Is Your Pool Cage Still Rated For 150 MPH?

Is Your Pool Cage Still Rated For 150 MPH?

Written By Kenneth Wilson  |  8 Comments

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Hurricane season is here! When sustained winds reach 74 miles per hour, it is by definition classified as a hurricane. These powerful storms can be an extremely destructive force of nature. The best course of action is to be prepared. Although there is a “season” these awesome storms can occur at any time. There are not many laws when it comes to nature. When a hurricane does hit, what is the first thing in your home that usually goes? Your screen enclosure! Although it may have once been rated to resist winds as high as 150 mile per hour, odds are likely that it is probably not anymore. Homeowners feel a false sense of confidence assuming their screen enclosures are still up to par, when in essence, they are far from that. Yes, when it was new, it had to be rated according to the wind code in effect at the time. Most parts of Florida, in recent years are consistent with a 150 mph rating. However, with exposure to the naturally occurring elements such as the sun, wind, rain, and time, most likely, your patio is not ready for hurricane season.

Think about this, your enclosure is engineered for a certain wind speed when it is in a ‘maintained’ condition – that assumes no rust or corrosion to the fasteners. Once those fasteners start rusting, which can be as soon as a couple months, is the enclosure still rated for its original windspeed? Probably not.

Here are the things that frequently deteriorate on your screen enclosure that must be addressed to ensure the safety of your home, and be proactive about hurricane preparedness. Let’s test and see if your pool cage it is still rated for 150 mph winds!

Check This Out! On this enclosure the fasteners have corroded to the point of breaking and the enclosure has bent a slight bit and separated the sidewall from the concrete. This structure wouldn’t last long in a tropical storm.
  • Find Out If Screens Should Be Cut Out (and what the enclosures)

    There’s a common tale that screens should be cut out when a storm is coming. Some enclosures in Florida, many builders grade, were engineered for the screen mesh to be removed when winds reach hurricane speed. If this is the case, your screen should be cut out to prevent more costly structural damage. Find out what it was engineered for isn’t too easy. You will need to make a public records request at your local building department for the engineered plans that were submitted with the permit for screen enclosure.

  • Get Screen That Will Last

    (assuming your screen is NOT engineered for screens to be cut out) As screen ages, spending all its life under UV Rays, rain, and wind, the fiberglass fabric can quickly break down and lose its rating. It is estimated that a Phifer screen loses 75% of its strength in the first 3 years! At this rate, a typical afternoon thunder storm is enough wind to tear the screen apart. By the 7th year, the screen would have lost almost all of its strength. Choosing a high quality polyester screen will benefit your investment in the long run. It will outlast the lower grade, and provide for an enclosure that can be used throughout hurricane season without the need for ‘service calls’ from a screen repair company.

  • screws and bolts

    Screws and Fasteners

    Unless you’ve taken the initiative to replace all your enclosure screws, fasteners and tapcons, most likely you have the cheap builders grade ones made out of steel. With exposure to water, salt concrete and chlorine, these builders grade steel screws usually rust and become weak in just a matter of a few years. Not only are they an eyesore leaving red rust stains all over, they are a primary cause of damage during a high volume, intense storm such as a hurricane. Going through and replacing all of these fasteners is the single most important thing you can do to ensure the intended strength of the structure is met, and that it lasts through hurricane season!

  • Hurricane Cables

    Many enclosures were engineered with hurricane cables, these are not mandatory for screen enclosures and may not be necessary for the structure depending on alternate specification. If your enclosure does have these safety cables, make sure they are tight and in good condition. Give them a good pull and particularly check to see if they are attached to the concrete at the bottom. Replace them if they are old, unsecured, or rusted out. If your enclosure does not have any, adding a couple extra can’t hurt.Even if your cables are still in good condition, you might want to consider replacing older cables that use an eyelit attachment. When the wind blows from right to left, the eyelit cable will be pulled tight trying to keep the screen enclosure from blowing over. Rather than evenly distributing the forces, it will pull down on the top member. At the same time, the wind forces on the screen face to the right will apply a lot of compressive forces to the top member and it will likely buckle from a combination of the compression and the bending caused by the pull of the cable.Modern cables are manufactured in the shap of triangular brackets that are screwed onto the corner and allow the cable to be attached directly in line with the corner. This design distributes the pressure evenly between two

  • The Structure’s Anchoring and Footing

    Go ahead and give your structure a firm shake and see if it’s strongly attached. With rain, wind, and earth movement, many times the footing of the structure can get a bit loose. Not a good sign. You will want your enclosure grounded through concrete footing, not just dirt and grass. If you find this is the case, contact a local, trusted screen enclosure expert for a solution.

To ensure your pool cage is still rated for 150 MPH winds, it is imperative that you properly maintained it, replace all degradation such as corroded screws or broken cables, confirm its solid foundation, and choose the extra measures suggested such as the safety cables. For those of you who have experienced a hurricane, you know of the importance of proper preparation. Preparing and protecting the outside of the home, is just as important as preparing and protecting the inside, and the making proper accommodations for the people who live there. Just as you would prepare with canned food, flashlights, bottles of water, extra batteries and a radio, board up your windows, and set up bags of sands at door openings, you’ll want to add the above information to your hurricane checklist.

A good reference for more structural information, on all structures, besides screen enclosures is the Structure Retrofit Guide By Florida

About the Author

I can build it, and I can help you get the patio enclosure you want! I got my start in the Florida patio industry back in the 70s as a young general laborer looking for something to make a few bucks. At the time I never thought it would end up as my career. Over the years I grew beyond the laborer position, becoming a foreman, superintendent, and then into executive management for some of the largest patio contractors, and material vendors. Now into retirement and slightly bored, I offer consulting services to new and existing contractors, and publish this website to help the people who love their patio's and screen enclosures the most - YOU!

    • The nylotech / protect fasteners are good — better than a 304 stainless. 316 stainless is the best… but likewise most expensive.

  • Good Morning Ken,

    I am a do it yourselfer. I would like to reinforce my pool screen enclosure. Can you recommend a company where I can purchase the hardware to do such a job? For example I am looking to add Corner Tension Cable Brackets to the top corners of my enclosure. But I can not find them for sale. I would also like to replace all of the screws with better (stainless if possible) screws that won’t rust. Any advise?

    • I just bought about 900 Nylo-Tech and Pro-Tect screws from Florida Fasteners Direct in Naples. Great products and great service.

  • Hi Ken

    About 2/3 of the tapcons on the bottom rail of my pool enclosure are missing heads or very rusted. The reminder appear to have some rust but look intact. Im uncertain how old they are but my guess is 15 years or more in age. The cage is in good shape and may have another 10-15 years life.

    Should I replace all or just 2/3 I mentioned?
    I’m going to replace with stainless steel. Is there grade and diameter screw I should use?
    The contractors want to leave the existing ones alone and drill new holes new locations. Is that best for strength?

    The screws on vertical columns or roof angles are 50/50 rusty vs not and when I back out an occisional screw the inside is not rusted….its really just the head that is rusted. Do I need to replace these too?


    • From what you describe I’d suggest replacing them all. For the tapcons, drilling adjacent holes is no problem.

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