Tag Archives: Accordion

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

Advertisements

Energy Saving Hurricane Shutters

28 Aug

Sunlight creates heat

I know….quite the Earth-shattering statement, right? But there’s nothing like pointing out the obvious. Almost any type of hurricane shutter will save some energy if in no other way but by blocking sunlight, creating shade and thereby blocking the sun’s rays from hitting objects within your home that create heat. The problem is, the energy is only saved when the shutter is deployed. Roll-downs, accordions, corrugated metal panels, colonials, fabric panels, screens and Bahamas all block out a certain amount of sunlight and shade the window when they are deployed. But when they’re deployed, they block, and sometimes totally eliminate, the view completely. The other catch is that they only make shade during the daytime when the sun is shining. Your windows still lose and gain heat all night long.

Temperature differential

There are other forces of energy that bring heat into your home. One way to demonstrate this is at nighttime when there are no sun rays. Here are 2 scenarios to entertain…..a hot August night or a cold January one. Simply place your hand on the window and what do you feel? If it’s August and the A/C is keeping your home at a comfortable 72 degrees and it’s still 80 degrees outside, you’re going to feel warm glass. If it’s in the dead of winter and it’s 20 degrees outside and your heating system is keeping it a toasty 76 degrees inside, the window is going to feel cold. Pretty simple stuff, right? It’s known as temperature differential. But there’s more to it than that……and I’m kind of getting off topic here, but bear with me. It all comes around full circle in the end.

The window war

The warmer air on the inside of the glass seeks out the cold of the outside of the glass while the cold on the outside is seeking the warm of the inside. Depending upon which force is stronger determines if the outside of the glass is warmed by the inside or if the inside of the glass is cooled by the outside. It’s a kind of “window war”. Whichever side has more “push” wins the battle. What determines the “push”? The push is greatly influenced by the circulating air on each side of the window. On the inside, there is calm circulation – a ceiling fan, movements of people or pets and the circulation created by your heating or cooling systems. On the outside?? – the force of Mother Nature – the WIND.

So, which side of the window do you think has the greatest “push”? Anyone who thinks that any answer other than “Mother Nature” is the right one, has to come and sit in the front row for the rest of the class! The ceaseless power of Nature always seems to have the upper hand. That’s why your windows feel the way that they do on the hot August night or the cold January night. Mother nature is always winning. If you were to go out side the glass will feel the same as the outside temperature – another sure way to see that Mother nature is winning. We’ll revisit Mother Nature later on in this post.

The analogy that I just described isn’t precisely the way that it works in science, (because science tells us that there’s no such thing as cold – only an absence of heat) but it helps to make my point about the energy battle of window glass. One important concept to grasp at this point in the discussion is that glass is a VERY poor insulator and conducts heat and cold all too well. It also breaks and we will revisit these facts later on, also.

Peace in the window war or merely a truce?

Glass manufacturers set out to make peace between the inside and outside energies so they came up with the ingenious idea of protecting the layer of window glass with another layer of window glass and separating them with an air space. They then sealed them around the edges so that nothing could get in or out. This helped to bring the advantage of the outside force to a more equal level of the inside force because there was no longer any “wind” on the opposing sides of either layer of glass. These became known as “insulated glass units” (IGUs, for short) and the window industry latched onto the idea and made windows by the tens of thousands.

