Steel Garage Doors,
Why Do They Fail During A Hurricane?

   In most cases steel garage doors won’t just blow out of an opening all at once from a single strong gust of wind. In many cases they come out because of severe bowing and/or metal fatigue from wind pressure being applied and relieved over a period of time. We all know that if you take a thin piece of metal and bend it back and forth it will bow quite easily and at some point the metal strip will begin to break in half.

   Basically this is what happens to steel garage doors during a hurricane. The strong winds apply enough pressure to the door to cause it to bow inward, which allows the wind pressure to go over and/or around the ends of the door and inside the garage. As the winds subside on the outside, the pressure that is now in the garage starts to bow the sections outward until the outside and inside pressures have equalized. This process will continue over again and again until either the winds subside or the garage door fails to remain in the opening.


   At some point the fatigued metal sections will bow either in or out far enough to where the garage door rollers will simply pull out of the end hinges. Of course once that happens there is now nothing to keep the sections in the track and therefore the door will no longer remain in the opening. The direction the sections go is all a matter of whether the door is bowing inward or outward at the time the rollers pull out of the hinges.

   Since the garage door may come out from either side, backing your vehicle(s) up against the door from the inside will not give you very much protection. In fact, if the door does come out it will probably only cause more damage to the vehicles then if you did not try to use this form of protection.

   In Southwest Florida there are a number of people that believe if you park a large box truck or van across the drive in front of the garage door it will protect it from being blown inward. I’m not sure if this is a common practice elsewhere, but from what I personally witnessed after Hurricane Charley I would say that this would be a myth and would recommend that you do not park a large vehicle across the outside of the door opening for protection. I’m sure you have seen the news reporters when they have tried to step between two buildings during a hurricane and the wind is so strong from being funneled into a small area that they can hardly stand up. Well putting a vehicle up close to the building on the outside has the same effect. The wind will come around, over, and under the vehicle and into a small area and will actually end up putting more pressure on the door then if the vehicle wasn’t there. After Hurricane Charley I seen some doors that were located on the fringe areas of the storm that were protected in this manner and were severely damaged or destroyed, while all the other unprotected doors in the immediate area had no sign of damage at all.

   Read here for the effects that Hurricane Andrew & Charley had on garage doors in Florida. I’m sure we will be seeing and hearing at sometime in the near future what effects other storms had along the US coast & as we seen with Hurricane Sandy strong hurricane like force winds can come ashore as far north as New jersey & New York City. Even though Hurricane Sandy went from a hurricane to an extratropical system the winds basically stayed the same when the characteristics changed.

   Also in mid September of 2013 Hurricane Ike showed once again that hurricane force winds can travel a great distance inland and if you live near the coast you may want to highly consider using a door that is rated for these types of wind even though you may not be required to do so by your local codes. Unfortunately after a storm like this most insurance companies will not pay in full for the upgraded door to replace a damaged or destroyed one when they’re not required to do so by code. However in my opinion it may be in your best interest to pay the difference out of pocket if at all possible to have the protection against any future storms. A little more money spent now, may save you thousands and a lot of heartache in the future!!!

© 2008 Greg Smith All Rights Reserved


Garage door with windload bracing & double end hinges

Clopay W6 garage door with windload bracing and double end hinges


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