Tag Archives: wind-rated doors

Partially Enclosed Buildings

Partially Enclosed Buildings (and Why It Matters)

I have previously written how a fully enclosed building could be less of an investment than a three sided building – even though a fourth wall has been added: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/three-sided-building/

For those of you who neglected to click and read my previous article, consider your building as a balloon, rather than a building. Until tied (enclosing your balloon), your balloon is partially enclosed. More air can enter through its neck and if over-loaded “BOOM”!

From a structural aspect on buildings, force multipliers are applied to adjust wind forces upwards in order to combat “BOOM”. But what actually constitutes a partially enclosed building?

A building is considered “Partially Enclosed” if it complies with both of these following conditions (ASCE 7-10, Section 26.2, “BUILDING, PARTIALLY ENCLOSED”):

  1. the total area of openings in a wall that receives positive external pressure exceeds the sum of the areas of openings in the balance of the building envelope (walls and roof) by more than 10%, AND
  2. the total area of openings in a wall that receives positive external pressure exceeds 4 square feet or 1% of the area of that wall, whichever is smaller, and the percentage of openings in the balance of the building envelope does not exceed 20%

On occasion, building officials will assume a building originally designed as enclosed to be partially enclosed if storm shutters are not provided, a conservative worst-case approach, but is defendable by fact there is no written code provision for this and the structure won’t meet the above definition. Also, everything needs to be designed for partially enclosed, roof, connections, walls, foundation, beams, columns, etc. A building won’t stand if only one part of it is designed as partially enclosed and not the rest.

It is possible to have a building appearing to be fully enclosed, when in reality it is not. 

How could this occur?

Failure to use wind-rated doors and windows!!

Sliding “barn” doors are not wind rated. Neither are most entry (person) doors.

Most sectional overhead garage doors are not wind rated. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/12/wind-load-rated-garage-doors/

This becomes especially critical in cases of barndominiums, shouses (shop/house) and post frame homes. Many of these have a wall with one or more garage doors. If these doors are not wind rated doors, in an extreme weather condition they could be literally sucked right out of your home, leaving it prone to forces it was not structurally designed for!

Lives are priceless, please do not try to save a few bucks upfront by risking you or your loved ones.

Wind-Load Rated Garage Doors

Getting a quote on a sectional garage door? Or having one or more of them included either as part of a complete pole building kit package, or being provided by a builder?

Chances are good they are not telling you this story……

About a decade ago, we had provided a pretty good sized (60’ x 60’) pole building kit package to a client in Northern Colorado. Our client erected the building themselves and from the smiling face photos they emailed to me after completion, it looked like they had done a fabulous job!

Around six months after they finished the building, they sent me some more photos – their 12 foot wide by 14 foot tall overhead door had been literally sucked out of the building by approximately 70 mile-per-hour winds!

Dog Ear Overhead DoorHaving been in the industry for over 20 years and provided tens of thousands of overhead doors, I had never heard of such a happening, so I dialed up our overhead door supplier. After I explained the situation to him, he told me the typical steel sectional overhead doors provided by not only them, but every other manufacturer, had no wind load rating what-so-ever! I’d never heard of such a thing and was honestly totally flabbergasted.

Fortunately, our supplier was quite benevolent and provided the client with brand new replacement door panels at no cost. But it was certainly a lesson learned.

Wind loads are the forces or pressures which are exerted on a structure and the components which make up the structure (like garage and entry doors, windows, etc.) due to wind. These pressures act both toward the building (a positive force), as well as away from (a negative force, or suction). In most cases garage doors are the largest opening(s) on a building and are a critical part of the structural integrity.

Regardless of the version of the Building Code (IBC – International Building Code, or IRC – International Residential Code) the wind load provisions from the American Society of Civil Engineers design standard ASCE 7, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures are utilized for the calculation of wind-load pressures.

These pressure calculations are fairly elaborate and utilize numerous variables which include wind speed, wind exposure (B, C, or D), internal pressure coefficients, the shape of the building and mean roof height.

