Will your windows protect you during a hurricane?

Originally published at NBC TV 8 WFLA

By: John Rogers

VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) - During the last hurricane season, experts say Florida homes withstood the winds better than homes in Texas.

That's thanks in part to Florida's strict building codes.

PGT in Venice is the nation's largest builder of impact-resistant windows. For the first time, they allowed media to go inside and watch them test the windows.

Imagine if a 2x4 was shot right toward your living room window. Or imagine if a storm violently tossed debris toward your child's bedroom.

It's a real risk anyone could face this hurricane season. Is your home ready?

In Miami-Dade County, Florida’s strict building codes require homeowners to have storm shutters or impact resistant windows. 

Here in the Tampa Bay area, most new homes already include these products. At PGT, windows go through serious testing.

Wooden beams are fired out of cannons to replicate debris from a hurricane. The windows also undergo a water test to simulate the rains from a powerful storm. The windows are also put through a pressure test.

"When air penetrates the home, the roof pressurizes and pops off, and that's where you see all the devastation, the destruction, when the roof starts coming off the house,” said PGT CEO Jeffrey Jackson.

“Opening a window allows wind pressure to surge into the home, it doesn’t have a great escape point. It’ll find the path of least resistance, which is typically the roof, so it pressurizes the roof and then the home fails from there,” explained VP of Product Management and Engineering Dean Ruark.

If a single drop of water makes it through the window, the test has failed.

Experts say simply using plywood could do more harm than good.

"Different levels of thickness perform differently, so some of the thinner plywood, a missile will go right through that, multiple shots on plywood or if you get close to the edge, some of those missile shots would go right through the plywood,” said Ruark.

“Even by the code, it has to basically be anchored by a professional engineer through a very regimented anchor pattern to tie it back to the home…it often becomes the source of debris in a storm if it’s not anchored properly to the home,” Ruark added.

It's important you find what's right for you. Consult your insurance company and get a home inspection.

"Understand your home. Understand what you're buying. Understand through inspections what you have,” said Ruark.

Whether you have impact resistant windows or not, it's important that you keep your home ready for the storm.

Date : 6/5/2018