Since its popularisation by the play "Romeo and Juliet," balconies have been standard fixtures in the design of many residential buildings and public spaces. Condominium and co-op balconies are a nice perk for residents who want to make the most of their living space and get some fresh air and sunshine without having to leave their building.
Balconies require the same continuous care and upkeep as any other structure to ensure they continue to look their best and survive as long as possible. How are balconies looked after, and what sorts of fixes are made when they are broken? A well-planned maintenance and repair schedule, executed with the right tools, can extend the life of your condo or co-op for years of use and appreciation.
A balcony is one way to bridge the gap between an indoor living space and its outdoor surroundings. Because the wall separating the interior from the balcony is usually built of glass, the balcony space can be used to help bring light into otherwise dimly lit regions. A vast number of individuals who live in and frequent a wide range of commercial and residential structures have easy access to these comfortable outdoor gathering spaces. Given that they are an extension of the building and thus subject to the effects of weather, regular wear and tear, and the building's condition over time, these outdoor living areas require constant maintenance and repair. Balconies can become dangerous for renters if they aren't maintained, rather than a pleasant extension of the living space where they can take in the fresh air and sunshine.
Concrete balconies are an intrinsic feature of residential and commercial buildings, serving as a cantilevered extension of the living room floor slab. Reinforcing steel in a variety of sizes and patterns may be found in the concrete of the balcony. Reinforcing steel may have one or two mats (layers) applied on it, however the latter is more usual. Reinforcing steel will corrode to variable degrees over time whether or not it is exposed to the atmosphere. Maintaining and inspecting a building on a regular basis can save money for both the owner and the renters. There is a risk that putting off routine upkeep and repairs can have the reverse effect.
Check out Hitch Property Constructions for a wide range of balcony repairs.
How They Work
Steel and concrete are the materials of choice for the vast majority of today's balconies, with the occasional hardwood and concrete balcony tossed in for good measure. Concrete balconies can be either continuous slab or created from steel frames that are externally mounted to the structure. The concrete floor slab of a structure is simply extended upward to create a continuous slab balcony. Steel planks are used to elongate the building's skeleton before concrete is poured on top. Both types of balconies have railings placed once construction is complete. The balcony rails can be either built into the balcony structure or fixed on the balcony's outside.
What is Concrete Deterioration?
Deterioration of concrete manifests as loose, spalled chunks that break off the surface of a building. The rusting of the steel bars has caused them to expand, pushing the concrete outward. The rust is causing the concrete to expand. Expanding because iron has been changed into scaling rust. The expanding rust has the strength to break the concrete and occupies far more room than it can now occupy.
There is a serious threat to public safety if the concrete is allowed to continue to deteriorate. If the deterioration isn't addressed, it can spread to the inside of the units and eventually lead to a catastrophic failure. Interiors of units can be impacted if the deterioration is severe enough. Even if the balcony is about to collapse off the building, most people will notice that it is in disrepair and fix it before it happens. These people are fortunate.
What Causes Concrete to Deteriorate?
Rainwater and chlorides can induce corrosion in concrete if they seep deep enough into the material, reaching the level of the steel reinforcement bars. When concrete is left exposed to the elements, its exterior layers become progressively more permeable to mild acids and chlorides, which eventually erode away at the material.
Multiple factors affect how long it takes for pollutants to get to the steel bars. The way water enters the concrete, the frequency of wet and dry cycles, and the varied degrees of exposure are all relevant considerations. In the case of waterfront structures, this is done every 15 to 20 years on average, but can be reduced to as little as a few years if the concrete is particularly porous or if the steel bars are not implanted deeply enough. The corrosion process begins when the impurities reach the steel bars and the rust begins eating away at them.
What Are Some Signs of a Serious Problem?
Even in brand new concrete framed structures, cracks in the ceilings and floors are not unheard of. There are three different degrees of cracks: those that are extremely large and contribute to hazardous conditions and concrete damage; those that are extremely small and do not cause a structural problem or other concern; and those that are in the middle and may allow water intrusion and problems in the future. The fissures could potentially be located in the centre, creating future issues due to water seepage. An expert can determine the cause of the problem by inspecting the balcony's structure in connection to the crack's placement, the slab's overall structure, and the steel reinforcing bar's configuration. The following are some warning indications of a significant problem with concrete that may be missed by persons who are not concrete experts.
How Often are Repairs Necessary?
