When people think of building codes, they tend to think of things like electrical, plumbing or load bearing walls. But as a window/door manufacturer, you know that windows and doors are also subject to building code requirements due to the safety hazard represented by various types of glass. Consumers don’t often stop to think about how a simple window can either protect them, or harm them, if not constructed properly.
In order to help manufacturers build the safest, most secure windows and doors as possible, NTA decided to list some of the more important codes regarding windows and doors. The 2015 International Residential Code and the International Building Code, as well as the International Energy Conservation Code all include requirements for the testing and labeling of windows and doors.
- Operable windows where the top of the sill of the opening is more than 75’ above the surface below and have window fall prevention devices that comply with ASTM F2006
- Where the openings will not allow a 4” diameter sphere to pass through the opening when the window is open to its largest position
- Where openings are provided with window fall prevention devices that comply with ASTM F2090
- Window opening control devices comply with section 1015.8.1.
- Minimum horizontal area of the window well shall be 9 sq. ft. with a minimum dimension of 36”. Area of window well shall allow the opening to be fully opened
- Window wells with a vertical depth of more than 44” shall be equipped with an approved permanently affixed ladder or steps. The ladders or rungs shall have an inside width of at least 12” and shall project at 3” from the wall and spaced not more than 18” on center vertically. The ladder or steps shall not encroach in the required dimensions of the window well by more than 6” and shall not be obstructed by the opening.
Glass in glazed curtain walls, glazed storefronts and glazed partitions is required tomeet the seismic requirements of ASCE 7, Section 13.5.9. For glass under uniform load, the load resistance shall be determined in accordance with ASTM E1300.
Unit skylights and tubular daylighting devices must be tested and labeled according to AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S./A440. If the skylight is rated separately for positive and negative pressure, both performance grade ratings shall appear on the label per AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S./A440, and the skylight must comply with Section 2405.5.2. If the skylight is not rated separately for positive and negative pressure, then the performance grade rating shown on the label shall be the rating determined in accordance with AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S./A440 for both design pressures, and it must conform to Section 2405.5.1. Be sure to pay attention to all labeling guidelines to avoid delays in product distribution!
The 2012 IRC/IBC states: Glazing adjacent to the landing at the bottom of a stairway where the glazing is less than 36” above the landing and within 60” horizontally of the bottom tread shall be considered a hazardous location. This has been changed in the 2015 IRC/IBC, which now reads that glazing adjacent to the landing at the bottom of a stairway where the glazing is less than 60” above the landing and within a 60” horizontal arc that is less than 180 degrees from the bottom tread nosing shall be considered a hazardous location.
CPSC 16 CFR Part 1201 requires glazing to meet test criteria 2, unless indicated I table 2406.2(a) of the 2015 IBC. Different types of glazing each have different requirements, for example, plastic glazing has to comply with ANSI Z97.1, for weathering requirements and glass block walls must comply with section 2110.2.5, which includes chapter 13 of TMS 402/ACI 530/ASCE 5 (Building Code Requirements for Masonry Structures). Louvered windows and jalousies are required to comply with 2403.5 (which states: float, wired and patterned glass in louvered windows and jalousies shall be no thinner than nominal 3/16” and no longer than 48”, and the exposed glass edges shall be smooth. Wire glass with exposed wire on the longitudinal edges shall not be used in louvered windows or jalousies).
While some requirements are meant to be met during or after installation, manufacturers would do well to keep those requirements in mind, as well. Designing a product to be code compliance in all aspects will make everyone’s job easier and the consumer happier and safer! A new compliance path to the 2015 IECC is now available in the form of an ERI (Energy Rating Index[RV1] ), and the testing necessary to calculate this rating is either ASTM E779 or ASTM E1827.
Another important factor for the design, installation and use of windows and glass doors is Emergency Egress and Fall Protection. The ability to leave a structure in case of fire or other emergency without danger of falling is an important part of door and window implementation into a design. When the top of the sill of an operable window opening is located less than 36” above the floor, but more than 72” above the grade or other surface outside, the 2015 windows must comply with one of the following:
An emergency escape and rescue opening with a finished sill height below the adjacent ground (such as a basement window) shall be provided with a window well in accordance with:
A couple of last thoughts: replacement glass requirements are the same as for new glass, whether you replace a single part of a window, or the entire assembly. Also, while it isn’t a required code, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety’s Fortified Housing Program was created to help strengthen homes from hurricanes, high winds, hail and severe thunderstorms. The fortified home program can offer discounts to homeowners on their insurance, depending on the designation level, due to safer, stronger homes.
An in-depth look at all the glass and glazing requirements of the 2015 IRC/IBC is beyond the scope of this blog, but NTA is here to answer any questions you may have! For more information on the I-Codes and how they apply to Window and Door manufacturers, feel free to contact us!