Are you looking for hurricane protection? Since 2020, many new Floridians have joined us in the tropics, many of whom are entirely new to the North Atlantic Hurricane Season and, as a result, entirely new to hurricane protection.
As one of South Florida’s oldest and most trusted brands in hurricane protection, we want to share some of our expertise with our neighbors, old and new, so that they can be more informed consumers.
In this article, we’ll dive into a knowledge dump of what we believe are the ten most important things to know about hurricane protection options.
1. Understand your hurricane risk levels.
Hurricanes bring with them two primary threats: wind and water. Knowing which threats are most dangerous for your home depends on the location of your home. Use these risk levels to determine your hurricane protection plan.
Understand your risk of wind damage
Being in Southeast Florida, we’re in the path of hurricanes often. Although, some of us are more at risk than others. Regarding the wind risk of hurricanes and tropical storms, the closer you are to the coast, the more risk you will likely face, as hurricanes will weaken as they travel inland. Additionally, if you live in a multi-level dwelling such as a high-rise condo or apartment complex, you may face higher winds as wind speed increases with elevation.
Understand your risk of flood damage
Take additional precautions and have a flood plan if you are within 2 miles of the beach or live in a flood-prone area. If you are not sure if you are within a flood area, check the resources below:
Generally, in Palm Beach County, Flood Hazard areas are broken down into four groups;
- Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs)-Zones: A, AE, AH, AO
- Coastal High Hazard Areas (High Risk)-Zone: VE
- Low-Risk Areas – Zone: X500
- Minimal and Undetermined Risk Areas – Zones: X, D
If you are in an SFHA or a High-Risk Zone, have an evacuation plan ready and know what to do in the case of flooding!
If you reside in Palm Beach County, you can reference this Palm Beach County flood map to see if you are in a high-risk area.
Generally, in Broward County, Flood Hazard areas are divided into five groups.
- Zone AO
- Shallow flooding, average depths between 1 and 3 feet. Mandatory flood insurance.
- Zone AE
- Flood depths greater than 3 feet. Mandatory flood insurance.
- Zone AH
- Shallow flooding, average depths between 1 and 3 feet. Mandatory flood insurance.
- Zone VE
- High flood risk, coastal areas with a high storm surge risk. Mandatory flood insurance.
- Zone X-Shaded
- Lower risk of flooding.
You can reference this Broward County flood map if you reside in Broward County.
2. Know your hurricane protection options
Check if your home has hurricane protection installed. In South Florida, many options will adequately protect your home in a storm.
The most popular hurricane protection products are accordion shutters and hurricane impact windows, although many other options, such as hurricane fabric and hurricane panels, are available for Floridian homeowners. Hurricane windows and accordion shutters are the most popular because of their convenience and cost-effectiveness.
Why are hurricane windows a popular hurricane protection option?
They look just like your old, traditional windows! Hurricane windows are one of the more pricey hurricane protection options, but they never require any work to prepare your home for a storm, help protect you and your family 24/7 from hurricanes and break-ins, and can even reduce noise.
Why are accordion shutters a popular hurricane protection option?
Accordion shutters are cost-effective and provide exceptional hurricane protection. Most Floridians prefer accordion shutters because they are the easiest hurricane shutter option to install in a pinch while a hurricane approaches. All you need to do is close and lock your accordion shutters before a storm. The average home in South Florida takes a fraction of the time of hurricane panels and other hurricane protection options to set up accordion shutters.
An important note: If you are in the hurricane protection market, ensure you only get Miami-Dade-approved hurricane shutters and impact windows. Miami-Dade has the most stringent requirements for hurricane protection.
Can your roof stand up to a hurricane?
Additionally, make sure your roof is up to code! Not all roofs in South Florida are impact-rated (or certified to withstand hurricane-force winds.) This is especially the case for older homes (built pre-1990.)
Is your garage door braced?
Ensure your garage door is braced, as it can be common for it to be busted open in a powerful storm. A garage door brace can help keep your garage door on its tracks during high winds.
Check your home for existing hurricane protection
First, inspect your home and see if any existing hurricane protection options are installed. If not, or you want an upgrade, contact us for a free hurricane protection consultation. All of our products are Miami-Dade-approved. We carry impact windows, accordion shutters, hurricane panels, garage doors, entry doors, and much more.
3. Understand the building code & certifications
Miami-Dade Approval is the gold standard of hurricane protection certification. Miami-Dade County has some of the strictest requirements for hurricane protection in the entirety of the United States. We always recommend that all Floridians only purchase hurricane protection that meets this benchmark.
4. Don’t work with contractors who can’t pull their own permits.
If you are working with a contractor who cannot pull a permit, you are not working with a contractor. Steer clear of people who ask you to pull a permit for them because they are likely not licensed.
In Florida, only the homeowner and an approved contractor can pull a permit for hurricane protection. Hurricane shutters, impact windows, and many other hurricane protection products must be installed according to their design specifications; any different installation process may result in less-than-tested effectiveness.