If the job was done properly, the association won't need to worry about maintenance for the next 10–20 years at the very least. The unfortunate reality is that fixing something in one place does not guarantee that there won't be further issues in other, maybe unconnected places. The concrete in one unit may be brand new, but that doesn't guarantee the longevity of the concrete in another unit that's already 20 years old. She advises property managers to keep an eye on buildings, develop a list of repairs, and then get them all done at once. Maintaining this practise on a regular basis will help cut down on the number of costly maintenance jobs that need to be done.
Why Seek Out a Professional?
Repairs performed by a handyman or a member of the association's staff, no matter how well-intentioned, may lead to further complications. If the repair is sloppy, it could come loose and fall, posing a risk of injury to anybody around or damage to nearby property. The association could be held responsible for such an event. Professionals in the concrete restoration industry will have a thorough understanding of the relevant published standards and rules. It is not uncommon to need the assistance of two different experts while evaluating and fixing concrete. An experienced engineer should be consulted first so that a thorough assessment of the damaged area can be made and a plan for its restoration can be developed.
Carpet on Balconies
He advises against putting carpets on external balconies because it hastens the process of concrete corrosion and cracking. After a rainstorm, the carpet will remain damp for a some time after flat surfaces around it have dried. Furthermore, rains are not as successful at removing the salt from carpets as they are from other surfaces.
Water pooling in low areas due to inadequate slopes or excessive waveiness is another issue that might hasten the degradation process. In Donald's opinion, there should be a way for rainwater to drain off the balconies. It doesn't take long for the water in ponds to evaporate when they're exposed to a lot of wind and sun, but it takes much longer when they're in the shade or buried. Donald claims that ponding areas covered with tile or pavers nearly never dry out.
How can you safeguard yourself and your loved ones from the hazards that may be lurking on your balconies?
Young recommends a few simple measures for keeping the railing and balcony in good condition.
- A good first step is to get an engineer to look over the balconies and provide recommendations for any fixes that might be needed.
- Having an engineer perform the required inspections at a frequency of two to five years is a good investment.
- It's important to waterproof every balcony.
- While seeking out reputable contractors to submit bids, it is important to have an engineer involved in the process as well.
- Make sure everything is up to par by having an engineer check over the finished repairs.
- The shutters' concrete-penetrating fastener must be correctly sealed to prevent water from penetrating the concrete and causing damage.
When tiling a balcony, keep in mind:
- The balcony must be waterproofed before the tiles can be installed.
The facilities manager should double-check the balcony if the tiles need to be replaced, once after the old tiles have been removed and once before the new ones have been laid.
Keep in mind that tiling over a problem might make it look like it doesn't exist, which can lead to worse damage and more expensive repairs.
If you take a few simple precautions, know what to look for, and have a routine inspection and maintenance plan in place, the balconies in your community can be used safely by residents and guests.
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Tips To Help Keep Your Balcony Safe & Sturdy
Get Regular Inspections
Building and balcony owners should inspect their properties on a regular basis to ensure their safety. Having a professional conduct a high-quality, in-depth inspection once a year is also a good idea. This is something that needs to be done before the busy season of using the balconies begins in the spring, as the freezing temperatures of winter might cause structural instabilities. This should be done before the balconies are used frequently.
Look for twisted or rotten timber and missing pieces. Any boards that have come loose should be reattached using new screws and anchors. Also, make sure there are no cracks or splits. Cracks in the cement or other materials should be monitored closely, especially if they have been growing in size. Below is some helpful background info:
- Large cracks in stone or concrete usually necessitate the assistance of a specialist in order to repair. In the event that you discover any of these on the balcony's floor, it is strongly recommended that you seek the help of a professional before attempting to repair the balcony yourself.
- The balcony's pillars and balusters might deteriorate over time and provide the same threat to anyone using the balcony. Look for deterioration, excessive corrosion, or damaged spots.
- The railings are prone to rusting and corrosion. Problems like rust, rotted timber, and shakiness are major contributors here. Verify that they are securely attached.
- It is possible that the railing's floor brackets and wall brackets will become loose over time. This situation is dangerous since someone could easily slip and fall. Maintain a routine inspection schedule for these items.
Can You Make Repairs Yourself?
Depending on the severity of the damage, you may be able to conduct the repair job yourself if you find little cracks or crumbling cement. However, it is always advisable to have a professional take care of the repairs.
It's best to use a caulking gun to apply crack fillers, although they can also be applied by hand. There is a need to pick a product that is suitable for the surface and the material. Further, you'll need to clean and level the surface with a putty knife. It's also important to give any concrete patching product plenty of time to cure and set. Fixing this up will require some time.
