1 Assessing Curtain Walls Considerations and Best Practices Paul E Beers GCI Consultants, LLC
2 What is a Curtain Wall System? A curtain wall system is an outer covering of a building in which the outer walls are non-structural, but merely keep the weather out and the occupants in This presentation will focus on glass curtain walls, which often span multiple floors In the glazing industry curtain wall often refers to the type of framing system, rather than the application
3 Types of Curtain Wall Systems Stick Systems Unitized Systems Conventionally Glazed Systems Structurally Glazing Systems
4 Stick Systems Stick Systems, where the framing is typically installed in long pieces vertically and between vertical members horizontally. Framing members may be fabricated in a shop, but installation and glazing is typically performed at the jobsite.
5 Unitized Systems Unitized curtain walls are typically factory fabricated and glazed. These completed units are hung on the building structure to form the building enclosure
6 Conventionally Glazed Systems Conventionally glazed systems typically utilize gaskets and sealants between the glass and framing Any water that penetrates the exterior of the system is supposed to be collected and drained back to the outside. These types of systems can be stick or unitized.
7 Structurally Glazed Systems Structurally glazed systems utilize structural silicone to adhere the glass to the frame. Often they have no exterior framing. These systems usually are unitized and factory glazed. Since the silicone is the only thing keeping the glass in the frame, clean factory conditions and rigid quality control are essential. These systems are designed to deflect all water at the exterior surface.
8 Window Walls Curtain wall framing is often used in other glazing applications Floor to ceiling windows slab to slab Window walls can look like curtain walls Slab covers can make a window wall look like a curtain wall
9 Materials Framing Glass Sealants and Accessories Anchors Other Infills
11 Glass Types Monolithic (a single light of glass) Heat treatment (tempered or heat-strengthened) Insulated (two lites of glass with a sealed airspace in between) Laminated (two lights of glass bonded together with an interlayer) Spandrel (glass with a coating on the back to cover construction materials)
12 Glass Types
13 Glass Types Identification
14 Sealants Internal used as part of the curtain wall system design Perimeter used between the curtain wall system and surrounding surfaces Wet seals after the fact remedial sealants normally used in a attempt to halt or slow water leakage
15 Common Sealant Types Silicone Considered the best construction sealant and also more expensive Withstands high temperatures Warranties up to 20 years on material UV stable Polyurethane Commonly used for perimeter sealants Less expensive Warranties typically five years Needs UV blockers Better adhesion that silicone
16 Accessories Glazing Gaskets Glass Setting Blocks Zone Dams or Joint Plugs Covers Trim Flashing
17 Other Infills Stone Panels
18 Anchors Types Location Access
19 Assessment Process Gather Project Information Conduct Assessment Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Analyze Data Deliverables
20 Level 1 Assessment Non invasive study Review project documents Review service and maintenance records Interview building management and users Visual observations
21 Level 1 Assessment Review Project Documents Plans and Specifications Shop Drawings Submittals Manufacturers Literature Test Reports Product Approval Documents Engineering Calculations
22 Level 1 Assessment Service History Interview Project Stakeholders Building Management Maintenance Personnel Building Occupants and Users Review Service and Maintenance Records Review Weather Records for Prior Extreme Events Windstorms Seismic Flood
23 Level 1 Assessment Visual Inspection Walk around Interior Inspection Walk around Exterior Inspection Ground Balconies Roof Adjacent Buildings Inspection from Boom Lifts and Swing Stages (optional)
24 What to Look for General Interior Water Damage Aging Corrosion or Deterioration of Framing and Anchors Signs of Distress Misalignment Bulging Discoloration Staining Patterns
25 What to Look for Framing Age and Condition Distress Paint Finish Condition
26 What to Look for Glass Identify glass types Heat treatment Insulated Laminated Age and Condition Scratches Damage Distress Broken glass Fogging Visual imperfections Installation Glass Bite
27 Insulated Glass Insulated glass is defined as two or more lites of glass with a sealed airspace in between Insulated glass is commonly sold with a ten year (or less) manufacturer s warranty that the seal between the glass will be maintained. Once insulated glass gets to twenty years old, it is nearing the end of it s useful life The only viable way to remedy seal failure is to replace the glass Insulated glass units often contain markings on the spacer between the glass indicating a manufacturer code and the date of manufacture
28 What to Look for Weatherstripping Age and Condition Length Missing? Falling out? Hardness Wet Sealed?
29 What to Look for Sealants Type Age and Condition Sealant Failures Wet Seal?
30 Wet Seal A wet seal is an after the fact sealant application often applied in an attempt to reduce or halt water intrusion Wet sealing changes the design concept of glazing systems from collect and drain to barrier To be effective everything must be sealed properly glass to metal, metal to metal, and perimeters Wet sealed systems must be 100 percent effective or any water entry will be trapped, since there are no provisions for drainage Water entry from adjacent areas will be trapped in the system Wet sealed systems must be regularly inspected and maintained
31 What to Look for Anchors Most anchors are concealed and not able to be inspected during a visual walk around Typically glass or interior finishes must be removed to view anchors Look for signs of distress, such as cracks, gaps, separations, broken glass, misalignment or bulging Look for signs of corrosion and aging, if possible.
