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    Water Leakage Testing of Glass and Metal Curtain Walls

    Published: 30 June 2014

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    The evolution of modern building materials and development of the curtain wall have led to new opportunities for architectural expression in tall building construction. From wall construction that once consisted of thick, heavy masonry to contemporary metal and glass materials, curtain wall components changed dramatically and required the development of sophisticated water management systems. Early traditional masonry barrier walls controlled water leakage by absorbing water that penetrated the exposed surface and slowly dispersing it as water vapor. As exterior wall design evolved, cavity and curtain walls were designed to accommodate and control water that bypassed the outer surface and channel water to where it could be diverted back to the exterior by internal flashings and weep provisions. Over time, consensus standards were developed to evaluate exterior wall characteristics including air infiltration, water penetration, and structural performance. Mockup testing now provides owners, designers, and contractors with an opportunity to construct and evaluate full-size exterior wall specimens in a laboratory environment. Mockup testing can be an effective construction tool and provide the project team with an opportunity to study full-size details of the exterior wall water management system prior to construction. This paper will briefly discuss the history of water testing and the development of laboratory mockup testing. This paper will also present two case studies, and two different approaches, where water testing was used to evaluate water penetration resistance and critical design details for glass and metal curtain walls.


    curtain wall, mockup, specimen, water leakage

    Author Information:

    Naggatz, Steven G.
    Senior Associate, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., Chicago, IL

    Sinusas, Sarah F.
    Associate III, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., Chicago, IL

    Committee/Subcommittee: E06.55

    DOI: 10.1520/STP154920130046