According to insurance statistics, the highest number of waterproofing failures are found in balconies and terraces. Although the design criteria in many of these structures lack appreciation for water control, not all leaking balconies are caused by a waterproofing membrane fault. Without proper inspection or planning, leaking balconies can have devastating consequences, and should be of concern to any homeowner or builder.
Balconies can be a luxurious way to enjoy fresh air from the comfort of one’s own home. They’re also a great selling point for apartment complexes, condos, and office spaces.
But if a balcony isn’t routinely checked for signs of wear and tear, it’s a luxury that can turn into a nightmare. Ignoring what may seem like a harmless crack in the foundation or a slow drip from a pool of water after a hard rain could be potentially dangerous.
A leaking balcony is a cause for great concern. When a balcony is leaking, it can cause substantial substrate damage, tile damage and surface coating damage. This can be a very dangerous situation that needs to be rectified immediately. In some cases, water from a leaking balcony will come into your home, causing damage to walls and ceilings and possibly your other assets.
Check out Hitch Property Constructions for a wide range of balcony repairs.
Why balconies leak
Most balconies will leak in their lifetime. Considerable changes that have occurred in construction and waterproofing methods over time have impacted the effectiveness of waterproofing membranes. Many balconies are being constructed with minimal falls to the substrate, especially in multi-level apartments. Such balconies are susceptible to water pooling and moisture between the membrane and tiles, known as ‘ponding’. If the waterproofing membrane cannot withstand ponding water, over time the membrane will break down, causing water leaks. Waterlogging can also cause joint failure, leading to leaks.
Common causes of balcony leaks
Common causes of balcony leaks include lack of planning before construction; absence of building maintenance; rainwater causing pooling and breakdown of membranes; lack of drainage; and natural building movement leading to cracks and leakage.
When balconies are constructed, proper care and supervision must be ensured in the preparation stage. The contractor must be aware of the correct installation of components, and the use of waterproofing membranes in compliance with current manufacturing and building codes to minimise the risk of a leaking balcony. Taking shortcuts during the build or lack of expertise can result in an improper waterproofing installation, leading to leaks, damage to the structural component of the balcony and building, and possible collapse or breakdown of the structure, not to speak of potential health risks that may occur due to mould formation.
Rectification of the waterproofing system involving reinstallation of membranes and associated finishes can be very expensive. Leaks can also lead to disputes between neighbours or homeowners and landlords, resulting in possible litigation.
All these risks can lead to various challenges, including financial loss, reduced property value, and health and safety hazards.
The following are some of the major and most common causes of balcony leaks:
- Lack of planning before construction.
- No building maintenance.
- Rainwater causing pooling and breakdown of membranes.
- Lack of drainage.
- Natural building movement leading to cracks which water can then leak through.
When balconies are constructed, proper care must be applied in the preparation stage. Becoming familiar with the correct installation of components, and the use of proper membranes, as stated in current manufacturing and building codes, must be followed to ensure a long term solution to a leaking balcony. When builders and contractors take shortcuts or aren’t skilled in the proper coordination of waterproofing installations, damage, and potential health risks can occur. Such risks include:
- Damage to the structural component of the balcony and building, resulting in possible collapse or breakdown.
- Expensive rectification costs reinstalling membranes and associated finishes.
- Disputes between neighbours or homeowners and landlords, resulting in possible litigation.
- The formation of mould which poses serious health risks.
All these risks can lead to various challenges, including financial loss, loss of property value, and health and safety hazards.
What to look out for to prevent balcony leaks?
Balconies are vulnerable to water seepage since they’re constantly exposed to the elements. Construction of each balcony is unique, and the risk of water intrusion is more likely if waterproofing methods don’t accommodate the balcony design. Balconies require proper drainage and isolation from the internal elements of a building, with the correct waterproofing membrane installed to stop leaking. The failure of the waterproofing is usually at the fault of an inexperienced contractor, incorrect membrane selection, or occurs if the homeowner or contractor wants to reduce costs.
The first thing to do if you’re experiencing a leaky balcony is to perform a thorough check and assessment to identify any abnormalities or maintenance issues. If you pour water over the tiles and notice some leakage, it’s an indication that the membrane is breached/faulty allowing water seepage. Other things to look out for include:
- Cracked or missing grout.
