Monday, July 5, 2010

Impact Windows and Vinyl Frames

Our clients always ask us for impact-resistant windows that meet current Energy Star criteria so they can obtain the Federal Tax credit. The reality is that aluminum-frame windows do NOT meet this criteria. To accomplish the insulating ratings required by the Energy Star program, we need to use hurricane windows made with vinyl frames. Unfortunately for Miami-Dade residents, there is only a handful of Miami-Dade-Approved impact vinyl windows.

How can I find out the list of approved products?
To obtain information about which impact-resistant products are Miami-Dade County Approved, our readers can check the Miami-Dade's Building Code Compliance Office. For your convenience, we compiled the list of approved impact windows as of July 04, 2010. The list can be found below. It is important to understand that this list will change overtime as new products are being approved and older products reach expiration.

Manufacturer Awning Horizontal Roller Single Hung Double Hung Casement Fixed
AWP, LLC No Yes Yes No No Yes
Benor Windows No No No No Yes Yes
Custom Window Systems, Inc. Yes No No No No No
Galaxy Windw and Door, Inc. Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Jeld-Wen, (FL) No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Jeld-Wen, Inc(OR) Yes No No No Yes Yes
Kolde and Kolde Millwork Company No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Megrame U.S. Windows and Doors, LLC No No No Yes No Yes
PGT Industries, Inc No No Yes Yes No Yes
Pittburgh Corning Corporation No No No No No Yes
Rgency Plus, Inc No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Schuco USA, L.P. No No No Yes No Yes
Silver Line Bulding Products Corporation Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Teeem USA, LLC No No No No Yes No
YKK AP American, Inc No No Yes Yes No No
How to read the list above
The table shows different window types and which manufacturer has a Miami Dade product approval for the specific type. Also, you can find a window manufacturer up and down the list. If you run across the table, you can find out whether this manufacturer has the window type approved.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Impact Windows and Bulding Permits

Do I need to pull a permit if I am only changing ONE window in my house and installing an impact window? Do I need to pull a permit even though I am not changing the location or the size of the opening? We have several clients asking these questions when they are thinking about replacing one or more of their existing windows. The answer is yes, you must pull a permit if you are replacing any exterior window or door.

Impact Windows and Wind Engineering
The Florida Building Code requires you to obtain a building permit to replace an existing window for an impact window (this rule also applies if you install a non-impact window). To obtain the building permit, you will need a wind engineering report, specifying what the wind loads are for each opening in the house. The impact window or door that you are purchasing MUST have a design pressure that exceeds the wind loads calculated by the engineer. Otherwise, installing impact windows and doors is pointless.

Do Impact Windows Have Different Ratings?
The impact windows that we install in Miami must have the Miami-Dade County Notice of Acceptance, or NOA. To check impact windows ratings, you could review the NOA of the specific window or door. NOAs will have a table showing the corresponding maximum design pressures for an impact window depending on the size and glazing option used. So, it is not enough for an approved impact window to be installed in your house without checking against a wind engineering report.

If the explanation above is not clear or you have additional questions, please contact me at carlos@astorusa.com.

Monday, April 12, 2010

House Passes Home Star Bill

US House of Representative passed the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act (H.R. 5019) by a vote of 246 to 161. The legislation would provide rebates to homeowners who renovate their homes with more energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights. To become law, though, the US Senate must approve the Bill.

In short, the Bill includes two types of consumer incentives:

1) Silver Star provides up-front rebates for specific energy-saving investments, including windows and doors. Homeowners receive up to $1,500 per improvement—capped at a total of $3,000 or 50 percent of the total project cost. To qualify, homeowners need to replace at least eight exterior windows or skylights, or 75 percent of the exterior windows and skylights in their homes. Not all windows meet the minimum requirements as they need to have special insulating characteristics: U-value and 0.30 Solar Heat Gain Coefficient no greater than 0.30. Skylights and doors, on the other hand, must meet 2010 Energy Star criteria to qualify.

2) Gold Star provides larger rebates to homeowners who conduct a comprehensive energy audit and implement measures to reduce energy use. Consumers receive $3,000 for a demonstrated energy savings of 20 percent, plus an additional $1,000 for each additional 5 percent energy savings—capped at $8,000 or 50 percent of the project cost.

