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Old 05-11-2014, 11:59 AM
 
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I have not posted a thread before so I'm hoping this is the right place to do so.

I bought a house around 6 months ago and am now preparing it for hurricane season. I am new to Florida home ownership so don't know how to work hurricane shutters. I wanted to test all of my shutters well ahead of the typical problem months to learn how to use them and make sure they don't need repairs. I own a stilt house with accordion shutters, and I noticed today that these shutters have a keyed lock on them.

The problem is, when I moved into the house no keys were left for me other than for the door!

I figured other Florida homeowners somewhere would know about shutters with keys, and be able to tell me what I should do about a key. Is this something you can easily get a replacement key for where hurricane shutters are sold? I looked online and could not find any information about it at all. Can you close them properly without the key?

Also, I am a little freaked out, because in the first shutters I started to open, a large toad with exceptionally large bulging eyes was alive and staring back at me! It has been incredibly hot and dry here for several months. How in the world did a large toad (possibly poisonous, I have no idea), get up some 15 feet in the air and wedge itself into hot black hurricane shutters which were open all the way so pretty tight, and yet it looks perfectly healthy? I don't want it to jump in the house when I open the shutter all the way, but I also feel kind of sorry for its inevitable death if it falls the other way to the ground.

I'm kind of afraid to open any of the other shutters to find what else may be living in them! Bats? Fish? Lol...


Any help on what to do about a missing key for hurricane shutters would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-11-2014, 01:30 PM
 
Location: Lincoln County Road or Armageddon
4,224 posts, read 5,676,244 times
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See if you can figure out the manufacturer and contact them. Or call someone who installs shutters.
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Old 05-11-2014, 01:38 PM
 
Location: Spring Hill Florida
12,135 posts, read 13,203,256 times
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If you can open and close all of them without using a key I wouldnt worry about it.

I would think the key would be useful if you were evacuating though. Try Vaughn's ideas and if that doesnt work out call a lock smith over to make a new key for you.

I wouldnt worry about the wildlife in the closed in spaces. Frogs and toads are very flexible and can get into and out of some tight spots. May have had a good supply of small bugs in there. if you can coax it out of there with a blast of a garden hose or open it up all the way so it exits it should take the hint and find new quarters. Now, if you find fish in there, you dont need a locksmith. :-)


Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
I have not posted a thread before so I'm hoping this is the right place to do so.

I bought a house around 6 months ago and am now preparing it for hurricane season. I am new to Florida home ownership so don't know how to work hurricane shutters. I wanted to test all of my shutters well ahead of the typical problem months to learn how to use them and make sure they don't need repairs. I own a stilt house with accordion shutters, and I noticed today that these shutters have a keyed lock on them.

The problem is, when I moved into the house no keys were left for me other than for the door!

I figured other Florida homeowners somewhere would know about shutters with keys, and be able to tell me what I should do about a key. Is this something you can easily get a replacement key for where hurricane shutters are sold? I looked online and could not find any information about it at all. Can you close them properly without the key?

Also, I am a little freaked out, because in the first shutters I started to open, a large toad with exceptionally large bulging eyes was alive and staring back at me! It has been incredibly hot and dry here for several months. How in the world did a large toad (possibly poisonous, I have no idea), get up some 15 feet in the air and wedge itself into hot black hurricane shutters which were open all the way so pretty tight, and yet it looks perfectly healthy? I don't want it to jump in the house when I open the shutter all the way, but I also feel kind of sorry for its inevitable death if it falls the other way to the ground.

I'm kind of afraid to open any of the other shutters to find what else may be living in them! Bats? Fish? Lol...


Any help on what to do about a missing key for hurricane shutters would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-12-2014, 12:38 PM
 
1,448 posts, read 2,131,468 times
Reputation: 2354
Thanks for the replies, I will check both info from manufacturer if I can figure out which one, and locksmith if that becomes necessary.

No one finds it odd though that a large toad is living 2 stories up in the middle of the air? Is there a species of Keys toad that flies now? (jk - I hope!) Last I knew, toads can't crawl bare concrete, nor would they want to. There is nothing touching that shutter or wall, it is just way up in the air by itself, no balcony or trees or anything...

