As we enter Nor’easter season following yet another ferocious hurricane season, we’re all too familiar with images of boarded-up buildings and catastrophic storm damage. As storms become more frequent and intense, proper preparation is vital for building owners—and for anyone responsible for designing or protecting buildings.
When it comes to hurricane-force winds, plywood simply doesn’t cut it. Extreme weather Aluminum louvers provide the ultimate protection from wind and water damage in High Velocity Hurricane Zones (HVHZs) and other hurricane prone regions. Building codes often require extreme weather louvers, and selecting the right one can be the difference between a non-event and severe storm damage. In this post, we'll help you sort through your options. Louvers that meet building codes in extreme-weather areas offer many advantages, which include providing ventilation, while offering protection against small and large missile impacts from high-wind debris and resistance to water infiltration from high velocity wind driven rain. Hurricane louvers are rigorously tested against missile impacts to ensure they won't dislodge and become projectiles themselves.
A GROWING THREAT
Extreme weather events affect vast areas of the country, particularly on the coasts, where local building code requirements often mandate louvers that can handle storms. Extreme weather is loosely defined as hurricane and tornado zones where ultimate design wind speeds exceed 115mph, which includes all coastal areas. Buildings in these areas can be pelted by small and large debris in a storm, leading to severe property damage, or even death for occupants. If you're in an area that regularly faces threats from hurricanes, tornados or Nor’easters, it’s wise to protect your building as well as possible with extreme weather louvers.
EVALUATING YOUR NEEDS
It’s easy to determine whether aluminum louvers are up to the task of storm protection. That’s because qualified extreme weather louvers have certifications that indicate their capabilities. Achieving certified status demonstrates that the louvers have undergone third-party testing that simulates extreme conditions like high winds, heavy rainfall and missile impacts. Look for certifications from reputable agencies like Miami-Dade County, the Florida Building Commission and the Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA). Such louvers will often be labeled “extreme weather louvers” or advertised to be hurricane impact resistant and/or high velocity rain resistant.
FINDING LOUVERS YOU CAN TRUST
Louvers approved for extreme standards will indicate which tests and certifications they have undergone to back up their claims. Be sure the claims include certification numbers from credible testing agencies for validation. For example, a hurricane louver may list both Miami-Dade County NOA and Florida Product Approval certification numbers based on testing from third parties. Test standards are developed by organizations like AMCA and ATSM International, and tests are conducted by trusted entities like AMCA and Intertek. Some local and regional building codes require compliance to select standards. Remember that some standards define performance requirements while others describe test procedures. Here are some common standards that apply to extreme weather louvers:
- ATSM International has developed tests such as ASTM E1886 test method and ASTM E1996 performance to measure impact and pressure.
- The state of Florida uses various testing application standards (TAS) as protocols: TAS-201, TAS-202, TAS-203 and TAS-100A are all test protocols controlled by Florida and designed for high-velocity hurricane zones (HVHZ).
- AMCA provides and certifies for AMCA 540, for Windborne Debris Impact Resistance, and AMCA 550, for High Velocity Wind Driven Rain Resistance. AMCA developed AMCA 540 and 550 and also provides listing labels for each.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency developed the P-361 test method Standard, but does not certify; for an added layer of security, look for manufacturers willing to self-certify their FEMA louvers.
- Design and construction standard ICC 500 and ASTM E330 test method
THE RIGHT LOUVER FOR YOUR APPLICATION
Consider your specific needs and applications when selecting a hurricane louver. No one performance standard or look applies to all extreme weather louvers. FEMA louvers feature heavy-duty materials that resist most extreme impacts, while others aim to fight wind-driven rain. They have different specifications, so determine what the building code requires and/or what type of conditions the building is likely to face when making a decision.
Using hurricane louvers is about more than meeting codes. It’s about added safety, security and peace of mind in an increasingly harsh environment. Hurricane louvers that meet the standards required for their application are a great choice for protecting property and delivering years of benefits. If you have any questions about louvers, contact AWV. We have more than a century of manufacturing experience and know-how—and we know which louvers are right for any task.