- Water stains on the underside of the balcony or internal ceiling.
- Problems with opening and closing the balcony doors.
- Peeling or splitting paint.
- Weak structural joints in the balcony railing and posts.
If you suspect your balcony is leaking, the best thing to do is hire a contractor to come and inspect the area to determine what the source of the issue is. They can determine if any of the above apply, or if the membrane has failed.
Preventing balcony leaks
Balconies are constantly exposed to the elements, making them vulnerable to water seepage. Balcony designs vary from building to building, and construction of each balcony is unique. The risk of water intrusion is more likely if waterproofing methods don’t accommodate the balcony design. Drainage is important and so is proper isolation from the internal elements of the building, with the correct waterproofing membrane installed to prevent leaks. Waterproofing failures occur mostly due to inexperienced contractors, incorrect membrane selection or cost-cutting during construction.
When you spot a water leak on your balcony, get a professional to perform a thorough check and assessment to identify any abnormalities or maintenance issues. Indications include cracked or missing grout; water stains on the underside of the balcony or internal ceiling; problems with opening and closing balcony doors; peeling or splitting paint; and weak structural joints in balcony railings and posts.
Get a professional waterproofing service to fix a leaking balcony.
Hiring the services of a professional waterproofing company will ensure the remedial works are carried out using the right products, expertise and techniques. A professional service will ensure only the best waterproofing membrane solution is applied to withstand the balcony’s structural movement and seal it from the elements. They’ll also inspect the balcony and advise you on any additional work that can alleviate other potential problems such as drainage and overflows.
What is involved in Balcony Waterproofing?
A technician will come to your home to assess your balcony and provide instructions on how to prepare the surface. When the surface is ready, the service includes an application of a sealant on tiles and grout joints as well as a perimeter seal and a chemical tile.
Will The Tiles Have to Be Removed?
No, the tiles will not need to be removed. Instead, the sealant is applied over the tiles to prevent water seeping through. This also prevents dirt from getting into grouting and causing damage.
How Long Will It Take?
Generally, the job can be done quickly with the minimum of disruption and provides an effective, cost-effective solution to balcony leaks.
Looking for balcony repairs Melbourne? Look no further. Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.
Why You Should Not Delay Balcony Leak Repairs
A leaking balcony is not just a nuisance if left unrepaired:
- Water penetrating below dwelling spaces can cause disputes between neighbours and could even end in litigation.
- Mould spoors from damp affected areas will continue to spread, which are detrimental to the health of the inhabitants of the home.
- Water leaking into the surrounding structures can cause the eventual demise of the critical structural components.
- The walls and ceiling below will start to discolour and will need repainting.
- Electrical systems may be damaged, causing power outages and emitting dangerous charges.
What Should I Do If I Suspect My Balcony has a Leak?
If you think your balcony is leaking, you should call a professional waterproofing company that specialises in fixing balcony leaks. Don’t attempt to DIY – dealing with a leaking balcony is complicated and should not be taken lightly. To fix the issue properly requires specific procedures, tools and products for the job. A professional will also add sealant to the penetrating structures to prevent future leaks.
How To Fix A Leaking Balcony Yourself
Create a Spreadsheet of Visual Checks
The best way to prevent a balcony catastrophe is to do routine visual checks for signs of wear and tear. Experts suggest checking for cracks, rust, and discolouration in both the floor and the roof of the balcony before recording your findings in a spreadsheet.
This will give you a gauge to compare your data as you perform your monthly checks. This way, in around six months, you’ll have enough information to analyse changes that may have occurred in this time.
This spreadsheet will be helpful for you so that you can see if the cracks have gotten longer or discolouration has spread as well as good for a hired expert to help assess and fix the problem.
Fair Trading of New South Wales recommends checking for all of these elements when recording your routine checks:
- Pools of water on the balcony which may lead to water damage and leaks
- Loose handrails
- Tops of balustrades and connection points
- Lining board that may obstruct your view while conducting visual checks of the connection points
- Beams that span long distances and don’t have any support
- Beams that are bowing or warping due to weight and general wear and tear
Once an issue is identified, it is best to bring in an expert to go over your options for repairing your balcony.
