How Do I Know if I Have Hurricane Impact Windows?

In the larger Fort Lauderdale, FL area, where hurricanes are a common natural disaster, you need to take extra precautions. Windows especially need to be protected or hurricane proofed to meet modern building codes. But not many homeowners know if they meet the new building standard.

Standard Windows vs. Hurricane Windows

The main difference is the glass. Standard windows typically are made of float glass. Upon impact, the glass breaks into large shards. These can be dangerous, especially during a hurricane. For impact and hurricane windows, two panes of glass are bonded together with a resin membrane sandwiched between. The membrane is usually made from Polyvinyl Butaryl (PVB). If broken, the shattered pieces of the glass adhere to the film and the window remains, for the most part, intact. That way a crack will not expose your house to the disastrous wind and water from the storm. The specialized glass is paired with beefed up frames.

As you can imagine, hurricane windows must meet specialized standards. As such, they undergo rigorous testing before they can be marketed and sold. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) performs these tests by subjecting glass to projectiles and wind pressure. And while building codes vary by community, most Fort Lauderdale FL hurricane windows must meet these guidelines:

  • Must pass large missile impact test. They launch a 2×4 at the window at 80 feet per second, and the window must hold together.
  • Must pass small missile impact test. For this, they shoot 10 small projectiles at the window at 80 feet per second, and the widow must hold together.
  • Must pass wind pressure test. If the window passes the first two tests, then they subject the glass to wind pressure of up to 200 miles per hour and the window must remain in the frame.

How Can I Tell if I Have Hurricane Windows?

Here are the signs to look for:

Check for a Permanent Mark

Tempered glass often has a small label etched in one of the corners. In construction, this is called a “bug.” This helps identify the glass with the name of the manufacturer and the standers under which it was made. Laminated glass, which is often used in impact resistant windows, doesn’t always have this permanent mark.

Read the Label

Because laminated glass can be cut to size, the permanent mark might be missing. If so, many manufacturers will place a temporary label on the glass to help identify it. This label will outline the thickness, the date of manufacture, the place of fabrication. It will also display any certifications or standards the glass meets. This label will tell you if it is hurricane or impact resistant.

Examine Your Reflection

When you put an object next to the glass, check the reflection. Because impact resistant glass has two or more sheets of glass, you should see two or more reflections.

Ask a Professional

What do you do if you can’t find any labels and are not sure about the reflection? Just ask a professional in Fort Lauderdale, FL. They can come and examine your existing windows and let you know if you are safe, or if you need an upgrade.

Looking for more information about hurricane windows? Come by High End Impact Windows and Doors at 1472 S. Dixie Hwy. E., Pompano Beach, FL 33060, or call us today, 954-782-7100.