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Old 11-26-2011, 09:52 PM
larrylwill larrylwill is offline
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Default Tornado shelter under slab

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I live in Northern Alabama, the last tornado outbreak had tornadoes 10 miles on each side of me and last year also. I live in a 1964 Brick rancher on the bluff of sand mountain. I was looking at plans to build a Tornado shelter but had an idea. The living room was 10ft x 32ft with a 10ft x 32 ft 4" concrete slab for the porch, one owner enclosed the porch into the living room. They also put 4" tile set in mortar over the slab.
So now I have a 10 x 32ft 6" slab that is 1/2 of the living room. The slab is held up with a 4" concrete block wall on all 4 sides and 32 16x16" columns (double block) in 3 rows. Its about 4ft high with a dirt ground covered with plastic. The outside wall under the new porch is faced with brick. It has 2 12" x 6" vents in that wall and under the house a 2x3 ft entrance which is the opposite side and its about 25ft to the front of the house which is about 2 ft off the ground. on end is 15ft to the outside cement block wall and the other is the end of the bedroom which is on another slab which use to be the garage and will have a raised floor approx 2.5ft off the slab.
I estimate the slab weighs approx 12 tons. I am thinking this would make a good quick tornado shelter. I would add a trap door in the floor for quick access the entrance. Add a metal door to the entrance and block up the vent holes. This would make the room sealed. The slab is only sitting on the supports and walls but I don't think 200 mph winds could move it, the house might collapse on it but I can't believe that would move it. The biggest problem might be getting out if the house did collapse.
Comments, or ideas welcome.
Old 11-26-2011, 11:17 PM
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Wow, with all that explanation and terms i am not familiar with sounds like you have some carpentry experience. If you do then i would bet that you will put the proper reinforcement to hold up the slab. And add any ventilation, electricity etc.

I am working on the same project except mine is an 8x8 patio, currently tunneling under the house to access the scuttle hole. But make sure you have an egress to the outside from your basement if indeed the house did collapse and seal you in. My egress resides under a set of wooden steps that i can remove and access the scuttle hole. It will be walled with 2k bricks that i barterred for and heavy timbers.

I am pretty sure you dont have to be told to store goods down there in case you had to stay down there longer then you inteded. I have shown my "basement" to close family and friends in case something did happen they would know where to look for me and my family.

good luck! I would show you some picks but i am kinda paranoid and would prefer to put this in the opsec dept. if you get my drift.
Old 11-26-2011, 11:25 PM
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If you really do build this then I would have 2 exits and make the doors open inwards. If doors open out then any debris that falls outside would likely block the door but opening inwards then you can open the door and then remove the debris.

I have doors that open inwards on my bunker / storm shelter. As seen in the first two posts of this thread >

Throughout that thread others have posted some pics of their underground shelters etc. also.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:28 AM
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I might have a local engineer evaluate your plans for this.

Right now, dirt is helping to support the slab. Remove that, and the question is whether what remains will support it--even if part of your brick facade falls on it, or a tree, or whatever. That slab was likely designed to have dirt supporting it, not as a free span supporting weight above it.

You'd want an engineer, I'd think, to give an opinion as to whether that would still be sufficient. He or she will probably want to know what reinforces that slab, re-bar, mesh, whatever. And he or she will want an evaluation of the footings.
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:02 AM
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Look at all the times when people get a crack in their drive or garage.

If the dirt was not there, they would be in the basement level of the drive real fast.
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:48 AM
Uncle Bob Uncle Bob is offline
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It sounds if the walls supporting it are not concrete filled with rebar. If they are not the risk of lateral movment is far to high to even chance it. As far as the slab 8" would be better and much safer.
Old 11-27-2011, 03:52 PM
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My plan, once I get my finances in order, is to build a freestanding garage/shed in my back yard. I plan to build it with a "cellar" underneath that will far exceed needed requirements for a store room...basically, a not quite bomb shelter.

I am hoping to break ground within a year or so...


shelter in place, tornado shelter, underground shelter

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