After a ten year break, 2016 saw the return of devastating hurricanes to the coasts of Florida. According to the weather nerds, it looks like 2017 may not be as quiet as we might have hoped either.

Brick is Best, but there’s a Breach

If you live in a brick house not too close to the sea, you may not be too worried. However there is one weak point that even the strongest houses can be prone to. One that can open the door to untold destruction, or be fixed easily, cheaply and well before we hit the season for hurricanes in Florida.

Everything Breaks at the Weakest Point

Ernst Kiesling, professor of civil engineering at Texas Tech University, also executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association, says that your garage door is the weakest link in your defense against a hurricane. If the garage door goes, the house is lost; sheer wind pressure can pop your roof off like the cap on a soda bottle.

We Have Been Learning from Experience

Recent changes in Florida building codes require garage doors to be of hurricane standard, and door manufacturers have come up with some stylish and robust designs. But if your house is a bit older, your door may not be up to the task. That is, unless it’snot more than 9 feet wide, rated to withstand over 50 psi, and has no windows. And preferably single instead of double by Kiesling’s reckoning.

However, if your door fits neither into the category of “modern” nor “narrow, bulletproof and single,” don’t despair, all is not lost. You can always reinforce your existing door, and I don’t mean by parking your car against it.

Bracing is Lightweight, Inexpensive and Quick

Vertical bracing systems made of aircraft-grade aluminum are available for about $160 each. These lightweight-but-heavy-duty braces attach to the floor and wall of your garage and provide support to the door at each hinge point. The result is a door that resists being blown in or sucked out, even in hundred and eighty mile an hour winds (that’s with three braces.)

What You Need to DIY

Fitting the mounting points for the braces requires a bit of basic tinkering; you will need to drill a few holes in the concrete and do up a few bolts.But after the initial set up, which takes about three quarters of an hour, the braces themselves can be put up or removed in about three minutes. So for most of the year, the braces can be stored away, ready for the familiar hurricane warning.

The Drawback

This kind of vertical bracing, while cheap and effective, does have one major limitation – you have to be there to put it up. If you own a rental property or a holiday house, a brace like this, while being perfectly suited to the job, may never get used.

Naturally, if that is the case, a classy yet sturdy, hurricane-proof garage door may be well worth the expense, especially since it’s one of the Five Best-Value-for-Money Renovations.

Good luck.

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