Referencing and specifying fenestration field-testing

Industry guidance and standards
In general, testing standards for field quality control are divided by product type and testing of new or existing fenestrations. For new construction projects, the following are applicable:

AAMA 101
AAMA 101, North American Fenestration Standard/Specification for Windows, Doors, and Skylights, establishes performance levels for windows, doors, and unit skylights (it excludes curtain wall and storefront products) and describes means of testing and rating in a laboratory setting. (For the purpose of clarity, this article omits discussion of unit skylights.)

Based on the anticipated use and corresponding performance expectations, windows and doors are generally qualified by one of four Performance Classes:

  • Residential (R);
  • Light Commercial (LC);
  • Commercial (CW); and
  • Architectural (AW).

AAMA 101 describes gateway requirements for Performance Grades (PGs) such as design, structural test, and water penetration resistance test pressures for each Performance Class. Window and door products are also designated by optional Performance Grades that exceed the gateway requirements and include an increased design pressure in 240-Pa (5-lb/sf) increments.

AAMA 502
AAMA 502, Voluntary Specification for Field-testing of Newly Installed Fenestration Products, provides recommendations for field verification testing of window and door products for air leakage and water penetration resistance. The test includes a chamber sealed to a window or door specimen that is used to apply a differential pressure across the fenestration assembly (Figure 1). This is sometimes referred to as ‘chamber testing.’

AAMA 502 includes applicable ASTM standards by reference. The first is ASTM E783, Standard Test Method for Field Measurement of Air Leakage Through Installed Exterior Windows and Doors, which provides information regarding test apparatus setup, component calibration, test execution, and calculation of results for air infiltration resistance testing (Figure 2). The other, ASTM E1105, Standard Test Method for Field Determination of Water Penetration of Installed Exterior Windows, Skylights, Doors, and Curtain Walls, by Uniform or Cyclic Air Pressure Difference, offers information regarding setup of the test apparatus, calibration of components, and execution of water penetration resistance testing (Figure 3).

ASTM E1105 includes two test procedures. Procedure A conducts the test under uniform and constant differential pressure for a 15-minute duration, whereas Procedure B conducts the test in five-minute cycles with a one-minute period of zero pressure after each cycle. (Selection of the most appropriate procedure based on fenestration type is described later in this article.)

AAMA 503
AAMA 503, Voluntary Specification for Field-testing Newly Installed Storefronts, Curtain Walls, and Sloped Glazing Systems, is similar to AAMA 502 in that it includes field verification testing of fenestration products for air leakage and water penetration resistance. However, in this case, the standard is specific to engineered products not governed by AAMA 101, such as curtain walls, storefronts, and sloped glazing systems. AAMA 503 also includes ASTM E783 and ASTM E1105 by reference.

AAMA 501.2
AAMA 501.2, Quality Assurance and Diagnostic Water Leakage Field Check of Installed Storefronts, Curtain Walls, and Sloped Glazing Systems, is a test procedure intended to evaluate the performance 
of system components intended to be watertight through use of a calibrated nozzle to apply a stream of water onto fenestration components (Figure 4). This type of testing is sometimes referred to as ‘nozzle testing.’ However, it is not appropriate for windows, doors, or operable vents glazed into curtain wall or storefront systems that have an AAMA Performance Class rating.

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