Tag Archives: corrugated lexan panels

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

Porous vs. non-porous hurricane protection

17 Sep

As a homeowner in a hurricane prone area, it is important to know the performance differences between porous and non-porous hurricane protection. What? You never heard of such a thing? Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger – neither have most homeowners. As a matter of fact, the person selling you your current hurricane protection probably hasn’t either. Here’s the way it has been explained to me:

Porous type protections have open areas around their edges or on their surface that equal more than 5% to 10% of the area covered by the shutter. This allows air and/or water to pass through or around them. Some have as much as 50% open area (like some screens or mesh). They provide only impact protection and rely on the door or window they are protecting to resist the water penetration and air infiltration from both negative pressures (those directed away from the house) and positive pressures (those directed towards the house). So, porous systems block wind-borne debris and are usually built out far enough so that they will not deflect into the glass when impacted by the standard 9-pound 2×4 lumber missile traveling at 34 mph. However, they don’t always do the best job of reducing wind pressures or water leaks. The result is that the windows and doors behind them sometimes experience the full effect of the wind pressures and may leak about as much as an unprotected window or door.

Non-porous hurricane protection systems should be  water and air tight or very close to it. In many cases, even protection labelled as “non-porous” will still allow outside pressures to affect the window or door behind it. This is due to the fact even though the non-porous protection has less than 10% open area, it’s still more than 0% (0% being considered water resistant) If the windows behind them are not strong enough they can still be blown in, which allows wind pressures and driven rain to enter the structure.

Here are 2 examples:

This..

You have a corrugated metal or plastic panel-and-channel system over your 48″ tall x 96″ wide living room picture window. To deploy the system, the panels are tipped towards the wall, slid up into the upper channel and then are pushed back against the wall at the bottom (or window sill), and then either dropped down into the floor of the bottom channel or bolted to an angle below the window sill. This leaves a gap at the top and bottom where the corrugations come away from the building. These gaps at the top and bottom allow wind and rain to get in behind the shutter and attack the window. There are also gaps at the vertical edges of both end panels where they meet the outside wall of your living room.

When the wind blows, some of the pressures and rain are allowed attack your windows. If you were to open the inside window during the storm, you would definitely feel wind blowing on you. This is technically known as air infiltration. Any rain or water that gets past the shutters is called water penetration and you will most likely feel this, too. This is considered a porous system – it allows air pressure and wind driven rain to get at the protected window. If you have newer wind rated windows, this system will be fine for you. It will keep direct hurricane force winds and large missile wind borne debris away from your windows.

Vs. this…

You have purchased and cut a flat cellular polycarbonate twin-wall sheet to the over-sized dimensions, per the instructions, to fit over the same picture window. You have the proper support bars in place to prevent deflection during impact and your anchor holes are all lined up and you’re ready to deploy the sheet. You affix some standard foam weatherstrip (with adhesive backing) to the backside perimeter of the sheet in the oversize area. You hold the sheet into the proper position and drill and insert the anchoring hardware and tighten per instructions.

In this case, when the wind blows, there is no attack of the protected window. Theoretically, if the weatherstripping is working properly, you can open the inside window during the storm and light a candle and it won’t blow out. The weatherstrip should keep the wind and water from getting in. This is a non-porous system. If you have older, single or double strength aluminum or pvc framed windows from the ’60s, ’70’s or ’80’s, this might be a good system for you. And it lets light in so it won’t make you feel like you’re in a dungeon and will save you a bunch of battery power and candles when the power goes out. It isn’t going to be cheap, but it will be lightweight and easier to deploy come storm season. If you have large windows to cover, you could even invest in hurricane rated mullions (support bars) that are the same color as your window trim and leave them in place permanently. That will decrease your deployment time and as long as they are strategically located, won’t obstruct your view too badly and won’t be too noticeable when you look outside.

Finally, in some cases the porosity of the system is determined by the installation itself. The farther away from the face of the structure the system is mounted, the larger the gap for wind and rain to enter. Make sure that you have it in writing as to which system is being installed on your building.

Hurricane impact windows are non-porous hurricane protection, as well. Evolution Hurricane Shutters can be installed as either porous or non-porous protection. We recommend  the non-porous method because it provides the opening with the greatest protection and the greatest energy conservation and sound insulation.
The lesson here? Although non-porous protection is superior to porous protection, you may only need to have non-porous to satisfy your insurance carrier or local building code. Take a common sense approach to your hurricane protection needs. Is seasonal storm protection all that you want? Worried about vandalism? Does your yard serve as the local ball field for the rest of the neighborhood? Do you want energy savings, too? Will you always be around to deploy the protection? What conditions does your insurance company dictate? If you are only a seasonal resident, you may be required to have an “installation contract” in place with a local company to prove to your insurer that your hurricane protection will be in place in time to protect your structure from the storm. Just a reminder – read the news and realize that the insurance companies are getting tighter and tighter about what they are going to pay out. They are ticked off that hurricane protection costs them revenue but glad about reducing their risk. They don’t want to pay out any more money than they have to and their inspectors will start nit-picking your protection at the rime of the policy start and they will also be more adamant about post storm investigations to lower their settlement figure. Taking short-cuts or getting lazy about putting protection in place by the homeowner will only draw the ire of the underwriter and get you a step closer to a fraud charge.

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.