So of course, my question was about how to work the shutters. But, I remain creeped out by the large flying toad that lives in mid-air for no apparent reason... it's like opening your hurricane shutters after a season and finding a unicorn living in there staring back at you.
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Old 05-12-2014, 01:52 PM
 
Location: Spring Hill Florida
12,135 posts, read 13,203,256 times
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Many toad and frog species are great climbers. They would have little suction cups on their toes. They get a pretty good grip and up they go!.

Ive found them in "how the heck did you get in there" places.


Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
Thanks for the replies, I will check both info from manufacturer if I can figure out which one, and locksmith if that becomes necessary.

No one finds it odd though that a large toad is living 2 stories up in the middle of the air? Is there a species of Keys toad that flies now? (jk - I hope!) Last I knew, toads can't crawl bare concrete, nor would they want to. There is nothing touching that shutter or wall, it is just way up in the air by itself, no balcony or trees or anything...

So of course, my question was about how to work the shutters. But, I remain creeped out by the large flying toad that lives in mid-air for no apparent reason... it's like opening your hurricane shutters after a season and finding a unicorn living in there staring back at you.
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Old 05-12-2014, 03:43 PM
 
1,448 posts, read 2,131,468 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Hillian View Post
Many toad and frog species are great climbers. They would have little suction cups on their toes. They get a pretty good grip and up they go!.

Ive found them in "how the heck did you get in there" places.

That's a good point - for instance, tree frogs, obviously.

I guess what threw me was I didn't expect suction cups or climbing on a big fat toad. It looked like what I would think of as a "ground toad" - like the kind that would want to bury itself in mud, not the sky - but maybe I was wrong about that. I now have a good reason to learn about Keys toads and find out if any of them that looked like my big fat friend there like to climb.

I was going to attach a picture, but when I went to take one I found that my new pal seems to have not liked the intrusion and left on his own! At least now I don't have to be directly responsible for him plummeting 20 feet to his death. The great news this allowed me to discover is that in fact, the accordion shutters can close and lock down without actually locking with a key. And, at least this pair were in working order. They are weird to use, a lot of different screws and pins that was hard to figure out - I certainly would have preferred to have a manual. But, I was finally able to close them all the way and get them in place in the way I think I'm supposed to, such that they can't be moved by the wind. They were actually pretty comforting to have closed, although they are black so would make the place exceptionally dark without power. But generally speaking, I don't think you usually have to have them closed a lot more than 24 hours.

It would appear that the key part is for when you have to evacuate, to prevent looters or squatters. But truthfully, if they are going to break into metal shutters pinned down with metal and 2 stories up, they could just as easily break down the door and come in the normal way.
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Old 05-12-2014, 03:48 PM
 
Location: Spring Hill Florida
12,135 posts, read 13,203,256 times
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Sounds like to got a handle on it. I find that the frogs/toads usually move out once they are disturbed.

Good luck on getting the other shutters going. Hope you dont have critters.

Yes, they dont stay shut too long. We know several hours before the winds will come and once they pass there is no need for the shutters. However during the blowing of the wind and flying debris
they are a Godsend.



Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
That's a good point - for instance, tree frogs, obviously.

I guess what threw me was I didn't expect suction cups or climbing on a big fat toad. It looked like what I would think of as a "ground toad" - like the kind that would want to bury itself in mud, not the sky - but maybe I was wrong about that. I now have a good reason to learn about Keys toads and find out if any of them that looked like my big fat friend there like to climb.

I was going to attach a picture, but when I went to take one I found that my new pal seems to have not liked the intrusion and left on his own! At least now I don't have to be directly responsible for him plummeting 20 feet to his death. The great news this allowed me to discover is that in fact, the accordion shutters can close and lock down without actually locking with a key. And, at least this pair were in working order. They are weird to use, a lot of different screws and pins that was hard to figure out - I certainly would have preferred to have a manual. But, I was finally able to close them all the way and get them in place in the way I think I'm supposed to, such that they can't be moved by the wind. They were actually pretty comforting to have closed, although they are black so would make the place exceptionally dark without power. But generally speaking, I don't think you usually have to have them closed a lot more than 24 hours.

