Slipping through the Cracks

Case Study – High-rise Curtainwall Courthouse in the Midwest

Overview

Authors

Photo of Jason Siwek P.E.

Jason Siwek P.E.

Project Manager

Walter P Moore

JSiwek@walterpmoore.com


Keywords


Abstract

We construct building enclosures to keep the elements out, but sometimes air and water infiltrate the building envelope, causing several problems for the building’s function and the structure itself. In this paper, we will present a case study of the exterior envelope of a high-rise Courthouse in the Midwestern United States, built in 1998, and analyze destressed curtainwall issues, including water leakage, air leakage, and condensation. To gather data, our team conducted a partial visual survey of the building’s interior and exterior, an assessment and water testing via rope access, an infrared thermographic scan of the building exterior systems, and a hygrothermal analysis of the as-built construction at select locations.

This presentation covers the systematic procedures used to diagnose the leakage characteristics of the building. We will discuss our façade investigation and water infiltration testing, demonstrated through accompanying photographs of the conditions encountered. Finally, we will assess the thermographic readings collected to identify areas of temperature differentials between cladding components and, in some cases, within the given component. This will include infrared images and the corresponding observations of anomalies.

Introduction

A façade is a building’s and its occupants’ only defense from the outside world. If the enclosure system contains leaks, it’s chances of structural and interior damage from the natural

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Background

In response to issues of severe water infiltration identified by the facility’s management, our team assessed the curtainwall and exterior fenestrations for a high-rise Courthouse in the Midwest from May

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Case Study

The high-rise Courthouse’s exterior envelope was evaluated to determine the causes of air and water infiltration and included investigating the existing curtainwall and aluminum window openings, in order to identify

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Conclusion

Water infiltration is attributable to a combination of construction defects, including improper assembly of vertical mullions and improper construction of exterior gaskets. As with most modern systems, the Courthouse is

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