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Can Impact Windows withstand Hurricane Category 5 Winds?

impact windows DP Rating 5

If you have impact windows and doors in your home, you can thank Hurricane Andrew. Most Floridians over 30 years old or older know of Hurricane Andrew’s category-five winds and have installed hurricane windows and doors for protection. Today, building codes have changed how our apartments and houses are built. 

 

However, in 2022, Hurricane Ian decimated Fort Myers and many more counties and their homes, so these big storms are still something to consider when living in Florida. We can keep discussing hurricane damage or how Clearwater, Florida, quality hurricane windows will prevent future disasters instead.

 

Impact windows became the norm after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and for a good reason. 

 

Can Impact Windows withstand Hurricane Category 5 Winds?

can impact windows prevent category 5 hurricane winds

I say yes, and it depends.  Yeah, if you have installed high-quality hurricane windows with a DP rating of 50, you can boost that. However, only some have installed this window. Usually, quality impact windows can prevent hurricane category 1, 2, and probably 3 winds and debris.

To buy 4 and higher-rated hurricane window replacements, research them to see which can withstand high winds and debris.

Replacement window installations are a project you will do once or twice in your lifetime. Therefore, you must ask questions since Ian landed in category four a few months ago. The weather doesn’t improve but always worsens as the oceans get hotter. If you invest in home windows, ensure you buy quality windows with a 30 or above DP rating.

So, how do you know if you have or are buying a quality impact-resistant window? First, let’s understand the hurricane impact window’s DP rating below.

 

Understanding a Hurricane Window DP rating of 50

 

A building component’s ability to sustain a specific wind load is indicated by a “DP” or “design pressure” rating. Structure load, water resistance, and air infiltration resistance are the three performance components described by the DP ratings. For example, if a window or door has a higher DP value than one with a lower DP, it can handle more wind, water, and structural load.

 

A door or window with a structural DP rating of 50 has successfully endured a structural test pressure of 75 pounds per square foot or withstand category 5 winds on a Saffir-Simpson scale. A product that has received a 50 DP rating for air performance has also successfully survived testing in conditions of 8″ rain driven at 50 mph and withstood air infiltration at 25 mph.

 

What is a Category Five Hurricane?

 

  • Category 5 hurricanes bring winds of 157 mph and higher gust speeds. 

 

  • There will be catastrophic damage because most frame homes will be lost with complete roof failure and collapsing walls. 

 

  • Downed trees and utility poles will cut off residential areas. 

 

  • Power outages could linger for several weeks. 

 

  • Most of the area will be habitable for several weeks unless proper federal and state assistance is required. 

 

The Keys Hurricane hit South Florida in 1935, and the Andrew Hurricane in 1992 were the only two Category 5 hurricanes.

 

How are Impact Windows Tested?

 

Impact windows must meet specific standards and codes to be certified as hurricane-resistant. Depending on where they are installed on a building, they undergo one of two tests:

 

  • Large-missile debris test: This test applies to windows 30 feet or less above ground level. To pass this test, a window should withstand the impact of a nine-pound, 2×4 lumber missile traveling at 34 mph, followed by passing wind testing for 9,000 cycles, leaving only a tiny hole in the glass.

 

  • Small missile debris test: This test applies to windows 30 feet or more above ground level. To pass this test, a window should withstand the impact of 10 ball bearings traveling at 50 mph. The product is then subjected to wind loads for 9,000 cycles.

Impact Windows is Not the Same as Regular Windows with Storm Shutters

Storm shutters are external devices that cover windows and protect them from debris and wind. However, they have some disadvantages, such as:

  • They can be difficult to install and remove, especially for high-rise buildings or large windows.
  • Storm shutters can block natural light and ventilation, making the interior dark and stuffy.
  • Strong winds can damage or blow away them, leaving the windows exposed.
  • They can be expensive and require maintenance.

 

Hurricane Impact Windows to the Rescue

Are hurricane-impact windows better than shutters?

Impact windows are made to withstand hurricane winds, debris, and other severe weather like tornadoes. Also, impact windows are tested in storm simulations to ensure they will hold up.

Impact windows are remarkable because their safety design extends beyond simple durability. They also have a solid yet flexible plastic-like layer between the glass panes.

This interlayer will hold the broken pieces of glass in place if a piece of debris strikes your window forcefully enough to break it, preventing injuries from flying glass from entering your home.

Conclusion

Some impact windows may even withstand winds of 157 mph or higher, depending on their quality and rating. However, no impact windows are guaranteed to survive a Category 5 hurricane. As Peter Dyga, president of the East Coast chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), said, “Windows are impact-resistant, not impact-proof. The strongest building code in the world will not totally protect us from a natural power like a Category 5 hurricane.”

The best way to protect your home from a Category 5 hurricane is to evacuate when advised by authorities and follow their instructions. If you stay home during a storm, ensure a safe room with no windows or exterior doors. Stay away from glass doors and windows, even if they are impact-resistant.

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