Ahead of hurricane season, check your garage door to be sure it’s wind rated for your area.
RICHBURG, S.C., April 29, 2020 – Is your garage door wind rated? New research from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) shows a strong garage door is critical to protecting a home from high winds during hurricanes and tornadoes. Post-disaster field studies of Hurricane Ike (2008), the Joplin, Missouri tornado (2011), and the Moore, Oklahoma tornado (2013), found only 10 percent of homes with a garage door that remained intact also suffered structural damage to the roof.
To further explore this dynamic noted in the field, over the last year researchers conducted full-scale residential garage door testing at IBHS’s research center in Richburg, South Carolina. There, scientists recreated severe weather events in a state-of-the–art wind chamber with wind speeds reaching up to 130 mph. This testing confirmed what researchers observed during a decade of storm analysis – a wind-rated garage door is key to protecting the rest of the home during severe weather events.
“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 risk with a wind-rated garage door.”
While testing showed the vulnerability of some garage doors and identified an available solution – garage doors tested and wind-rated for the area a home is located – IBHS researchers also found it can be difficult for homeowners to determine if their garage door is wind rated or to have confidence they are buying an appropriate replacement when it’s time for a new door.
IBHS researchers found two contributing factors. First, while modern building codes require garage doors to be tested to demonstrate they can withstand the pressure of high winds, prior to 2006 there were no wind-rated garage door requirements anywhere in the country. Even today, some areas of the country have yet to adopt modern codes, and the majority of homes in the country pre-date the 2006 codes. Second, garage door labeling can be inconsistent across manufacturers, as is signage and available information at retail. For garage doors on existing homes, labels, which are essential for a homeowner to know if they have a strong garage door, are often missing needed information or missing altogether, presumably removed by the installer or possibly even the homeowner.
“Look for a label on your garage door that confirms 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.
Starting next year, it will be easier for homeowners purchasing a new garage door to select a wind-rated option tested to show it can withstand likely weather conditions in their respective area. Throughout full-scale testing, IBHS worked collaboratively with the Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA) and building code officials to simplify garage door labeling.
Beginning with the 2021 International Residential Code, in areas where the code is adopted, garage doors will be required to have permanent labels so homeowners can better understand what protection their garage door offers and to make it easier to select the right garage door when it’s time for a replacement.
“We were pleased to join IBHS to see first-hand the performance of garage doors in realistic recreations of high wind events, where testing highlighted the critical role of wind-rated garage doors in limiting damage to other parts of the home,” said Joe Hetzel, technical director of DASMA. “Our industry is well prepared to continue to provide code-compliant products across the country. This builds on our successful track record in high wind regions like Florida, where the availability of wind-resistant garage doors has resulted in thousands of residents having confidence their doors not only meet local codes but help to keep their garages and houses intact during severe weather.”
IBHS recommends homeowners consult local building codes to determine the wind rating required in their area. 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.