Inappropriate Uses of Sealants and Adhesives

Posted on 10/22/2014 11:52:24 AM By Bob Braun

In my last post, I discuss the reasons for the increased focus on the fire issues for some of these sealants and why some concerns have surfaced.  In addition, I reviewed how the industry has addressed these issues so far.  This will be the last of my blog posts in the Building and Construction series that I will author.  Those wishing to access the archives for the many issues that I have addressed will be able to do so here.  This post will focus on examples of misapplications for sealants and adhesives and consider why this can occur.

Anyone in this industry has their own stories regarding the negative consequences that occur when the wrong product is used to seal or adhere the wrong substrates together.  In the best cases, minimal damage occurs and the misused product is replaced with the correct one.  In the worst scenarios, major damage to the building occurs before the problem is identified.  Our industry indirectly supports a large number of forensic scientists who make a living dealing with major litigation cases that result from the use of an inappropriate product, poor workmanship, or a poorly designed building gaps and joints in building assemblies.  Sometimes, more than one of the above situations can occur as well.  Below, I describe my experiences and issues related to window and door installation.

From 1997 to 2007, I participated actively in the ASTM E2112 standard development along with many other participants from window related industries and several standards-creating associations.  During this ten year period, forty or more committee members met three or more times per year discussing window installation practices and the many issues related to post installation complaints along with the consequential litigation.  This group's objective lead ultimately to the ASTM E2112 Standard Practice for Window Installation, which is now well known in the industry both for its practical value and for the many spinoff initiatives that were created.  Some of our industry's products used for window installation and construction are listed below:

  1. Perimeter fin or flange sealants often used in residential applications
  2. Window assembly sealants for glazing and frame construction
  3. Rough opening aerosol foam air sealant for the interior window perimeter
  4. Self-adhered flashing adhesives for fin or flanged windows
  5. Exterior window trim seals for brick mold and surface mounted replacement
  6. Low rise commercial window installation sealants

Over this ten year course, the E2112 ASTM committee listened to many descriptions of window installation failures and their causes from numerous field investigators.  Although many causes of failure were not related to sealants or adhesives, the following germane issues were among the most common that led potentially to water ingress into the building:

  1. Use of inappropriate perimeter flange/fin sealant
  2. Discontinuous flange/fin sealant application
  3. Use of sealants and adhesives for inappropriate substrates/environments
  4. Rough opening air sealant foam applied discontinuously
  5. Air sealant foam applied excessively
  6. Air seals used for inappropriate substrates/environments
  7. Use of self-adhered flashing incompatible with substrates
  8. Self-adhered flashing used above its durability temperature

As a result of the E2112 ASTM committee's work, along with the joint involvement of many window manufactures, a great deal was accomplished in addition to the creation of the E 2112 standard including:

  1. Greater uniformity for best practice was created in the window industry
  2. Window manufactures revised installation instructions
  3. Many laboratory and field studies were initiated to further best practices
  4. Under AAMA, a certified window installers course was created
  5. Regional differences in windows and installation practices were addressed
  6. A greater understanding of the causes and remedies for window installation failure was disseminated throughout the many window associated industries

It has been my pleasure to share my sealant and adhesive experience of many years with you!  Please let me know if you have any questions.  

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