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Your windows do a fine job of letting the sunshine in and keeping the rain out. But what about high winds? All too often, failing to properly protect windows and doors from damaging winds leads to a home’s structural failure. Hurricane winds can easily blow open a front door that is poorly secured, and flying debris can break windows, letting in wind and water. Once that happens, the pressure buildup inside the home can be powerful enough to rip the roof from its trusses.
If your home is approaching 20 years old with the original windows still in place, it’s very likely the windows are not pressure rated. A pressure rating is the maximum wind load that a window or door can withstand without breaking or becoming permanently distorted. Homes in many coastal areas built prior to 1996 were not required to have pressure-rated windows, particularly in Florida.
While the use of single-pane windows has generally been phased out in favor of double-pane windows, these aren’t strong enough to withstand a hit from debris tossed around in high winds.
Standards for building products continually improve. And, stronger building codes get adopted and upgraded typically every three years. That means the gap between old building components or outdated construction techniques and new, hurricane-hardy innovations grows. Windows are one structural product that do not get better with age. If you are thinking it’s time to replace your windows, know that while any window will give you a nice view, they won’t give you the same protection.
A laminated window is stronger than a double-pane window because the glass is sandwiched between sheets of plastic. If the glass breaks, the glass pieces stick to the laminate so broken glass doesn’t spew all over. Tempered glass is also strong and will break into pebble-like pieces without sharp edges. But neither laminated nor tempered glass is designed to handle windborne debris. Impact-rated windows are.
Impact-rated windows are a system, combining laminated glass with a reinforced window frame. All glass systems labeled as laminate are not impact rated. A rated product is one that has been tested and meets the standards and requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials or the International Residential Code. Glass manufacturers are able to provide documentation, too. Labels attached to the windows or frames list the window testing standards. Before you make a buying decision, check with your local government agency to ensure that local building requirements are being met.
For existing windows, there are products that can be applied to provide some level of protection from windborne debris. However, the only window system designed to protect your home from both wind pressure and windborne debris is an impact-rated window. The main advantage is that it provides 24/7 protection. Unlike hurricane shutters, impact-rated windows are on duty all the time, so when a hurricane does threaten your area, you can focus on something other than worrying about what comes knocking on your windows.
Frontline Insurance professionals live and work in the communities we serve. Helping you protect your family and your property is a privilege, and we can help you locate an insurance agent you can count on – come rain or shine.