Thursday, September 22, 2011

Take Cover Shelters - storm shelter installation process

In a previous post, I talked about a fantastic storm shelter company, Take Cover Storm Shelters, based in Hickory Withe, TN and operated by Jon and Jessica Everson. MWN proudly endorses this company if you are in the market for peace-of-mind during severe weather!

In this post, I will outline the installation process from construction of the shelter to customer orientation.  I had the pleasure of following along on a Take Cover installation for Brandon and Morgan Westbrook of Germantown, TN.  The Westbrooks, a family with two small children, had a medium-sized (8-person) shelter installed to use in case of a tornado warning. As with many of Take Cover's customers, the Westbrooks wanted peace of mind during severe weather, especially after seeing the destruction caused in Joplin, Tuscaloosa, and elsewhere earlier in the year.  The pictures embedded below are from their installation, where the shelter was installed into the garage slab floor.  (For descriptions of each picture, play the slideshow in full screen mode by clicking on the 4-arrow icon in the lower right, then selecting "Show Info" in the top right of the full screen slideshow.)

Since the Eversons fabricate the shelters they install, the first step is ordering and receiving the steel used to make the shelter.  They use 10-gauge steel and angle iron and square tubing dimensional pieces, which is all welded together to form the box, then epoxied to protect it from ground moisture that could cause corrosion.  Bearings are installed to allow the 1/4" steel lid to open and close easily and holes are drilled in the lid pieces to allow additional ventilation beyond what is provided through gaps around the sliding lid.  The entire building process takes a couple of days.

On the day of installation, Jon arrives early in the morning, marks the concrete slab where the shelter will be installed, and begins cutting the slab.  This process takes a couple of hours. By mid-morning, he is ready to begin digging the hole for the shelter to drop into using his mini-excavator.  The mini-excavator allows him access to remove the cut concrete and dig the hole in the garage floor from outside the garage itself.

Another couple of hours are spent creating the perfect hole.  Assistance is provided by his father-in-law and cousin who hand-dig the last portion of the hole, gaining precision that is difficult to achieve with heavy machinery.  I must say that everything done to this point is done with great care and precision.  Jon goes the extra mile to minimize any damage to surrounding concrete, ensure the hole dimensions are precise, and  make sure the work area is kept clean (or as clean as possible given that he is removing 10 cubic yards of dirt and concrete!).

After the hole is prepared, Jon and team use the mini-excavator to lift, and lower, the shelter into place.  Again, precision is important and the tape measure is used multiple times to guarantee that the shelter is squarely centered in the hole. By lunchtime, a mini-crete concrete truck arrives and begins pouring the concrete that encases the entire shelter in the ground.  Not only is the shelter made of steel with a liberal layer of epoxy applied, it is also encased completely (even underneath!) in about 4-6" of concrete.  That's what I call peace of mind!

Once the pour is complete, Jon applies finishing touches to the top of the concrete to smooth it into the existing slab.  Half of the lid is put in place and bolted down while the other half is installed on it's bearings to allow for quick and easy opening and closing.  The carpeted bench seating and steps are put into place and the homeowner, in this case the very excited Morgan who now has a "new baby" in the family, receives a brief orientation and "trial run."  Jon completes the job by thoroughly cleaning up the work area and providing the homeowner with a battery operated fan and a couple of battery operated lights for use in the shelter.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Westbrook's shelter get installed and thank Brandon and Morgan for allowing me to observe and ask questions!  Observing the process solidified our decision that Take Cover Shelters is worthy of the MWN endorsement.  We do not take this type of decision lightly, as we know many of you trust us with your safety during severe weather.  We greatly appreciate that trust and will only recommend those who we feel not only produce a high-quality product, but who we trust in the same way you do of us.  We recommend Take Cover Shelters with no reservations!  Visit their website ( or give Jessica a call (901-626-1691) for all of your storm shelter questions or to setup an appointment to tour one of their shelters.  And be sure to mention MWN when you order yours for special offer!

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