Hurricane season is in full swing, and we’ve had a record number of named storms to date. With each one, Mother Nature has taken the opportunity to remind us of her awesome power and teach us how we can improve our built environment in preparation for the next. One of the lessons we’re regularly reminded of is the importance of a successfully implemented continuous load path and its role in keeping a structure intact.
It seems that each major hurricane tends to teach those of us in the construction industry some lesson. With Hurricane Andrew, the lessons were the importance of protection from windborne debris, and the importance of proper construction of gable end overhangs.
There are two main areas where gable ends can fail.
When it comes to wood-frame construction, hurricane ties are among the most commonly specified connectors. They play a critical role in a structure’s continuous load path and may be used in a variety of applications, like attaching roof framing members to the supporting wall top plate(s), or tying wall top or bottom plates to the studs. They are most commonly used to resist uplift forces, but depending on regional design and construction practices, hurricane ties may also resist lateral loads that act in- or out-of-plane in relation to the wall.
Simpson Strong-Tie manufactures approximately 20 different models of hurricane ties, not counting twist straps, other clips, or the new fully-threaded SDWC screws often used in the same applications. This assortment of models raises the question, “How do you select the right one?”
In this post, we’ll outline some of the key elements to consider when selecting a hurricane tie for your project.
Let’s start with the obvious one. If your building’s roof trusses have an uplift of 600 lb. at each end, don’t select a hurricane tie with a published capacity of less than 600 lb. It’s also important to consider combined loading if you plan to use the tie to resist both uplift and lateral loads. When the connector is resisting lateral loads, its capacity to resist uplift is reduced. I won’t go into too much detail on this topic since it was covered in a recent blog post, but in lieu of the traditional unity equation shown in Figure 1, certain Simpson Strong-Tie connectors (hurricane ties included) are permitted to use the alternative approach outlined in Figure 2.
What if the tabulated loads in the catalog for a single connector just aren’t enough? Use multiple connectors! An important note on using multiple connectors, though: Using four hurricane ties doesn’t always mean you’ll get 4x the load. Check out the recently updated F-C-HWRCAG16 High Wind-Resistant Construction Application Guide for allowable loads using multiple connectors and for guidance on the proper placement of connectors so as to avoid potential overlap or fastener interference.
While the majority of the hurricane ties that Simpson Strong-Tie offers are one-sided (such as the H2.5A), some are designed so the truss or rafter fits inside a “U” shape design to allow for fastening from both sides (such as the H1). If using the latter, make sure the width of the truss or rafter is suitable for the width of the opening in the hurricane tie. For example, use our new H1.81Z (not the H1Z) for 1¾” wide engineered roof framing members.
Additionally, the height of the hurricane tie and the wood members being attached should be compatible. For example, an H2.5A would not be compatible with a roof truss configured with only a nominal 2×4 bottom chord over the plate since the two upper nail holes in the H2.5A will miss the 2×4 bottom chord (see Figure 7). This is actually such a common mis-installation that we specifically tested this scenario and have developed an engineering letter on it (note the greatly reduced capacity). In this case the ideal choice would be the H2.5T, which has been specifically designed for a 2×4 truss bottom chord.
Fasteners with Hurricane Ties
It’s also essential to pay close attention to the diameter and length of the fasteners specified in the Simpson Strong-Tie literature. While many hurricane ties have been evaluated with 8d x 1½” nails for compatibility with nominal 2x roof framing, some require the use of a longer, 8d common (2½” long) nail and others require a larger-diameter 10d nail.
When specifying products for a continuous load path, it’s a good idea to select connectors that all use the same size nail to avoid improper installations on the job. It’s much easier if the installer doesn’t need to worry about which size nail he currently has loaded in his pneumatic nailer.
Do your roof and wall framing members line up? If so, creating a continuous load path can be made simpler by using a single hurricane tie to fasten the roof framing to studs. The H2A, H7Z, and H10S are some of the connectors designed to do just that. If your framing doesn’t align, though, you can use two connectors to complete the load path. For simplification and to reduce potential mix-ups in the field, consider selecting the same hurricane tie for your roof framing-to-top-plate and top plate-to-stud connections, like the H2.5A.
Besides the added benefit of fewer connectors to install, using a single hurricane tie from your roof framing to your wall studs can eliminate top-plate roll, a topic discussed at length in one of our technical bulletins.
Other Factors When Selecting Hurricane Ties
Some additional factors that may influence your selection of a hurricane tie are:
- Environmental factors and corrosion should be considered when selecting any product. Nearly every hurricane tie is available in ZMAX®, our heavier zinc galvanized coating, and several are available in Type 316 stainless steel. A full list of products available in ZMAX or stainless steel may be found on our website. On a related note, be sure to use a fastener with a finish similar to that of the hurricane tie in order to avoid galvanic corrosion caused by contact between dissimilar metals.
- When retrofitting an existing structure, local jurisdiction requirements will also influence your decision on which hurricane tie to use. As an example, the state of Florida has very specific requirements for roof retrofitting, which we outline in a technical bulletin, and they specifically mention the roof-to-wall connection. Be sure to check with your local city, county or state for specific requirements before you decide to retrofit.
- Availability of wind insurance discounts in your area could also affect your decision on which type of hurricane tie to use on your home. Your insurance company may provide a greater discount on your annual premium for ties that wrap over the top of your roof framing and are installed with a certain minimum quantity of nails. Check with your insurance provider for additional information and requirements.
Although this is a lot to take in, hopefully it makes choosing the right hurricane tie easier for you on your next project. Are there any other items you consider in your design that weren’t mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below.
IBC Section 1604.9 requires structural members, systems, components and cladding be designed to resist forces due to earthquakes and wind, with consideration of overturning, sliding and uplift. It also states that a continuous load path be provided for transmitting these forces to the foundation. Seems obvious to engineers that a continuous load path is needed, but it’s still nice to have the code say so.
But what happens if your structure’s upper and lower story walls do not stack? How do you create the required continuous load path? As engineers, we try to steer the architect towards eliminating the offset, making things line up, and keeping construction simple. But architectural requirements cannot always accommodate simple, and non-stacking walls occur all the time.
Was it JFK who said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining?” He was likely using the roof as an analogy for the economy, but I take things literally and wanted to talk about roofs. The time to think about the design of your roof and its function in a high wind event like a hurricane or tornado is right now.
During a high wind event, a roof deck is expected to perform many functions. It should prevent water intrusion from rain, withstand impacts and protect those inside from hail. It also needs to act as a diaphragm – transferring lateral loads to shear walls and resisting the vacuum effects of wind uplift forces.Continue Reading