If a balcony's floor, railings, or underlying framework show any signs of corrosion or degradation, quick action must be taken to fix the problem. What happens on the surface is a reflection of what's going on underneath the cement pad or other structure. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you employ a trained and experienced professional to evaluate your balcony and complete any necessary repairs. Maintaining this habit will help keep anyone who uses it safe.
What Are the Dangers of Second-Floor Balconies?
Do not let kids or pets play on the balconies of any upper-level apartments. It is possible for a youngster to fall to their death from a balcony if they are extremely curious or courageous and climb up onto it. Young children can be killed or severely injured from even short falls. If you leave a window or balcony door open, your pet could potentially fall out and get seriously hurt or even die if they try to jump or fall to the earth below. You may reduce the possibility of this happening by locking your balcony door and taking other measures to protect your children and pets, such as adding secure rails.
Any damage to a second-story balcony could go unnoticed for quite some time. The balcony's supporting elements are susceptible to wear and tear from weather and time. Those on the second story could be in danger, for instance, if they venture out onto a balcony with deteriorating floor wood. It is possible that the person could lose their footing on account of the cracks in the wood. A balcony made of concrete can eventually break at the surface if it is subjected to heavy winds and other forms of harsh weather.
Damaged or otherwise compromised balconies on upper floors may collapse under the extra weight. Weight restrictions apply to second-story balconies because they aren't permanently fixed to the building like ground-level balconies are. The balcony could collapse if too many people crowded onto it at once, putting too much pressure on it. A structural weakness in the building might cause the second-floor balcony to collapse, for example.
A second-floor balcony may conceal other threats. If you store heavy objects on the balcony and a storm comes along, one of them could easily blow off and hurt someone on the street below. A youngster could get hurt if they tripped over anything on the balcony or if the railing was too low and they fell over. Items kept on the balcony should be stowed away from the walkway and close to the railings for safety. There may be weight restrictions on your balcony if you plan to place heavy items there, such as huge garden planters.
There has been a lot of talk about how to make balconies safer, especially against falling concrete. Balconies often have holes where the concrete has been chipped away. Pieces of fractured concrete that have fallen to the ground are usually visible, although at this stage they have essentially been dumped. Please keep in mind that even a piece of concrete the size of a rock might fall from a height of several stories and inflict significant injury or death to those below.
The fences, together with the concrete, serve to protect both the renters and the property they store there. Most of the reinforcing steel around the balcony is located around its perimeter. Furthermore, this is where the rails are set up. Balcony railings can be either surface-mounted (attached directly to the concrete around the balcony's perimeter) or welded (attached to metal plates set into the concrete below). If the perimeter reinforcing steel were to decay for a long time, the railing could collapse, posing serious safety risks.
Hitch Property Constructions has a wide range of the Melbourne balcony repairs right here.
Negligence has consequences. Priority must be given to preventing harm to people, and those responsible must be prepared to answer for any unintended repercussions in court. Avoiding such situations requires little effort. Balcony concrete inspections should be performed by licenced engineers with experience rehabilitating concrete balconies. No one but the owner, who should have a trained eye, should ever make an assessment of a building's condition. Continuous examinations of a building's balconies should be carried out, and it is strongly recommended that a certified engineering consultant specialising in concrete repair be recruited for this purpose. In a perfect world, an event like this would happen at least once a year.
The first step in performing a condition review is clearing the balcony of any and all items. The consultant performs chain dragging or hammer sounding on each balcony to locate concrete delaminations. In addition, a professional advisor can examine the balconies' visual components for signs of wear and tear. It is important to present the relevant stakeholders with a detailed report summarising the findings and an estimated budget to address any defined issues. The engineer of record is the one who gives final approval to the reports.
The Occupational, Health, and Safety Department would like to bring to your attention that they have closed off any dangerous openings on the balcony. Repairs in the aforementioned case are usually necessary very away, and if building owners don't get a jump on them, they might end up costing a lot more than they would have if the problem had been spotted and fixed sooner. Owners, operators, and managers can rest easier knowing that their building's exterior space is secure for their tenants and the general public when they take a preventative approach.
If given the appropriate attention and care, a balcony can last for many years. If you live in an apartment complex, this is the perfect spot to hang out with neighbours and make new friends. Spending money on upkeep and repairs may seem like a waste at first, but the satisfaction you'll feel from protecting your investment will more than compensate for the cost. Who knows? If Romeo and Juliet had been standing on a more sturdy balcony, perhaps the outcome of the play might have been different.
