FEMA Issues Advice for Reducing Water Intrusion Through Doors, Windows

September 7th, 2023 by Joshua Huff

FEMA has released three new recovery advisories (RA) developed in response to Hurricane Ian, which impacted southwest Florida in September of 2022. The recovery advisories include recommendations for reducing water intrusion through and around doors and windows due to wind-driven rain.

According to officials, the third advisory, RA 3 – Reducing Water Intrusion Through Windows and Doors, aims to provide insights about building improvement opportunities, specifically for doors and windows. The primary audience includes building owners, operators, managers, design professionals, building officials, contractors, and municipal building and planning officials.

Officials say RA 3 is vital because water intrusion through and around windows and doors can damage a building’s interior. It can also lead to algae and mold growth, resulting in degradation or complete loss of building function until repairs are made.

A hand touching the bottom sash of a closed window as if to open it.

FEMA officials say a new advisory is essential, because water intrusion through and around windows and doors can damage a building’s interior.

RA 3 addresses performance grade ratings for doors and windows, Florida Building Code (FBC) exceptions to water intrusion testing for doors and windows, installation, flashing and sealing, and maintenance.

Officials state that, as observed after Hurricane Ian, water intrusion often occurs during the high winds and heavy rain that typically accompany hurricanes. Fortunately, most doors and windows are already required to be tested for air infiltration, wind pressure and water penetration resistance. Not all products measure up, however.

RA 3 indicates that the best window types for water penetration resistance include fixed windows and operable door and window products with compression seals. Less effective windows include double-hung windows and sliding windows. These will enhance dry rot and faster corrosion that can weaken the window frame or the wall.

Officials recommend that door and window products tested to AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440 have a performance grade (PG) ratings equal to their positive design pressure (DP) rating. Door and window products must be tested to TAS 202. Side-hinged doors should also be tested for compliance with AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440 or TAS 202. If they are tested to those standards, they must have a PG rating equal to the positive DP rating.

Regarding FBC exceptions to water intrusion testing for doors, officials say not to apply the exceptions to water penetration resistance testing in FBCB (building) and FBCR (residential). Exceptions include door assemblies installed in non-habitable areas where the door assembly and area are designed to accept water infiltration and assemblies installed where the overhang ratio is equal to one or more.

Officials add that all doors should be tested for water penetration resistance, even in areas where the FBCB and FBCR do not require it.

RA 3 also states that doors and windows need periodic maintenance. This includes inspecting sealant joints to check if the sealant is cracked, discontinuous or delaminated. Officials recommend that gaps between the frame and the wall be checked. Additional maintenance includes cleaning weatherstripping and inspecting drainage openings.

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  1. The article addresses windows, specifically, Double Hung and Sliders as leaking. In order for the operate correctly, they can’t be hermetically sealed and thus 80+ mph winds can allow for minimal moisture ingress. Don’t disagree. However, why pick on windows? What about roof vents? gable vents? Wind blown moisture also gets into attics every hurricane event. (I collaborated with someone very versed in this area and they will remain unnamed.)

  2. Wind driven rain for the most part wasn’t the issue. How do you stop water with a 15-20 foot storm surge. Fixed windows or casement/awning windows for these guys is the trick to stop water. Doug above is correct. Everyone that I know that had water intrusion it was because of roof vents, gable vents and dryer vents. FEMA is like NFRC….UNREALISTIC!

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