Almost every week, the news has coverage of devastating storms all around the country. According to the Congressional Budget Office, storm damage has an average national cost of $54 billion. Damage from flooding and high winds costs the most to repair. To minimize the damage from the storms, residences and businesses turn to products like impact windows. However, before investing in the home upgrade, you may wonder: are impact windows effective?

What are impact windows?

Many manufacturers also refer to impact windows as storm windows or storm impact windows. The windows are not shutters used to protect against poor weather conditions. Impact windows will replace any standard windows within the home. Each window contains glass rated against damage caused by high winds and heavy rain. The impact windows are considered more cost-effective than traditional storm shutters and will provide long-term protection. Although you’re not required to pair storm shutters with impact windows, some homeowners opt for both in place if they live in an area prone to hurricanes.

Impact windows are crafted from heavy-duty materials to provide the ultimate level of protection. Companies often make window glass from layers of polyvinyl butyral (PVB). The window may also be coated with a layer of vinyl for increased defense against environmental damage. For example, the vinyl will keep the windows safe from harsh saltwater if you live near the beach. Laminate materials are essential for ultraviolet ray protection. UV protection will prevent any fading and degradation of objects inside the home, such as furniture, flooring, and artwork. A manufacturer will offer aluminum and steel frames as part of the impact windows. The materials help prevent issues like cracking that could occur during sudden pressure changes or temperature shifts.

Are impact windows effective during hurricanes?

According to FEMA, window and door damage from storms can significantly cause interior damage. If windows and doors are compromised, then indoor damage will become a significant issue. The shattered windows will allow any rain and debris to enter the dwelling. The result is water damage that could affect the structure. Extended water exposure warps flooring and can soften sheetrock. Repairing structural damage is costly and easily preventable with the installation of hurricane impact windows.

Notably, impact windows also provide security for the health of family members inside the dwelling. When windows break during a storm, the shattered glass could cause minor and major injuries to anyone located near the entry point. With no protection in place, flying debris could get inside the home and cause harm too.

Impact windows are tested under laboratory conditions to measure their sustainability against wind speeds. Standard windows will shatter when exposed to wind speeds above 77 miles per hour. Impact windows will frequently provide protection at wind speeds as much as 150 to 170 miles per hour. A Category 5 hurricane has wind speeds above 157 miles per hour. Winds at this speed cause extreme damage, with standard windows shattering almost instantly.

Consumers can review the type of wind load the products can handle within the performance guide of impact windows. The windows are tested in two ways: positive pressure and negative pressure. With positive pressure, manufacturers review how much windows can withstand force as the wind presses against a structure. For negative pressure, testing reviews how the windows react as the wind pulls away from a building. A standard for the industry is that the windows should withstand 50 pounds of wind pressure per square foot.

Proven advantages of impact windows

Storm protection isn’t the only advantage of impact windows. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, energy usage declined between 13 and 21 percent in homes retrofitted with storm windows. Installation costs of the storm windows were recouped in most cases within five years due to energy savings. Storm windows reflect radiant heat better than standard windows, helping keep warmth inside a home during colder months.

Another consideration when purchasing impact windows is burglary protection with windows crafted from thick layers of materials, including PVB. The materials prevent the windows from being shattered by a crowbar. Furthermore, you can even find impact windows that have undergone testing to withstand bullets.

Keep in mind that storm windows are no longer optional in many areas. For instance, Florida Building Code requires that all homes have exterior protection against wind-borne debris. Homeowners need storm doors and windows to prevent damage from objects labeled as small and large missiles. FAS Windows and Doors offers effective impact windows to help consumers in Florida remain compliant. Once installed, you can contact your homeowner insurance company to inquire about discounts on your premiums.

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