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Some Facts About Impact/Hurricane Windows

10 Sep

It’s a bit amazing that I have only owned this hurricane shutter company for less than 2 years and the most common comments I get from people, when they have asked what I do, is, “I don’t need hurricane shutters – I had impact windows installed a few years ago.” or “I’m not worried about my windows breaking during a hurricane – I have impact windows.” I feel sorry for these misinformed homeowners who won’t discover the truth about hurricane impact windows until it’s too late to save them a lot of money and aggravation. Here are some things that you might not know about hurricane windows.

There are 2 kinds of hurricane window ratings in Florida – non-impact and impact. Non-impact hurricane windows must pass higher wind pressure, air infiltration & water penetration testing than standard windows. They do not have to meet any impact requirements – only wind pressures.

On the other hand, Impact rated windows have to pass the same tests as the non-impact windows. These tests are done before the large missile impact, high wind load and cyclic testing is done. I believe the reason for this is that after the hurricane testing is complete, the windows are too far damaged to pass the standard tests. Why? Because after the hurricane testing is complete, your high-dollar, hurricane impact rated windows are BROKEN and must be replaced.

My advice to any window buyer is this; if any window salesperson tells you that the windows that you are about to pay big bucks for are “hurricane proof” or “unbreakable windows”, kindly but swiftly escort him/her out of your home or place of business. THESE PEOPLE ARE EXACTLY WHY GOVERNMENT REGULATION OF MANY INDUSTRIES IS REQUIRED!! It’s unfortunate, but even in today’s marketplace, the old Latin saying of “let the buyer beware” still applies.

To the best of my knowledge, there are only 2 or 3 manufacturers of windows that are both Energy Star compliant AND impact rated. In my opinion, these windows haven’t been on the market long enough to be proven effective or reliable. The thin PVC material used in their frame profiles hasn’t proven itself tough enough for the severe Florida climate and although I have seen many companies offering “lifetime warranties” on their windows, be sure and read the fine print to see if it covers both the new windows, shipping charges AND all installation costs. Even if they do offer total coverage, you still have to put up with the mess and inconvenience of having your replacement windows installed again.

Non-impact hurricane windows can be ordered with extra energy saving characteristics that make them qualify for an Energy Star discount. Things like thermally broken design, multi-pane insulated glass* and low-e and other coatings are a few popular options. If you install this type of window in your home, office or church, you have done a good thing. The only thing left for you to do is to protect them from large missile impact and presto! – you have totally compliant window openings for wind mitigation discounts and are eligible for Energy Star tax credits.

If you choose to get your impact protection via Evolution Hurricane Shutters, you will not only get distortion free, clear hurricane impact protection, you will also increase your monthly savings on your heating and cooling costs over what your new windows will provide. No other kind of hurricane shutter offers you permanent protection like ours.

Impact hurricane glass windows have some energy upgrades available, too, but upgrading to IGUs at this level will cost quite a bit more and give you some added energy savings and quiet your home. These windows are expensive, extremely heavy and make your home quieter. Unfortunately, they too still break upon hurricane large missile impacts and must be replaced. Don’t waste your hard earned dollars on gas filled units. The experts say that they lose some of their efficiency every year until they rank the same as unfilled units. (about 2% per year)

 

The Bottom Line

Do not let any window salesman tell you differently. The simple truth is that no matter how much you pay for them, hurricane impact glass windows break. They are a form of “sacrificial” hurricane protection. Sacrificial meaning that they give themselves up and are destroyed during the process of protecting against large or small missile impacts. If you have already had impact glass windows installed in your building, now is the time to protect them from any damage with Evolution Hurricane Shutters. You will still get the added energy advantages, as well.

Once again, the information in this post is based upon what I have gathered through internet research. If anyone has information that I have omitted about the topic of hurricane and impact rated windows, please comment.

*Multi-pane insulated glass units (IGUs) have long been questionable as to their reliability and ability to retain a seal. In my opinion, until a clear high quality front runner has been identified in the marketplace, the jury is still out as to which brand(s) of IGU impact windows are a good investment.

 

Check out the following links for more information:

http://chicagowindowexpert.com/2011/01/25/insulated-glass-seal-failure/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermopane

http://windows.lbl.gov/adv_Sys/hi_R_insert/default.htm

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