In order to qualify as wind-load rated garage doors, the doors are required to be tested for a minimum of 10 seconds to a test pressure equal to 1.5 times the rated design pressure for the door.

Some jurisdictions also require wind-load rated garage doors to be tested for wind-borne debris (read more at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/10/wind-rated-garage-doors/).

In order to meet test requirements the garage doors are designed and tested as a complete system. This includes not only the door sections, but also any struts, the track, brackets and supporting hardware. Simply adding reinforcements to a non-wind-load rated door does not necessarily increase the door’s wind resistance.

Crucial to the wind resistance of any garage door system is either locks or a garage door operator to keep the door closed.

What happens if the garage door fails? In many cases the wind pressures on the inside of the building are dramatically increased, which can result in catastrophic failure of some or all of the building.

When in doubt – do it right, specify wind-load rated garage doors.

CSI: Pole Barn Blow Out

CSI: Pole Barn

Our youngest daughter, Allison, is studying to be a Forensic Psychologist. My lovely bride and I may have been culprits in this, as we sent her to a CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) camp for 10 days when she was about 11! All of the boys in her CSI class talked tough, but when it came to witnessing an autopsy, they turned green and had to leave the room, but Allie didn’t.

magnifying-glassIt is the forensics which is of interest to me – when something goes astray in a building, I want to get to the root of why. Here is a case which will probably be seen on CSI: Pole Barn (if such a program is ever produced):

From a September 4, 2014 article on www.kxlh.com written by Meteorologist Mike Rawlins:

GLASGOW — The National Weather Service in Glasgow says a microburst is to blame for damage in McCabe, Montana, on Wednesday.

Meteorologists from NWS Glasgow surveyed the damage on Thursday and found evidence of a microburst.

The National Weather Service in Glasgow conducted the damage survey based on reports of “Buildings and Large Trees down” as well as unconfirmed funnel cloud reports.

STORMTracker meteorologist Mike Rawlins says a microburst’s peak wind speeds can reach 150 mph and occur when air suddenly rushes down from a thunderstorm.”

For more specific information on microbursts: https://www.srh.noaa.gov/ama/?n=microbursts

The NOAA/NWS issued a damage survey on this particular storm. Of special interest was this:

“Damage was found at a new home site (site A) with a modular home and a large metal pole barn located 2.4 miles east of the intersection of Highway 16 and County Road 496.

There were two other home sites west of site A, with no obvious damage. Site A had a few missing shingles on the home, but the pole barn had the south door blown in with the south wall blown out to the southeast. There were a few trees that were snapped or cracked and dropped about 2-3 feet off the ground, including older Russian olive trees.

The damage to the pole barn was estimated to have been caused by 70-75 mph winds. The homeowners were home and said the wind came from the west-northwest and there was a lot of dirt and gravel kicked up and thrown at them prior to their seeking shelter in a safe room in the pole barn.

The garage door was blown in and the south wall was blown out. The garage door blew through the side wall and landed on a trailer near a tree row. All the insulation and debris from the side wall collapse were blown eastward.”

Putting on our best CSI hats….what happened here?

Working from only the information provided, it appears the building was probably finished on the inside (because insulation from the sidewall was blown out). This also means the garage door which failed was probably a sectional overhead door.

The high winds were coming from the west-northwest, which created a suction force on the door on the south wall. Unless specifically ordered as such, sectional overhead doors are not designed for any specific wind loads. (For more on wind rated overhead doors: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/10/wind-rated-garage-doors/)

Once the garage door was sucked off the building, the building became what is known as “partially enclosed”. From a structural building calculations standpoint, the forces acting against the walls and roof of a partially enclosed building is much greater than a fully enclosed building (with real life verifying this to be the case).

Envision, if you will, a balloon – the garage door opening becomes the “neck” of the balloon, with wind being forced in, and the walls of the garage trying to expand like the balloon (the air can get in, but has no way to escape) until something bursts!

Had the garage door been adequately wind rated, chances are good there would have been no major structural damages.

CSI: Pole Barn, case closed!