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November/December  2004

Hurricane Report

Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne Pack a Punch 
but Manufacturers Products Emerge Victorious 

When hurricanes Charley, Frances Ivan and Jeanne ripped through the Southeast in a matter of two short months, the damage was devastating. That wasn’t the case, however, for many homeowners who had windows and doors from various manufacturers installed in their homes.

Following the storms, DWM posted a question to subscribers of our weekly electronic newsletter asking them how their products fared during the hurricanes. In the pages below you’ll find testimonials from homeowners and manufacturers regarding their experience with various window products.

Impact-Resistant Windows Withstand Hurricane Charley
Weather Shield Windows and Doors says its LifeGuard® line of impact-resistant windows and doors helped protect many homes from flying debris and wind damage associated with Hurricane Charley. While many homes were demolished Weather Shield says its windows, which feature an interlayer system, reduced the likelihood of damage and impact penetration.

“Until now, the benefits of impact-resistant window and door systems, could only be illustrated in the test lab,” said Val Rogers, certification and testing project team leader at Weather Shield. “Hurricane Charley provided the ultimate test, and we are very pleased to see the level of protection this technology is able to provide in both the residential and commercial sectors.”

“We are particularly gratified that we are not aware of one single building or home built with LifeGuard products that experienced any window or door failure,” said Todd Fittro, window specialist with Forest Products, a LifeGuard dealer in Sarasota. “We visited many neighborhoods where homes with LifeGuard impact-resistant window and door systems remained untouched by the storm and houses just down the street were demolished."

Peter Hayes, president of Tandem Construction, whose company has both commercial and residential products in the storm’s path, stressed that installation is critical.

“I’ve seen some fine products fail because they were installed incorrectly,” said Hayes.

 “We need more education in this area to make sure we don’t see failures from good products being installed improperly."

Weather Shield says its LifeGuard® line of impact-resistant windows and doors fared extremely well during Hurricane Charley.

Hurd Windows Put to the Test
James Fulwood of Coastal Windows and Doors in Palm Beach, Fla., wrote to Terry Waldhart of Hurd Millwork following Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne to report on how Hurd windows performed during the storms. Frances delivered winds of 105 mph and gust up to 115 mph. Twenty days later the area was hit by Hurricane Jeanne which delivered sustained winds of 115 mph and gusts up to 125 mph.

“Out of all the Hurd products we have installed over the last several years, we have received minimal calls and no calls of any failures of products,” said Fullwood in his letter.

The Jupiter Hills country Club, a Coastal project that sits on a hill overlooking the intracoastal waterway, actually served as a shelter for local residents.

Fulwood also spoke of a 22,000 square-foot private residence with a window opening in the living room of 18 feet by 35 feet—the windows remained intact. 

Hurd also received a letter from homeowners John and Annie Sottile who have the company’s, FeelSafe, divided lite casement windows, operative transoms and French doors installed in their home in Merritt Island, Fla. 

“Our home was struck … with winds that approached 120 miles per hour,” said the Sottile’s letter. “All of the Hurd products performed flawlessly (none were shuttered). There were no leaks, no flaws, no broken weatherstripping and no swelling on any of the French doors, screen doors or transoms throughout our entire home doors (including those doors that open inward). This included a pair custom arched window and transom windows facing east which are approximately 15 feet and high and 6 feet wide.”

Homeowners Say Windows “Keep them Safe”
Simonton Windows says its products held up extremely well during the recent hurricanes, particularly in one home that had the company’s impact-resistant StormBreaker Plus windows and patio doors installed. 

“The windows were one of our most important investments,” said homeowner Rich Hardin. “Local building codes and restrictions played a big role in the products we selected. Once we saw the Simonton StormBreaker Plus™ line, we were sold. The combination of the window strength, energy efficiency benefits and low maintenance vinyl frames completely convinced us these were the only windows for our home.”

The windows are constructed of double-strength tempered and laminated KeepSafe® Maximum glass. Even in hurricane conditions, the glass in the impact-resistant products may shatter in the frame, but it will simply adhere to the .090 inch PVB interlayer, according to Simonton. This eliminates the possibility of glass blowing into the home or flying debris entering the house.

