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Frequently Asked Questions

If You’ve Got Questions. We’ve Got Answers!

General Questions 


  1. Which is safer, an in-ground or aboveground tornado shelter? 


Torshel’s shelters are both designed to be equally safe, and both units withstand the powerful winds of EF-5 tornados. The choice of the shelter’s type depends on several factors: the location of the shelter, personal preferences. Visit this page for detailed info. 


  1. How do you determine the number of people your storm shelter will fit? 


Torshel adheres to the requirement established by FEMA 320 and ICC 500, which call for 3 sq. ft. per person (square feet) of floor area per occupant for residential units, 5 sq. ft. per person for commercial and 10 sq. ft. per person for a wheelchair-bound occupant.  


  1. Are Torshel’s tornado shelters pet-friendly?  


In the event of a tornado strike, you can get your pet into our shelters with the rest of your family members. Smaller animals can be crated and carried into the units. In the case of bigger animals, we recommend to conduct emergency drills for bigger animals every so often as a way to train your bigger pets to that enclosed environment. Getting your pet into an in-ground unit may present a bigger challenge. This will also require some kind of training. To facilitate this, you can lure your pet with treats. Do not forget to include in the emergency kit pet food, water, treats, contact information for your veterinarian, etc. 


  1. Can I have electricity inside my storm shelter?


You can in the above-ground safe rooms. We can drill a ¾” diameter hole and a licensed electrician should installed the rest.  

In the case of in-ground units, we do not recommend to install electricity. These units already come with 2 LED-ceiling fans and LED bulbs, but if you must have it, ask a licensed electrician to install it for you.  


  1. How many storm shelters has Torshel installed? 

During the three years of existence, Torshel has sold and installed approximately 350 tornado shelters (in-ground, above-ground and modular shelters) throughout the southeastern region of the country (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, and surrounding states). In addition, we sell and ship storm shelters anywhere in the continental United States and Canada. Torshel has served clients in Dallas, New York, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles, and many rural areas around the country. 


  1.  Do you charge delivery mileage?


It depends if you are buying an above-ground or in-ground storm shelter. Above- ground units are easier to install and we can travel longer distances. For clients who live far away, we charge a small trip fee.  


  1. Are your units FEMA 320 and/or FEMA 361 compliant?


Torshel’s shelters are engineered and tested to meet the highest quality standards at a competitive price. All of our residential storm shelters are FEMA 320 compliant, and all of our commercial shelters are FEMA 361 compliant. They also exceed ICC 500 protocols. 


  1. Will your units stand-up to an EF-5 tornado?


Yes. Torshel’s products are designed to withstand the strongest tornadoes. Our shelters are not intended to be used for protection against fire, floods or storm surges. Our units have been designed to protect against flying debris, wind uplift, and crushing forces that extreme weather can cause.  


  1. What prevents the doors from opening during a storm?  


Above-ground shelters and modular bolt types come with a 4-point locking system to assure your safety. Visit our galleries on our website for pictures. 


  1. Have your units passed the Texas Tech Wind Research Institute testing replicating an EF5 storm?  


Yes. All of our tornado shelters have passed the Texas Tech Wind Research Institute testing, as well as Torshel’s rigorous testing. 


  1. I want to install it myself. Do you deliver your storm shelters? 


Yes, we have done it. You will need the skills and equipment to install the unit. We can provide you with the instructions manual and video tutorials. A shipping fee will be applied. Visit our video galleries on our website to learn about the installation process. 


  1. What is the warranty on your tornado shelters? 


Torshel’s tornado shelters  (above-ground, in-ground, and modular units) carry a 10-year warranty (protection from defects in materials and workmanship). This warranty applies to the original owner of the unit and it is transferable. 


  1. Do you offer financing for your storm shelters?


Yes, we have financing available. 12 months at 0% interest or 14.99% fixed APR for 36 months. Visit our financing page for detailed information. 


  1.  Do you have discounts for cash buyers?

Answer: yes. You can pay with cash, cashier’s check, check or debit card. 


  1. Do you have discounts for veterans, law enforcementand first responders? 

Answer: Yes, we offer discounts depending on the size and type of shelter. 

We have installed lots of shelters for police officers, sheriffs, paramedics, doctors, firemen, nurses, and the US military. 


  1. Do you have group discounts?

Answer: yes, we have special prices for a client’s neighbors or family. We can bring 2-5 shelters and install them during the same trip, saving time and money. 


  1. Where are your shelters manufactured? 


Torshel’s shelters are manufactured in the United States. We have partners in Missouri and Oklahoma.  


