Don’t Allow Your Garage Door to Become Your Home's Weakest Link This Hurricane Season

May 31, 2010

The forecast team at Colorado State University is predicting above-average storm activity in the Atlantic basin between June 1 and Nov. 30, 2010, with eight expected to be hurricanes and four developing into major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.

Is your garage door secure? Now is the time to find out – before the storm hits.

“Reinforced garage doors are critical to preserving a home’s structural integrity during a hurricane,” says Mark Westerfield, manager of product development and engineering for residential and commercial garage door manufacturer Clopay Building Products.

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, wind rated door installed, high winds can force it out of the opening, causing an uncontrolled buildup of internal pressure and ultimately a blowout of the roof and supporting walls.

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,” Westerfield adds. “A reinforced door is a small investment that can minimize major damage and property loss. And, if your door has weathered a previous hurricane, it needs to be inspected for hidden damage or vulnerabilities.”

He offers these tips on what to look for when selecting a hurricane reinforced garage door:

Make sure your garage door meets the wind load requirements for your geographic region. The local building code authority can provide current information and a professional garage door technician can perform an on-site inspection.

Know your door, even if you didn’t buy it. If you have recently moved into a new residence and did not purchase the garage door currently installed on your home, have a trained professional inspect it to make sure it is the appropriate model for your area and also show you how to secure it during a storm.

Understand “storm ready” vs. “add-on” reinforcement. Two kinds of reinforced garage doors are available. An “add-on” system requires a homeowner to install long posts in the floor and ceiling to reinforce the door before the storm hits, and then remove them afterwards to resume normal operation.

“Storm-ready” models require no advance setup. Horizontal reinforcement is contained within the structure of the door and is engaged by simply locking it, a timesaving convenience in the event of an 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.

Retrofitting an older door with new hardware will not provide the structural support needed for the new building codes.

You can have safety in style. A reinforced door doesn’t necessarily mean barricading the garage opening in a solid sea of steel. Clopay and other garage door manufacturers offer code compliant carriage house style doors and impact-resistant windows.

Wind Load: Not Just a Coastal Issue
The adoption of the International Building Code (IBC) in most states means wind load is no longer an issue exclusive to Florida and other hurricane hot spots.

States like Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Utah, Nevada and California also have wind reinforcement requirements for various building products, including garage doors, because of wind related to the terrain and weather in those regions. For more information, visit windcode-residential-information.

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