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Protecting your windows during Hurricane Season

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It’s July in Florida.  That means Independence Day to most.  To Floridians it also means Hurricane Season, when the next named storm could come to town to ruin your holiday spirit.  While most Floridians are well aware of the danger that summer storms can bring, what many don’t know, is that it isn’t the high wind that causes most of the damage to homes and businesses during a hurricane.  It’s the water.  While the wind can tear off shingles and break windows, the most severe structural damage comes from letting the rain inside.


The Wrong Way to Protect Your Windows

Since there are a lot of windows on most homes, knowing how to protect them is paramount to keeping the water out.  Not to mention the fact that being anywhere near a window when it shatters is one sure way to wind up in the Emergency Room.  Every time a hurricane nears the coast, everyone runs to the big box stores to buy up every last piece of plywood they can find, in the hopes that this will keep debris from shattering their windows. 

Even worse are the people who think that putting a few strips of duct tape across fragile window panes is going to be any match for hundred mile per hour winds. In the first place, anytime the wind gets above seventy-four miles per hour, not only do you have a hurricane, but you have a natural missile launcher.  This means that not only does your domicile have to handle the fury of the wind, it also needs to withstand anything the wind carries along with it.  I have seen photos of the debris after a storm that showed a wooden 2 x 4 sticking straight out of aluminum siding. 

Taping a window is worse than useless since it will not only fail to protect a window from the wrath of nature, but it can also cause more damage by pulling window shards from the frame if the pane is breached.  Think of it as a homemade duct tape guillotine. 

While 3/4-inch plywood can stop most projectiles, they are difficult if not hazardous to deal with when the wind is blowing.  Plus, depending on how they are affixed to the structure, they can pop out during the worst of the storm only to wind up as projectiles themselves.  They also need to be treated with marine varnish in order to keep them from warping due to water intrusion.  Marine varnish can be a hazard as well since it is highly flammable and the fumes are noxious.  Last but not least, plywood isn’t all that durable, which means you will be driving back to the big box store to stock up next year when a named storm comes a calling.
Courtesy of  commons.wikimedia.org

If you want to see what NOAA recommends you do to correctly install plywood shutters, go to: http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/shutters/index2.html  (I hope you’re handy with tools.)
  

A Better Solution Than Plywood

When was the last time you rode a horse and buggy to the office?  Most of us would say, “Never.”  That’s due to the fact that the horse and buggy went out of vogue more than a hundred years ago.  So why do most people still rely on storm protection technology that went out of vogue 200 years ago? Believe it or not, window storm protection has come a long way, baby.  Today there are 3 schools of thought when it comes to hi-tech window protection:

1.      Window Storm Film
2.      Impact Windows
3.      Ballistic Glass

Window storm film won’t stop a window from shattering.  What is designed to do is to hold the shards together while reducing the odds of penetration.  It will also eliminate flying glass, since the film will stick to the pane regardless of the blow.  This type of product can also defend your home against intrusion, since it is difficult to breach.

Impact windows offer another way to protect your property.  They draw their strength from a poly material that is sandwiched between 2 panes of glass.  They are designed to strengthen both panes against the worst that the wind can throw at them.  Even if struck by debris, while the outer pane may shatter, the poly material helps prevent wind and rain from entering your home. 

Of course, if you want the ultimate in protection, there is always ballistic glass, otherwise known as bulletproof glass.  Just like impact windows, ballistic glass is created by layering 2 panes of glass over a polycarbonate material.  A bullet fired into a piece of ballistic glass will shatter the outer pane only to be stopped by the inner poly material.  The upside to ballistic glass is that it is designed to stop a projectile.  The downsides are that it is much more expensive than traditional impact windows and it can also trap the occupants inside should a fire break out.  So unless you are in the Witness Protection Program and absolutely, positively need to live in a bunker, this is probably not the best solution to keep a hurricane at bay.

That being said, before you find the next East Coast hurricane breathing down your neck, you should take the time to make sure that your windows feature the latest in technology designed to protect you and yours.  Or, break out the horse and buggy.  It’s up to you.

In this article, I’ve discussed how to protect your windows during Hurricane season. I have provided the right way to protect them and also mention how to avoid doing it wrong so that you will keep those beautiful window after the storm.
If you’d like to talk to a professional about protecting your windows, or maybe upgrading your  windows, call HomeRite at 296-2515 or visit their showroom at 4801 Executive Park Court, Building 200, Suite 207, Jacksonville; FL 32216.
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HomeRite is a window and door dealer that specializes in energy efficient, quality windows and doors with warranties and service to match. The company has been in business since 2005. HomeRite has partnered with a manufacturer that has been producing high quality products and providing excellent customer service for over 60 years. Windows and doors from HomeRite are some of the highest quality, most thermally efficient windows and doors on the market.
HomeRite products add substantial value to their clients’ properties. HomeRite is a member of the United States Green Building Council, a non-profit organization comprised of leaders across the industry working to advance environmentally responsible buildings.
Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville, Florida. He and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 30 years. They strive to match homeowners with the right windows and doors for their homes and budgets. They make the home improvement process pleasant with first-rate, energy-efficient products, affordable pricing, and award-wining installers who employ the best practices and who always treat customers and their property with the utmost respect.

4 comments:

  1. Remember the old saw, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?" Well this applies doubly when it comes to keeping storms and hurricanes at bay. Impact-resistant windows are well worth it when the wind starts to howl.

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  2. A storm is on its way, I hope my windows are ready. If they say strong winds, I will be putting up my shutters since I don't have ballistic glass! :O

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  3. I bet this article shattered people's assumptions about plywood protection from hurricane force winds.

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  4. Thanks for sharing such a great blog... I am impressed with you taking time to post a nice info.
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