Volume 7, Issue 11 - December 2006

AAMA Analysis

Fine-Tuning Door Certification

by Dean Lewis

AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S. 2/A440-05 encompasses specifications for side-hinged exterior doors, including new testing requirements for operating cycles, hardware water penetration, vertical loading and forced-entry resistance. The unique aspect of the door requirements in the 2005 standard is that they recognize that side-hinged exterior doors are quite different from windows, sliding glass doors and their “French door” cousins in three key aspects: accessibility requirements, operating frequency and water penetration.

For example, accessibility requirements limit sill heights—a major defense against leakage of wind-driven rain. Even so, because such doors are typically installed in weather-protected areas, experience shows there are few, if any, instances of significant leakage problems. Thus, it is not always feasible or necessary for them to meet the substantial water penetration resistance requirements of other fenestration products. The 2005 standard, therefore, introduced the new “Limited Water” (LW) rating concept for water leakage that accounts for these real-world conditions. It allows for testing and rating doors for water penetration resistance at an air pressure differential that ranges from zero up to any selected pressure less than the 15-20 percent of design pressure indicated by the performance class. 

It also requires testing according to four AAMA side-hinged door performance standards released in 2003 after three years of work by Door Council task groups. These standards govern operating cycle performance (AAMA 920-03), vertical load resistance (AAMA 925-03), hardware load and water penetration resistance (AAMA 930-03) and forced-entry resistance (AAMA 1304-02).

The next step is to develop a certification program based on these requirements. But there is still work to be done.
For example, while the I-codes adopted the 2005 standard for referencing, conformance was not mandated for exterior side-hinged doors. This exclusion stems from the need to address marketplace realities for pre-hangers who must often substitute components to satisfy specific customers. Technically, the whole pre-hung door assembly would have to be re-certified in order to certify the specific substituted component. AAMA recognizes this economic burden on pre-hangers is unrealistic, and is actively working with the Association of Millwork Distributors (AMD) to develop a certification program for entry doors that reflects current industry practices of both AMD and AAMA members.

The preferred approach would be a component-based program, rather than one based on the tested performance of a complete door system. AAMA’s Certification Policy Committee has just approved the addition of door components to the AAMA Verified Components List (VCL). The VCL catalogs various components that have been tested and rated for their conformance with the appropriate standard referenced in AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S. 2/A440-05. Under this component-based approach, the pre-hung system would be assigned the same rating as the lowest-rated component and would allow for a variety of configurations.

Meanwhile, other decisions are being made with regard to two key test considerations: testing cycle rate and force-to-latch tests.

One task group is reviewing the AAMA 920 cycle rate for open/close testing to evaluate reducing it from 24 cycles/minute to 12-15 cycles/minute. This, however, differs from the cycle rate of 12-24 cycles/minute proposed by the [NAFS] Harmonization Task Group and would have to be reconciled for referencing in the next edition of the standard.
Another task group is reviewing test methodologies for conducting force-to-latch testing and load force (lbs) that would be appropriate for full latch and closure. 

AAMA is continually keeping up with door industry marketplace demands and will remain a leader in resolving entry door performance requirements.

Dean Lewis serves as certification manager for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association in Schaumburg, Ill. He may be reached at dlewis@aamanet.org. 

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