Advantages like balconies in condominiums and cooperative apartments are appreciated by those who want to make the most of their living situation. Your balcony can last for many years of enjoyment and usage if you put together a maintenance and repair plan and stick to it with the help of the correct equipment. Steel frames or continuous slabs can be used to construct concrete balconies. Deterioration of concrete shows itself as spalled, falling pieces on the surface of a structure. In most cases, someone will detect that something is wrong with the balcony and take corrective action before the balcony falls from the building.
The steel bars start to rust and corrode when the impurities get to them. The specialist will examine the location of the fracture, the slab's overall structure, and the arrangement of the steel reinforcing bars to establish the root of the problem. Water seepage from central fissures could be a problem in the future. A handyman or a member of the association's staff may cause more problems than they solve if they attempt repairs. According to Donald, paved or tiled areas that collect water almost never drain.
Rainwater needs to have a mechanism to drain off the balcony areas. The balconies in your community may be utilised safely by residents and guests if you take some basic measures, know what to look for, and have a routine inspection and maintenance plan in place. It is important to routinely inspect buildings and balconies for safety reasons. It is imperative that immediate action be taken to repair a balcony's floor, railings, and underlying framework if any signs of corrosion or degradation are observed. For the best results, it's best to have a skilled expert take a look at your balcony and fix anything that's broken.
Anyone who utilises it should make it a habit to practise this often. Balconies on upper floors pose a greater risk than those on lower floors because they aren't securely attached to the structure. For security, keep your balcony belongings near to the railings and out of the way of foot traffic. Putting heavy things on your balcony, such garden planters, could be against the rules. The state of a building should never be evaluated by anyone other than the owner.
Licensed engineers with expertise in concrete balcony rehabilitation should conduct concrete balcony inspections. In this way, the building's owners, managers, and operators may rest easy knowing that the premises' outer areas are protected.
- A well-planned maintenance and repair schedule, executed with the right tools, can extend the life of your condo or co-op for years of use and appreciation.
- A balcony is one way to bridge the gap between an indoor living space and its outdoor surroundings.
- The rust is causing the concrete to expand.
- There is a serious threat to public safety if the concrete is allowed to continue to deteriorate.
- What Are Some Signs of a Serious Problem?Even in brand new concrete framed structures, cracks in the ceilings and floors are not unheard of.
- The following are some warning indications of a significant problem with concrete that may be missed by persons who are not concrete experts.
- A good first step is to get an engineer to look over the balconies and provide recommendations for any fixes that might be needed.
- The balcony must be waterproofed before the tiles can be installed.
- Look for deterioration, excessive corrosion, or damaged spots.
- However, it is always advisable to have a professional take care of the repairs.
- Damaged or otherwise compromised balconies on upper floors may collapse under the extra weight.
- A structural weakness in the building might cause the second-floor balcony to collapse, for example.
- A second-floor balcony may conceal other threats.
- Items kept on the balcony should be stowed away from the walkway and close to the railings for safety.
- There may be weight restrictions on your balcony if you plan to place heavy items there, such as huge garden planters.
- Most of the reinforcing steel around the balcony is located around its perimeter.
- Balcony concrete inspections should be performed by licenced engineers with experience rehabilitating concrete balconies.
- Continuous examinations of a building's balconies should be carried out, and it is strongly recommended that a certified engineering consultant specialising in concrete repair be recruited for this purpose.
FAQs About Balcony Repair
A cantilevered extension of the living room floor slab, the balcony concrete of residential and commercial structures is an integral part of the structure. Different sized and arranged configurations of reinforcing steel are scattered throughout the balcony's concrete. There are typically two mats (layers) of reinforcing steel present, but there is also the possibility of there being only one mat present.
The thickness of a balcony slab is typically 1 foot, and the surface area of the slab is proportional to the size of the balcony that the builder intends to create. Slabs for balconies are frequently left unfinished, which causes them to be grey in colour; however, it is possible to paint them in any colour you like.
If you overload a balcony, you run the risk of creating a safety hazard that could put you or another person in harm's way. Having said that, the load-bearing capacity of balconies is typically between 50 and 100 pounds per square foot. However, there is a possibility that the structure of your balcony was originally built as a patio, which could result in a change in the load rating capacity of the balcony.
If the work was done correctly, it should not require repairs for 10–20 years; however, it is likely that repairs will be required every few years in any given association.
Maintaining a weather-tight joint at the point where the joists pass through the wall is the cantilever balcony design challenge that presents the greatest amount of difficulty. As a consequence of expansion and contraction brought on by shifts in both moisture and temperature, joists are subject to movement. The end result is hidden rot and water damage, which poses a significant threat to the building's structural integrity.