How a strong garage door can protect your home this hurricane season

(BPT) - A hurricane-ready house has many features, but one of the most important is also one of the most frequently overlooked: the garage door.

Why does a strong garage door matter?

High winds can push a garage door inward, which can damage far more than the door and the contents within the garage. This intense force causes pressure to build inside the garage space, which can push on the roof and surrounding walls, often resulting in major damage to your home.

In fact, after natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, research from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) found 90% of homes with structural damage to the roof also had a damaged garage door. With the structural integrity of your home at risk, it’s worth looking closer at wind ratings for garage doors to ensure your property is protected.

Garage door labeling is changing

“When a garage door fails, it can begin a cascade of damage with the roof and surrounding walls unable to handle the force of the wind inside the garage,” says IBHS President and CEO Roy Wright. “Structural damage to a home means a family is displaced and their life is disrupted. Homeowners can reduce that chance with a wind-rated garage door.”

Wind-rated garage doors have been tested to withstand the pressure of high winds. Modern building codes require garage doors to be tested, but prior to 2006, there were no requirements for wind-rated garage doors for homes built outside of Florida. Even today, some areas of the country have yet to adopt modern codes.

To make matters more complex, garage door labeling can be confusing. IBHS is working with trade organizations and building code officials to simplify these labels. Beginning with the 2021 International Residential Code, garage doors will be required to have permanent labels so homeowners in areas that adopt the code can better understand what protection their garage door offers and ensure it’s easier to select the right garage door when it’s time for a replacement.

What to look for in a garage door now

First, consult local building codes to determine the wind rating required in your area for garage doors. You can do this by contacting the city building inspections division. Because requirements vary from location to location, it’s important to know exactly what is needed for your home’s location.

While the goal in the future is to make labels more consistent and permanent, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a quality wind-rated garage door if you want to upgrade today. The key is to research if a door is rated to withstand high winds and pressure changes that come with extreme weather. Cross-reference the building code to ensure it meets minimum requirements.

“Look for a label on your garage door that will tell you it’s been tested for wind or pressure loads. If it doesn’t have a label, you don’t know if the door is wind-rated or not. If it isn’t wind-rated, it doesn’t meet modern codes, and may not stand up to the forces of Mother Nature,” explains Dr. Tanya Brown-Giammanco, managing director of research at IBHS.

Garage doors are one of the most important parts of the home during high winds. For more tips to be better prepared for hurricane season, visit disastersafety.org/hurricaneready. To learn more about wind-rated garage doors, visit disastersafety.org/garagedoor.

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