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Insulating Issues:

Who is responsible for long-term performance?


April 16, 2010
By Margaret Webb

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Who is a part of your management team? When we think of who makes up
the group that ensures our fenestration products will perform as
intended for the expected period of time, we often do not look beyond
the doors of the plant. At times, there appear to be communication
disconnects between the various stakeholders in the industry.

Who is a part of your management team? When we think of who makes up the group that ensures our fenestration products will perform as intended for the expected period of time, we often do not look beyond the doors of the plant. At times, there appear to be communication disconnects between the various stakeholders in the industry.

For insulating glass fabricators, the management or quality team generally consists of quality control employees, designers, line supervisors and other plant personnel. However with plant turnover, staff reductions and escalating training costs, there may be key personnel missing from the team. One group that is often overlooked as part of the quality management is the component suppliers, who are subject to less staff turnover than the manufacturing sector. These are the experts who understand how their product works, special fabrication and handling considerations, and any compatibility issues with other components. Most component suppliers have in-house technical expertise available at no charge to their customers. Many component suppliers provide in-plant training, have the capabilities to test your units in their own laboratory facilities and can provide specific quality control requirements for the component. 

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There are three primary modes of failure of the insulating glass unit. The first are fabrication issues, for example: was the glass clean, was the right amount of sealant used, were all materials checked for compatibility, was the desiccant system compromised? The second involves glazing of the IG unit. operly in the sash and frame? The third is installation of the fenestration product into the building envelope.

Window manufacturers, who purchase their insulating glass units from an outside supplier, should include quality assurance personnel from the IG fabricator as part of their management team.   

Data obtained from the IGMA 25 Year Field Correlation Study indicates that glazing systems that hold water at or near the edge sealant can accelerate IG unit failure by as much as 60 per cent. The importance of managing water in the glazing cavity is a critical factor in the performance and longevity of insulating glass units. Water held at or near the edge seal of an insulating glass unit guarantees premature failure and structural damage to the glazing system, and may contribute to the formation of mould.

It is not possible to prevent water in the glazing cavity. The key to successful long-term performance is how the ingress of water is addressed and managed.

IG fabricators understand the importance of proper glazing of the IG unit to ensure long-term performance. The IG industry has developed glazing guidelines to assist window manufacturers to properly glaze the IG unit into the sash and frame to manage water, ensure uniform support of the glass and ensure compatibility between the IG and glazing sealants. It is critical to keep the glazing channel clear, using the appropriate weep system. 
The fundamental issue is the weep system. It must ensure that water flow is not blocked by debris or materials in the glazing channel. When setting blocks are insufficient either in size or in placement, blockage of the glazing channel can occur due to sag of the IG unit, or insufficient clearance or blockage of the weep system.

Long-term performance of any fenestration product is affected by the collective expertise, quality control measurements and best practices in manufacturing of every contributing party. It is the responsibility of everyone. So who is on your management team?


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