Welcome to part three 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. You can read part one here and part two here.
In parts one and two of this series the main topic was how windows and doors can be built to keep severe weather at bay. But the most well engineered windows and doors in the world won’t help if the wrong type is selected or if they are incorrectly installed.
How to Select the Right Window
Any window or door can be at risk during high winds and heavy rain, but basement egress windows are particularly vulnerable during stormy conditions. As this video demonstrates, a leaky basement window can definitely be cause for concern:
That homeowner is lucky the leak didn’t affect his electrical wiring!
Most areas’ building codes explicitly mandate the size, shape, construction, and operation of basement egress windows. For example, in Alberta the building code states that:
- “The window referred to in Sentence (1) shall provide an unobstructed opening of not less than 0.35m² (542.5 in²) in area with no dimension less than 380mm (15in)”
- “When a window required in Article 126.96.36.199 opens into a window well, a clearance of not less than 550mm (21.7”) shall be provided in front of the window. Where the sash of a window pens towards the window well, the operation of the sash shall not reduce the clearance in a manner that would restrict escape in an emergency situation.”
These regulations mean that the type of window selected for an opening becomes very important. Basement windows are typically wide and short in height. They also often open into the window well. The implications for the window type are critical:
- Casement: Cannot normally be used, as the max width is about 36” and combined with the short height it will not provide the clearance area needed.
- Awning: Typical awning windows are not allowed as they opens low to the ground and don’t provide the necessary clear opening area.
- Single/Double Hung: Not enough clearance for them to operate properly.
- Sliding: The most common choice for basement windows, however a large rough opening in necessary as well. Also, sliding windows are the least secure, and the least air and water tight.
There is another option for basement egress windows that are much more resilient in the face of severe weather (not to mention security!):
- Tilt & Turn Windows: The inswing of the window means it can accommodate almost any size opening, and the size of the window well is irrelevant. Plus, tilt and turn windows have been proven to resist air and water better than other styles (see part one and part two).
All too often homeowners choose beautiful expensive windows for their home, but outfit their basement windows with lower quality sliding windows. This mistake often doesn’t become apparent until it’s too late, and the owners are faced with large repair bills. Choosing the right windows for the right space can save financial pain in the long run.
Window Installation Matters
So once the correct window type has been selected, it’s just a matter of putting them in the openings, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple; a high quality window installed improperly can perform worse than a cheap window installed properly. A reputable window and door manufacturer will ensure that their products are installed to exacting standards by providing extremely thorough installation instructions.
A properly installed window has the following characteristics:
Surrounded by weather resistant seals
Manufacturer approved sealant applied to all four sides
Proper Drainage Measures in Place
Firmly attached to the building interface with manufacturer supplied anchors
These steps ensure that water and air stays out of the building envelope. A properly installed high quality tilt & turn window (like the ones manufactured by Innotech Windows + Doors) will last for years, and potentially longer than the walls around them. Builders who use our windows often remark that it takes longer to install our windows than our competitors', but the final quality is well worth it.
Properly selecting the right window for the job, and then installing it properly – two important factors in winning the battle against the elements. If you’re not sure which window is right for your project, why not talk to one of our fenestration experts who can guide you to making the right choice; click here to contact us today.
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.
+ Click here to read Part 3 of this series
This is part one 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.
2013 will be a year long remembered for its severe weather. Mother Nature was at her destructive worst, causing damage to homes all around the world. Hurricanes, tropical depressions, high wind storms, and swollen rivers all contributed to a frightful year for homeowners. Perhaps most significant to Canadians were the massive floods that struck Albertans, specifically those in Calgary and High River, and caused a staggering amount of damage; the Insurance Bureau of Canada has called it the costliest disaster in Canadian history.
With the destructive power of Mother Nature regularly reported in the media, it’s natural to wonder what steps a homeowner can take to protect their possessions and their family. It surprises many to find out that windows and doors play a major role in keeping Mother Nature at bay.
