Roof & Attic Water Intrusion
Windows, Doors, & Shutters
Porches & Attached Structures
Equipment & Loose Objects
Before a Hurricane
After a Hurricane
Priorities & Incentives
Understanding the Risks
Links to Other Resources
Ask the Expert

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ANSWER: You need to contact your local county building department about how to proceed.

ANSWER: First, I would recommend installing the lowest cost aesthetically pleasing shingle with an H rating. Second, in the interest of balance and to let the homeowner make the decision, I would suggest that we point out the following. New metal roofs have been observed to perform well in recent hurricanes and when properly designed and installed, they are one of the few roofing systems that are designed to resist the full uplift loads on roofs specified in the latest design standards. Wind loads on both shingles and tiles are reduced to account for equalization of pressures on the top and bottom surfaces of the products because they are considered porous systems. In any case, I would still insist on re-fastening the roof deck and providing a secondary water barrier even with a metal roof. Having said that, we have seen newer shingle products that have performed well in high wind situations and it is probably more important to make sure that the roof deck is properly attached, that a reliable well adhered secondary water barrier is installed, that edge flashing is properly installed, that perimeter starter strips and edge shingles are adhered with roofing cement a la Dade County requirements, and that a high rated shingle is installed - e.g. Spend some extra on getting a good shingle installation - than it is to step all the way up to a metal roof unless they like the look and possibly the increased durability of the metal roof.

ANSWER: We do not maintain lists of recommended contractors. Your best bet is to contact a licensed roofing contractor who will know how best to protect the roof without damaging the remainder of your roof while protecting the damaged area.

ANSWER: The “110 mph shingle approved by Miami-Dade” refers to an outdated standard. The current standard that you should be looking for on asphalt shingles that can be used anywhere in the State of Florida is ASTM D 7158 class H. You should also note, however, that you may also be able to use either class F or class G shingles if your home is located in the lower wind speed areas of the state.

ANSWER: The recommended connectors to use for this roof-to-wall connection retrofit on a masonry home are Simpson HGAM10KT. The 10KT means that one buys a kit of ten. The USP model is the HGAM. All the fasteners are included. These connectors are very effective and relatively easy to install. You can find a Simpson Strong Tie dealer near you at: http://www.strongtie.com/ . You can find additional information on USP connectors at: http://www.uspconnectors.com/ .

ANSWER: Yes. A licensed roofer should certainly be able to accomplish this project. Just to make sure, you can contact your building department to see if there are any local requirements for building permits for work of this nature and whether or not a licensed roofer can perform this work without an Engineer or Architect.

ANSWER: I checked with the folks who put the technical content together for the site and no one has heard on any such law on the books in the State of Florida.

ANSWER: We do recommend that ridge vents be installed using stainless steel screws because we have seen nails back out over time and even the galvanized ones will tend to corrode with time and exposure. However, from a code standpoint, the roofer would normally just have to follow the manufacturer’s installation recommendations. If you know the manufacturer and the particular product name, you can try to check the manufacturer’s web site or look at the Florida Product Approval for that particular product. You can access the Florida Product Approval database through www.floridabuilding.org . In addition, it is also possible the local building department has an amendment that has the requirements you mentioned. To find out I suggest that you call the local building department to speak to someone in the plan review section or higher up who can answer that question for you. Another suggestion is that in addition to making that call that you learn how the manufacturer of the ridge vent specifies that ridge vents be installed in high wind areas. The more stringent requirement of two (building department and manufacturer) is what applies.

Windows, Doors, & Shutters

ANSWER: Thank you for visiting the Hurricane Retrofit Guide website and for your question. I checked with the folks that put the technical content together for this website and they had the following response to your question. Yes, there is a good solution. Fiberglass doors are quite common that overcome the problems with steel. Among others Thermatru makes wind and debris rated fiberglass doors. Fiberglass doors do cost more than steel doors, but in beach locations are quite cost effective. I know that Thermatru makes a smooth fiberglass door that costs less than the wood textured one that can be stained. I find the smooth fiberglass perfectly aesthetically acceptable. With this said there are different grades of steel doors, some are more rust resistant, but still fiberglass is what makes sense. There are several other considerations to take into account. 1) When ordering a door one can specify the hinges so it pays to specify a more rust resistant one than not. 2) Bear in mind that lock sets are going to be exposed to rust and discoloration. One pretty much has to accept that every few years that lock sets will have to replaced. 3) Order the door jamb that has a rot resistant material (plastic or preservatively treated wood) for the lower 18” or so at the bottom of each leg of the jamb. This will make the jamb last considerably longer in high rainfall areas (e.g. Florida). The cost is about $20 extra to order a jamb so fitted…well worth doing…cost effective. 4) When replacing the door be sure the frame of the house to which the door is to be attached is of as strong of construction as the new strong door. Replace rotted wood. Insure that the studs are well secured to the slab. Make sure the door manufacturer’s installation instructions for high wind areas are followed.

