In honor of the hurricanes that have been ripping through the States these days, I would like to share some hurricane shutter maintenance ideas with you today.
These lovely items are used mostly in the south. Fortunate folks have the electric kind that go up and down with a flick of a switch. Others have the manual kind, where it is necessary to use brutal force (or a big stick) to get them up and down. While we are on the topic, we will go over both kinds, but here is one tip for both kinds of owners: at least once a month, open and close them, to make sure that they have not frozen either open or closed. Can you get them all the way open or all the way closed? With electric shutters, the main problem is that they can freeze in place if you don’t open and close them regularly. Even though you won’t need them except in case of emergency, take the time to open and close them about once a month. This is especially important, since chances are excellent that you live in an area where the moisture in the air corrodes things.
Most electric shutters come with a back-up battery. Keep it plugged in and fully charged so that you can still get your shutters up and down in case of power loss. Please note that the information on lubricating shutters in the next paragraph also applies to electric shutters; they need to be lubricated on a regular basis, just like their manual counterparts.
With manual shutters, they can be very stubborn when you are trying to open or close them. Make sure you have used a silicone spray lubricant sparingly on the lock, the rolls, and the tracks on the side of the shutters, if they do not want to open when they are closed. (The lubricant will stain whatever it lands on, including concrete if you are outside when you use it and rugs if you are inside, so don’t use a lot of it. Have a rag handy and wipe up any excessive lubricant that is dripping.) Slip the key into the lock and turn it carefully. Do not force it, or you may end up breaking the little key that you get with these kinds of shutters.
If the lock is stubborn, wiggle the whole shutter a bit, to loosen things up. I keep a 1×2 stick with me when opening or closing my Florida condo’s hurricane shutters. The stick can help you get some torque as you open the shutter, but the stick can also be slipped onto the bottom rung of the shutter when you are trying with all your strength to close it. Try to move quickly and with force as you pull down the shutter. Put the stick in the bottom rung after you have the shutter about ¾ of the way closed and put your weight behind the force as you push the shutter completely down. It should click when it is locked.
You may notice that the outside of your shutters gets dirty. I suggest using Windex and paper towels on the outside of the shutters on a monthly basis. If you don’t clean them, your hands will get very dirty as you open and close them. They clean very easily and offer you the opportunity to meet and greet your neighbors.
I hope that this helps guide you with the use of your shutters. Otherwise, the experience of dealing with them could make you….well, shudder.