Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you install in an existing home?

Yes, most of our installs are completed in existing homes.

2. How is the shelter ventilated?

Natural air exchange is engineered into the design of all our shelters.

3. How long does an install take?

Underground Garage and Underground Outdoor Shelters take 6-10 hours depending on the shelter size.  Above Ground Shelters are installed in 1-3 hours.

4. What if I’m in the shelter and the entire house has collapsed?

The shelter is designed for ventilation should you have to wait for rescue. The location of your shelter will be registered with the National Storm Shelter Registry and your local EMA, where available. The shelter Underground Shelter comes with a 4000 lb. winch to allow you to open the sliding lid should debris be on top. Our stationary lid on the underground garage shelter is secured with a pin system, this allows the pins to be removed from the inside and allows for a secondary out. We also know that family, friends and your neighbors will be aware of your shelter location and will know where to start their rescue efforts. The door on the above ground shelter opens inward.

5. I’m claustrophobic I don’t think I can go into such a small space?

Our shelters are larger than a closet, bathtub, or a hall 1/2 bathroom.

6.  How is your shelter protected against corrosion?

Our shelters are welded inside and out, and generously coated with a tar/epoxy blend; this dries hard and is approved by the Corps of Engineers on dams, underground gasoline tanks, and offshore drilling rigs.

7.  What if lightning strikes or a power pole falls on my shelter when my family is inside?

The shelter is completely metal creating a ground. If you had a concrete floor and touch the metal you would become the ground

8. Do you offer a warranty?

Our shelters come with a 25-year warranty against leaks and rust.

9. Do your products meet FEMA 320 requirements?

Not only do they meet and/or exceed FEMA 320 standards they also meet and/or exceed the more strict ICC/NSSA standards.

10. Is there an extra fee if you want the door on a different side of the Above  Ground shelter / Safe Room?

No. We understand that not all homes are setup the same. All of Above Ground  Shelters are custom built at no additional charge.

11. Do you offer financing?

We work closely with several banks that can get you financed in as little as 24 hours in most cases. We also accept Visa and Mastercard for an added convenience without an additional fee.

12. How do I get on your install list to hold my place?

A $500 deposit is required to secure the date for your shelter install.

13. Are you approved to participate in state FEMA rebate programs?

Our shelters do qualify for state rebate programs. The process requires the homeowner to complete paperwork. We are not the source to answer questions regarding these programs, but we do have some knowledge and are happy to pass it on to you. We comply with the regulations put out by each state and get you a quality-installed shelter. These programs come and go so please check your states EMA website for details. We do require the customer to send us the paperwork and a self addressed stamped envelope for any paperwork that needs to be completed and returned for these programs.  We do not charge a fee to complete this paperwork.

14. What if my car is parked over the shelter and the storm comes?

Our shelters are made so you don’t have to move a standard wheel base vehicle out of the garage to enter the shelter.

15. How do you know what is under the garage slab?

We have not found any guaranteed answer to this question, however we have learned that most municipalities do not allow anything to be run under your garage slab. Our installers look at the site the day of the install and figure out the potential for any lines that might have been run under your garage. They specifically look for your plumbing clean outs and your water meter location. If they foresee a problem they will point it out and discuss the shelter location with you. We very rarely encounter sub grade issues. If a line is found during the excavation, a plumber is usually required at the customer’s cost, to be called out and reroute the line itself around the shelter. This usually is not a large expense to you.

16. What about Rocks?

There are locations that we service that rock has been an issue. Usually this just prolongs the install. In the case of hitting a solid layer of rock, our installer will try to jack hammer the excavation site. If the install has to rent a hydraulic jackhammer, this expense is passed on to the customer.

17. What sets your company apart from other Storm Shelter Companies?

  • Our stationary lid on the underground garage shelter is secured with a pin system, this allows the pins to be removed from the inside and allows for a secondary out. Some customers utilize this feature as mechanic’s bay to change oil and make car repairs. Our above ground shelters are made with 1/4 inch steel.
  • Our installers have had a 10-year criminal background check; drug tested, fingerprinted, and submit to random drug testing.
  • We register your storm shelters with the National Storm Shelter Registry and local Emergency Management Agency, where available, so you don’t have to.
  • All we do are storm shelters.

18. What type of maintenance is required after installation ?

All Units should be wiped down with a dry cloth and vacuumed out as needed. The outdoor units may require that dirt be raked and leveled as settling will occur. The batteries in the lights will last longer if removed from the back of the lights and stored inside the shelter until needed.

19. Are your prices higher than local competitors?

Our prices are almost identical if not lower than local competitors. Our small shelter is equivalent to their medium when you compare dimensions. Shelters do not come in standard sizes like soft drinks. Our large underground shelter is larger than any other we have found locally and on-line. Per sq ft. we are almost always lower.  The hand rail is included in our price, we never charge a fee if you use your credit card, and there is no application fee for pre-approval on financing.

20. Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?

Yes, we are licensed, bonded, and insured and will gladly provide the proper documentation to you.

21. What is the next step if I want to get a storm shelter installed in my home?

Give us a call. We will set up a time to come out to your home. We will go over the contract, the install process, collect a $500 deposit, and set a date for installation, or we can do it all through email, over the phone, UPSP or Fax.

22.  Are your shelters FEMA certified?  FEMA does NOT endorse, approve, or certify any contractors, individuals, firms, or products. They only set the guidelines.

23.  How many people will your shelters accommodate?  FEMA requires 3sq. ft. and recommend 5 sq. ft. of floor space per person.  However every individual is different in size. Our 3 x 7 is 21 sq. ft which qualifies as a 7-person shelter. However it would be hard to fit 7-500 lb., 6′ tall individuals in the shelter. I do remember that 17-people were crammed into 1971 Volkswagen Beetle.  ( We don’t recommend exceeding the number of occupants established by FEMA Guidelines)

24. My house has a basement. Do I need a safe room?

Some strong tornadoes have resulted in loss of floor framing, collapse of basement walls and death and injuries to individuals taking refuge in a basement. What constitutes an acceptable level of protection is an individual decision. A basement may be the safest place to seek shelter for homes without a safe room but it will not provide the same level of protection as a safe room unless it has been designed and constructed to provide the level of protection in accordance with FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a) and FEMA P-361 (FEMA, 2008b).

If you have any further questions,  please feel free to Contact us at 901-692-3804 or email us at shelters@expressshelters.com.