garage door hurricane brace

garage door hurricane brace

Garage Door Hurricane Brace

Buying a New Garage Door One way to make the garage hurricane-ready and code-compliant is to buy a new garage door. Products such as DAB’s Hurricane Master Garage Door System are complete garage door systems that, when installed properly, comply with Florida building codes. “Our garage door systems use our patented InterForce Structural Reinforcement System,” says Ernie Hunto, spokesperson for the company. This system addresses common weaknesses found in regular garages, including the end stiles that brace the edges of the door and the weak skin. “We use anti-distortion end stiles and a 24-gauge steel skin on our doors,” explains Hunto. In hurricane-strength winds, regular garage door end stiles endure enormous forces and often rotate, causing the garage door to “dump out” or give way. A reinforced end stile resists these forces and keeps the garage door holding firm. A stronger steel skin resists small- and large-missile impact from the debris that hurtles through the air during hurricanes.
garage door hurricane brace 1

Garage Door Hurricane Brace

Building Code For a garage door system to be up to code in the hurricane-prone areas of the U.S., it must meet the wind-load requirements of the county in which it is installed. These wind-load requirements are less strict the further inland one lives, but nowhere are they more demanding than in the Miami-Dade County, FL. There a garage door system must be able to resist a wind speed of up to 150 mph. (The Saffir-Simpson Scale for hurricane classification rates a hurricane with wind speeds of 131-155 mph as a Category 4.) Testing on garage door systems and retro-fit kits includes subjecting the products to hurricane-force winds using a wind-tunnel testing lab and using air guns to fire 2x4s and other materials at the garage door surface to simulate the effects of flying debris in a high-wind situation.
garage door hurricane brace 2

Garage Door Hurricane Brace

Retrofitting an Existing Garage Door When a storm is coming, retrofit kits are used to bolster the hurricane-resistance of existing garage doors. Their effectiveness is usually contingent upon the integrity and strength of the door itself — an old wooden door is not going to hold up to a Category 4, whether it has been reinforced or not. “If the garage door was faultily installed or in poor condition, you cannot expect the same results from our product,” says Jack Stumpff, co-owner of Secure Door in Plantation, FL. Secure Door is the only Florida Building Code-approved garage door retrofit kit available on the market, and it is also designed to be installed by the do-it-yourselfer.
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Garage Door Hurricane Brace

Retrofit kits like Secure Door’s products commonly include bracing systems that install on the inside of the garage door. Secure Door’s telescoping, lightweight, high-strength aluminum braces install vertically through the header above the door and through floor mounts that are drilled into the concrete floor. The braces also attach through the hinges in the door itself to protect both from external pressure and internal negative pressure in a hurricane. “Three of our braces installed on a 7-foot-by-16-foot garage door will protect up to 180 mph,” says Stumpff. “It takes about 40 minutes to retrofit the garage for our reinforcing braces, and all a homeowner needs is an electric drill, a 1⁄2-inch masonry bit, an adjustable wrench, and a screwdriver.” Once the garage has been retrofitted, the braces themselves take three to five minutes to actually attach in preparation for a storm.
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Garage Door Hurricane Brace

A stronger door certainly helps, but the door itself won’t matter if the mounting area and track aren’t strengthened as well. To that end, products like Hurricane Master use a 14-gauge tracking system with heavy-grade track brackets. “You can reinforce an old door with a retrofit kit, but if the track system isn’t upgraded, it can twist and the door will dump out on you,” adds Hunto. Additional reinforcing U-bars can be purchased for a Hurricane Master system and installed before the storm hits to make the door more resistant to higher winds.
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Garage Door Hurricane Brace

“Because of their size, garage doors are more susceptible to wind damage than other exterior openings. Unless you have a tested hurricane-resistant door installed, high winds can force it out of the opening,” according to Clopay Building Products, the largest U.S. residential garage door manufacturer. The company urges coastal property owners to make sure their garage door meets updated building code wind-resistance requirements.
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Garage Door Hurricane Brace

First, check your local codes. In some hurricane-prone areas, codes require that a garage door withstand winds up to 130 mph. In Miami-Dade County of Florida, codes are even stricter, and doors must withstand hurricane-force winds of 150 mph. There are two grades:
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Garage Door Hurricane Brace

Violent hurricanes and massive building failures have convinced storm-prone communities that residents must be prepared to employ active or passive reinforcement systems for their garage doors. Passive systems are those that are built into the product and need no activation on the part of the homeowner. Active systems are reinforcements that need to be installed in preparation for a high-wind event. Either way, for the homeowner in hurricane-prone areas of the country there are two real options—a new garage door, or a garage door reinforcement kit.
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One inch of floodwater can cause $7,800 worth of damage to your home. Busted garage doors can easily let in that much water and more. In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identified loss of garage doors as one of the major factors contributing to hurricane storm damage in homes.
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Hurricanes, tornadoes and other extreme winds can cause significant structural damage. Generally speaking, your garage door is your home’s largest and weakest opening. Should high winds be allowed to enter your garage, they may also enter your home, where they can go on to blow out the doors, walls, windows and roofing. Taking measures to secure your garage door in advance of an extreme weather event can prevent such a scenario. And it will go a long way in ensuring the protection of your family, home and property.
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Hello Ben, Thanks for the prompt response and the pictures ! I had new garage doors installed a few months ago and have put off reinforcment preparations until today, when the weatherman forecasted hurricane Irene was going to pay us a visit this weekend. I am planning on using some 4 inch wide metal to attach the braces to the header . Other than that, I will follow your instructions. I will send pictures when completed tomorrow, if you are interested. Thanks again for the immediate response.
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Hello Ben, Thanks for the prompt response and the pictures ! I had new garage doors installed a few months ago and have put off reinforcment preparations until today, when the weatherman forecasted hurricane Irene was going to pay us a visit this weekend. I am planning on using some 4 inch wide metal to attach the braces to the header . Other than that, I will follow your instructions. I will send pictures when completed tomorrow, if you are interested. Thanks again for the immediate response. W S Brown
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Garage Door Reinforcements: Inspect the track of your garage door to ensure that it’s securely anchored to the wall (with heavy wood bolts attaching it to wood or expansion bolts attaching it to masonry). If it’s loose, you’ll need to address the anchors or install a stronger track. Further inspect the doors and tracks to ensure that there are no missing screws, replacing any loose screws with longer screws.
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To meet the new code, garage doors must have strong bracing, heavy-gauge tracking, and other necessary hardware to help keep them in place under extreme winds. Unfortunately, Floridians have had all too ample opportunity to test the effectiveness of these more stringent building codes.

Published on Jul 18, 2017 | Under Garage | By michael ellis
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