Building Wall Assemblies: Focus on Standards for In-Field Detection of the Sources of Water Leakage into Building Walls

Posted on 5/22/2013 10:13:36 AM By Bob Braun

In my last blog, I focused on in-field testing for water leakage into buildings including the wall system.  We reviewed the associated AAMA and ASTM test methods.  I especially focused on the ASTM E1105 and AAMA 501.2 test methods and provided links to standards and YouTube videosIn this Blog, we will review how the forensic scientists evaluate existing buildings that have failed due to water leakage.

ASTM E2128 Standard Guide for Evaluating Water Ingress is a recently developed guide developed by Committee E06.  It is a large document that identifies and discusses the many possible design, material, and installation issues that cause failure.  Numerous interested parties contributed to the completion of this document over a decade of task group meetings.  The first version was issued in 2001 and revised the same year.  The current version was issued in 2009.

The E2128 guide scope: “…describes methods for determining and evaluating causes of water leakage of exterior walls. For this purpose, water penetration is considered leakage, and therefore problematic, if it exceeds the planned resistance or temporary retention and drainage capacity of the wall, is causing or is likely to cause premature deterioration of a building or its contents, or is adversely affecting the performance of other components. A wall is considered a system including its exterior and interior finishes, fenestration, structural components, and components for maintaining the building interior environment.  Investigative techniques discussed may be intrusive, disruptive, or destructive. It is the responsibility of the investigator to establish the limitations of use, to anticipate and advise of the destructive nature of some procedures, and to plan for patching and selective reconstruction as necessary.”

In recent years, there have been increasing issues related to water ingress into wall cavities causing structural damage, mold formation, and expensive repairs.  There have been several high profile multiple building problems from the East to the West Coast.  Here are two photo examples:

 building problem  building problem

Although water damage is often associated with either the window installation or the window itself, this is not the exclusive problem.  A wall system that can function well in a building located in one geographic location can fail in another location or even in the same location with a different topography, elevation or site selection.  The length of the roof projection beyond the wall may also contribute as well.  There are a myriad of issues that contribute to water ingress and E2128 provides guidance to identify the causes and solutions to the problem after it occurs. 

In several of my earliest Blogs, I reviewed the installation issues with windows and reviewed ASTM E2112 - 07 Standard Practice for Installation of Exterior Windows, Doors and Skylights.  This 87 page document provides guidance on window and door installation details.  This Standard Practice was developed during the 1990’s in recognition of the increasing water and air ingress problems related to installation details.  Task Group meetings were typically attended by 40 or more industry/association representatives and scientists.  The meetings could last up to two full days and this group often met four or five times in a year to move the document along faster.  Final full ASTM consensus on the standard was finally reached with the 2001 first edition.  A new edition is now underway again for anyone whishing to provide input on the revisions contact the ASTM E06 Committee and also join the E06.51 Subcommittee.

Here is the list of the referenced documents contained in E2128*:

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 Curtain Walls 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 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

*You should note that nearly all of the reference standards listed above have been reviewed in some detail in my previous Blogs #21 through #26.

ASTM E2128 consists of more than 35 pages with more than 20 pages of Appendixes.  It focuses in on the specific wall types that we discussed in Blog #20 and addresses wall penetration such as windows in detail.  This standard covers in-field evaluation, inspection, and testing and includes many references for each.

Appendix X1 covers sealants
Appendix X2 covers masonry
Appendix X3 covers windows and glass/metal curtain walls
Appendix X4 covers exterior finish insulation and finish systems (EIFS)
Appendix X5 covers cement and stucco tile systems
Appendix X6 covers wood and manufactured wood-based siding systems
Appendix X7 covers fiber-cement and cement-bonded particle board siding systems
Appendix X8 covers precast concrete panels

Each appendix section details information and references specific issues to the wall type.      

In Blog #28, I will I will review additional details for the E2128 guide as commonly used to evaluate in-place constructed walls for 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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