Building Wall Assemblies: Focus on In-Field Testing for Water Leakage into Wall Assemblies

Posted on 4/30/2013 10:41:39 AM By Bob Braun

In my last blog, I focused on in-field testing for air leakage into buildings including the wall system.  We reviewed the following ASTM tests:

ASTM E1827-11 Standard Test Methods for Determining Airtightness of Buildings Using an Orifice Blower Door

ASTM E1186-03(2009) Standard Practices for Air Leakage Site Detection in Building Envelopes and Air Barrier Systems

ASTM E779-10 Standard Test Method for Determining Air Leakage Rate by Fan Pressurization

ASTM E741-11 Standard Test Method for Determining Air Change in a Single Zone by Means of a Tracer Gas Dilution

I especially focused on ASTM E1827 and ASTM E779 and provided links to YouTube videos of each test and also a link from Home Energy Magazine that reviewed the historical aspects related to measuring whole building air leakage.

Now I switch to popular test methods used to measure water leakage into walls.  In this case there are no practical tests that measure the wall or building system as with air leakage.  There are tests to measure partial wall systems or assemblies and they are continually being improved over time.  Very often evidence of water ingress into the wall may invoke such testing but just as often one is confirming the quality of the design and installation through this testing.

Here is the short list of several standards for evaluating or testing in-field water ingress…

ASTM E1105-00(2008) Standard 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

ASTM C1601-11 Standard Test Method for Field Determination of Water Penetration of Masonry Wall Surfaces

ASTM C1715-10 Standard Test Method for Evaluation of Water Leakage Performance of Masonry Wall Drainage Systems

ASTM E2128-12 Standard Guide for Evaluating Water Leakage of Building Walls

I have shown in the visual below the general arrangement for the E1105 test.  The test specifies that the water-spray system shall deliver water uniformly against the exterior surface of the test specimen at a minimum rate of 3.4 L/m2·min (5.0·h).  The pressure provided by the air exhaust system is determined by the test sponsor or the expected pressure fluctuations known for the geographical area of the test site etc. The test can be run at a specified pressure difference or in a cyclic mode.  The total test duration time is 15 minutes.  Note that the test method addresses water penetration through an assembly. Water that penetrates the assembly, but does not result in water passing through the assembly is not measured but may have adverse effects on the performance of contained materials such as sealants and insulating or laminated glass. This test is not capable of addressing these issues.

astm, astm e1105, asc

In addition to ASTM, associations such as AAMA have also been heavily involved in creating methodology for field testing.  Since many wall leaks occur at the window-wall interface this is no surprise.  The AAMA 501.2 test “Quality Assurance and Diagnostic Water Leakage Field Check of Installed Storefronts, Curtain Walls, and Sloped Glazing Systems” is often employed to test field building joints of many different types.  The following link focuses on the AAMA 501.2 and leads to an in depth article (with many illustrations of different wall types) published in rci-online by Matthew C Farmer P.E. “An Overview of Diagnostic Water Leakage Testing of Building Facades.”

Below, I have also provided two You Tube video links to field tests for water ingress that illustrate how an AAMA 501.2 field water penetration test is conducted.

AAMA 501.2 Test for Field Quality Assurance

Part #2 -- AAMA 501.2 Field Water Test       

In Blog #27, I will I will continue to review methods used to evaluate in-place constructed walls for air/water leakage. The list below shows what we have discussed so far and the next steps.

  • ASTM E 283 Laboratory Air Infiltration
  • ASTM E 331 Laboratory Water Penetration (Uniform)
  • ASTM E 547 Laboratory Water Penetration (Cyclic)
  • ASTM In-Field Air Leakage
  • ASTM and AAMA Field Water Penetration Testing
  • ASTM E 2128 Standard Guide for Evaluating Water Ingress

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