After Hurricane Andrew’s catastrophic impact in 1992, many coastal cities updated their building codes to be more stringent. One of the most important changes made to the code was about the garage door, which is the biggest hole in a home. If a garage door brakes down during a hurricane, the resulting change in pressure can create cracks and fissures that allow water to invade, or worse, blow the roof off of the house. 

Homeowners in hurricane-prone communities must employ both active and passive garage door hurricane protection. Passive reinforcements are already built into the garage door, while active reinforcements need to be installed in anticipation of a hurricane. South Floridians have two options when it comes to hurricane garage door reinforcement: a new garage door or a garage door reinforcement kit.

What are the building code requirements?

Garage door systems are required to meet certain wind-load requirements in order to be considered up to code. Miami-Dade County requirements are among the strictest in the country, mandating that garage doors be able to withstand winds of more than 150 miles per hour. 

Hurricane resistant garage doors and retro-fit products need to stand up to testing including hurricane-force winds and projectiles hurled at their surface before being approved. The requirements for impact doors are even more stringent.

Garage doors serve a critical role when it comes to hurricane protection. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that one inch of floodwater can equal $25,000 in damage. If the garage door fails, the damage will almost certainly be devastating.

Here are a few ways to reinforce a garage door in anticipation of a hurricane.

How to reinforce your garage door

Many homes were built long before Hurricane Andrew or any of the resulting building code changes. While new construction is required to be up to code, the vast majority of storm damage comes from buildings that were not updated in line with current code requirements. 

Garage door hurricane brace kits can help prevent a garage door from devastation. The kits are usually installed on the inside of the garage door vertically on the top, bottom, and hinges of the door. This helps protect from both external and internal pressure. These kits cost roughly $500 and a handy homeowner can install them if they wanted to.

Getting a new, impact garage door

Reinforcing an older garage door carries some risks. If the garage door is out of date, in poor condition or incorrectly installed, no amount of reinforcing will protect the home. There is no substitute for a high-quality aluminum door specifically designed to withstand hurricane winds. 

Our impact doors are made from strong impact-resistant glass and sturdy aluminum frames. They are manufactured to withstand winds up to 175 miles per hour. The doors come with either a chain or belt drive and offer several options to complement your neighborhood and boost curb appeal. 

Buying a new impact garage door and having it professionally installed will not only ensure the garage door is hurricane-resistant, but also that the tracks and mounting area are twist-resistant and adequately reinforced. Although impact doors do cost more upfront, Florida homeowners insurance companies are required to provide discounts to homes with impact doors and windows.

South Floridians know that hurricane prep is a year-round activity. Don’t wait until a storm is looming to prepare. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently updated its predictions for the 2019 hurricane season, forecasting higher than normal hurricane activity this year. If you’re wondering whether your door is ready and safe, contact Ocean Impact today. We can help guide you through your options and next steps.