Defend Your Home Against Mother Nature – Part 2
This is part two of a series of short articles exploring the damage severe weather can wreak and how Innotech windows and doors help prevent or mitigate that damage. For part one please click here.
Part one of the “Defending Against Mother Nature” series explored the importance of a window and door’s impact resistance; a high-quality insulated glass unit with high performance glass and protective coatings play a critical role in keeping severe weather at bay. But, in the face of high winds, powerful storms, and flooding conditions, a window or door’s glass is only as good as the frame and hardware that surround it. Not only do they contribute to impact resistance, they are crucial to the air and water tightness of the entire window and door.
As stated in part one, the first job of a window or door is to keep bad weather where it belongs – outside! Rain or flood waters can cause extensive damage to a home, and air leakage can lead to dangerous pressure differential situations (not to mention cost you an arm and a leg in energy costs!). A window and door must maintain the integrity of the building envelope because as soon as there is ingress of air or water then the energy and repair bills start piling up: the more leaks, the higher the bills!
High winds in powerful storms can produce catastrophic results, but even slight air leakage can have a negative effect on the comfort and energy efficiency of a home. At wind speeds as low as 25mph a poorly built window can fail, with the wind driving cold air and damaging water into the home. Let’s face it: if air can get in, so too can water.
So what does it take to build a leak-resistant window and door frame? First, it needs to be resilient. The best windows and doors utilize some type of engineered reinforcement system to help maintain integrity during extreme conditions. The stronger the reinforcement the better, with the best being high-grade steel integrally bonded to the frame.
Next, the window or door frames should not have any joints where air or water can intrude. This presents a problem at a window or door’s corners; how can two intersecting pieces be joined without a seam? Glues, sealants and conventional welding can be a viable solution, but the best option is something called fusion welding, whereby the adjoining pieces are actually melted together. Welded joints, especially of thicker uPVC profiles, are stronger than mechanical joints and are completely airtight and watertight. Unlike aluminum, fiberglass, and low quality vinyl windows and doors that rely on sealants and can work loose or leak, fusion welding eliminates one of the major pathways of air and water penetration into building walls.
Most familiar to homeowners is after market weatherstripping; this is what people often think of when they consider a window or door frame’s air and water tightness. However, an air and water tight system will have integral weather seals within its frame; a crucial defense against air and water, especially when multiple seals are used at once.
Hardware plays a very important role in air and water tightness. Ill-fitting or poorly engineered handles and locks are potential entry points for air and water, an intrusion that will surely find its way into the building envelope. The best hardware precisely aligns to mating surfaces to maintain contact in all weather conditions and adjusts along three axes to compensate for minor settlement and wear.
Finally, it’s not just how a window or door is made that determines its air and water tightness, but also how it’s installed in the building envelope. In a recent study conducted by the Alberta Municipal Affairs and the City of Calgary, the main reasons for water intrusion – also known as building envelope failure – in both single and multi-family homes are related to “poor construction practices and trade skills, lack of accountability within the building industry and insufficient or ineffective inspections/enforcement by municipal authorities” (source). Taking time to read and follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions can significantly improve the air and water resistance of the installed window and door.
Put all of these elements together – a very strong framing system, multiple weather seals, high-quality hardware and proper installation – and your windows and doors are in a much better position to defend your home against Mother Nature. Watch the video below to see how a high quality Innotech window handles extreme weather conditions.
When you combine integral steel reinforcement, fusion corner welding construction, high quality multipoint locking hardware, triple and continuous seal technology, and good installation, you get windows and doors that will resist costly and dangerous air and water intrusion.