Maintenance Tips & Frequently Asked Questions
For Taking Care of Your Underground Storm Shelter
To ensure your shelter remains secure, it is essential to keep the dirt packed around it and slightly domed up to its walls. Once the first few rains following installation have passed, you may notice a considerable settling of the dirt around the unit; this is natural and should be expected. To mitigate further settling, rake or shovel the dirt back up against the shelter on all sides, and pack it tightly against the shelter using your foot. For optimal security, the manufacturer recommends that the dirt remain at least halfway up the sides and back of your shelter. This creates a dome or crown around the shelter that sheds water away from the shelter walls. It's not necessary to put any type of waterproofing agent on the outside of your shelter as they come sealed from the manufacturer. Keeping these steps in mind will ensure you get maximum protection from your storm shelter!
To extend the life of the steel door hinges, it is recommended to lubricate them at least twice a year. Failure to do so may cause hinges to freeze up and/or break off of the door or door frame. Hinge replacement IS NOT covered by our Limited Warranty.
The steel door of your shelter has been painted with a metal primer. To prevent rusting, you may wish to re-prime and/or paint when needed. Be sure to regularly prevent leaves, pine needles, and dirt from collecting up against your door or hinges. This keeps moisture against your door or hinges and accelerates rusting. Consider putting weather stripping around the inside of your shelter door to keep the water from leaking in during heavy wind-driven rains. Our Limited Warranty does not cover water leaking in or around the door or around the door handle.
While the air vents do have screens and the door does a good job of keeping insects, moths, and other insects out of your storm shelter, for some reason spiders still seem to find their way into these shelters. We do recommend that you make time to clean your shelter of any cobwebs, spiders, etc. at the beginning of spring, and check it a couple of times through the summer and fall seasons. Pay special attention to make sure you do not have any Brown Recluse (fiddle back) spiders or Black Widow spiders as you don't want to run the risk of sharing the shelter with these poisonous spiders during a severe storm.
While it is good to keep folding chairs, water, and other supplies in your storm shelter, please make sure to prevent anything that may attract ants or other insects. If a soft drink spills or food drops on the floor during a shelter stay, please make sure to clean it up thoroughly or you may find a colony of sugar ants or other ants trying to live in your storm shelter!
Survivor Shelters FAQ
Do I need to register my storm shelter with the authorities?
YES! You NEED to register your storm shelter with your local emergency management and local authorities so if you ever have to use your shelter you can be found.
What size shelter do I need?
FEMA recommends three square feet of floor space for each person in a tornado shelter.
How do I decide what size shelter I need?
The listed capacities on each shelter describe how many people the shelter can hold standing up. If you will be adding chairs, using your shelter for storage, or just like your personal space, you may consider sizing up! If you’re ever in doubt, all in-ground shelter models are available to tour at our showroom in Claremore.
How long does it take to get a shelter?
Lead times vary depending on the season. Normal lead time is three to six weeks from the time of your order until your shelter is installed. During the spring and fall tornado seasons, lead time may increase. Reach out to Survivor Shelters for an estimation of how long it will take to get a shelter. Expedited orders are available for additional costs.
How long does it take to install a shelter?
A typical in-ground shelter installation takes approximately two hours to complete. Excavating hard rock extends the time.
Do I need a building permit to install a shelter?
Some cities and towns require a building permit. Contact your local Building Inspection or Code Enforcement department to find out. Storm shelters are typically treated as an accessory building for permitting purposes. Cities vary in their permitting requirements.
How easy is it to get a building permit?
City building inspection departments are accommodating and will walk you through the process. Getting a permit involves completing a simple building permit application and providing two copies of your property plot plan (or survey) with the shelter location designated on the drawing and engineering drawings of the shelter (which we will provide to the city). Some cities require the contractor to obtain the permit. We will work to make your experience as pleasant as possible.
Will a storm shelter add to the value of my home?
We believe so. A storm shelter is to benefit you while you live in your home. It may make selling your home easier.
Will Survivor Shelters call a utility locate in?
Yes, we will call a utility locate in. You as a homeowner are responsible for locating your own water line from water meter to house and your septic or your sewer line to the city tap. No utility locator will locate these lines. We will do our best to assist you in locating these lines, but ultimately it's the homeowner's responsibility.
How do I decide between an above-ground and a below-ground shelter?
A below-ground shelter is great at staying out of sight and out of mind until you need it! While all of our shelters meet and exceed FEMA guidelines, many feel safer and more secure when underground.
One downside of an in-ground model is accessibility. An in-ground shelter will always have stairs to get inside. If your household includes large pets, people with mobility issues, or if you foresee having trouble with the stairs in the future, an above-ground shelter may be a better fit for your home. Above-ground shelters can be installed in places below-ground shelters can’t go! In-ground models will always need to be installed outside the home unless you are in pre-construction, but a safe room can be attached to any appropriate slab as long as there’s room to get it there.
Do steel safe room doors swing in or out?
Our Patriot Safe Rooms are customized to what you need! The doors can swing in or out based on your preference.
Do the below-ground shelter doors swing in or out?
All of our in-ground shelters have out-swinging doors.
What happens if water leaks into my shelter?
Our concrete is poured with a sealant to prevent leaking.
How are the shelters ventilated?
The shelters are ventilated with a combination of turbines and mushroom cap vents to ensure air stays flowing.
What is the difference between a Guardian and Lifesaver?
The Lifesaver is our most accessible in-ground shelter model, with only a few poured concrete steps to get inside. These steps are less steep than the typical metal steps included with storm shelters.
The Guardian has metal steps similar to a step ladder. This allows the shelter to be a bit deeper than the Lifesaver, giving you 6’2” of height rather than the Lifesaver’s 5’9”. The metal steps also have room behind them that many enjoy having available for storing chairs or other emergency supplies.
Can I put a flat top shelter inside my house?
Have you built your house yet? If not, yes! You can have a concrete flat top (Titan Series) shelter installed before the slab is poured.