What happens when you neglect to fix a leaking balcony? In this article we delve into the dangers of a balcony leak as well as solutions on how to fix a leaking balcony.
There is no doubt, that with the increase in high density living across metropolitan cities. That balconies are a popular feature in apartment buildings. Amongst the concrete jungle, they allow owners to create small havens for tranquility. This has never been more apparent than during the Covid lockdown crisis. Where we not only had to deal with transmission of the virus, but with people’s mental wellbeing.
Although the purpose of the balcony is to provide a place of relaxation and enjoyment to the homeowner. On the negative side, balconies are some of the most common places for water leaks on a property. Which can quickly turn your place of serenity to a headache. It’s worth noting that a leaking balcony will not only affect your property. It can also affect your neighbour’s apartment. For instance when water leaks to the apartment below.
According to insurance statistics. Waterproofing failures in balconies is the reason for most balcony leaks. So, what are some of the causes of a balcony leak.
Common causes of leaking balconies
There is no doubt that most balconies will leak during their natural life. Suffice to say, the cause of most leaking balconies occurs during the initial planning and construction phase. Either through improper building methods or the use of inferior products.
Although building methods and materials have improved over the years. There are still gaps which need to be addressed within the building trade. Even though waterproofing accounts for less than 3% of the building costs. According to insurance companies, the largest number of waterproofing failures are with balconies. When balconies are constructed the preparation, stage is crucial for the integrity and longevity of the balcony.
Defects in balconies can be a result of poor design or poor construction by the builder. Builders may feel pressure to keep construction costs low or speed up the build by homeowners. Which in turn may lead them to use cheaper and inferior waterproofing products or not follow correct practises. Such as not leaving enough time for the waterproofing to cure.
In other cases, inadequate falls in balconies can lead to drainage problems. For instance, when there is heavy rain, and the rainwater cannot drain properly. It collects in puddles on the balcony, which is what we call ponding. When this happens, water is absorbed through the grout lines and lays between the tile and waterproofing membrane. Gradually deteriorating the membrane which protects the structural parts of the building.
As balconies are exposed to the elements and extreme weather conditions. Both of which can affect the integrity of your balcony. It is recommended that regular checks and maintenance should be carried out to avoid long term damage.
Reasons why balconies leak:
- Lack of or poor drainage or correct falls to drainage.
- Waterproof membrane failure – either through time or application methods
- Tile breakage and movement allowing penetration of water
- Deteriorated and porous grout
- Perimeter seals not applied or have deteriorated.
- Rainwater causing pooling and breakdown of membranes
- Natural building movement causing cracks that allows water to penetrate under tiles.
The best way to prevent balcony leaks is to properly waterproof the balcony during initial construction. Contractors should follow standards as per AS4654.2 when waterproofing membranes are applied.
Certain measures must be taken in order to prevent leaking issues and seepage over time. The most recommended way to protect your balcony from leaks is to install a waterproofing membrane. The membrane must be of high quality and built to last to be effective.
A membrane system protects various areas of your balcony that are exposed to water penetration. By preventing water from leaking beneath the balcony, you can protect the structure for long periods of time and avoid costly repairs.
Most importantly, the waterproof membrane must be flexible. A professional contractor understands that building materials expand and contract over time. Due to different factors such as the environment. A flexible waterproofing membrane can accommodate the movement. Both of your structure and the building that connects to your balcony.
Waterproofing a balcony is not a time to cut corners or speed through quickly. Improper application leads to water leaks and damage. Only high-quality materials and correct application techniques. will result in a proper membrane system that waterproofs a balcony.
Dangers of a leaking balcony
You should never delay the repair of a leaking balcony. The leak can cause significant damage to not only the structure of the balcony but also the surrounding parts of your home. Seepage from balcony leaks leads to deterioration and decay. The leak can easily spread to other areas of your home, affecting external walls. You may begin to notice that the paint on your walls or ceiling chips or discolours over time.
Moreover, the leaks can cause damage to the electrical system within your home. Which can be particularly dangerous, resulting in power outages or harmful charges. Imagine your living room is situated under the balcony. The leak has penetrated to the substructure and now has gotten to the electrical wiring of your lights. Touch the light switch and you might be in for a rude shock.
Finally, if the water is able to seep into your external walls or the area below the balcony, the entire structure can collapse. Delaying repairs to leaking balconies can not only be extremely dangerous, but costly.
As soon as you become aware of a potential balcony leak, it is imperative that you contact a professional. Your licensed contractor can start repairs quickly to mitigate the damage.
Professional Assesment of a Leaking balcony
The best approach for repairing a leaking balcony. Is to have a professional and licensed waterproofer assess the cause of the balcony leak.
Licensed professionals know and understand the construction methods and Australian Building Codes. So can easily identify the cause of the balcony leak. An experienced professional knows how to test for leaks and identify the weakest point of your balcony for water penetrations. They will inspect the entire balcony and advise on other potential problems such as drainage and overflows.
There could be any number of reasons why a waterproofed balcony has failed. Which is why it’s important to identify not only the cause of the leak. But most importantly the structural integrity of the balcony. As this will dictate the type of repair required.
Fix a Leaking Balcony with professional help
The best approach to fix a leaking balcony is to hire a licensed and professional waterproofing company. They not only have the tools but expertise and knowledge to ensure a balcony is repaired correctly.
Caught early it can be quite simple to fix a leaking balcony. In most cases balconies can be repaired without the need to remove tiles. A cost-effective sealing solution to waterproof a leaking balcony. If the structural integrity of the balcony is sound, the balcony can be sealed with epoxy grout.
Delaying repairs for a leaking balcony is not recommended because the problem is likely to worsen over time. Which can even lead to a complete collapse of your balcony. If you have any concerns about your leaking balcony. Contact the team at SealTech Solutions to organise for your free balcony assessment. With complete waterproof sealing solutions, you can trust that your balcony is safe from any future leaks.
Likewise if wish to speak to a team member you can contact us on 1300 356703.