How can you determine if your home already has enhanced impact windows installed? There are several things residents can look for to identify these reinforced windows.
What Do Impact Windows Look Like?
Impact window glass and framing have characteristics that distinguish them from standard windows when you look closely:
- Thicker laminated glass- This impact-resistant glass comprises a glass-plastic-glass “sandwich” that prevents shattering. The plastic membrane bonded between two panes of glass stops it from breaking apart when hit by debris.
- Reinforced window framing- Impact windows often use framing material like aluminum, vinyl, fiberglass, or other strengthened composites rather than standard wood framing. This helps the window stand up to high winds.
- Miami-Dade certification labels- Etched markings on the corner of the glass will typically indicate “Miami-Dade County Approved” or other codes signifying the window meets South Florida impact standards. The manufacturer’s logo may also be displayed.
- Florida state certification- You may also see “Florida Building Code Approved” etched on impact glass. This proves they comply with statewide impact window requirements.
- Hurricane film- Some homeowners apply special reinforced window films that mimic impact glass. Look for these thick polyester films offering shatter protection.
Overall, impact windows have a more substantial, rugged look than conventional windows. But it can still be hard for the average homeowner to distinguish visually. The etching and labels offer the best clues that they are certified impact-resistant.
Testing Windows for Impact Resistance
There are also a few simple hands-on ways homeowners can check if their windows are impact-resistant:
- Tap test- Use your knuckles or a coin to gently tap the window glass. Impact laminated glass will make a duller, thicker sound than the high-pitched ringing noise produced by standard glass.
- Throw soft objects- Standing outside, lightly toss a soft object like a tennis ball at the window. Impact glass should resist cracking or breaking. But take care not to damage the window when conducting this test.
- Fill a spray bottle- Mist the window lightly with water. It will likely have impact-resistant glazing if it beads up and runs off quickly. Standard glass won’t repel water as easily.
- Try to flex the frame- Hold the edges of the window frame and gently push and pull to detect any flexing. Impact frames shouldn’t move much.
These simple hands-on methods allow homeowners to gain some sense of whether their windows have impact-resistant construction or not.
Be careful not to accidentally damage windows when testing. Calling in an experienced window professional to evaluate is a safer option if you need definitive proof.
Considering the Age of the Windows
The age of your home’s window installation is another clue about their impact status. Miami-Dade County enacted rigorous new impact-resistant building codes after Hurricane Andrew devastated the region in 1992.
Any windows replaced or installed after 1994 very likely meet impact standards and have proper certification markings.
But windows in older homes built before the improved codes took effect are far less likely to provide impact protection. Very old windows from the 1970s or earlier almost certainly do not meet windstorm protection standards.
Checking with Your Builder or Inspector
If visual examination and at-home testing doesn’t provide conclusive answers, consider reaching out to the professionals involved in your home’s construction and inspection:
- Home builders- The builders or contractors who constructed your home will have the original window specifications and invoices listing the installed models. This can confirm if they had impact-resistant designs.
- Window installers- If you’ve hired window installers for replacements, check with them on the specifications of the new windows. Reputable contractors such as V&V Windows only use impact windows.
- Home inspectors- Your home inspector likely noted the presence of impact windows in their report when you purchased the home. Retrieving past inspection documentation can verify what’s installed.
- Prevailing building codes- Local municipal building departments can confirm what windstorm-resistant standards were in place when your home was built. This gives insight into window requirements at the time.
With written proof from construction or inspection records, you can determine whether impact windows are present conclusively.
If documentation isn’t available, you may need to call in a wind mitigation inspection specialist for an expert assessment.
Identifying if your Miami home is correctly equipped with impact-resistant windows requires careful inspection and inquiry. Look for labels, construction traits, and age clues.
Conduct simple physical tests if unsure. Consulting window experts and reviewing documents provides certainty. If non-impact windows are discovered, replacement should be a priority.
While the identification process takes some time and effort, it’s vital to determine your home’s readiness to withstand Miami’s challenging tropical weather before the storm strikes.
Taking steps to verify your windows can give you confidence and protection during hurricane season.