Would Your Home Pass a Crash Test?

April 08, 2011

Just $3,000 of Reinforcements Saves Home

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In one exercise, a home built to comply with building codes in Bloomington, IL utterly collapsed when subjected to 100 mile per hour winds. Interestingly, another home with the same floor plan remained standing. The difference? It was reinforced -- with just $3,000 in construction "upgrades," with straps that hold the walls together, stronger nails, thicker lumber and better siding. These minor improvements saved the home.

Doors Critical to Home's Survival

One key difference between the homes is that the front door on the house that stayed standing opened out, while the front door on the collapsed house opened in. So something as seemingly minor as the way your doors are hung could determine if you end up at the local shelter or get to go back home when the storm ends.

One other good reason for having exit doors open outward is that in a fire, when people may be rushing to get out of the home, it's much easier for them to exit in a hurry when the door opens outward. For this reason, public buildings nearly always open out -- an effective emergency exit needs to open that way, moving with the force of the mob.

Home Security a Challenge with Inward-opening Doors

Home insurance companies set up tests like these to help homeowners minimize losses in extreme weather. However, homeowners and insurers have to balance the advantages of an outward-opening door with its potential pitfalls. In fact, most doors open inward because of security concerns. Outward-opening doors may leave their hinges exposed, and cheaply-hung doors can be easily removed from their frames.

On the other hand, inward-opening doors are much easier to kick in than outward-opening doors. For the best storm protection and home security, buy doors with concealed or protected hinges, which are much harder to detach than simple pin-hinges, and hang them so that the door opens out.



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