Explaining Codes and Wind Loads

© 2008 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Fall 2008
Author: Joe Hetzel
Pages 60-62


Explaining Codes and Wind Loads

Q: I live in a non-coastal area where we rarely need to consult the local building code for garage door installations. But my area is about to enforce wind-load requirements for garage doors. What do I do as dealer to prepare to meet these requirements?

Joe: First, a dealer should obtain the specific requirements and administrative details from the building department or other authority responsible for this decision. Usually, the specific requirements involve the design wind speed. In some cases, the exposure category will be specified. Administrative details may dictate the means by which products must demonstrate performance and may provide an effective date.

The dealer should then contact the door’s manufacturer to convey the technical and administrative requirements. The manufacturer may then work with the dealer to determine the specific wind load using tools such as DASMA Technical Data Sheet 155. This TDS contains wind-load guides and is available online at dasma.com.

Determine the products to be offered and how product performance will be documented. Drawings, test reports, and engineer evaluation reports are common. Door labels reflecting this information can also be used. Participants in the new DASMA garage door certification program would have products with labels certifying the performance of enrolled products.

Dealers should then communicate all documentation to local code authorities. Authorities should be clear about when and where documentation should be supplied.

Why Building Codes Are Important

Q: I live in the Midwest, and I’m now being questioned about my garage doors meeting the wind-load requirements of our local building code. I’ve never before had to be worried about codes. Can you help me understand the role of codes with garage doors?

Joe: Codes must be adopted before they can be enforced. Unless otherwise specified locally, building codes apply to new construction.

The most popular building code publications are the International Residential Code (IRC) and the International Building Code (IBC), published by the International Code Council (ICC). These were first published in 2000 and are revised every 18 months, with full publications every three years.

Prior to 2006, the IRC required all exterior doors to comply with wind-load requirements. The intent was to include doors such as entry doors and garage doors. The 2006 IRC was revised to include “garage doors” in the list of exterior window and door products. This was a clarification to the code, and not a new requirement of garage doors being subject to wind-load enforcement.

How Wind Loads Are Determined

ASCE 7 (Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures) is the standard that determines the wind loads in the model codes. It includes wind-speed maps for the United States and methods of determining wind loads for garage doors. The required wind load will vary by door size, building importance, building configuration, and exposure category (e.g., suburban residential, open fields, open waters).

The 2006 IRC requires garage doors to be tested to ANSI/DASMA 108, which clarifies the process of documenting door wind-load performance. Such documentation may include an engineer’s report if the report is traced to door testing.

Keeping People Safe

Building codes exist to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Building codes provide requirements that consider a product’s performance during likely events. In the case of wind load, the likely event is meeting ASCE 7’s required wind speed at least once in a 50-year period.

Local code authorities may require you to show documentation to verify that your door meets the local code requirements. Contact your garage door manufacturer for help with this process.

Liability and “Sections Only”

Q. I buy “sections only” from a manufacturer. I then combine other manufacturers’ hardware and springs to install the door. If the door needs attention after it is installed, who is responsible?

Joe: We have to look at this from an installation standpoint and from a components standpoint. The business agreement between the manufacturer and dealer will determine who is responsible for installation and who is responsible for the components.

From an installation standpoint, the source of the installation instructions is a major factor in determining responsibility. From a components standpoint, responsibility is a function of whether the sections manufacturer has provided a list of approved hardware/springs or specifications that the hardware/springs must meet.

If you assemble a garage door using components from various suppliers, you might be treated as a manufacturer. Such dealers are often called “componentizers.” This makes you responsible for the design of the garage door system and the final assembly of its components.

Dealers who decide to choose their own hardware and springs should be aware that, in areas where wind-load requirements are enforced, dealers are responsible for obtaining the necessary documentation to support wind-load performance of the doors.

DASMA and IDA have published a helpful document that outlines the responsibilities of both the componentizer and the garage door manufacturer. The document, “Best Practices and Guidelines for Garage Door System Manufacturers and Componentizers,” covers installation instructions, drawings, labeling, component replacement, warranties, codes, standards, testing, insurance, regulatory authorities, and product performance. The document is available for viewing, printing, or downloading at www.dasma.com/pubbrochurepage.asp.

To comment on this article, send an e-mail to the editor at trw@tomwadsworth.com or to Joe Hetzel at jhetzel@thomasamc.com.