Your garage door does not get the importance it needs when it comes to hurricane safety. Trust me, you’re not alone. I only started noticing the vulnerabilities after seeing it for myself.
Modern windows and doors will likely stay intact, but the garage door?
Not so much. It’s going to buckle down first. Google it, you’ll see. It makes sense! The garage door is the largest opening to your house.
If there’s any way a storm can affect your house, it’s through your garage. Knowing how to secure garage door for hurricanes is going to be vital for your house, especially if you live near the coast like Florida.
Now, there are a few ways to approach the issue. But not every method is going to suit you. First, I’ll lay out the issues with a garage door during a hurricane. Then, we’ll go into solutions.
Why Are Garage Doors More Susceptible to Damage?
That's a great question! The answer is simple. Garage doors are weaker than all of your windows and doors. These doors are mostly made with fiberglass and light and thin sheet metal so that they're easier to open and close.
On the other hand, your windows and doors are made with either wood or steel frames that are much stronger. And the locks on them are usually more than enough to hold them in place, which can't be said about ordinary garage doors.
What Happens to a Garage Door during a Hurricane?
High wind and sudden pressure changes are two common enemies to structures. The bigger the area, the more vulnerable it is to buckling. Your windows and doors are safer thanks to the frames attached to them.
But the garage door is much flimsier, especially the opening and closing mechanism, i.e., the door opener.
Your garage door does not go up and down. The door opener rotates it, and the rails are too weak to hold it down in the face of hurricane winds.
So, what happens? The hurricane wind forces the garage door and ends up breaking the mechanism, and you'll end up having to replace the whole setup. But you can minimize your losses!
A few vulnerabilities to a normal garage door can be removed.
Free Ways to Reduce Vulnerabilities
To prevent this from happening, you should implement a few free methods.
Disengage the Door Opener
When you see a hurricane alert, the first thing you should do for your garage door is to release the cord that is attached to the door and the door opener. Disengaging the door from the opener will at least protect the mechanism from damage. It's a general recommendation from manufacturers.
However, this will not save your garage door from hurricanes. Instead, it makes it easy to open the garage door.
Use Manual Locking System on the Garage Door
Simply lock the door. It's the easiest thing to do to protect your garage door and is pretty obvious if you think about it. Using a manual lock on the door will keep it closed until the hurricane goes away.
The good thing is that most modern garage doors come with manual locks on both sides.
You must lock the door after disengaging the door from the opener. But even if you don't, the manual locks can protect it.
Protection Against Stronger Hurricane Winds
Depending on how far you live from the coast, you'll need to decide the level of protection you want to implement. If you're in a zone where hurricanes do not go over category 1 or 2, you do not usually need anything stronger than the above method.
However, living close to the coast means this small change in your garage door won't save it.
For high-risk areas, you can do two things,
- Buy reinforced doors that can withstand high-speed hurricane winds and replace the current ones
- Installing hurricane braces and panels to reinforce the existing door
How to Choose the Correct Method of Garage Door Protection?
From experience, I can say that replacing the current garage door is too much of a hassle. Then, there's the issue of cost-minimizing. The old garage door won't be of much use to you, and you won't get much out of it if you sell it. Financially, it doesn't make much sense.
But if you only started building the house, you have the chance to install a fortified hurricane-ready garage door. We'll talk about it more in detail later on. First, let's learn how to use attachments to strengthen your existing door.
Hurricane-Ready Garage Door Braces
This is the best and surefire way to reinforce your garage door against the hurricane that's ravaging your city. Braces are easy to install but last long.
We used to see wooden braces, but luckily braces are mostly made out of heavy-duty aluminum or steel. You'll stick them into the brackets. And these have brackets that will be attached to the garage door.
A garage door brace kit usually contains a few bars made of aluminum and steel. You'll attach them to multiple points around the garage opening. That should provide enough resistance against 1-3 category hurricanes.
How Does the Brace Protect?
Good question. If you examine your garage door, you'll see the door panels are attached with hinges. These hinges are the weak points along with the top of the door.
Most conventional braces come with enough parts to cover these areas. My installation process includes placing brackets on the wall above the door and the ground and, of course, the hinges.
