Security is one of the main issues when replacing a door or window in your home or business. Most suppliers will offer door and window products with a PAS quality standard. We explain what a PAS 24 certificate means and why the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) is an industry standard to ensure door and window manufacturers sell products that reach a quality benchmark. PAS is overseen by the British Standards Institution (BSI), which manages PAS standards.
A PAS 24 certificate guarantees that doors and windows meet the minimum security standards of an accredited body. It is a minimum standard for testing of security performance of windows and doors to ensure they are robust enough to resist a concerted attack by an opportunist burglar.
Organisations creating PAS 24 are the Association of Chief Police Officers, Association of Composite Door Manufacturers, BRE, British Woodworking Federation, Council for Aluminium in Building, Door and Hardware Federation, Glass and Glazing Federation, Master Locksmiths Association, RIAC Authority, Steel Window Association and others.
The latest version of PAS 24 is PAS 24:2016 came into effect in early 2016 and supersedes the previous version of PAS 24:2012. The newest standard is developed with input from several organisations working together to raise the bar on security levels for homes and businesses.
To qualify for a PAS 24:2016 certificate, a manufacturer must submit its products to an independent testing company certified by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). UKAS is the only national accreditation body recognised by the UK government to assess organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services. Accreditation by UKAS demonstrates the competence, impartiality and performance capability of evaluators. Manufacturers of doors and windows can submit their products to UKAS accredited evaluators who then test to PAS 24 and its 'fit for purpose' standards. The factory and the manufacturing processes are also examined by a UKAS-accredited certification body to ensure they reach the appropriate standards. It doesn't end there. Products are periodically tested to ensure they comply with the regulations. If a door or window manufacturer changes any part of a product, they must inform the certifier who will usually order a product retest.
Product testing is generally carried out at a specialist laboratory under controlled conditions. The tests are very rigorous. In the PAS 24 test, windows and doors must meet minimum standards in three key areas:
Security: How long a door or window keeps intruders out.
Weather: How well a product withstands cold and rain.
Glazing: How easily window panes are prised from the frame.
They include a mechanical loading test to replicate someone trying to prise open the window or door. Force is applied to the product at multiple points. Edges are pulled in opposite directions then forces are involved directly with a hydraulic press to check for any weakened areas. Doors can be tested for shock resistance by using a heavyweight swung against it several times to replicate the door being struck with force across a wide area and test its overall shock resistance. In another test, a metal ram is pulled back and released against the product several times. The shock of the ram replicates a strike with a concentrated force in a small area.
Test procedures are extensive, and products must meet the BSI performance criteria designed to mimic an attack by an opportunistic burglar using tools that are easy to conceal. To test the security of components, a qualified engineer is given 15 minutes to break open the lock cylinder using the most common lock-breaking tools and methods. Lock-breaking tools set out by the BSI can include a bladed cutting tool to see if a significantly sized hole can be made in the door. The door can be tested anywhere, but one attempt must be within 400mm of the lock. The door will fail if the blade makes a hole greater than 50mm in diameter within a set time.
It's not enough for a door or window to protect against deliberate, wilful damage by a burglar trying to break in. It must also be fit for purpose in day-to-day wear and tear. One of the primary purposes of a door or window is to provide access to the outside while keeping bad weather at bay. To ensure products are weather resistant, they are put through a series of tests. Weather testing includes checks on air permeability, water tightness and resistance to wind load. BS6375 is a British Standard that guides the appropriate performance levels required for the UK market for air permeability, water tightness and wind pressure. The window or door may be placed in a pressure chamber with air pressure increased to simulate wind blowing against the product. Air permeability, air leakage or air tightness are measures of the ability of a window or door to resist the uncontrolled flow of air, which is essential for the energy efficiency of the overall building. Products are tested for water resistance by subjecting them to a strong jet of water for several minutes before checking for leakage. Leakage is defined as any appearance of uncontrolled water on the inner face of any part of the product.
PAS 24 is a minimum standard, so there is no grading system. A window and door either pass the tests and receive accreditation, or fail and there is no award. It is important to understand that window and door installation companies usually buy products from profile manufacturers. It is up to them to ensure the products they buy meet the highest standards. Most installation companies install and fit products to specifications laid down by the profile manufacturer, so fitters must be adequately trained to install the products they use. Door and window installers offer Secured by Design (SBD) products. SBD is an initiative that gives accreditation to products on behalf of the Police. To be awarded an SBD Standard, the product must meet requirements to prevent crime and SBD-approved products can only be manufactured with an SBD license. Although pAS 24 and SBD are independent, most SBD products meet PAS 24 standards as a minimum.
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