The first step to preventing damage is to ensure that bad weather stays where it belongs – outside! To do this, windows and doors must be constructed with three important characteristics in mind:
- Structural and Impact Resistance
- Air and Water Tightness
- Window Placement
This article will deal with the first item, structural and impact resistance, and subsequent blogs in this series will tackle the others.
The Importance of Impact Resistance
A window’s ability to resist impacts is critical to preventing weather damage to a home, but the reasons for this may come as a surprise.
Strong winds in a hurricane or powerful storm can carry debris through the air at high speeds. The danger of debris flying through the window, along with the shattered glass, is significant in itself, but so too is the pressure differential that is created when a window burst open. If you’ve ever seen pictures of a home that’s had its roof blown off in a storm, you might have thought it was just ripped off by the wind. In reality, it’s often broken windows or forcefully opened doors that allow air pressure to build up inside, increasing the likelihood of roof failure. By protecting against impacts a well-engineered window and door can help prevent the pressure differential that is so dangerous to homes.
Likewise, rocks and other debris carried by flood waters pose significant dangers to a home. A failed window, especially a basement egress window, will allow the interior to become flooded with mud and water. Windows designed and built to withstand impacts can help keep a home protected during a flood by maintaining their structural integrity, keeping the water out.
What Makes a Window Impact Resistant?
Impact resistance is a product of a window or door’s frame construction, its operating and locking hardware, the quality of the insulated glass unit within that frame, and the thickness and types of coatings of the glass. When all of these components are engineered to work together, a window or door can achieve high impact resistance - helping defend your home.
The video below includes a demonstration of the kind of force that Mother Nature can throw at a home, and the types of windows that help protect homeowners and their families. Filmed on location in Innotech’s testing facility, using actual Innotech products, the video documents two separate tests; an impact test consisting of a two-by-four being fired at the window, followed by a pressure test which sucks in and then pushes out the glass, replicating the pressure changes that take place during a storm.
The glass in our windows and doors is supplied by Cardinal Glass, the world's premiere supplier of high performance insulated glass units. Not only do we utilize the best glass vendor in the industry, but the glass used in Innotech products is on average 25-50% thicker than other manufacturers. This top quality glass works in concert with Innotech's German engineered Hybrid Framing System and Defender Hardware System to provide superior impact protection.
As the video demonstrates, a well-engineered window and door can protect your home from high winds, driving rain and hurricane conditions. By ensuring your windows and doors are built to withstand impacts, you can help defend your home and your family against nature’s destructive power.
+ To learn more about the anatomy of an Innotech window, click here
+ To learn more about the safety coating options offered by Innotech, click here
+ Click here to read part 2 of this series
On Thursday, January 19th the British Columbia Building Envelope Council (BCBEC) and the Homeowner Protection Office (HPO), a branch of BC Housing, is hosting a half-day workshop on window installation.
"The workshop will focus on building enclosure and window installation requirements for thermal performance in new and retrofit buildings. Industry leaders will provide insights into key issues including:
- window to wall interface
- insulation strategies
- thermal and condensation performance of windows
- effectiveness in managing rainwater
- and building code, installation and energy efficiency standards."
Innotech's Director of Technology, Al Jaugelis, is part of the industry panel that will conclude the workshop with a discussion and closing remarks.
The Homeowner Protection Office (HPO) recently released a Builder Insight bulletin prepared by RDH Building Engineering Ltd.
Builder Insight 9, entitled Fenestration Energy Performance: A Roadmap for Understanding Requirements for Residential Buildings in British Columbia, clarifies the energy performance requirements for windows, glazed doors and skylights used in residential buildings. It also provides a roadmap for compliance.
To read the bulletin, download the PDF (849 KB).
Our high performance hybrid system is featured in the December 2009 issue of Award Magazine (p. 14-19). + Click here to read the article
Innotech is pleased to announce that its first generation hurricane window has successfully passed structural, impact and cycling tests for a design pressure of 80 PSF. The new DP80 impact window is ideal for single family and low + high rise applications in both US and Canadian coastal areas.
+ Read the press release (PDF)