The hinges on the door are in a straight line (at least that's the usual design). And the braces will be placed exactly over the hinges so that they have support in resisting the wind pressure.
Don't forget that a hurricane creates negative pressure in many areas. It means that sometimes the winds will pull the garage door outwards instead of pushing inwards. This is the point that most people ignore when they brace the doors by themselves. We'll cover this bit as well.
What Kind of Braces to Use?
I prefer the two-piece brace kits with a bottom brace and a top brace. The benefit of using this type of brace is that you can adjust the height for different garage doors - same brace, different door. I always say versatility is king.
An Important Tip
When buying the brace kit, make sure to get the correct number of brackets and braces for your door. There are double doors for those who have two cars. You'll need double the number compared to a single door. So, keep that in mind.
How to Install Garage Door Hurricane Braces?
First, you need the following tools and brace pieces (these will come with the bracing kit).
- Masonry bit with stop collar
- Appropriate vacuum
- Few bolts, nuts, and rubber caps
Have you got everything in hand? Now, follow this step-by-step installation process,
I'll be following the guidelines for a two-piece brace kit in the following instruction. If you have a single-piece brace, don't worry; you can follow along as well from after Step 7.
- Assemble the top and bottom braces with U-bolts and screw in the appropriate nuts and rubber caps
- Place the braces on a table
- Now slide the bolts on the channels in each of the brace parts (according to instructions)
- Attach the bottom bracket at the bottom of the bottom brace (don't tighten the screws yet)
- Insert the top brace into the bottom
- Add the plate to attach the bottom and top part
- Adjust the height according to your garage door and tighten the screws
Those who are using a single-piece brace can follow along from hereon,
- Take the top bracket and center it above the hinges, on the wall above
- Align it and mark the holes and then drill them
- Screw in the top bracket in its spot
- Now, take the deflection brackets and attach them to the hinges with nuts (this will help against negative pressure)
- Stand the brace up and place it in the top bracket
- Tighten the U-bolts
- Make sure the brace is as close as possible to the door
- Use the rubber tubing on the nuts to work as a cushion
- Mark the holes of the bottom bracket and take the brace off
- Using a masonry bit, drill on the marked holes and vacuum the holes
- Put the brace back up and insert the bolts for the bottom bracket
- Tighten all the bolts, including the deflection brackets, to complete the installation
I know it seems a bit tedious. But this is the best way to protect your garage door from hurricanes. Maybe a video instruction will help you better. I liked Lowe's tutorial better; take a look.
Do not forget to take the brace off before opening the door. Obvious stuff, I know, but we always forget the basic stuff.
Using Netting and Panels to Protect Your Garage Door
As I said, there are many ways to prevent damage to your garage door. Here's another method. Maybe you'd prefer it more than the above.
Netting is a good method, but it only works if you've got windows along the exterior of the door. The net will be strapped on the windows. It'll help scatter the wind force to reduce the impact.
Panels are installed the same way as netting, and it works the same. By installing them just outside the garage door, you can prevent heavy rain and wind from first attacking the door. Here, the panel will take the hit and slow down the wind.
The good part of using panels and netting is that it doesn't require you to bolt them onto your garage floor. You'd still need to make holes on each side, though.
How Many Panels Do You Need?
Well, it depends on the size of your garage. Usually, one-storied houses need one panel. Take your garage's dimensions before buying the panels.
Use Netting Or Panels Alongside Braces
Combine braces and panels to give your garage two-fold protection. In cases like this, more is always better. The more protection you can give your garage door, the better situation it will be in during the hurricane.
Invest in a Hurricane-Ready Garage Door
Getting a hurricane-proof garage door might be the best option for many people. It'll certainly cost you the most. Convenience is expensive, but you're also safe from a lot of hassle. Buying different parts and pieces and installing them isn't easy.
When you see a hurricane alert, you can just lock down your garage without having to deal with bolts, nuts, and screwdrivers.
Hurricanes cause three main problems,
- Damages the garage door and the surrounding structure
- Loosened hinges, damaged bolts, and fractures are common
- Rust and corrosion in the metal parts
Thanks to their design and construction, using hurricane-ready doors will prevent any of these from happening.
