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Understanding the Importance of Garage Door Wind Rating

How Long Do Garage Doors Last

If you were to ask someone the single most vulnerable area of a house in the event of a hurricane, they might answer windows. In actuality, the answer would be the garage door. In fact, according to Jack Stumpff, owner of a company that created a garage door bracing system, 80% of the dollar damage attributed to Hurricane Andrew was attributed to garage doors.

If your garage door is blown off, it results in a sudden pressure change due to the wide gap left. This pressure change can tear the roof off a house as well as cause significant structural damage. Not only that but once an opening has been made, your home is even more vulnerable to flood water. Just a single inch of water can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to your home.

Regardless of where you live, understanding your garage door wind load could mean the difference between catastrophic damage to your home and riding out a nasty wind event without issue. And while we aren’t going to see any hurricanes in Sacramento (yet), extreme weather with high winds is still a real threat. 

What is a Wind Rating & Why Does it Matter?

The wind load of your garage door is measured in pounds per square foot (PSF). It represents the amount of pressure the door can handle, both positive (wind blowing against it) and negative (wind pulling it outwards). Design pressure, the wind load a garage door is meant to withstand, will depend on your locale, including building codes and weather.

You might also see the term “test wind load”, which is often higher than the official wind load. This PSF value means in testing the door withstood that load before it failed. It’s meant more as a gauge to tell you if your garage door’s wind load will withstand occasional pressure overloads, though it is no guarantee.

There are generally 3 levels of wind ratings for garage doors:

  • Standard wind rating: Around 20-30 PSF, suitable for areas with moderate wind speeds.
  • Hurricane-rated wind rating: 70-120 PSF or higher, designed to withstand hurricane-force winds.
  • Tornado-rated wind rating: 250 PSF or higher, offering maximum protection in areas prone to tornadoes.

Do I Need to Replace My Garage Doors?

How do you know if your garage door is up to the task of handling Sacramento weather?

First, check your local city building codes for garage door requirements. You should be able to find a specified wind resistance. If you need to, contact your garage door manufacturer to obtain technical specifications for your door and make sure it meets your cities requirements. If it doesn’t, then you’ll need to replace your current garage door with one that’s compliant.

Second, look around online at what others in the area have to say. What wind loads have they found best? Was it worth it to opt for a garage door with a higher wind load? While Sacramento experiences occasional strong winds, it’s not typically considered a high-wind zone. According to the National Weather Service, the highest recorded wind speed in Sacramento is 86 mph, well below the threshold for hurricane-rated doors.

So for local NorCal residents, you may not need a high wind rating, especially if you live in the city. Most people can get away with a standard wind rating just fine. However, if you live out in the open, high up, or otherwise exposed, opting for a hurricane-rating might be a smarter option.

Other Ways to Beef Up Your Garage Door

Another option is to purchase a bracing system for your door. This can help your door withstand any impact from a storm. Further options include garage netting and hurricane panels. However, this only adds further support and insurance and does not make up for a weak garage door.

If safeguarding your home’s integrity wasn’t enough to convince you, talk with your insurance company and find out if you can save on your annual premium. Some insurers have quoted a 30% reduction in price just by ensuring your garage is wind resistant.

The other thing to consider is the hardware and installation of your garage door. Improper installation can render a hurricane-rated door less wind-resistant than a standard garage door. As well, ensure the grade of hardware you use matches the wind load of the door, as a garage door’s wind load is only as good as all the parts holding it together.

Garage Door Safety in Emergency Weather Events

While high winds is low on the list of local extreme weather events, wildfires are a very real and ongoing threat. And in any type of natural disaster, the power is likely to go out, whether for an hour or for 8 days. In 2018, wildfire season killed over 100 people, and several of these deaths were directly attributed to being unable to get out of the garage when the power was out.

As part of your garage door reinforcements, consider updating your garage door opener to one with a battery backup unit. These are now required by law in California as a public safety matter, as a direct result of that deadly 2018 wildfire season, which is still one of the worst on record.

An auxiliary power unit means your automatic garage door stays automatic even when the power is out. And these can get you through long power outages, too, keeping your home and property safe from any looters, animals, debris, etc. Garage door openers with battery backups offer 24 hours’ worth of use, which is a lot of cycles when you consider one cycle takes less than a minute.Questions on how you can make sure your garage door is a port in the storm and not a dangerous liability? Give the garage door professionals at SACS GARAGE DOOR REPAIR a call.

Why Only a Professional Should Install Your Garage Door

When it comes to installing a new garage door, there are a few important things to keep in mind. If installed properly, a garage door can be a safe and convenient way to access your home. Not to mention it adds a considerable amount of curb appeal. But if your door was installed incorrectly, then it could be dangerous. Your garage door could weigh hundreds of pounds and cause devastating damage and injury should it collapse from an improper install. Plus, you could completely void your warranty if you choose to go at it alone. A licensed technician can safely install your garage door so you can enjoy it without voiding your warranty or damaging property.