Preparing your home for hurricane season can help protect against extreme wind and flooding, saving your property from major damage. Certainly, if you live in states with the highest risk of hurricanes — Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and North Carolina — having an emergency plan that includes protecting your property beforehand is prudent. Even if you need to evacuate, a strong and resilient property will ensure that you’ll have a house in decent shape to come home to.
One of the weakest areas, and hence vulnerable areas, of a house is the windows. Using hurricane windows, such as glass block hurricane impact windows (also called hurricane resistant windows), will protect your home from wind and flying debris without needing hurricane window shutters.
Why Are Hurricanes So Destructive?
Anybody who has experienced a hurricane first-hand knows the immense power of this type of tropical storm. Along with winds greater than 74 mph — over 157 mph in a category 5, hurricanes bring storm surges, torrential rain, and tornados, resulting in floods, land erosion, uprooted and broken trees and the destruction of buildings and infrastructure.
Damage can occur over a large area. Hurricane winds swirl around a calm center known as the eye of the storm. The eye is about 20 to 30 miles wide, and the storm can extend 400 miles outwards from there. A hurricane can last weeks over the ocean, fueled by the evaporation of warm seawater, but thankfully, it will deteriorate more rapidly once it moves on land. All this adds up to the potential for extensive destruction over a wide expanse of land.
Hurricane Window Protection
Sudden gusts of hurricane-strength winds create pressure changes that can shatter a window made of conventional glass. Some people believe that taping a window will prevent the shards from flying and injuring home occupants, but this is not true.
Luckily, an even, sustained wind generally will not blow out a window. The bigger concern is flying debris. Even small debris propelled by hurricane-force winds can become a missile that can easily shatter a conventional window. Flying debris and shards of glass present a serious danger to occupants, but flying debris can also cause domino damage to your home. During an intense hurricane, any opening in your home’s ‘building envelope’ threatens the entire structure by increasing the pressure within until weaker parts give out — usually the roof. Damaged windows and roofs will allow torrential rains to pour in, causing water damage.
All to say that, hurricane windows are not a luxury if you live in an area that regularly experiences hurricanes.
Traditional Hurricane Windows vs Glass Block Hurricane Windows
Traditional hurricane windows are made of laminated glass. When a projectile hits the window the outer layer will shatter, with the inner layer holding the pieces together. Occupants and the building’s structure will be protected, but you will still need to replace your windows after the storm.
By contrast, glass block hurricane windows will not shatter. They meet or exceed the highest standards of the Miami-Dade County Product Control Section and the Texas Department of Insurance. They also meet the specifications to pass the large missile impact tests referenced in the International Building Code, ASTM E-1886 and ASTM E-1996, as well as various other regional codes for Miami / Dade, Texas and the State of Florida.
During a hurricane, large debris missiles such as timbers, roof tiles, sheet metal, concrete blocks, bricks and fascia fly or tumble within 30 feet of the ground. The test for large missiles involves launching a 9-pound, 2-inch by 4-inch wood stud at 50 feet per second (35 mph) at the center of a window. Then another stud is launched at a corner. Both the corner and center of the window must remain intact to pass this part of the test. Next, the window is put through a test that simulates a 200 mph wind. If the window remains intact within the frame after these tests, it can be certified as an impact-resistant window.
Benefits of Glass Block Hurricane Impact Windows
Glass block hurricane windows are suitable for both commercial and residential applications. As well as protection from strong winds and projectiles, they are beautiful, durable and provide sound and UV light protection. Benefits specifically related to hurricane protection are:
- 24-hour storm protection with no action required: save time and money since you won’t need to board up windows
- Will withstand Category 5 hurricane-force winds up to 200 mph without blowing out
- Impact resistant
- Offer increased security: no need to worry about looters after a storm
- Cheaper than roll-down hurricane shutters.
- May save on insurance premiums
Upgrade to Glass Block Hurricane Impact Windows
Hurricane windows are a necessity in hurricane-prone states. Out of the array of available hurricane windows, those made with glass block offer unique benefits that others don’t. They won’t shatter, provide excellent security and are beautiful to boot. Thinking of upgrading? Contact Quality Glass Block to learn more and discuss your project.