How to Fix the Problem
The first step in fixing your balcony once you’ve done your routine checks is to repair the concrete damage and choose which sealant will work best. It is always best to call in a licensed professional at this point, as you don’t want to put yourself in danger from possibly unsound structures.
That said, for those who would like to know the process of repair, we list the general steps below:
- The first step is to clear all the items off your balcony as well as make sure you block off the area, so friends and family members are safe.
- Then, measure the square meterage of the deck so that you know how much-compressed cement sheet to buy and make sure to purchase 20% extra in case you make any mistakes.
- Next, tear up the current rotted flooring system with a pry bar or circular saw.
- Once that’s done, lay a couple of pieces of plywood or compressed cement sheet down so that you can safely walk on the balcony and start cutting the other pieces to size.
- Now it’s time to install the new substrate. We recommend using compressed cement sheet (i.e. Scyon). Make sure to grind back the waxy surface of the Scyon and vacuum/clean extremely well. This is paramount! If the surface has any dust or dirt, the Liquid Rubber will NOT bond.
Using Liquid Rubber to Waterproof Your Balcony
There are many waterproofing options available on the market, but some have their shortcomings. For instance, the torch-on method can damage roof wiring and sheet membranes can de-laminate and tear. This is why we use the gold standard of liquid applied membranes. Liquid applied membranes also allow the application to be made by DIY people.
Using Liquid Rubber provides a strong, flexible, seamless membrane. Since it is applied with a roller and a brush, it gives more control over the product—this aids in really sealing those pesky nooks and crannies.
This product is also non-toxic, odourless and non-flammable. There are no transportation hazards throughout the process of application or after, making it the safest choice for you, your family, and your business.
Liquid rubber membranes also come with a manufacturer’s guarantee and can be used on both horizontal and vertical surfaces.
Its application also doesn’t require any additional primers or mixers. And the extra elasticity of the membrane protects against cracks and tears.
This membrane also withstands various weather conditions and will not oxidise or loosen over time. It truly is the ultimate gold standard in waterproofing.
Maintaining Your Balcony
In the case of the news story we opened with, it is plausible that throughout time, water and weather elements slowly ate away at the balcony’s foundation. This could have been due to insufficient waterproofing which ultimately led to tragic circumstances.
After all, the first step in maintaining your balcony is to choose the best and most reliable waterproofing method in order to protect your structure. And we’ll be happy to discuss your waterproofing needs, as well as explain the other many benefits of a liquid membrane waterproofing application.
Waterproof Membranes to Australian Standards
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 in order 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 leaks and damage. Only high-quality materials and correct application techniques. Will result in a proper membrane system that waterproofs a balcony.
Fix a Leaking Balcony with professional help
Homeowners should avoid do-it-yourself projects when it comes to repairing balcony leaks. Balcony leaks are not just nuisances, and they can be very dangerous for your property and your person. The process of repairing a leaking balcony and properly waterproofing it involves complicated techniques and specialised tools best left to trained professionals.
The best approach to repair a balcony leak is to hire a licensed and professional waterproofing company. An experienced professional knows how to test for leaks and identify the weakest point of your balcony for water penetrations. When carrying out works, they will also remove any structures like air conditioning units to ensure that the entire balcony is sealed properly. Licensed professionals have the skillset and experience to carry out comprehensive repairs. Moreover, they will inspect the entire balcony and advise on other potential problems such as drainage and overflows.
Caught early balcony leaks can be fixed quite simply and inexpensively. Left for an extended period and you are left with no choice but for a rebuild. The cost of rebuilding a balcony can be exorbitant. So remedial action is always advised.
Hitch Property Constructions has a wide range of the Melbourne balcony repairs right here.
Balcony leaks are dangerous, and homeowners should understand the signs of a leaking balcony in order to prevent costly and dangerous damage. While you may be able to inspect your balcony for leaks or seepage, balcony repairs should be left to experienced professionals.
Certified contractors understand the codes and standards for buildings in Australia. As well as using the proper tools and waterproofing systems to seal your balcony. With the right waterproof membrane in place, your balcony is protected from leaks.