With our newly open ‘Cool Tips‘ section we offer simple guidelines for various constructional and renovation projects concerning your home oriented spaces. This time around, we have decided to list some structural solutions that would help you brace against one of the most violent forms of natural catastrophes – tornado.
In 2013, there has been a whopping 359 cases of confirmed tornadoes in USA alone, with damages that goes beyond hundreds of millions in dollars. So, the question naturally arises – can we tornado proof our houses? Well, the answer to that is a bit complex. In purely technical terms, yes; we can tornado proof our houses (with tips discussed in this very article). However, the predicament lies with the relatively high cost-factor of these ‘technologies’. So, if you have the money and resources, or do live in a tornado prone area, you can always weigh and consider the options given below.
1) Strengthening your home’s access points
The access points to our abode, like the doors, windows and the garage are traditionally the weakest points in our home. In this regard, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says – the greatest threat posed by a tornado is not the velocity of the wind, but rather the debris that acts as high-velocity projectiles by the action of the wind. In simpler terms, a 300 km/h (190 miles per hour) wooden log (which now acts as a missile) is most likely to smash a big hole through your flimsy garage entrance or the front door. In such instances, the violent rush of the gushing wind through the damaged sector can actually crumble the walls of your entire house, much akin to the effect of a heavily pressurized soda can.
So, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that we do need to structurally strengthen these various access points around our house. In this regard, StormPro does offer many heavy-duty door and window solutions for shielding against brute impact forces (Google searching for ‘tornado proof doors’ will also yield other effective results). Approximate costs are expected to run over $5,000.
As for garages, we can fortunately go the DIY way (or calling professional help) by vertically bracing the shutter. These braces constructed out of aircraft-grade aluminum will form a sturdy backbone to your expansive garage door. So, with a bit of expertise in electric drilling and masonry, along with tools like socket wrench, hammer and screwdriver; one can construct an array of support braces. Normally a support system of three braces would suffice, with each piece coming for around $160-170 (thus bringing the total cost over $480).
2) Strengthening your roofing system
When a tornado strikes, it is a combination of pressures (rather than one-directional wind) that takes its toll on your house. In the complexity of all such forces, your roof is one component that remains entirely vulnerable to the exterior conditions. So, in a bid to strengthen your roofing, you can opt for galvanized-steel hurricane clips that joins the top plate with the trusses. This makes the collective structure more sturdy in its composition by improving the core strength of the connections. In terms of capacity, the hurricane clips can provide uplift protections in the range of 400 to 1500 pounds. However, costs are expected to run over $500 for both single-storied and double-storied houses.
As an alternate method, you can also strengthen your roof sheathings by gluing them to the underneath trusses and the rafters. This can be done by utilizing a high-capacity adhesive that conforms to Performance Specification AFG-01 developed by APA.
3) Securing your house with its foundation
Cable-Tite has introduced their tornado-proofing technology – which entails the firm securing of the house (with the ground) by joining the J-bolt of the foundation to the top plate. This clamp-like arrangement pulls the house downward towards the ground level, thus improving upon the overall stability of the above-ground section. This new-found firmness allows the house to act as a composite structural unit that effectively copes up with variant wind pressures. According to sources, the Cable-Tite can provide uplift protection of up to a whopping 6900 pounds, with costs coming at around $1500 – 2000.
4) Applications of concrete on your walls
Timber-frame constructions are not at all suitable for shielding against high-velocity winds and debris. In this regard, ICFs (Insulating Concrete Forms) can pose as your sturdy savior during those destructive tornado sessions. Comprising of a modular system of form-work for reinforced concrete, these materials can be dry-stacked and then filled with concrete. The units are interlocked with each other somewhat like Lego Bricks, thus creating the solid form needed for the walls and other supporting structures. Now, as for costs, they can vary as per the manufacturer (you can Google search for Insulating Concrete Forms). However, even on a more practical level, ICF constructions exhibit lower energy requirements than conventional buildings.
5) In-home safety shelters
At last, we come to the most practical tornado proofing solution of all – having your very own in-home shelter. Searching your web browser will bombard you with a wealth of results ranging from expensive, military-grade shelters to simple guidelines in constructing a DIY shelter. And, as a friendly nudge towards the right direction, we would recommend the DuPont’s ‘StormRoom’, which is actually the only in-home shelter in the world made from the famed bullet-proof Kevlar. This actually makes the room lighter yet much stronger than steel or concrete structures. More importantly, the StormRoom provides passive ventilation (FEMA approved) and wireless communication, while shielding you against winds of up to 400 km per hour (250 miles per hour).