  1. I have a basement / interior bathroom / etc., why do I need a tornado shelter?


Tornadoes can be strong enough to destroy houses, and tear up even the strongest floor framing.  Flying debris can even punch through wood beams in excess of eight inches thick. Residential above-ground storm shelters have been tested to withstand an EF5 tornado. They are manufactured to be in compliance with FEMA 320 standards. It should be noted that tornado shelters are supposed to be anchored to a concrete slab. They should not be installed in the basement or below ground due to flooding issues. 


  1. When you install a tornado shelter is there a mess to clean up afterward?


Our installation crews do pick up after themselves once the work is concluded. They use reasonable efforts to minimize disturbances of the original condition of the work area, and try to leave the working area cleaner than they found it. A signed contract between the parties is also required before the delivery and installation. At this time, a picture of the area where the client visualizes the installed shelter is requested.  


  1. Will I need a building permit to install my tornado 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. Permit requirements vary by city. 


  1. Is a deposit required atthe time that I place my tornado shelter order? 


Yes. For cash buyers, Torshel requires a 50% up-front down payment of the total value of the shelter, and the balance is due upon installation. For a financed client, Variant deposits directly to Torshel’s bank account.  


  1. Will my cellphone work once inside the shelter? 


As long as your provider is working, you should be able to have a signal.  


  1. Once an order is placed,howsoon can we expect our shelter 


Torshel keeps a certain number of all its types of shelters in stock. If the type and size you require is not in stock, an order with the manufacturer will be placed. Usually, the waiting period is less than three weeks, depending on the time of the year.  


  1. Can I take my shelter when I move?


Yes, above-ground units, modular or welded units can be transferred to a new location. Torshel can come by your residence, remove the anchors, load the unit onto our truck and install it professionally at your new house. Prices start at $900 depending on the distance and logistics. 


  1. AreTorshel’s tornado shelters fire resistant? 


No. Torshel’s shelters are not designed for fires, they are designed primarily against storms. If you want to use it as a safe, we suggest buying a small fire resistant safe and put it inside the Torshel Safe room, that way all your documents, money and important files will be safe during a fire.  


AboveGround Safe Rooms 


  1. Are you aboveground shelters handicapped accessible?


Our above-ground shelters are handicapped accessible, except the small and slim models. Outdoor models can be installed with a wheelchair ramp for easy access.  


  1. What are the sizes of your shelters?  


They come in a variety of sizes and can fit anywhere from 3 to 50 people per unit. Our most common stock sizes are 3’ x 5’, 4’ x 4’, 3’ x 7’, 4’ x 6’, and 4’ x 8’. If you have a large family, and or need more room, Torshel can custom build a 6’ x 8’, 8’ x 10’ or 8’ x 20’. The standard high of our shelter is 6’ 4”. If you need a 7’ or 8’ height or any other special size, we can custom build it for you. 


  1. How does the tornado shelter door open if debris falls on it?


Torshel’s above-ground shelters do have the option of doors swing inwards or outwards. The in-ground shelters come with an 8-ton hydraulic jack to pry the door open should debris block the entrance. 


  1. What is the gauge/thickness of the steel used during the manufacturing of the units? 


Torshel’s shelters are designed with steel thicknesses of 3/16″. All of our shelters have been tested and engineered to withstand EF-5 tornados. All our shelters have a reinforced steel structure inside that makes them stronger than our competitors.  


  1. 29.How long will my safe room last?


If the unit will be installed inside the house, away from the rain, we can expect hundreds of years. If the unit will be outside, you must paint it every 3-5 years to protect it from corrosion. It should last 20-50 years minimum, depending on the weather conditions and maintenance. 


  1. Will lightening hit my safe room? 


The chances of getting hit by lightning are very small. However, we install a lighting rood on the outdoor safe rooms only. 


Modular Bolt Together Units  


  1. What is a modular type shelter? 


This model consists of steel panels, weighing approximately 60 lb. each, connected together using structural steel bolts/connectors and attached to a concrete slab foundation with an anchoring system.  


  1. What are the sizes available in the modular type? 


This modular type of tornado shelter is rather versatile. They come in the traditional sizes of 3’ x 5’, 4’ x 6’, 4’ x 8’, or bigger units 6’ x 10’ and 6’ x 20’. Due to the nature of its components –the panels- this type of unit can practically come in any sizes. You can order new panels to make it bigger if needed. The wall panels are 6” or 12” wide. 


  1. What is the smallest unit I can buy? 


The minimum width of a modular unit is 3’ and the maximum is 6’. The minimum length is 4’ with a maximum length of 50’. 


