Fenestration Systems – It’s all about Plumbing

A few years ago the Toronto office of our engineering firm experienced what we termed “the year of the crappy curtain wall”. In actuality it was more like eighteen months, and during that period we investigated persistent water penetration in several low- to mid-rise commercial office buildings ranging in age from 5 to 20 years old.

The failures discovered were not unique to curtain wall systems and were entirely avoidable if those responsible had even a basic understanding of how these systems are supposed to function. For several of the buildings we investigated, the failures were in conventional, fully captured curtain wall systems that were not installed correctly from the get go. There are many excellent, qualified curtain wall installers out there, but apparently they were off benefiting other jobs when these buildings were constructed.

Learning objectives:

  1. Learn the typical drainage paths designed into glazing systems and how they can be compromised.
  2. Understand the water flow balance that is at play for glazing systems.
  3. Learn the importance of understanding the limitations of some glazing systems and of specifying exactly what you want to avoid problems and disappointment.
  4. Learn some important tasks and steps to incorporate into your glazing project that will help get a quality system installed that keeps the water out.

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Peter Adams, P. Eng.

Peter has specialized in the field of building science since 1992. He investigated hundreds of buildings for failure, many having challenging building envelopes and operating conditions, such as libraries, water treatment plants, and sporting venues. Peter provides many types of services across North America including envelope design, indoor environment studies, mold risk assessment, design review, forensic investigation, expert witness work, and technical assistance for product development. Peter regularly presents at industry events and teaches Building Envelope Commissioning at the University of Wisconsin. He is past Chair of ASHRAE Technical Committee 4.04 on Building Envelopes and Materials.Contact