Hurricane Window Protection is Critically Important

By Extended Reach Staff Writers

You just moved to South Florida, and if you are like many you might have skipped the process of having an appraisal of the property if you were an all-cash buyer.

Hurricane window protection is critically important, living in a State vulnerable to hurricane window force, causing extreme property damage by wind speed exceeding 100 miles per hour, and causing trees to fall or flying metal objects destroying personal property. Also, this type of window protection increases home security, when people are away from their home on a vacation. When purchasing hurricane window protection, the homeowner must consider the type of product or design, which provides the best protection, easy to open and close, the area needed to protect, the amount of space needed to be installed, and the cost. Each type of hurricane window protection provides maximum protection from wind speed. Only professional and licensed companies should install any type of hurricane window protection, and get the required building permits, from your local county or city government office. Always, check references of any licensed company and see previous work accomplished. Very important, professionals take the accurate window or door measurements, since the parts are custom made or designed according to specifications. Any type of installed hurricane window protection should include, a warranty for parts and labor. After installation, expect a representative from the city or county, who will inspect and verify correct installation, based upon State or County regulations. Additionally, check, if your community association has any restrictions, regarding the installation of hurricane window protection. Your home homeowner’s insurance will likely be reduced, by having hurricane window protection.

Accordion Shutters designed to protect windows, sliding glass doors or enclose total balconies. The shutters are easy to open and close, for any age or elderly. The shutters are interconnected and have exterior aluminum panels (Should be cleaned and lubricated yearly.) that move horizontally, between an upper and lower track. The upper track or header, which holds wheel and carriage assemblies, that attach to the top of every other panel. This allows ease of movement when opening and closing the shutter. The lower track or “still” guides and secures the bottom of each panel. The upper and lower tracks are permanently installed against the frame of a window. Shutters are manually operated, by moving each of the two panels, against a window frame, until they interlock together and then locked by a key. Additional locking pins, further enhance the stability or security of the Accordion Shutter and are easy to handle. This type of shutter can work around the radius corner of a building or home, which has corner windows. When not in use, are folding away (side corner of the window) for an unobstructed view. Accordion Shutters are available in white, beige, bronze or ivory, depending on the building code requirements or regulations in various communities. Additional convenience, using Accordion Shutters permits light and air to pass through from the outside and allowing the homeowner to see outside, while preventing anyone, from seeing anything inside. Comparably, the price for Accordion Shutters is less than roll-down shutters. In 2005, one square foot of Accordion shutters retailed in Miami and Dade County Florida $16 – $18, an increase of twenty-five percent from 2002. Also, these shutters are known to exceed South Florida building code regulations.

Bahama Shutters (The shutters considered Caribbean décor.) are attached to the outside of a window frame and propped open when not in use. The shutters are made of aluminum alloy, and non-corrosive stainless steel hardware or hinge (Also, available in clear impact-resistant Lexan Polycarbonate.). The shutters provide shade from the sun (adjustable for maximum or minimum protection) when lowered, and protection against hurricane window force, heavy rains, and burglary. Also, the shutters are available in Tongue and Grove design. These are commonly used for commercial and residential applications, including mobile homes, offices, condominiums, and storefronts. Similar is Colonial Shutters, which provide a more traditional appearance. Bahama Shutters provide privacy for the pool, patio enclosure, and protecting drapery or upholstery, from fading due to sunlight. These shutters are easily accessible to open or close. The standard colors available are white, bronze, buffed or additional decorative colors. The cost of each Bahama shutter is determined by height, width, and cost per square foot. In Dade County Florida, Bahama Shutters must provide protection up to 150 miles per hour.

Roll Down Shutters are secured in an upper housing or “box” and when hand-cranked or automatically operated, by the use of an electric motor, will release the slats, which will roll down a track until reaching the ground. The system should have a battery back up if operated by electricity. When the slats are completely lowered, they provide convince of sufficient light, and air to pass through. These shutters are very effective in enclosing porches, balconies, and providing additional home security. Also, allow the homeowner to see out, while preventing others from seeing inside. The slats are made of aluminum, and double wall thickness, which is considered the strongest slats available. The shutters are available, in a variety of colors, which match the outside decor of homes and condominiums, custom-designed for many different window styles, and are very expensive. Additional removable Storm Bars should be included, which reinforces the roll-down shutters’ strength.

Storm panels are made of steel or aluminum, and most difficult for a homeowner or business owner to install, but provide very strong protection, against wind damage or prevent flying debris from causing interior damage. Steel panels are thinner, compared to aluminum, and heavy to carry. Aluminum panels are thicker and lighter to carry but will cost more. In 2005, the cost for a square foot of aluminum panel retailed in Miami and Dade County Florida: $7.00 – $8.00 compared to $5.50 prior two years. Recommend, when installing the panels: two or more people work together, a ladder is likely to be required, a battery-operated drill for tightening and loosening bolts, and drill bit kit (The battery-operated drill should be fully recharged the night before installing or removing the panels). Tracks along the side of the windows or doors are preinstalled, and ready to attach these storm panels, whenever an approaching hurricane or storm. The aluminum panels are custom designed according to the length and location of the installation of the window or door. Each panel overlaps to increase strength, providing additional protection and reinforced by bolts and fasteners (washed wingnuts). The panels are usually stacked and stored against an inside wall of a garage, closet, or storage area, and each should be numbered, according to the location of installation. Recommend wearing protective gloves, when lifting or carrying any of the panels, since the edges are very sharp. Once all the panels are installed, no light can enter the home or residence. The aluminum panels provide the maximum wind protection when installed according to manufacturers guidelines, and expensive to purchase.

Impact-resistant glass is the newest type of window protection, which is available in either laminated glass or shatter-resistant films. The laminated glass consists of two or more panes of any type of clear glass, which is bonded together with a plastic interlayer. The bond glass protects against breakage during tornadoes, hurricanes, and protects from burglars, trying to break into a residence. Shatter-resistant films or adhesive, are placed over the interior side of existing window glass. When a resistant glass window is struck by a flying object, the adhesive will hold any broken pieces together. Also, the resistant glass will provide protection, against the sun’s damaging Ultraviolet rays, which can damage draperies, rugs, and furniture. License professionals should install impact-resistant glass windows. Critically important during installation, the frame of the window must be strong enough to keep the glass secure. Often, retrofit-resistant glass windows require replacing the window frame. Many new homes build within hurricane-prone areas have preinstalled resistant glass, against windows and sliding glass doors. Several impact-resistant windows have passed South Florida “large missile impact” test, against 80 miles per hour wind.

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