Building Enclosure Performance Testing Methods

Building Enclosure Performance Testing Methods


Water Spray Test

Building enclosures can directly affect the longevity and energy efficiency of a building. Therefore, there is a need for experts who have the ability to test and quantitatively report the performance of today’s buildings. Technical Assurance has a full-service Building Enclosure Commissioning (BECx) Group that specializes in performance testing and providing data-driven quality improvement suggestions.

As architects and building engineers continue to reach for new standards in construction and civil engineering, compliance testing helps ensure both optimum building envelope performance as well as occupant safety. Additionally, as a building owner or facilities manager, it’s important to make the most of your capital spend. Taking a closer look at things like thermal performance can help to identify potential sources of energy loss and save money in the long run.

Engaging a building enclosure commissioning (BECx) agent to perform various tests during and after construction helps verify that the building enclosure adequately performs, and these assessments can identify any potential sources of air or water leaks. Once the sources are identified, issues can be remediated. Taking the time during construction to assess the building enclosures and identify potential problems helps stave off unexpected enclosure-related failures down the line — and helps mitigate liability for either the manufacturer or contractor.

Technical Assurance provides extensive performance testing in the field to ensure optimal building performance, constructability and durability. We follow standardized testing procedures outlined by ASTM, AAMA (now FGIA) and ANSI/SPRI.

Standardized Testing Methods

Air Infiltration Testing

  • ASTM E779 – Test method for determining air leakage rate by fan pressurization.
  • ASTM E783 Opaque Walls – Test method for field measurement of air leakage through installed exterior windows and doors.
  • ASTM E783 Windows – Test method for field measurement of air leakage through installed exterior windows and doors.
  • ASTM E1186 – Practice for air leakage site detection in building envelopes and air barrier systems.
  • ASTM E1827 – Test method for determining air tightness of buildings using an orifice blower door.

Roof Testing

  • ASTM C1060 – Thermographic inspection of insulation installations in envelope cavities of frame buildings.
  • ASTM C1153 – Practice for location of wet insulation in roofing systems using infrared imaging.

Roof Leakage Testing

  • ASTM E2357 – Test for determining airtightness of buildings using an orifice blower door.
  • AAMA 502/503 – Air/water infiltration tests with a vacuum chamber.
  • ANSI/SPRI IA-1 – Roof insulation adhesion test for determining the uplift resistance of insulation adhesive combinations over various substrates.

Water Penetration Testing

  • ASTM D5957 – Guide for flood testing horizontal waterproofing installations.
  • ASTM 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 501.1 – Standard test method for water penetration of windows, curtain walls, and doors using dynamic pressure.
  • AAMA 501.2 – Quality assurance and diagnostic water leakage field check of installed storefronts, curtain walls, and sloped glazing systems.

Durability and Appearance Testing

  • ASTM C794 – Test method for adhesion-in-peel of elastomeric joint sealants.
  • ASTM C1193, Appendix X1-Method A – Guide for use of joint sealants; Field-applied sealant joint hand pull tab.
  • ASTM D4541 – Test method for pull-off strength for coatings using portable adhesion testers.
  • ASTM D7877 – Guide for electronic methods for detecting and locating leaks in waterproof membranes.

Building Envelope Forensics

Building enclosure performance testing is typically carried out during the construction phase of a new building, but we can also provide retro-commissioning for existing structures when trying to ascertain the cause of leaks.

The integrity of a building’s envelope is critical to its overall condition and performance. Once the building envelope is compromised, potential problems are sure to follow. This is where building envelope forensics can offer solutions.

The process relies on various testing methods and procedures. Types of testing can include:

  • Thermography
  • Air Leakage
  • Water Leakage
  • Adhesion
  • Acoustics
  • Moisture Testing
  • Flood Testing

A spray test is often a good starting point for water infiltration. Spray testing involves spraying water from a hose onto the building envelope from the lowest point to the highest point. This allows forensic consultants to watch for water infiltration and determine additional tests to conduct.

More advanced testing procedures can then be executed to simulate different environmental conditions or even to find less apparent water penetration. One of the key functions of the Technical Assurance team is to determine the appropriate test(s) and testing methods to:

  • Figure out how problems arose
  • Look for the two most common threats to structural integrity
  • Look out for other signs of general workmanship issues
  • Figure out how to resolve the issue
  • Implement proven testing methods
  • Prepare a detailed report to determine next steps and to be used in litigation if necessary

Request a Consultation

Interested in improving the performance, safety and efficiency of your building? Schedule a free consultation with Technical Assurance today to discuss your needs and discuss our BECx services in more detail.