There was, however, one slight problem. The air that was sealed tightly inside would change from getting warm during the day to getting cold at night plus all of the temperature fluctuations through the 24 hours of a single day. Every time the wind blew, every time a cloud came over, every time it rained….well, you get the idea – A LOT of temperature changes in a single day. If you multiply that by just 7 days of a week, that amounts to many times more changes. These changes in temperature cause the trapped air to expand and contract and it does this with every temperature change and, over time, would eventually weaken the seals and seep out of the air space. This allows the more humid air from outside of the air space, into it and causes the IGUs to get cloudy. In an effort to try and disguise the fact that moisture was getting in, they put a powder inside the window to soak up the moisture, but it only delays the inevitable. No matter what is tried, this temperature “cycling” up and down can’t be stopped. This is the other one of Mother Nature’s forces that I referred to earlier that can’t be controlled. To this day it is universally accepted that there will always be this problem until someone perfects a way to equalize the internal IGU’s air space pressures with those outside of the air space without them mixing together. There is simply no way to stop the expansion and contraction cycling that occurs inside. No matter what brand of window that you use, if it is an IGU that uses a sealant system around the perimeter (they all do), it will never be guaranteed not to leak – most don’t make it past 8 years. Independent studies have shown that every year, a sealed IGU loses a MINIMUM of 1-2% of the air (or gas) inside and then starts replacing is with regular humid air from the atmosphere. Keep this in mind when someone tries to convince you that fancy internal gases like Argon or Krypton are the cat’s meow of IGUs. Although they don’t expand and contract as much as the air that we breath, they still do it – it’s just physics and can’t be stopped.

This entire process of making IGUs takes place in a factory where the air qualities like temperature and humidity are controlled and also to reduce the amount or dust and other foreign particles that might make their way into an IGU. These facilities do a very good job. however all of this comes at a high price and, of course, gets passed on to you and I, the consumers.

Someone please stop the madness!

Let me digress a little more, without totally digressing. You see, the same folks who thought up the idea of making IGUs (that they concede won’t last long) decided to take two pieces of glass and sandwich them around a super-tough plastic sheet that has very high tear strength. They took this “glass sandwich” and put it in a window frame, called it “impact glass” and made tens of thousands of more windows with it. Why they use the word “impact” to describe it, is beyond me, because the one thing that it ISN’T good for is impacts!! Here’s a video that shows that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp6Nl9ZBMHE . I picked this video at random – there are dozens of others that show the same thing. Do these windows look like they can stand up to impact to you? What these windows happen to do well is keeping a large missile (or projectile) traveling at 50 feet per second from penetrating completely through the window and creating a hole. If a hole were to be created, we know that wind can then enter a structure and increase the pressure inside that will allow the roof to be blown upward and possibly off of the building.

So here’s the new scenario…..They take these VERY expensive impact IGU windows (sometimes 3 to 4 times the cost of regular windows), sell them to the consumer, install them in their homes and after a storm passes, you, the homeowner, now have – you guessed it – VERY expensive BROKEN windows. I don’t know if it’s just me or what, but this approach makes absolutely NO SENSE to me. Why design something 3 to 4 times as expensive that will break so that you have to buy it again and again each time it breaks?? Am i wrong here??

An intervention of common sense

So….is there a way of reducing heat gain and loss though your windows without defying the laws of Mother Nature? Well, in fact there is…..and it has been around for a long time. It’s done by using storm windows and it’s even recognized as a proven method of reducing the amount of heat loss or gain through any window. Here’s the link to The United States Department of Energy website that discusses the topic: http://energy.gov/articles/5-steps-making-your-windows-more-energy-efficient  . There are many other sites, both government and private, that will echo this method of energy conservation as prudent.

The mission

What if there was a way to use this old tried and true method of saving energy and combine it with a hi-tech material that won’t break like glass and is a better insulator, too?? That way we wouldn’t have to put so much effort into defying the forces of physics and Mother Nature.

I’m here to tell you that there is a way to do it and it’s with a product that has been around a long time. Not as long as the idea of storm windows has been around, but as long ago as the 1950s. How about this idea ………..instead of making something that breaks, why not make something that DOESN’T BREAK??? Instead of using a cheaply produced PVC frame that will only last 20 years, why not use super strong aluminum pieces that will last 100 years? And instead of making a sealed (but leaky) IGU, why not combine these materials and use the U.S, Depart. of Energy’s proven method of making it like a storm window to save energy? What you would end up with is something without an expensive IGU (that has yet to be made 100% reliable) and without the fragile characteristic of impact glass.

Winning the battle

If this sounds like a win-win concept to you, it did to me, too, so here’s a video showing the end product in a live demonstration. There’s no glass to break because this ’50s era material is called polycarbonate – a plastic that is 200 times stronger than glass, a fraction of the weight and a much better insulator. There’s also no seals to fail and no huge, expensive, dustless or atmosphere controlled building required to assemble it.

