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Testing Methods for Quality Assuring Thermal Envelope Performance

Program number AIA301

Course Description

This program provides a detailed explanation of how high-performance thermal envelopes can be achieved. It elaborates on the importance of an ongoing quality- assurance process, which begins with the conceptual design phase and is carried through to the completion of the construction phase. The design phase quality- assurance process involves a plan review, specification review, and performance specification review. The construction phase quality-assurance process is comprised of communicating the intent, methods, and performance goals of the thermal envelope to the contractor, conducting construction inspections, and performing quality- assurance test procedures for each component of the thermal envelope. The state-of-the-art techniques for this testing include infrared thermography and pressurized fog analysis. Blower door air-leakage testing is discussed as a method for testing performance standard compliance. A detailed explanation of how each method functions is given, complemented by examples of which methods are best suited to any given thermal envelope problem. Ice dams; pipe / equipment freeze-ups; and bugs, mold, and rot problems are examples of the envelope failures which are considered. Case studies of these types of failures are included to demonstrate how various failures are diagnosed and how they could have been prevented using the planning process and testing techniques covered in this program. Temperature and moisture monitoring, as well as the less sophisticated ice, frost, and snow-melt pattern analysis are described as methods for diagnosing building failures. Slide and video presentations are used, and a demonstration of specialized testing equipment supplements the program.

Henri C. Fennell is President of Building Envelope Services, Inc. & FOAM-TECH, North Thetford, Vermont, USA.

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