Flood Barrier Testing
Insights in the Lab and Field
19 January 2021
Flood barrier testing can be used to minimize damage, help reduce risk of electrical outages or fires, and provide peace of mind. Testing can be done in the field or in the lab. For manufacturers, testing offers client comfort in knowing that a product meets and/or exceeds project requirements. For owners, in-situation testing before a flood provides assurance that money and time are well spent. For installers, it provides peace of mind that problems further down the road are limited.
Field testing is typically a modified version of the approval standard for flood mitigation equipment. Hydrostatic load testing is typically performed on products at grade and hose testing is typically performed on products that are several feet above grade. Pre-testing site visits are key to getting proper measurements and field conditions. Certain field conditions require testing chambers to be prefabricated in the field.
Field testing can assess doors and other openings at grade or above grade. Above/at grade can assess flood doors, barriers, mechanical closure devices (MCDs), and flex gates, which are used to prevent water from entering a building or stop underground flooding. To test an at-grade product in the field for hydrostatic load, there must be a test basin reservoir, which the team will build. The contractor must have the equipment to mitigate excessive water leakage into the building during testing (precautionary measure). Then a hydrostatic load test can be run and when the water meets the required height, the official test begins, measuring water leakage and measuring leakage rate to be compared to acceptable standards.
Above grade testing can be done using a hose and specialized nozzle on the barrier, frame, and frame-to-structure installation from the bottom-up. Water leakage is collected, water volume is measured to ensure leakage does not exceed the maximum rate. Testing can also be done on flood hatches/submarine doors, using smoke and pressurization.
Pre-construction testing in a lab provides controlled conditions to allow for planning and prevents installation errors. It can be used on a variety of products:
- Flood and marine doors
- Flood protection devices, panels, barriers, shields, fences
- Flood resistant storefronts
- Watertight emergency egress hatches
- Drain plugs
- Stairwell protection devices
The type of testing conducted will depend on the product and the requirements in place for it. Once set up and run, information will be compared to the requirements to ensure it passes. Consult with the lab to identify the testing needs, setup and process to ensure procedure is followed and the proper information is collected.
Flood barrier testing is important to reduce risk, ensure a project's success and maintain brand reputation. Learn more about the various testing types, including examples, in our webinar recording.
Heather Stahl-Figueroa is Lab Manager for Intertek Building & Construction facility in Farmingdale, New York. With nearly 20 years of experience in the construction industry, she has been with Intertek for five years supporting customers in assessing products used in the building and construction industry.
Stephen D. Shank, FMPC,
Regional Manager - Field & Laboratory Testing
Stephen Shank is a regional manager of field and laboratory testing with Intertek's Building & Construction team. He has been with Intertek for 19 years where he has assisted customers with mock-up testing, thermal evaluations, windows & fenestration witness testing, and field testing.