Seriously, only work with approved professionals who can offer you a warranty if things go south! If you have work done by someone else, and you fail inspection while pulling the permit, you’re responsible for fixing the problem, not the “contractor.” Buyer beware! If you do not resolve the problem, you cannot pull any other permits in the County, and you will not be able to sell your home until the issue is resolved and your permit is closed.
5. Do-it-yourself hurricane protection?
For a vast majority of homeowners, we do not recommend this approach. First of all, the average DIYer would have trouble installing their shutters or windows according to the spec sheet or code. Second, warranties are much more limited with DIY installations because they only need to say that you installed them incorrectly. Third, if things go wrong during the installation, you receive a broken part, are missing a part, or break apart, it could take weeks to get a replacement. Fourth, the paperwork is an absolute nightmare for the non-initiated. You must present the design pressures for each window and how it will be attached. Fifth, if you pull a permit, the installation has a problem; you cannot pull a permit in your county again until the issue is resolved.
Hurricane protection installation is best left to the professionals.
6. Hurricane protection costs and financing options
Cost considerations can help most homeowners determine the proper hurricane protection for their homes. However, two options typically dominate the Florida hurricane protection market.
Most Floridians choose accordion shutters for their hurricane protection system because they’re easier to deploy in the event of a storm when compared to hurricane panels. Hurricane panels can take a full day’s work to deploy on the average Florida home, and it’s typically very labor-intensive work (lifting heavy aluminum panels.)
Impact windows are also a popular hurricane protection option because they are the easiest to manage. They are always deployed and ready to protect your home, requiring no set-up work to prepare before a storm. However, the convenience of hurricane windows comes at the cost of 3-4x more than hurricane accordion shutters, which prices many homeowners out-of-impact windows.
Since the interest rates have increased, financing options are less appealing than they used to be. Still, there are plenty of options available. Some financing options have 18 months of no interest, and others have 30-year term financing plans, but interest rates can be as high as 10%, so finance wisely. Many customers get an independent credit card with 18-month, no-interest terms to pay for their hurricane protection because many hurricane window companies will offer a discount for customers not utilizing special financing. This is because most hurricane protection companies pay a fee to help you get funding.
7. Hurricane protection insurance discounts
Most homeowners with no previous discount for hurricane protection will get a 10-15% discount on their insurance premiums. Although, you may get more or less depending on your homeowner’s insurance provider. We recommend that all of our customers who get hurricane protection do some insurance shopping after installing their hurricane protection. Other insurance policies and providers may give you a better rate when you report that you have a wind mitigation report.
8. Hurricane protection repair, longevity, and maintenance
Keeping your hurricane protection in tip-top shape and performing regular maintenance will help protect your investment (and your home) long into the future. Almost all hurricane protection options will require yearly maintenance to reduce wear and tear. Not to mention, performing your maintenance on schedule will help you spot issues with your protection before a storm so you can avoid the stress later!
Let’s break down the typical maintenance for each popular hurricane protection option!
You should clean your hurricane accordion shutters at least 2-3 times per year and use lithium-based spray lubricant at least once per year on the wheels and locks. You can learn more about accordion shutter maintenance here.
We still recommend cleaning your windows for hurricane windows at least 2-3 per year. For sliding glass doors, we recommend cleaning the tracks a bit more often since animal hair, debris, dead leaves, and more., can get caught in the wheels of the slider, making it harder to open and close.
Hurricane panels require yearly maintenance. Hurricane panel owners must verify every year that all of their screws are in good shape and have enough to install their panels in a pinch. Hurricane panel maintenance is a full-day project for most Florida homeowners.
Most kinds of hurricane protection will protect your home for 15-25 years if properly maintained.
9. Always deploy your hurricane protection before a storm
If you are receiving a discount from your home insurance policy for hurricane protection, you must deploy it before a storm to file a claim afterward. If it’s determined that your hurricane protection was not deployed during the storm, your insurance policy can deny your claim. We’ve heard many stories of Floridians who got stuck with the bill. Gov. Ron Desantis even warned Floridians of this last year!
If you are a new Florida homeowner who has never put up panels but has them from a previous homeowner and claim them for insurance discounts, please plan and have a plan to work with an installer or a friendly and knowledgeable neighbor to help you out.
10. Property value and hurricane protection
Depending on which hurricane protection option you choose, it may increase the property value of your home. Impact windows may increase the property value of your home and will surely increase your home’s appraisal value. Although hurricane shutters can help you sell your home quicker, they may not necessarily add value to your home. Even though hurricane shutters may not directly increase the value of your home, they are a vital tool for preserving the value of your home for years to come.
You made it to the end! If you have additional questions on hurricane protection, like accordion shutters or hurricane windows, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ve been serving the South Florida community for over 30 years and have helped over 20,000+ homeowners enjoy the benefits of peace of mind that only come from quality hurricane protection.
We hope you have a wonderful day.
All prices are subject to change without notice.
This article is not kept up to date with current pricing.
Please contact us for the most up-to-date pricing.