Screen Enclosures

Hurricane season, now just one week away, yet many homes in our area still bear the scars of the last two hurricane seasons.

Wilma, Frances and Jeanne destroyed thousands of screened pool and patio enclosures. Replacing those cages is costly and risky. Now a look at why so many enclosures failed and new technology that has one company guaranteeing a hurricane proof enclosure.

Hurricane Wilma's whipping winds were no match for aluminum patio enclosures, just like the storms before her: Frances and Jeanne.

Linda Wolski\Lost Two Enclosures: "The first hurricane took part of the screen down.

Then Jeanne came along and blew the rest of the cage down. Linda had to wait nine months for her new enclosure.

Linda Wolski\Lost Two Enclosures: "It was up for 2-3 weeks and Wilma came along and took the whole thing down."

Two hurricane seasons, two pricey screen enclosures: gone.

The irony is, screened enclosures built since 2001 are suppose to meet tougher codes, withstanding winds up to 140-miles an hour."

The storms of 2004 and 2005 weren't even close. So why did these screens fail? Linda has a hunch...

Linda Wolski\Lost Two Enclosures: "I felt like there was shoddy work."

State regulators agree many screen enclosures in Florida suffer from both shoddy work and shoddy design. Tropical Screen is one of several companies fine-tuning a better design.

Jude Kleila\Tropical Screen: "We've developed a whole new engineering technique."

New manufacturing,  new methods--even new metals. First...

Sincere\Engineer for Tropical Screen: "We're using a higher strength alloy in the extrusions. The second thing is a thicker section here where I have the pen."

And the frame itself is interlocking which traps the sections in place. But will all of this really stay in place in a 140-mile an hour Hurricane?

Jude Kleila\Tropical Screen: "This structure will survive those forces and we will guarantee that."

That confidence comes from this 3D computer program designed by Tropical Screen's veteran engineer. The simulation, which shows more than 2-d versions used by much of the industry, analyses the metals, the joints, and the enclosures overall integrity. We ran all this by a structural engineer at the Hurricane Testing Lab. He agrees. 3-D simulation gives remarkable insight, but he is cautiously optimistic.

Vinu Abraham\Hurricane Testing Lab: "It's fairly close to what's happening in real life but I don't think I would believe it 100 percent. "

For Abraham, 100-percent proof, determined only by a hurricane or something close.

Vinu Abraham\Hurricane Testing Lab: "Build a scaled down version, put it in a wind tunnel and subject it to 150-160 mile an hour wind."

He does agree though that stronger, better fitting hardware should make for a stronger enclosure.

Linda, who used a different company, isn't so much concerned with the science. She just wants peace of mind.

Linda Wolski\Lost Two Enclosures: "I feel confident that this enclosure will hold. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed however."

Tropical Screen will build a prototype in the next couple of months. The company has a patent pending on its 3-D software and newly designed aluminum. It plans to sell those products to other screen companies throughout Florida. The cost? Comparable, they say, with high end enclosures sold right now.

You can contact Tropical Screens directly at (561) 630-7700