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Before You Buy a Tornado Shelter

Things You Need to Know Before Buying Tornado Shelter


In any industry, the cost of services and products differ among rival companies. The same is absolutely true with tornado shelters.

When buying your storm shelter (also known as a safe room) either in-ground or above-ground, you need to be aware of many factors and compare them among competitors to make the right decision.

Torshel is a professional and respectful company. We take our reputation as a provider of tornado shelters and installation very seriously.  The following is not intended to damage the reputation of anyone. The aim is to present you a set of facts. Regardless if you buy from Torshel or another shelter, it is hoped that after reading these facts, you will be an educated and happy customer.

Stealing Designs?

There are many protective products and tornado shelter companies in the market. Most of them are good, but there are many bad apples.

A case in point, a company invested thousands of dollars on the research and the development of an above-ground shelter; another company just misappropriated the design, made some slight changes, and then “created” their own “new” product.

At Torshel, we have designed the first commercial Horse Storm Shelter, and have invested in research, and human resources. Thus, making us innovators in the equine protection arena. We will not be surprised if another company came along, made some changes to our prototype and produced a copycat version.


Tornado Shelters Made In Prisons

Some storm shelter companies manufacture their units in prisons, paying zero to nothing to prison welders. Their production cost is very low compared to paying an average welder in any similar industry. To us, this practice is an unfair business and there is no way to compete with them.


Above Ground Shelter Testing

Almost all the existing above-ground storm shelters have been tested at the Wind Institute at Texas Tech University, including ours. Furthermore, Torshel feels proud to have invested a considerable amount of financial resources conducting various in-house tests to assess the structural strength of the units. The tests included, among others, the 45 ft dropping of 3,000 lbs of concrete blocks and a 1.5-ton (3,000 lbs) car, and the slamming of the same vehicle against the shelter’s side from a 45’ degree angle. The units under the tests survived with minor scratches. We at Torshel are 100% confident that these units are able to withstand an EF5 tornado.


Quality of Anchors 

You can have a solid above ground tornado shelter, but if it is not anchored properly onto the foundation of your home, the unit is useless. The danger to you with an unmoored tornado shelter is enormous. For a standard 4” concrete pad, we use ¾” diameter by 4 ¾” HILTI anchors -they are the most expensive and best anchors in the market.

For new construction, we suggest using 10”-long anchors.  They double the uplift strength capacity of the anchors. Some storm shelter companies use 3/8” or half-inch screws -$1.00 dollar cheap made anchors. Their lifting capacity is not as strong as the ones we use. We just use the best anchors developed by HILTI and their latest technology.



All our shelters come with an 8”-wide bullet-resistant window that allows seeing what is going on the outside. Our clients love it! You do not feel captive or trapped.

Recently, Torshel has started installing a window on the lids of our in-ground outdoor units, and it has been a hit with our shelter customers.


Heavy-Duty Structural Steel Reinforcement is Absolutely Necessary

Some safe rooms are made with just steel walls welded together; they are strong and have passed the Texas Tech University test. That is great!

Our shelters are stronger because they come with an interior heavy-duty frame. This translates into a double structure for the frame and the walls. And this means more safety for you and your loved ones in case of a tornado.


In-Ground Shelters Floating in the Ground

Our in-ground tornado shelters regularly cost a little more than the ones supplied by some competitors. This is due to the concrete and rebar used to anchor them properly. We have come across units installed by other companies that just put them in the ground and refill the units outside walls with dirt. As a matter of fact, at the onset of our business, an in-ground installation was conducted in such a way -it floated within one year!

Our shelters come with a 10-year warranty against any factory defect our installation fault. The above-mentioned owner of the in-ground unit called. One of our crews was sent out to correct the problem. Lesson learned! Since then, Torshel carries out in-ground installations with a substantial amount of concrete to prevent floating -it costs more, but is the right thing to do.

Check out our Installation Guidelines for more information.



Death and Entrapment in Tornado Shelters… a Real Danger

In 2014, the media covered the case of a woman who died in an in-ground shelter, and the case of another one who was trapped in her shelter for many hours, and the entrapment of a family in another unit. Here are the videos with reference to such incidents:


Woman sues shelter company after being trapped for days



You need to make sure that your shelter has a proper emergency exit. Torshel’s indoor in-ground shelters come with two lids (doors) -one slides, and the second one lifts up. The in-ground units come with an 8-ton hydraulic jack to be used as a last resource to lift any car or debris blocking the exit.



Our in-ground shelters are made of steel, with a life span of 50 years. These units are protected against corrosion by a coat of tar epoxy. To extend the life span of our in-ground shelters, Torshel fastens them during the installation process to an in-ground magnesium anode.

Fiberglass units have a life span of 1,000 years, but here is the catch. Fiberglass is not as strong as steel!  During the springtime, the soil absorbs a great deal of water, and during the summer there is a lot of heat. This causes the soil to change temperatures causing cracks and leaks in the fiberglass.



Torshel’s In-ground shelters are welded in the inside and in the outside. This procedure ensures that there are no holes spaces where water can get inside.  In-ground concrete and fiberglass shelters have been failing at this. Here is the proof:



Everything in Writing, Upfront and With Warranty

In many instances, we have had clients that purchase their shelters somewhere else; then they call us to install a new one, or fix the present shelter. There have been cases where clients have put a down payment with these companies, and soon after their sale representative disappears, or the company takes forever to install their shelter. That doesn’t happen at Torshel, the warranty, prices and everything is presented up front, no hidden fees.

So there you go, now you have a diploma in storm shelters, safety, and quality.

FINANCING IS AVAILABLE. Learn more about financing your tornado shelter.