Will It Be an Overkill?
Well, that's a debatable issue. A hurricane-ready garage door is a good investment where there is a need for it. Otherwise, you're just wasting your money. A few factors can decide whether or not you need such a fortified door.
It's the hurricane's wind speed, the type of building structure, and Exposure Classification. The experts use the last one to determine how much of the structure is exposed to the weather.
If you live in a hurricane-prone area, you don't need to think about it - it's already a mandated rule. Wind-resistant doors are a requirement in many states, such as,
How to Choose Garage Doors That Can Protect From Strom?
There are wind codes on the garage doors. These codes are rated by their wind-resistant capability, i.e., how much wind force they can endure. Garage doors specially made for hurricanes can resist wind speeds from 90 MPH to 150 MPH.
Knowing the hurricane categories will be a great help since hurricanes are categorized by their corresponding wind speeds.
The following table will come in handy,
157 mph or more
Enter your text here...
For more info, you can check out National Hurricane Center and NOAA. Here's a small guide from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the types of hurricanes and how they're categorized.
If you'd like to become an expert, I love this article from Time. It has everything about hurricane categories.
Take Expert Advice
In the United States, the system of making hurricane-ready garage doors is well regulated. So, you'll find the appropriate door for your house easily. Even then, I'd suggest taking help from the home experts before buying.
Garage doors can have resistance to both water and wind. Doors with only wind resistance will be a bit cheaper but don't cheap out. Water resistance is necessary if there's a lot of rain in your regional history.
These itsy-bitsy details can be hard for you to recognize. So, again, I emphasize taking expert advice.
Ensure the Hurricane Insurance
In the end, you'll always be at the mercy of the hurricane. If it's strong enough, it won't be enough no matter what you install.
Despite the amount of money and time spent on it, a damaged door is a likely result. So, you can make sure that you'll be at least safe from the financial damage. To do that, get hurricane insurance for your home.
If you live near the coast, you most likely have it since most people around you will have it. And the builders and contractors will also suggest it to you.
Now, the caution is this; your garage door isn't automatically insured. Check the contract document and see if it covers everything essential. Negotiate the terms of the contract until you're satisfied.
Garage doors can be pretty costly, depending on where you live. It's not going to be a favorable option for most in the event of a hurricane. But most hurricane-prone areas have some deductibles that you can take advantage of.
A Few More Things
You could do a few more things to minimize the causes of damage. Most damage done to your home during hurricanes is due to the small objects turned into projectiles. Your yard is full of them, such as tree limbs, little rocks, and other debris.
Another issue is the existing cracks in your garage door. These will only get worse during a hurricane.
- Clear your yards and the road in front
- Seal any crack on and around your garage door
Frequently Asked Questions
Should you leave your door open during a hurricane?
Leaving a garage door open may save it from hurricanes, but it'll certainly increase the damage done to your house! So, no, you should not leave the garage door open.
How do I know if my garage door is hurricane-proof?
Look for certification labels on your door. Manufacturers are required to put permanent labels on the garage doors, including the positive and negative wind pressure rating and model number.
How much wind can my garage door withstand?
The label on your garage door should have that information. It will be rated by some kind of code. Some garage doors have codes that directly mention the wind speeds, such as 90 or 150.
What is wind code W1?
Wind code W1 refers to the garage door's ability to withstand a hurricane with 90 mph wind speed.
What is a wind-loaded garage door?
A wind-loaded garage door will have jamb brackets, hinges, rollers, and struts to reinforce the door against high-velocity winds.
No matter what level of protection you use for a garage door, that one hurricane is always there that can uproot your home along with the garage, but we will do what we can and hope for the best.
To sum up, you can either install a new hurricane-ready garage door or install braces and panels on your existing garage door. It'll depend on your location and how much you can spend.
Despite what you may have heard, it'll be pretty stupid to take your garage as a shelter during a hurricane, no matter the amount of protection.
I think we've covered every bit of the topic. If anybody wants to know how to secure garage door for hurricane, be sure to point them this way!
Best of luck!