Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

The shutter shuffle

They sit in the corner of the garage. They’re long, sometimes sharp and usually heavy, holding within the secret of protection from high wind and debris.

If you live in Florida, you’ve probably seen aluminum hurricane shutters, either attached to houses when a storm threatens or stored in a garage somewhere. They look nice and reassuring stacked in the corner, but someday the time may come when you have to unstack them and install them, and that is quite a job.

I know this because the approach of Tropical Storm Fay caused me to cover most of the windows with shutters. I had been through two storms in 2004, when I lived in Vero Beach, without shutters and the house came through fine despite the very high winds, but the situation was different because that house was between two larger houses and was thus a bit sheltered. In my current place, one side of my house, and several windows, are exposed to the possibility of wind, rain and debris.

I bought my house new, and it came not only with custom fitted shutters but also with a mass of hardware and an instructional video. The printed material gave some basic instructions and maintenance tips, and also included photos of the installed shutters on the house.

Probably the best thing to do is to have a helper and a very good, secure ladder that can keep you secure even on not-perfect terrain like a sloping lawn. A drill with screwdriver bits will help, as well as manual screwdrivers to loosen and tighten the screws.

It’s best to have a few pairs of work gloves, since the panels are sharp, and goggles for eye protection are also important. Lithium grease is also useful to lubricate the screws, and I used it after taking the shutters down and before screwing the fasteners back into the house.

You have to give yourself a lot of time; this is a job that is easier if you are not in a frenzied hurry, with the wind picking up, rain starting to fall and several windows to go. It’s definitely better to be the first on your block to have the shutters up than the last, or to have to stop because the weather just got too bad.

I put up most of the shutters on Monday, Aug. 18. I left the shutters for the back sliding glass doors and the window over the front door, as well as the front door itself, for last. I was going to get help from a neighbor with those, and help him with his shutters. As it turned out, we didn’t need to put up shutters, so on Wednesday, Aug. 18, I took down all my shutters and restacked them in the garage. All the hardware was accounted for and I feel confident that I can put up all the shutters on my own.

And now there’s another storm out there. Maybe I should get ready to start the process again.


August 25, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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