Is Your Balcony Leaking?

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.

According to insurance statistics, the highest number of waterproofing failures are found in balconies and terraces. Without proper inspection or planning, leaking balconies can have devastating consequences, and should be of concern to any homeowner or builder.

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, along with health and safety hazards.

Leaking to balconies often occurs because of defective waterproofing systems that may have been installed by an inexperienced or unqualified contractor however other contributing factors contribute to the failure of balconies.

  • Lack of planning prior to construction
  • Incorrect substrate and use of substrate materials
  • The substrate is not sound and solid (allows for too much movement)
  • The substrate is not cleaned and made ready to accept the membrane (dust, uneven surfaces, rough joins – membrane won’t adhere) 
  • Incorrect membrane selection (use of indoor membrane instead of outdoor membrane)
  • A simple error of not installing the adequate expansion joints correctly and possibly the incorrect selection and placement of membrane. Lack of expansion joints can cause tiles to lift due to compression and upheaving, thus tearing at the membrane and allowing water migration into the room or apartment below.
  • A minimal amount of drain outlets and the few that are installed are too small in diameter
  • Incorrect or insufficient fall to the drainage outlet
  • No overflow provisions provided
  • Lack of detail around waste and other penetrations
  • Inadequate flashing or waterproofing to the balcony floor and external wall join or to the treatment at the window door opening
  • Works not carried out in accordance with Australian Standards that cover waterproofing membranes for external above-ground use

How to Avoid Balcony Leaks

Balconies are constantly exposed to weather conditions, making them susceptible to water seepage. Balcony designs vary from building to building, and the 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. 

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.
  • Efflorescence
  • Deteriorated sealants
  • 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 contact Red Dog Property Inspections or a Registered Building Practitioner to come and inspect the affected balcony to determine what the source of the issue is and to assess if the waterproofing system has failed. 

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