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AAMA 501.2 and the importance of curtain wall testing

AAMA 501.2 is one of several testing standards to detect water leakage in new construction commercial buildings, along with AAMA 502, AAMA 503, ASTM E1105, and others.

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association sets AAMA 501.2. It’s a field check for glass storefronts, curtain walls, and sloped glazing systems that are meant to remain permanently sealed shut. It tests joints, gaskets, and sealant details for weather-tightness and durability.

According to the standard, “Water leakage is defined as any uncontrolled water that appears on any normally exposed interior surfaces, that is not contained or drained back to the exterior, or that can cause damage to adjacent materials or finishes.”

A sealed and water-tight building is safer and more energy efficient over its lifetime. With more than 40 years of experience in the industry, Building Envelope Allies has the expertise and equipment you need for efficient and accurate AAMA 501.2 testing.

Here’s what you need to know about scheduling AAMA 501.2 testing, what happens on test day, and what to do with your test results.

When to schedule AAMA 501.2 testing

Curtain wall testing can be performed at any point after the glass store front, curtain wall, or slanted glazing system is installed and water-tight. We typically recommend doing AAMA 501.2 testing before interior walls are finished.

If water leaks exist, it’s easier to identify those leaks on unfinished interior walls. Testing on unfinished interior walls also reduces the risk of damaged finishing materials, and it’s often easier to make necessary repairs at this point.

What to expect on test day

Typically, only a portion of a building’s glazing is tested to meet AAMA standards and certain criteria must be met. At a minimum, the test area should be about 100 ft²/9.3 m² and represent the typical construction of the project.

Depending on the project, the test area should include:

  • Glass surface edges
  • Vision glass
  • Spandrel glass
  • Frame intersections (horizontal and vertical)
  • Typical splices
  • Perimeter caulking

During the test, our technicians use a calibrated system to deliver a consistent stream of water across the testing area. They use a ¾” diameter hose fitted with a ½” brass nozzle (part B-25 #6.030, sourced from Monarch Manufacturing), with a pressure of 30-35 psi. These calibrations help us deliver standardized, accurate test results.

Our technicians hold the nozzle 1 foot away from the glass and move it back and forth for 5 minutes. We thoroughly soak the testing area from bottom to top. At the same time, another technician is inside looking for water leaks.

We make note of any water penetration. Leaks greater than half an ounce over the course of 5 minutes will result in test failure.

Meeting AAMA 501.2 standards

If we don’t identify any leaks during the test, the building meets AAMA 501.2 standards. If we find leaks, you must mitigate them before the building can meet the standard.

Our team provides a detailed inspection report following testing. If the building didn’t pass, the steps that you need to take typically include:

  1. Cleaning up water leaks
  2. Allowing the area to dry fully
  3. Making the necessary corrections and improvements
  4. Conducting another AAMA 501.2 test

Passing AAMA 501.2 means that your curtain wall or glazing is properly sealed from the elements. It reduces air and water leaks over the life of the building, making it more energy efficient and cost effective.

To learn more about the testing and standards that might apply to your new construction building, reach out to talk with an expert at Building Envelope Allies.