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Read the Labels
If you’ve recently purchased windows for your home or business and they still have the labels on them, it should say whether or not they are hurricane proof or “impact-resistant”. This information can also usually be found on other documents that come with the windows such as an owner’s manual or product guide. However, if the windows in your home were there when you moved in, you probably won’t have access to the product information on the labels or owner’s manual. In that case:
Look for a Permanent Mark
Many hurricane-proof windows are made with panes of tempered glass that often have a small insignia or label etched into one of the corners. This permanent mark helps to identify the type of glass, the manufacturer, where it was made, and the standards under which it was manufactured. If this mark doesn’t explicitly state that the windows are impact-resistant, it should at least give you a model number or production number that can reference when you contact the manufacturer.
The lack of a permanent mark doesn’t necessarily mean your windows are not hurricane proof. Many windows are custom-cut to a requested size, and there may be occasions when the permanent label has been trimmed away. If this happens, a manufacturer will add a temporary label to replace it. For windows that have already been installed, you can try the method outlined below.
Look for a Double Reflection
Hold an object up next to the glass and look for a reflection. Since hurricane-proof windows are made with two or more panes of glass, you should be able to see more than one reflection. If you can see multiple reflections, then your windows might be impact resistant, however, if they only have a single pane of glass, then they’re not.
Hurricane Windows Vs. Impact Windows
A common question many homeowners ask is whether there’s a difference between hurricane windows and impact windows. The descriptions are often used interchangeably, which is understandable since all hurricane windows are impact resistant. But are all impact-resistant windows hurricane proof? First, it’s helpful to understand that being deemed a hurricane-proof window is primarily an interpretation of its DP (Design Pressure) and PG (Performance Grade) ratings. If testing has verified a window can withstand winds above 74 mph (the minimal threshold for hurricanes), they can technically be called hurricane-proof windows.
The labels on new windows will not explicitly say “Hurricane Rated for Category X Storms.” It will be up to you to do a quick conversion. PG and DP ratings range from 0 to 50. Generally speaking, every 10 points indicates a window’s ability to withstand a sequentially higher category of storm. In other words, a window rated between 0-10 can withstand a Category 1 hurricane, windows rated between 10-20 can withstand a Category 2 hurricane, and so on. Not all windows have DP and PG ratings. If they don’t, it’s a good indication they have not been subjected to the required performance tests.
While hurricane and impact windows are, for the most part, very similar, some manufacturers will be quick to point out that hurricane windows feature not only a film on the glass to prevent shards from flying through the air upon impact, but also several layers of plastic sandwiched between the glass to enhance strength and help prevent debris penetration.
Consult a Professional
If you’re not able to tell whether the windows in your home are hurricane proof by looking at them, someone with more experience might. The professionals at ABEX Windows & Doors know hurricane-proof windows in and out and they can set up a consultation to examine your existing windows and tell you if they’re impact resistant or if you could use an upgrade.