It would appear that the key part is for when you have to evacuate, to prevent looters or squatters. But truthfully, if they are going to break into metal shutters pinned down with metal and 2 stories up, they could just as easily break down the door and come in the normal way.
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Old 05-12-2014, 06:05 PM
 
1,448 posts, read 2,131,468 times
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As a note, although it has little to do with hurricane shutters and keys, I learned from some research that it could in fact have been a Cuban tree frog. They can be 5 inches in body length, have the large bulging eyes, bumpy skin on back, and range a lot in color and pattern so could have looked in my quick estimation like a toad. I was looking at it from a weird angle and could not see the feet, so they might have had the tree frog suction shape and I just didn't get to see it. They are an exotic highly invasive species that are actually recommended to be killed humanely (thus the freefall to the ground might have been helpful to the environment actually), but are in fact somewhat poisonous.

Should someone else find these in their shutters, it's recommended that you hold it with a glove on, rub benzocaine ointment into its back, seal it in a paper bag for 30 minutes until it is anesthetized, put it in the fridge for a few hours, and then transfer to the freezer overnight. Toss with trash. To identify it as a Cuban tree frog, you can rub the top of its head - if the skin doesn't move, it's a Cuban tree frog. I realize not everyone will go to this trouble, but it's the humane and officially recommended way. Killing it will help the local ecosystem, because they don't belong here and eat every local and endangered species in sight. They will even lay eggs in chlorinated pools. Dogs and cats can be killed by eating them - if they start to go into seizures or seem in pain after trying to eat a frog or toad, immediately run a hose sideways through their mouth with the head pointed down so they don't swallow to help rinse the poison out, and then of course call a vet.

Who knew? A poisonous frog that looks like a toad, that can be pretty big and climbs very high for no good reason other than shelter, and will eat any other frog, toad, amphibian or reptile that will fit in its mouth! Always a new creepy critter to learn about living here...
(I used to get lots of mammoth Marine Toads at my apartment in Miami, which I just learned are also poisonous. They were a good 6 inches across, and always managed to get into the most inconvenient spots and it was very hard to shoo them out!)
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Old 05-13-2014, 04:33 AM
 
Location: Vero Beach
910 posts, read 1,743,576 times
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We have accordion shutters, and each set of them came with a key - we literally have over a dozen keys, and they are all the same. I would think the keys are essential during a hurricane to make sure the shutters remain tightly closed. If your shutters are like ours, you would only need to get one key made, and that key should work in all the shutters.
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Old 05-13-2014, 08:41 AM
 
1,448 posts, read 2,131,468 times
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Thank you for sharing your experience, it helps to hear how these work.

I don't know how many styles they come in, but I was under the impression that my shutters would perform pretty well without the key. The reason is that they have metal rods that go into holes both at the top and bottom to hold each side closed tightly. Then in addition to the metal rods that hold them closed, there is a thick metal latch that if one turns the knob, latches from one shutter to the other to hold them closed together. The wind would have to break through the metal rods both at the top and the bottom, and the metal latch holding them together which is very thick.

When I looked for information online about missing a key with accordion shutters, the only information I found was about the fact that some come with a key (not all do) as an extra feature to prevent break-ins when one has to evacuate. I was assuming based on that, and how my shutters appear to work, that mine must be like that - the key being for extra security. In my case, the keyhole is on the inside of the window, where apparently some are on the outside, and some have both inside and outside keyholes.

So of course I haven't tested the shutters with hurricane-force winds to know. But, seeing as there are several types of metal latchings holding them in position and closed tightly to each other, at the top, bottom, and in the middle, it seemed like this was enough to protect against wind, and the key was for extra security.

Anyone can please correct me if that assumption sounds wrong. Unfortunately, I have no neighbors to ask as my neighbors pretty much all have impact glass and do not have experience with accordion shutters. In prior houses they just had boards.
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