Take a look at the video below and tell me what you think. But before you do, keep in mind that this energy saving hurricane shutter will protect ANY window – new or old, impact or non-impact in just about any shape. And because it doesn’t require a huge, expensive factory these can be sold to the public for 1/2 the cost of the expensive IGU impact windows (that break and lose their seal). It’s called by everyone who sees it “the hurricane shutter that doesn’t look like a hurricane shutter” and I think you’ll see why: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGFx9jY7_NE 

So, now that you have watched the video. Are you:

  1. Surprised?
  2. Astonished?
  3. Impressed?
  4. Curious?
  5. All of the above?

If you want to know more visit:The hurricane shutter that doesn’t look like a hurricane shutter. and find out more. Maybe they’re just what you’re looking for?

Which Hurricane Shutters Are For Me?

7 Sep

It is my personal opinion that an informed consumer, armed with the facts, stands a much better chance of making an intelligent decision than one who is not. No one likes to have the second thoughts of “buyer’s remorse” because they found out the facts after the sale and not before. They may have simply failed to ask that one simple question that would have been a “deal-breaker” before they signed the sales contract that wasted thousands of the homeowner’s money. (i.e.”Is it true that hurricane windows won’t break?” OR “Are these windows really hurricane proof?”)

It’s not just about hurricane shutter knowledge, either. I research damned near everything that I buy – from hardware at the big box stores – to computers – to vehicles. I want to know what I’m shopping for and what to avoid, who’s got the best quality and can I return it if I don’t need it or it doesn’t perform as advertised?. Even with all of this forethought, I still manage to screw up a personal purchase every once in a while, due mostly to relying on my memory instead of taking time to review my research.

New hurricane products seem to appear on the scene every year – after all, necessity is the Mother of Invention and innovative technology puts ideas into motion. All of these need to be investigated using common sense as well as laboratory and field testing methods. And another point that I would like to make……Just because some schmoe paid a bunch of money to get their product approved and it works in the lab and looks good on paper doesn’t necessarily make it a quality product that will perform storm after storm – season after season. Sometimes it’s all about marketing – like the infomercials for cleaning towels, mini-coffee grinders or collector “gold” coins……if you spend enough money pushing the product on TV, sooner or later someone’s bound to fall for it. Like Grandpa used to say, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Exterior mounted panel

I don’t know what has changed over the years, but when I went to school (it was quite a while ago) my history teacher taught us that “good legislation” was something that did the most good for the most people. It seems that today “good legislation” is something that benefits an industry, a specialized group or a few select individuals. Is it just me???

Steel corrugated panel and channel type shutters

The only hurricane protection that I use is that which I have built myself. Now I freely admit that I am NOT an “expert” on every brand, style, design or patent on everything out there being sold. And no, I haven’t scoured the Web to find every single brand and type of hurricane protection that’s out there. Everything written to describe the products that appear in this blog is a generalization of the category, that has been published many times over on the internet. But every personal experience is real. For example, I have never owned rolldown or accordion shutters, but some of my customers, friends and relatives have. When one of them told me that they didn’t like their rolldowns or accordions because they rattled from the wind and being hit by tree limbs during the last storm, I’m not about to look them in the face and call them liars. Now, there may be some newer model rolldown or accordion that have found a way to eliminate the rattle but I have not seen any literature stating that their design eliminates rattles. When they tell me that during the last storm the corrugated panels covering their patio doors made loud buzzing noises at the overlapping seams or that when the tropical force winds came out of the south the rain and wind came in between the panel and the stucco walls, I kinda’ hafta’ take their word for it that it happened. What I can tell you as a fact is that there are many distinct advantages to aluminum framed hurricane shutters constructed of flat polycarbonate as opposed to all of the other aftermarket types of hurricane shutters.

In my next post, I’ll give you some questions to ask yourself and points to ponder concerning your own hurricane protection needs.