1992’s Hurricane Andrew motivated a number of coastal Florida building code improvements designed to better withstand the battering of seasonal storms. But depending on the age of your garage door, whether or not it’s been replaced after building code updates, and the type of wind reinforcement system, there are a number of pre-storm details you should be aware of.
Before the Storm
Garage door openings are particularly vulnerable in a violent storm because of what can happen if the door fails. The pressure change from an opening the size of your garage door can not only let in the wind and the rain, but even allow the wind to rip off roofs, blow out walls, and cause other structural damage. And, sadly, a breached garage door leaves a damaged home open to potential burglars. So preparing your garage for not only hurricanes, but tropical storms and any high-wind situation, is critical to protecting your home.
Show that Old Door Some New Tricks
A good, solid and well-maintained “vintage” door may function just fine on a daily basis. So you may not be in the market for a new door (or it may not yet be in the budget). Here’s what you can do to help reduce damage:
Brace: whether you choose a DIY method or engage systems designed for your door, bracing your garage door vertically can help stabilize the door against outward forces pushing inward on the door. Vertical bracing is critical to reduce the chance that the horizontal panels may buckle. It’s recommended that you do consult a professional to make sure your methods are safe.
Retrofit: hurricane retrofit kits are available to work with a number of non-hurricane-ready doors to stand up to the wind force of violent storms. Instead of building a bracing system from 2x4s and other lumber, these kits provide all the necessary parts and can usually withstand greater forces. They can cost more, however, and may require upgrading parts of your system anyway (such as the track), so buy from a reputable supplier and have a professional evaluate your existing door and equipment.
In With the New
Sometimes even a functioning door is just not up to the task of facing the storm. If it’s time to replace your door for the safety of your home and family, consult a qualified garage door supplier who can recommend hurricane-ready doors within your budget—and install the door according to our Northeast Florida hurricane codes.
Hurricane doors are not all equal. Some doors are built to withstand hurricane forces from the moment they’re installed. Other doors require “add-on” systems to make them ready for the storm. Ask your garage door expert which type of door is right for your installation and budget, so that you get the best protection you can afford (and that meets or exceeds local hurricane codes).
After the Storm
Once the storm has passed, it’s time to make sure your door is still in operating condition, but you’ll need to check a few things over before hitting the button on your garage door opener.
Examine all the obvious parts of the door. Are the panels intact and in place? Do the tracks look relatively straight? Any other signs of damage?
Disengage the door from the automatic opener by pulling the red handle. This will allow you to check all systems without burdening the track with the garage door in case there is any damage not immediately noticeable.
Try lifting the door manually after it has been disengaged. If it slides easily, then the track is likely in good condition. If you can’t lift it at all, you may have a damaged torsion spring and should call for service.
Check your electricity. Is power on to all the critical areas of your home? Does your interior garage light come on? If power is on (and with the garage door still disengaged), press the automatic garage door opener to see if it functions. It won’t lift the disconnected door, of course, but you can tell if it’s operational.