  1. What is an outstanding feature of modular units?  


An attractive feature of this type of shelter is the fact that they can be installed inside an existing room in your home, business or school as long as you have a solid foundation. They can be fitted to just about any size room. Such units can be expanded to any size in panels of 6” or 12” increments. The modular type can be assembled with standard tools in less than 2 hours or more depending on size.  

The master closet or spare bedroom is the most popular space to install this type of unit. Just like their counterparts, the modular shelters are designed to be equally safe and can withstand EF-5 tornados and are guaranteed to be as strong as any other bolt-together unit on the market. 


  1. Can a modular type of shelter be installed outdoors and will weather elements damage my shelter? 


Yes to the first question. However, in order to do so, a slab foundation has to be in place. Due to the exposure to weather elements, Torshel recommends reapplying silicone to the roof of the unit.   

And yes to the second question. In terms of maintenance, Torshel recommends to touch up scratches. Be advised that deep scratches can compromise the integrity of the paint coating of the panels (none of our products are galvanized). If deep scratches are not repainted, water will gather in the surface and corrosion and rusting will occur. 


  1. Will the modular shelter be attached to the wall? 


No, we require a minimum of 2” to 4” from the wall so the bolts can be installed. 


  1. Can the modular unit be installed on tile or carpet?


Not on tile, please remove it before installation. No problem on carpet. 


In-Ground Shelters 


  1. Do in-ground tornado shelters condensate?

Depending on the temperature and humidity, all in-ground shelters can condensate. 


  1. 39.How do you treat the condensation in an in-ground shelter?


Condensation is treated by moving air through the unit and/or by installing a dehumidifier or moisture remediation kit. 


  1. Are the in-ground units prompt to get flooded?


All of Torshel’s steel in-ground storm shelters are leak-proof, seal-welded, inside and out. If you live in an area prompt to flood, we suggest an above-ground shelter.

  1. Will my in-ground unit get rusted?


Torshel’s steel in-ground units are covered with coal tar epoxy coating that prevents corrosion for many years. This type of epoxy is used in underground pipelines and marinas to prevent corrosion. In addition, sacrificial magnesium anodes are utilized to slow down the corrosion of the buried metal structure. This means that the magnesium anode will corrode first in preference to the shelter. Such anode can add between 5 to 20 years of life to steel underground storm shelters. We suggest painting your shelter every 3-5 years to prevent any corrosion. 


  1. Do you install the in-ground shelter, or do I have to install it myself?


Our installation crew can conduct the installation of your in-ground unit. You can also do it yourself if you have experience in construction or are mechanically inclined and have the required equipment for such a task (excavator, etc.).  

You can also hire a qualified third party to perform the installation. Two people will make the installation task easier and safer.  


  1. Do you pour the concrete for in-ground shelter?


For existing homes, we provide the concrete. Please refer to our product warranty for detailed information. If you are building a house, Torshel can coordinate with your builder the installation process. If you are planning on an outdoor in-ground shelter, Torshel can conduct the installation and obtain the concrete delivery service.  


  1. How does the tornado in-ground shelter door open if debris falls on it?


Torshel’s in-ground shelters come with a hydraulic jack to pry the hatch open should debris block the entrance.  


  1. Where can I install an in-ground shelter?

Answer: Our storm shelters can be installed in almost any location. Depending on the model (i.e., In-ground, above-ground, “buried” outside, installed in garages, or assembled in basements). Customers should consider the geological makeup of the chosen site before deciding whether to purchase an underground shelter or safe room.  

A safe room or above-ground unit is recommended for those who live in areas that are prone to flooding or for customers who have accessibility issues. 

  1. How long does it take to install an in-ground shelter? 


In most cases, our in-ground tornado shelters can be usually installed within one day. 


  1. Does the in-ground unit offer enough light and ventilation? 


Yes. Torshel’s in-ground garage units come with a cut out on the front lid to offer additional light and air circulation. In addition, the units come with a portable battery operated fan to increase air circulation. Our shelters meet and exceed FEMA’s requirements for ventilation. 


  1. Can I park my vehicle over the storm shelter? 


Yes. The storm shelters are designed to be straddled over with your vehicle. In most cases, you can even leave your vehicle in the garage and still access the storm shelter without backing out. You can drive on top of it, but the weight of the vehicle should not be placed for long periods of time. 

  1. 49What happens if I have water, sewer, or other utility lines underneath the slab of our garage?  


Your only option is to install an above-ground or modular shelter to prevent any accidents.