ANSWER: Window film does not qualify as window protection as required by the Florida Building Code primarily because it is a measure that protects the glass from shattering, but does not necessarily prevent the glass from pulling out of the frame. The code requires that the entire window assembly be protected from wind borne debris.

ANSWER: I believe that the program you are looking for is the My Safe Florida Home program. You can learn more at http://www.mysafefloridahome.com/

ANSWER: I know that with Condos, that associations have been successful in keeping owners from even closing their accordion shutters more than a certain number of days before a storm and have to open them within a few days after the threat has passed. We even had some problems with homeowner associations when we wanted to replace garage doors that had window with one that were impact rated at a time when none of the ones with windows passed the impact tests. I don’t know of any test cases where the legality of these restrictions has been tested in the courts. I would think that there could be some equally good reasons for forcing people to arrange some other support for installing shutters before a storm. Putting up shutters and just leaving them up advertises that the home is vacant.

ANSWER: Site unseen the only issues that occur to me are: 1. That the side walls to which the opening protections are attached are sufficiently strong. 2. We have found that accordion type opening protection can still allow wind driven water to enter the joints of window components. When deploying accordion shutters, be sure that the panels are fully closed. With some manufacturer’s of accordions it is easy to think they are fully closed because they tend to come to a stop (I am assuming hand crank, not motorized.) when to fully close the gaps between the panels, an extra crank or two is required. 3. The two foot distance will offer an additional measure of water intrusion protection. 4. If the door and window are not pressure rated, then you ought to anticipate that they may well be dislodged by wind pressure (note I said `wind pressure’, not `wind’). This is because pressure created by wind will be the same in front of storm panels as behind them unless of course they are air tight which is rarely the case.


ANSWER: Assuming masonry construction -- If the building does not have much vertical steel, as most older buildings do not, or if the mortar was not mixed properly, then a strong hurricane could likely cause cracking. However, perhaps more likely cause of cracks in masonry homes is settling. Settling can occur decades after a house is built especially for houses built over fill containing organic matter. As water tables become lower (drought), the organic matter become exposed to air which causes accelerated decomposition of the organic matter, thus sinking.

Equipment & Loose Objects

ANSWER: The only time that we have seen landscaping rocks become wind borne was during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Based on this observation, we would not expect to them to add considerable likelihood of causing damage to your home until a hurricane has wind speeds that exceed 140 mph. With respect to windows, there is going to be a considerable amount of wind borne debris of all types flying around in such a storm that will also be likely to break your windows. You really need to have your windows protected by shutters or impact resistant windows to minimize your risk of window breakage in extreme storms. So, the increased risk of damage due to windows from flying landscaping rocks is actually rather small. However, flying landscaping rocks are likely to cause widespread damage to other things like the siding and other exterior features of your house. At the end of the day, you are better off from a potential hurricane damage perspective to use mulch in lieu of landscaping rock, but probably not better off enough to warrant replacement of landscape rock that you currently have.

ANSWER: While there is no “standard” way to handle picnic tables with storms approaching, here are some things that we have seen people do and have done ourselves: Move everything into a protected area like a garage, or even a shuttered lanai. I have heard of some people and businesses putting deck furniture into the pool – but that may lead to corrosion issues depending on the type of construction. This may also damage the surface of the pool. For a normal one piece wood picnic table with two integral seats, at a minimum, you could flip it over so that it is sitting on the table top. That puts most of the weight down and leaves only the legs and seats to catch the wind. If the picnic table were moved next to a tree and chained to the tree , it would be even better. You could also consider chaining the table to a simple anchor into the ground such as a 3 foot long piece of rebar driven at an angle into the ground.

Priorities & Incentives

ANSWER: There is no retrofit assistance available through this website. You may want to look into the My Safe Florida Home program at http://www.mysafefloridahome.com/.


ANSWER: The main thing to look for in determining the adequacy of window/opening protection for your home is to make sure that it is approved for use with the Florida Building Code. You can look up any product here: http://www.floridabuilding.org/pr/pr_app_srch.aspx .

ANSWER: A hurricane clip is a small piece of metal strapping that is used to connect roof framing to the top of the wall.

ANSWER: Licensing is regulated by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. You can research the license status of contractors at https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp