Five Common Failures in Glazing

Drawing from Allana Buick & Bers’ (ABB) extensive forensic experience in studying premature construction failures, improvements in fenestration technology have successfully reduced such failures over the past 40 years until 2010. However, in the last decade or so, there has been a concerning reversal in this trend, marked by a significant rise in glazing system failures. Established coating systems on aluminum frames, along with emerging issues like glazing seal deformities, aluminum coating failures, thermal break issues, and problems with Structural Silicone Glazed (SSG) systems, contribute to these challenges.

Common Failures:

  1. Glazing Seals: Changes in UV barrier chemistry and filler levels can cause premature shrinkage and deformation, leading to water and air intrusion, condensation, and energy loss.
  2. Aluminum Coating: New pre-treatment methods on raw aluminum often fail prematurely despite passing industry standards, leading to coating failures and improper application issues.
  3. Insulated Glazing Unit (IGU): Failures in the dual seals of IGUs can result in fogging, delamination, and corrosion of Low-e coatings due to moisture ingress.
  4. Laminated Glass: Failure of laminated glass can lead to aesthetic issues and delamination.
  5. Thermal Break: Failure of thermal breaks or unintended thermal bridges in aluminum frames can cause condensation and energy loss.

Solutions and Prevention:

  • Thorough quality assurance measures at a micro level are essential due to the globalization of manufacturing.
  • ABB’s forensic failure investigations provide insights into common manufacturing mistakes.
  • Careful verification and exhaustive testing during installation, including material lab testing and mock-up construction, are crucial.
  • Evaluation and testing, including air leakage and water infiltration testing, ensure the best results.
  • By focusing on meticulous quality control and attention to detail throughout the manufacturing and installation processes, the reliability and performance of modern glazing systems can be maintained.