“The picture and casement windows allow us to gain expansive ocean views without worrying about protecting the house during a storm,” said Hardin. “These windows eliminate the need for shutters, storm panels or plywood.”

Window contractor Ken Branholm recommended the windows to the Hardins. 

“I’ve done my research and these are the most durable impact-resistant products on the market,” he said. “Every project we’ve installed Simonton StormBreaker Plus products in has been a winner—-both from a security and UV protection standpoint.”

Crusader Saves Homes During Hurricanes
Northeast Building Products informed DWM of a customer, Jim Germanis, former owner of Tri State Windows, who purchased the company’s fully welded Crusader windows in 2001. These windows were purchased with Northeast’s energy package, which are foam-filled and include low-E glass. The Crusader is the top of the line fully welded vinyl replacement window from the company’s Camelot Series window offerings. He also had purchased glass block- pre-fabricated windows from Northeast. 
Germanis, who lives in Punta Gorda, Fla., also purchased patio doors from another supplier. 

“During the hurricane he noticed that the patio doors were bowing and eventually gave way and the glass smashed,” said Jeffrey Witkin, executive vice president of Northeast Building Products. “His roof was partially ripped off during this hurricane. All the vinyl windows and the glass block windows came through with no damage at all.”

Stringent Testing Makes a Difference
ViWinTech Windows and Doors says its products performed well during the recent hurricanes and the company attributes this in part to the stringent testing all of its products undergo. The company says its Shoreline windows have been tested at a Florida-based test lab and meet the state’s standards.

“Even our larger-than-average sized windows are approved with higher-than-needed design pressure (DP) rating,” said Ken Barman, director of sales and marketing.

Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne hit the West Coast of Florida like a one, two punch, according to Steve Ehrenpreis, manager of the building products division at Town and Country Industries in Tampa, Fla. 

“ViWinTech windows performed in the driving wind and rain as expected and absolutely met their test standards and requirements,” he said. “Structurally, ViWinTech windows held up very well.”

Standard hurricane features on the company’s windows include:
• Heavy-walled vinyl;
• Reinforced stiles and rails;
• .090 laminated glass;
• High performance lock and keeper; and 
• Specially designed heavy-tilt latches.

View from the Virgin Islands
The following letter was sent to DWM from Ray Berg of Glassrays Inc, provider of laminated glass in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. 

“In the U.S. Virgin Islands we are finding insurance carriers charging higher premiums for hurricane-resistant glass in windows due to the high cost of replacement. Hurricane shutters are the favored product for the insurance industry … although the fasteners are now rusting away after several years of air, salt, wind and rain forcing its way into various cracks and crevices, weakening the structural factors to the quality of the finished product. I feel this problem will be further highlighted as a shortage of materials pops up due to the extreme storm fronts that have hit the United States. Cheating contractors should be held responsible beyond the statue of limitations for consumer fraud as consumers are paying inflated prices for a product that eventually will fail due to improper fasteners.”

The Other Side of the Story: Some Windows Did Fail
Steve Howes, president of laminated glass manufacturer Glasslam, responded bluntly when asked about the performance of windows during the recent hurricanes.

“They didn’t all work,” he said. “Some manufacturers are selling to the Bahamas and the Caribbean and these windows didn’t fare as well.” 

Howes told the story of one particular window manufacturer, a customer of Glasslam’s whose windows were installed in the Grand Bahamas. While the laminated glass and the frames did hold, during the height of the storm the windows blew open. Howes attributes this to the fact that this particular manufacturer did not get the windows tested to Dade County standards.

“The idea of Dade County testing is that all window components work together,” he said. But, according to Howes, if these windows have been tested it would have been discovered that the hardware used was not the right hardware for this particular window.

“This is a wonderful example of why Dade County says to test the whole window,” he said. “I’m a big backer of Dade County testing,” said Howes. “People complain about it but it has been proven to work well.”

Howes spoke to the homeowner whose windows failed and the customer said, “I’m going to buy shutters.”

That’s a reaction that Howes said the window industry cannot afford. He did, add, however, that overall window products held up well during the storms.

“The whole window industry can pat themselves on the back,” he said. 

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