Our Design Verification Test Chamber is seeing some action today. Here’s the story so far.
A $6.6 million residence in San Francisco overlooks the Golden Gate and San Rafael Bridges. The view from the stucco-clad home is breathtaking, says our man on the scene, PROSOCO manufacturer’s rep Tim Sinnott, Sinco Sales, Danville, Calif., but along with that you get 100 mph wind and wind-driven rain.
So the house is seeing air leakage and water intrusion.
The owner hired an architect to investigate where and how the leaks occur. There’s litigation involved, so I’m not using names.
Right around that time — late April — the architect happened to attend the Oakland edition of our Design Verification Testing seminar. She saw the presentation, and saw one of the design verification test chambers in action.
She realized design verification testing would be incredibly helpful in determining where and how the building envelope leaked.
The architect sent us a mock-up built by the contractor hired to repair the leaky house. The mock-up is a replica of how the current walls are assembled. It features everything the house has, from window to stucco cladding to building papers to electrical-box and air-conditioning penetrations.
She instructed us to test the mock-up for leaks in chamber conditions simulating 150-mph wind-driven rain.
Our Design Verification Testing Specialist Matt Travis, and Ron Tatley, BEI, who invented the Design Verification Test Chamber, plugged the mock-up into the chamber. They did a preliminary test at 25 mph wind-driven rain, which the mock-up immediately failed.
They knew it would, Ron said. That was the reason the mock up was here.
Ron and Matt fixed those first leaks. Then, with Project Testing Director Courtney Murdock recording the procedures and results, testing began in earnest. The tests used methodologies from ASTM tests including E 331, E 1105 and E 283, Ron said.
Yesterday, they looked for air leaks in the mock-up, found some and repaired them. This testing is different from what they do at most testing laboratories, Ron explained. At most labs your mock-up gets a pass or fail. That’s all you get, and what you do with that info is up to you.
In Design Verification Testing, you get a full report. It tells you whether your design passed or failed, but also where, when and how it failed, and exactly what you can do about it, based on what the testing revealed.
To be 100 percent useful and effective, Ron says, the Design Verification Testing should be incorporated into the planning stages of construction so that buildings are sound from the beginning. He said that could likely require the services of a qualified building-envelope consultant, as well as a design verification test chamber.
Some might balk at the price of a consultant and testing, Ron said, but both 10 times over are only a fraction of what you could pay for litigation and repair when water gets into walls that you guessed were good enough.
Like the job we’re testing now.
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