32 What to Look for Surrounding Surfaces Look for water entry from other areas into the glazing system Walls and Cladding Roofs Parapet Caps Balconies
33 What to Look for Regional Considerations Extreme Climates Hot or Cold Glass failure Sealant failure Windstorm damage Hurricanes and Tornados Bent or damaged framing Damaged anchors Distress gaps, separations, misalignment, bulging, etc. Glass Damage cracks, scratches, misalignment in frame, loss of seal to frame Seismic Damage Distress gaps, separations, misalignment, bulging, etc. Glass Damage cracks, scratches, misalignment in frame, loss of seal to frame Flood Damage Water damage and mold
34 Level 2 Assessment All of Level 1 activities, plus: Selected disassembly of glazing systems Destructive analysis of cladding systems Analysis of anchors and fasteners Field water infiltration tests
35 Level 2 Assessment Selected Disassembly Further investigation of issues found during Level 1 Assessment Hire a local glazing contractor to assist Generally involves glass removal for inspection of concealed conditions Sometimes involves removal of interior or exterior finishes Always have a plan to restore to pre-inspection conditions
36 Level 2 Assessment Analysis of Anchors Generally requires removal of glass or interior/exterior finishes Look at overall condition of anchors corrosion Check condition of fasteners snug or loose, missing Check condition of framing where anchors attach Compare to shop drawings and other project documents Involve a Specialty Structural Engineer, if needed
37 Level 2 Analysis Field Water Infiltration Tests Garden Hose Test not recommended Hose Test AAMA (limited use) Chamber Test ASTM E 1105 (best)
38 AAMA Quality Assurance and Diagnostic Water Leakage Field Check of Installed Storefronts, Curtain Walls, and Sloped Glazing Systems Apparatus: Type B-25, #6.030 brass nozzle with a ½ FPT as manufactured by Monarch Manufacturing Works. Use a ¾ water hose with water pressure to produce psi.
39 AAMA Quality Assurance and Diagnostic Water Leakage Field Check of Installed Storefronts, Curtain Walls, and Sloped Glazing Systems Hold the nozzle at a distance of 1 foot from the most exterior surface of the wall. Direct the water spray perpendicular to the face of the test specimen. It is recommended that a gauge be attached to the end of the nozzle to ensure that the specified distance from the joint under test is maintained."
40 AAMA Quality Assurance and Diagnostic Water Leakage Field Check of Installed Storefronts, Curtain Walls, and Sloped Glazing Systems Move the nozzle back and forth above approximately five (5) linear feet of the framing and joints, for a period of five (5) minutes. The nozzle is to be maintained in a position perpendicular to the wall.
41 ASTM E 1105 Interior or Exterior Air Chamber Create Air Pressure Difference Spray Water from a Calibrated Spray Rack Field Version of Laboratory Test Method Simulates the Conditions of a Wind Driven Rain Storm
42 ASTM E 1105 Air Pressure Chamber
43 ASTM E 1105 Air Pressure Chamber OR open a door or window to the exterior
44 ASTM E 1105 Water Spray Rack
45 ASTM E 1105 Water Spray Rack
46 ASTM E 1105 Water Spray Rack
47 ASTM E 1105 Observe the Results
48 Level 3 Assessment All of Level 1 and 2 activities, plus Theoretical calculations Develop section properties Determine level of wind load resistance Structural Analysis Analyze framing members, infill and anchors
49 Deliverables Report Investigation Observations Analysis Recommendations Cost Estimate Square Foot Order of Magnitude Estimates Actual Estimates from Contractors Retain Third Party Cost Estimator
50 Conclusion It s Complicated! Try to get good intel from building stakeholders Look for problems such as water intrusion Consider aging Disclose the limited scope of your inspection If you don t know get help. Don t guess.
51 Resources GANA - Glass Association of North America AAMA - American Architectural Manufacturers Association Manufacturer's Literature
52 About GCI Consultants, Inc. Main Office 2460 Metrocentre Boulevard West Palm Beach, FL Miami Office SW 142nd Terrace, Suite 106 Miami, FL Atlanta Office 400 Galleria Parkway, Suite 1500 Atlanta, GA Please visit us on the web at: 2014 GCI Consultants, LLC. GCI Consultants, the GCI cube design, The Building Shield, Building Envelope Roadmap, Envelope Guardian, Envelope Defense, The Building Shield circle design, the five phase design and the logos shown herein are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of GCI Consultants, LLC. All rights reserved. Any use of this copyrighted material, trademarks, or other intellectual property owned by GCI Consultants, LLC without the express written consent of GCI Consultants, LLC is strictly prohibited.
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