A Focus on Evaluating Building Wall Systems for Water Intrusion

Posted on 7/5/2013 10:43:54 AM By Bob Braun

In my last blog, I focused on the pending activities at the ASTM C24 (Building Seals and Sealants) Committee week meeting.  I especially focused on the joint sustainability initiatives of ASC and ASTM. 

In this blog I am leaving the hot topic of sustainability and returning to a review of details for the ASTM E2128 guide as commonly used to evaluate in-place constructed walls for water leakage. Water intrusion is a massive and costly problem.  The evaluations needed to determine the problem of water leakage into and through the wall assembly are complex.  Adhesives and sealants of many types play a critical role in preventing and controlling water intrusion.  These products are used in both the construction of the building walls and in the factory assembly of wall penetrations such as windows and doors.  The E2128 Guide provides helpful guidance for those scientists and engineers whose job centers on this function.  The Guide itself was developed by ASTM Committee E06 on Building Performance through a group of volunteer professionals who had dealt with the problem of water ingress into building envelopes for many years. 

As building technology, materials, designs, and installation methods change it becomes an ever more challenging task to provide the best construction recommendations to achieve a durable building structure free of water intrusion and deterioration.  Rain, wind, building movement, UV, and temperature fluctuations are some of local environmental conditions that may cause a building design that worked well in one environment not work in another.  I have discussed the details of these effects some of my earliest blogs in this series.

So let’s see what the 35 page 2010 edition of the ASTM E2128 Standard Guide for Evaluating Water Leakage of Building Walls recommends…

First a look at the referenced documents section of the guide tells a familiar story in that all of the ASTM and AAMA test methods I have discussed in some detail in my earlier blogs are mentioned in E2128.  These methods are useful tools to either determine the effectiveness of a design and installation in the lab or to evaluate the in-the-field the wall assembly performance as newly constructed.  Of course once a building wall failure occurs, the in-field methods listed below, come into play again to evaluate the cause(s) of the failure. 

Referenced Documents from ASTM E2128

ASTM Standards

  • E331 Test Method for Water Penetration of Exterior Windows, Skylights, Doors, and Curtain Walls by Uniform Static Air Pressure Difference
  • E514 Test Method for Water Penetration and Leakage Through Masonry
  • E547 Test Method for Water Penetration of Exterior Windows, Skylights, Doors, and CurtainWalls by Cyclic Static Air Pressure Difference
  • E631 Terminology of Building Constructions
  • E1105 Test Method for Field Determination of Water Penetration of Installed Exterior Windows, Skylights, Doors, and Curtain Walls, by Uniform or Cyclic Static Air Pressure Difference

AAMA Standards

  • AAMA 501.2 Field Check of Metal Storefronts, Curtain Walls, and Sloped Glazing Systems for Water Leakage
  • AAMA 502 Specification for Field Testing of Windows and Sliding Doors
  • AAMA 503 Specification for Field Testing of Metal Storefronts, Curtain Walls, and Sloped Glazing Systems

In this blog I am featuring a link to examples of how wall defects were identified and how sealants, flashings, and adhesives were used but critical details were missed during the installation.  The damaging effects of water leakage vary from minor nuisances to extremely expensive remediation.  In some cases the design may be good but the installation poorly executed.  This link shows examples of failed details in the wall assembly for an attractive commercial building and features a number of in-field water intrusion tests.  Click on the video portal for a several minute visual display of six different water intrusion tests on wall assemblies, windows, and doors along with the follow up forensic investigation of the causes of failure.

In my next blog, I will continue the review of details for the E2128 guide as commonly used to evaluate in-place constructed walls for water leakage. I will explore more building wall issues, why they fail, and look at the remediation of difficult situations.  

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