Referencing and specifying fenestration field-testing

Test procedures
Test procedures are contained in each AAMA standard. Specifiers must be diligent in specifying the correct standard for a given product, and select procedures based on product type. Both AAMA 502 and 503 reference ASTM E783 for air-infiltration testing using static air pressure difference, and ASTM E1105 for resistance to water penetration using static air pressure difference. Wherever possible, specifiers should endeavor to use current industry standards and avoid referencing specific revisions of the standards (e.g. AAMA 502-08) to prevent potential confusion from changes between the superseded standard and the active one.

For example, ASTM E1105 describes two procedures for water testing. Procedure A uses a uniform static air pressure difference, and Procedure B employs a cyclic static air pressure difference. Specifiers often confuse Procedure A and B, as described in ASTM E1105, with Method A and B from a superseded version of AAMA 502.

Method A and B described in previous versions of AAMA 502 (i.e. 2002 and earlier) prescribe two different ways of constructing the test pressure chamber. Method A omitted the perimeter sealant joint around the fenestration product from the test chamber, whereas Method B includes the perimeter seal within the chamber. Method A was eliminated in the 2008 revision, and Method B is the only remaining option.

Specifiers should select the desired ASTM E1105 procedure, A or B, based on AAMA guidelines. AAMA 502 Paragraph 5.3 requires Procedure B, “cyclic static air pressure difference,” except for AW windows, which should be tested using Procedure A, “uniform static air pressure difference.” AAMA 503 Paragraph 4.3 requires Procedure A for all tests.

Fenestration assemblies including multiple products in one assembly may require the specification of multiple AAMA standards or procedures appropriate for each product in the assembly. For instance, AAMA 501.2 is appropriate for curtain wall mullion testing, but is inappropriate for operable vents set within the curtain wall framing. For curtain walls with operable vents, specifiers should reference AAMA 501.2 or AAMA 503 for the curtain wall, but AAMA 502 for the operable vent. The fixed curtain wall and the operable vent may also have separate performance requirements, which should be clearly outlined in the specification’s testing procedure section.

Test pressures
Specifications should outline pressures appropriate for 
each product’s anticipated performance. AAMA provides guidelines for both air infiltration testing and water penetration resistance testing.

Air infiltration test pressure and air leakage rates
For air infiltration testing of fenestrations, AAMA 502 requires the field-test pressure for air leakage resistance be equivalent to the test pressure originally used in the laboratory to test the product or achieve a laboratory performance rating according to AAMA 101. Additionally, AAMA 502 requires air leakage testing to be conducted at a minimum uniform static test pressure of 75 Pa (1.6 psf), or as specified for the project, but the test pressure is not to exceed 300 Pa (6.2 psf). Air-leakage rates for field-testing are allowed to be 1.5 times the rate for the applicable product type and Performance Class unless otherwise specified.

AAMA 503, which describes testing for curtain wall and storefronts, provides an optional air leakage test with the same guidelines for minimum and maximum static test pressures as those required by AAMA 502. AAMA 503 states the field-test pressure shall be tested at a minimum 1.6 psf or as specified, but not to exceed 6.2 psf. The allowable air leakage rates for field-testing shall not exceed the greater of 1.5 times the project specified rate or 0.5 L/s-m2 (0.09 cfm/sf).

Air infiltration testing is only appropriate for discrete curtain walls or storefronts, as air leakage testing is not feasible for continuous curtain walls where test areas not easily compartmentalized (i.e. continuous mullions or frame elements extend beyond the test area and allow uncontrolled airflow, making accurate measurement of air leakage through the assembly impractical).

Water resistance testing pressure
AAMA 502 requires the test pressure of the water penetration resistance chamber to be conducted at a static test pressure equal to two-thirds of the tested and rated laboratory performance test pressure, as indicated by the applicable product designation in AAMA 101, unless otherwise specified by the design team. The one-third reduction in test pressure is often perceived as an allowance for imperfections of field construction, while still within tolerances, versus testing conducted in a laboratory setting. If ASTM E1105 is specified rather than AAMA 502, the one-third reduction in pressure stipulated by AAMA is not applicable unless specficially addressed otherwise in the project specifications.

AAMA 503 similarly stipulates water penetration resistance tests at a static pressure of two-thirds the specified project water penetration test pressure, but not less than 200 Pa 
(4.18 psf). If a specification omits a test pressure, AAMA 503 requires testing be conducted at 20 percent of the positive design wind load multiplied by 0.667, unless otherwise specified by the design team.

AAMA 501.2 requires the water pressure at the nozzle inlet be between 205 and 240 kPa (30 and 35 psi), and notes the pressure may be as low as 170 kPa (25 psi)—provided this is approved by the specifier and the exception is noted in the test report.

In Section 0.2.5.1, AAMA 101 states “For U.S. applications, the water penetration resistance test pressure for all products is never more than 580 Pa (~12.11 psf).” By some specific interpretations, the lab test pressure for product rating per AAMA 101 (i.e. the product’s Performance Class and Grade) may be capped at 580 Pa (12.11 psf), and the field-test pressure reduction prescribed by AAMA 502 still taken.

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