Preventing insulating glass failures, and then investigating them fully when they do occur, are key for those involved with insulating glass (IG), says Bill Lingnell of Lingnell Consulting Services and IG expert. He discussed specific ways to do this during a recent webinar hosted by the Fenestration & Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA).

First and foremost, a quality assurance program is vital to make sure companies are meeting the requirements of their customers, said Lingnell. If quality is not an important part of a company’s process, their reputation may suffer.

“If you have one bad project, big or little, sometimes it takes 15-20 good ones to replace that in terms of profit and bottom line,” he said. “So it’s really important to have a good quality assurance program and I can’t stress that enough.”

Lingnell said that when in the field, it is important to look at the glazing system and framing material used, as well as choice of sealants, gaskets, tape and more.

Many factors go into building quality IG units and Lingnell went over many of them for attendees, including everything from how to identify the coated surface, proper desiccant storage and more. He also pointed out how some product categories that go into an IG unit have expanded exponentially.

“There are so many different types of spacers now,” he said. “We have a lot of different materials we use.”

A good bulk of the presentation then focused on a key process—field investigation.

“There is quite a list of things we expect our IG to do when we put it in a building,” Lingnell said. “So there are many things we need to look at to assist in our investigation.”

This includes glass performance and looking closely at past documentation. For example, are there records for seal failure, etc.

And it is not just the IG that is important. Lingnell said that when in the field it is important to look at the glazing system and framing material used, as well as choice of sealants, gaskets, tape and more.

“All these things have to work together and be compatible,” he said.

For example, he said it is important to take a good hard look at the weep system. If there is one, is it functioning? Are there end dams that help direct the water or moisture to where it is supposed to end up? He said these are all crucial items to investigate.

“If you are doing a re-glaze, put water in the glazing channel and see if it drains out,” Lingnell suggested.

Compatibility is another major issue, he pointed out, and went so far to say, “Don’t be the first one to use a new product if you don’t know about compatibility.”

When conducting field investigations, he said taking photos is crucial to discovering reasons for IG failure. He shared many different photos of IG failures that have occurred in various applications and why they occurred. He again stressed the importance of asking questions.

“I once conducted an investigation in an airport control tower,” he said. “It was annealed glass and I saw a thermal stress fracture. A lot of times you have to ask questions so I asked the project superintendent what happened and he told me it wasn’t there before they had plumbing and electrical work done. I then found out they put insulation up on the glass, and that’s what caused the problem.”

“The key in any investigation,” said Lingnell, “is to not jump to any conclusion until you have looked at all the facts.”