
Code-compliant garage doors are critical to preserving a home’s structural integrity during a hurricane. Because of their size, garage doors are more susceptible to wind damage than other exterior openings – especially two-car garage doors. Unless you have a tested, hurricane resistant door installed, high winds can force it out of the opening.
To meet the International Building Code, garage doors must have additional bracing, heavier gauge tracking and other necessary hardware to help keep them in place under extreme winds.
Homeowners with an older garage door may not even realize that it poses a threat. A reinforced door is a small investment that can minimize major damage and property loss. And, if your door has weathered a previous storm, it needs to be inspected for hidden damage or vulnerabilities.
Here are the things to look for when selecting a hurricane reinforced garage door:
- Determine the wind load requirements for your geographic region and make sure your garage door meets them. The local building code authority can provide code information and a professional garage door technician can perform an on-site inspection.
- Understand “storm ready” vs. “add-on” reinforcement. Two kinds of reinforced garage doors are available. With the “add-on” system, a homeowner has to install long posts in the floor and ceiling to reinforce the door before the storm hits, and then remove them again afterwards to resume normal operation.
“Storm-ready” models require no advance set-up. Reinforcement is built into the structure of the door and is engaged by simply locking it, a timesaving convenience in the event of a sudden evacuation notice. This type of door is particularly beneficial to vacation home and rental property owners because they have peace of mind knowing that the garage door is secure as long as it’s locked.
- Choose a door that has heavy-duty rollers, hinges, springs and track to provide additional strength and help keep the door in place.
- Retrofitting an older door with new hardware will not provide the structural support needed for the current building codes. It is important to have a trained garage door professional install the appropriate door for your area.
Often being the largest opening on most homes, the garage door is usually the most vulnerable to failure under high wind pressure such as hurricanes, tornadoes and storms in general.
The pressure of the wind can destroy the garage doors during a storm that allows water and wind to enter the house. This can cause significant damage to furniture, electronic equipment and the contents in general as well as the house’s structure. The garage door is often overlooked when strengthening the structure against high winds.
Massive building failures and strong winds have convinced storm-prone communities that residents must be prepared to employ active or passive reinforcement systems for their garage doors. An active system is that specific type of reinforcement that must be installed before a high-wind event while passive systems are built into the product and don’t need any activation from the owner. For the home owner in hurricane-prone areas there are only two real options: either a new garage door with a built in passive reinforcement system or a garage door reinforcement kit.
The option of totally replacing the garage door is usually an expensive procedure so a garage door reinforcement kit would be a good choice if your budget for remodeling your garage is low. Although is rather expensive, a new garage door offers a more secure and safe option in front of a high wind.
If you’d rather choose the cheapest option, that is to reinforce your garage door you can protect your home in one of the following ways: first of all install pressure or impact resistant devices, such as shutters, panels, accordion fold shutters on the garage doors or install pressure/impact resistant garage doors that do not require shutters. If your existing door is impact resistant but it is not wind pressure rated, install an approved garage door bracing system to increase the wind pressure resistance. A pressure/impact resistant rating ensures that the device meets the wind pressure and debris impact requirements of the Southern Building Code Congress International standards or the July 1988 wind pressure and debris impact requirements of the American Society of Civil Engineers adopted in September 1994.
When adding a garage door bracing, first ensure that there is enough and relevant documentation that the product has been tested at a certified testing laboratory. The product should be designed to withstand both positive and negative wind pressure. You should contact a local garage door
supplier of approved garage door bracing systems to assist you in the selection of the necessary system for your needs.