Vinyl impact windows and doors meet these requirements. If you need additional information about this topic, feel free to write me an email at carlos@astorusa.com or leave me a comment below.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Laminated Glass Used for Impact Windows and Doors

I always have people asking me what type of material is used in the laminated glass for impact-resistant windows and doors.  A typical laminated glass is comprised of one outboard anneal glass, an interlayer and an inboard glass. Two types of interlayers are commonly used:  Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB) and SentryGlas Plus (SGP).  

PVB interlayer is fabricated by Dupont under the registered brand Butacite.  This interlayer helps by retaining glass shards in case of breakage.  Dupont offers this interlayer in clear, translucent white and other solid tints.  In Florida, the translucent white is a popular choice when privacy is desired, such as in cabana bathrooms (bathrooms leading to a backyard or pool area).  This option is a nice alternative to obscure glass.

The SGP interlayer, also manufactured by DuPont, is more rigid and less likely to tear than PVB.  This interlayer permits less glass deflection, a good characteristics for hurricane zones.  As a result, impact windows manufacturers use SGP in their larger windows, or those windows designed for the highest wind zones.

If you need additional information not covered on this blog, feel free to write to me at carlos@astorusa.com or leave a comment in the form provided below.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Impact Windows and Condensation

You noticed "sweating windows" after you had your new impact-resistant windows and doors installed. First explanation that came to your mind was an improper installation by your window contractor. Well, it is most likely not the case at all. Generally speaking, condensation on the inside of the glass is a not a sign of defective windows. Instead, it is a symptom of a moisture imbalance (mainly excess humidity trapped) in your home.


Causes of Condensation
Lack of proper ventilation is the main cause of excess humidity trapped in a house.  The excess humidity is created by daily activities, such as cooking, showering, bathing, clothes washing and drying, as well as the use of humidifiers and unvented gas heaters.

It is important to point out that when you replace standard-glass windows for impact-resistant windows, your house will be significantly better sealed against air exchange (inside-outside circulation). This new condition accentuates the symptoms.  So, when you have brand-new windows installed combined with a house heating and cooling system not properly designed, or outdated, you will start to accumulate excess humidity inside your house during the winter months. When temperature difference between the outside (cooler) and the inside (warmer), you will notice how water drops will begin to accumulate on the glass surface of your windows. The amount of water will be proportionate to the amount of humidity trapped in your house.  Now, people ask themselves why this phenomenon appears in the windows.  The reason is that the glass on your windows and doors tends to have lower temperatures than other surfaces in your house.


Consequences of Condensation
If condensation is chronic in your house, then you have excessive humidity.  This excess moisture can have, and will most likely have, serious consequences, including mold and mildew development.  After these conditions are maintained unchanged for some time, you will notice that your personal property, especially clothing, will be damaged.  More importantly, the excess humidity can result in serious health threats.

Possible Causes with Solutions

Inadequate ventilation of windows: Try as much as possible to allow air circulation in and out of the house.  Keep window coverings sufficiently open during the day to allow proper circulation.

Cooking and dishwashing: Install vent stove range hoods and dishwashers ducted to the outside of the house.

Showers and Baths: Make sure that exhaust fans are installed in bathrooms.  These fans must be ducted to the outside of the house.

Ironing, washing and drying laundry: Install duct pipes which take the air to the outside of the house. 

If you have any questions or want to share additional information regarding this topic, drop us a comment below.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Impact Windows and Homeowner's Insurance

How much is homeowner's insurance in Florida? If you are a homeowner living in Florida and shopping for homeowner's insurance (windstorm insurance), this information might be helpful.

The office of the Governor has a website called Shop and Compare Rates. On this site, you can find average approved insurance rates for a typical Florida home. If you follow the instructions, you will get to a page on which you can select your County. On this page, you will get a list of several insurance companies and their respective approved Homeowner's Insurance premiums. You will notice two columns. One shows the price without wind mitigation, while the other lists the price with maximum wind mitigation.

I hope you find this information helpful.