Have You Been Told The Truth About Impact Windows?

17 Dec

Are you one of those building or home owners who believes that hurricane impact windows will somehow “survive” or “withstand” impacts from hurricanes, theft or vandalism without breaking? Well, THE CLAIM ISN’T TRUE but don’t feel alone. Many consumers truly believe that “hurricane impact resistant windows” are unbreakable when, in actuality, no such window is available from the major U.S. window manufacturers.

Impact windows are a “sacrificial” form of impact protection that must be replaced after any one of these events occurs. Being three times or more as expensive as regular windows, replacing them every time that they break can be a real budget buster.

If you go to Youtube and perform a search for “impact window testing” you will see that impact windows will not withstand large missile impacts without being destroyed. Here are some other facts that consumers need to be aware of:

  • Impact glass alone does not determine compliance with hurricane resistance standards. Simply swapping impact glass for regular glass does nothing to strengthen the window frames or anchor the glass to the frames.
  • Most laminated “impact glass” is simply 2 pieces of regular window glass with a special clear liner sandwiched in between – the strength of each piece of glass remains the same.
  • In order to be an approved hurricane product, all impact windows are designed to break when impacted, but MUST remain anchored to the window frame and not blow out to prevent pressurization of the building interior from hurricane winds.
  • Some insurance companies only honor the cost of regular replacement windows and not the more expensive impact windows that you filed on your homeowner claim.
  • Once you file a claim for damage on your impact windows your insurance company may require that you shutter them next time or you will end up paying for their replacement out-of-pocket.
  • Due to design changes, replacement sashes/parts for current window models might not be available in 10 -15 years. You will be forced to purchase and install new windows instead of simply replacing old parts.
  • If you have windows that were installed prior to 2005, there’s a very good chance that replacement parts are currently unavailable for them.
  • The anticipated lifetime of plastic (PVC) framed windows is 20-25 years. Old growth wood framed windows can last 2-3 times longer and quality aluminum ones even longer.
  • A laminated impact window does very little to offer increased energy efficiency over a standard new window with glass of the same thickness.
  • Before opting for windows with insulated glass units, you may want to invest in secondary glazing (storm windows) for energy savings. They offer other benefits as well.
  • Impact windows must be protected with shutters or plywood to assure no breakage in the event of a storm, theft attempt, incidence of vandalism or building maintenance accident. This can also be accomplished with storm windows. When an impact window is subjected to any of these forces it will break and require replacement.
  • The actual payoff in energy savings for the more expensive insulated “super energy efficient windows” is a minimum of 40-70 years which is quite a bit longer than manufactures claim.
  • The time frame required to replace windows broken during a catastrophic storm could be months. Ask the survivors of the hurricane season of 2004.

It is important to be informed as a consumer. Don’t rely on the claims of window manufacturers to be factual. They have a tendency towards making figures and statistics fit their sales pitch. The internet is loaded with real consumer information as well as little known industry facts located in places like online window forums. Do your homework, ask questions and gather the facts. A knowledgeable consumer can save thou$and$ on storm protection while, at the same time, being better protected.

If you have hurricane shutters currently installed over your windows and are having impact windows installed, don’t throw those shutters away! They will prove invaluable in protecting your new impact windows and keep them from getting broken.

You may well be better off refurbishing your current windows and adding hurricane rated secondary glazing.

Resources:

http://www.communitypreservation.org/enews/windows.htm

http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/windows-doors/broken-window-repair-or-replace/#.

http://starcraftcustombuilders.com/windows.htm#.VJHMnckWVVE

http://www.evolutionhurricaneshutters.com

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