Hurricane House Calls: Doors


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According to the results from post-disaster investigations conducted by FEMA, windows, glassed doors, skylights, and vents are very vulnerable to damage from wind force, water intrusion, and windborne debris.

When a home’s windows and doors are compromised during a hurricane, wind forces or pressure inside the building are dramatically increased and may result in severe structural damage. In some cases, FEMA has discovered that the destruction of a window led to the collapse of that building’s roof due to this type of pressure.

Water damage is another issue that may follow the failure of a building’s glazing systems. The term glazing is used to address all windows and openings containing glass. Hurricanes and coastal storms can cause problems due to wind-driven rain. Leakage can occur between the frames of windows and doors. This leakage can increase with greater wind speeds.

So what can a homeowner do? According to FEMA, the most effective solution is impact-resistant glazing systems. These systems require no human action or involvement after installation. The protection is in the design of the glazing. There is no need for storm panels or shutter systems. Impact resistant glass is tested to meet or exceed ATSM, IRC or IBC standards. There is usually an interlayer of polyvinyl butyral (or something similar) between the panes of glass. The design and construction helps to ensure the window remains intact to prevent water and wind from passing through. After impact testing, the laminated glazing system must pass the cyclic pressure tests of ASTM E1886.

The window and door assembly and materials are also important. If a door or window fails under pressure, the glazing can fracture or lose support. Fiberglass or vinyl frames along with stainless steel hardware will help minimize corrosion. Wood frames should be treated or constructed with insect and rot resistant wood. Code requirements outline proper installation.

Homeowners should carefully consider reputable contractors and manufacturers to ensure that impact resistant doors or windows installed meet the standards mentioned above.

Some companies, such as FHIA (Florida Home Improvement Associates), may offer lifetime guarantees on their products, which includes accidental glass breakage. Impact resistant doors and windows also provide energy efficiency and security due to their impact resistance and structural integrity.

Some helpful links:

FEMA - Windows, Doors, and Opening Protection (PDF)

CWS Hurricane Impact Doors


This article is sponsored by: Florida Home Improvement Associates