Are Your Windows & Doors Ready for Hurricane Season?
|Courtesy of NOAA news Online|
By Gates Dearen
The 2017 Hurricane Season is upon us, with 15 named storms, including eight hurricanes predicted. With the exception of Hurricane Matthew last year, many people living in Florida may have gotten complacent, since the Sunshine State had not seen a hurricane make landfall since 2004 when the state weathered four hurricanes in quick succession.
It has been 13 years since a hurricane scored a direct hit. Before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2005, many residents thought they’d be able to weather the storm. As a result, Katrina became the third most deadly storm in US history with more than 1,200 deaths and $108 billion in damage, even though the hurricane was only a Category 3.
The reason so much death and destruction occur during and after a major storm like Katrina can be summed up in 2 words: Wind and water. Most structures, especially windows, are not designed to withstand wind speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. To make matters worse, high winds tend to pick up debris which then becomes a projectile which can do significant damage to all but the toughest windows. Like it or not, a piece of half inch plywood is no match for a two by four propelled as fast as a major league fastball. Even worse are those people who think that packing tape is going to keep their windows in one piece during a hurricane.
While wind presents its share of challenges during a hurricane, by far the greatest proportion of damage and death results from water. That’s because once a window has been blown out, there is nothing to stop rain and debris from getting into a home. Even when compared with the fury of a tornado, hurricanes produce far more death and destruction. Roger Edwards of the Storm Prediction Center summed it up like this:
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“Even though winds from the strongest tornadoes far exceed that from the strongest hurricanes, hurricanes typically cause much more damage individually and over a season, and over far bigger areas. Economically, tornadoes cause about a tenth as much damage per year, on average, as hurricanes. Hurricanes tend to cause much more overall destruction than tornadoes because of their much larger size, longer duration and their greater variety of ways to damage property. The destructive core in hurricanes can be tens of miles across, last many hours and damage structures through storm surge and rainfall-caused flooding, as well as from wind.”
How to Protect Your Home from a Hurricane
The reason that more damage occurs than necessary during hurricane season is primarily due to the fact that most people wait until the last minute to secure their homes. By then it is too late. If you are a homeowner in Florida, I strongly urge you to take an hour or so this weekend to inspect your home to determine where any vulnerabilities that a storm can exploit may exist. Below is a short checklist that identifies key areas of concern.
1. Inspect your windows - Since these are the softest target for a storm to exploit, you need to examine these first. Check for any gaps in caulking and weather stripping. Open the window to determine if any panes are loose. Then close the window and take a few steps back before taking a hard look at your home and the surroundings. Imagine what would happen were the winds to top 100 miles per hour. Do you have trees nearby or a picket fence? Is there anything in your yard or those of your neighbors that could likely come loose during a windstorm? How old are your windows? What kind of damage would occur if one or more of the storm shutter were to come off during a storm? What kind of hurricane deductible does your homeowner’s policy have?
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2. Defense - What kind of protection have you procured for your windows in the event of a storm. If you answer none, you need to go back to item 1. If you plan on using plywood or storm shutters, you need to understand that while wood can deflect some debris, it will likely not deter flying tree limbs or two by fours. Also, unless they are professionally installed, plywood coverings may pop off right when you need them most. They will also turn your home into a dark bunker for the duration of the storm.
Corrugated steel or fabric panels, while better at handling a direct hit, can be expensive to acquire and difficult to install once the wind is up. Especially if your home is more than one story tall, the last thing you want to be handling on a pitched roof is a large panel that can quickly turn into a sail. Many people are injured or killed before the storm hits by taking a tumble from their roof while trying to install storm panels.
The best defense for a home is hurricane glass that contains a sheet of transparent polymer sandwiched between two panes of glass. Even when hit by windblown debris, these windows are designed to keep the worst of wind and water from entering your home.
3. How about your doors? – Does your home have sliding glass doors or wooden doors with glass insets? These also need to be protected in the event of a hurricane. How does the weather stripping look? Are there any missing screws in the hinges on any exterior door? Do all your exterior doors have deadbolt locks? Deadbolts are better able to handle high winds. The last thing you want to have happen during a hurricane is a door to blow open.
If you would like a professional evaluation of your home’s weather resistance – at no charge - please contact us at HomeRite Windows and Doors, and one of our specialists will happily assist you. We have years of experience when it comes to keeping out the worst that wind and weather can throw at you and we will be more than happy to give your home a free assessment. While it might cost a few dollars to shore up your home’s defenses against hurricanes, keeping you and yours safe during a storm is priceless.
HomeRite is a window and door dealer that specializes in energy efficient, quality products with warranties and service to match. The company has been in business since 2005. HomeRite is 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 25 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-winning installers who employ the best practices and who always treat customers and their property with the utmost respect.