How to Fix a Leaking Balcony
If it has a balcony, it will leak
This is unfortunate statement quoted from an article: "Melbourne’s high-rise nightmares taking a tall toll on residents and investors" The Age, Melbourne 25th September 2016
Though this article was referring to Melbourne’s booming construction in the multi level apartment sector, many capital cities across Australia are experiencing similar issues.
And leaking balconies are not restricted to multi level apartments, but unfortuantely to many recent constructions.
Effects of Leaking Balconies
Construction methods are always changing and adapting.
As a Regsitered Building Practitioner, I have noticed recently, either for reasons of design and/or cost considerations, changes in balcony construction methods which have a direct impact on the success or otherwise of the waterproofing membrane.
Waterproofing Leaking Balconies - Multi Level Apartment
- Many balconies are currently being constructed with minimal falls to the substrate; particularly evidenced in multi-level apartments.
- This design has a significant effect on the choice of waterproofing product, installation method and tile adhesives used.
- The balcony membrane must be capable of “standing water”; as a balcony with minimal fall will have water ingress through the grout resulting in moisture “ponding” between the membrane and tiles.
Unfortunately, many of these issues are not always taken into consideration when contractors/specifiers/designers are deciding on waterproofing products and methodology for constructing balconies.
This may result in the owners, investors and owners’ corporation having to face the challenges of solving future leaking balconies.
Best Balcony Waterproofing Product
- A waterproof system should have comparable expansion capabilities as the balcony structure itself.
- This means, the waterproofing material used to seal a balcony should be flexible.
- Balcony water proof product needs to contract and expand with the normal thermal cycle.
- Adherence: the membrane should strongly adhere and seal to all horizontal & vertical surfaces i.e balcony surface, balustrades, penetrations & adjoining walls/structures.
- Create a permanent and robust water tight bond & seal around all balcony edges, and interfaces.
Can balconies be repaired without removing tiles ?
- Re-grouting and surface sealing is not the way to repair a leaking balcony if it has been established there is a defective membrane.
- This band-aid method may stop or slow down water leaks for a while.
- That is until the balcony moves and cracks the grout again and inevitably the balcony will start to leak all over again.
- Unfortunately in most cases of leaking balconies to provide a long term solution is a complete strip off, re-install a new membrane, screed & tile or whatever other finished surface i.e instant turf.
Waterproofing Method for Successful Balcony Restoration & Repairs
- Using Correct Waterproof Product – selecting long life membranes that are also cost-effective and suitable for the balcony design and conditions.
- Membrane must be capable of bridging cracks and joints within the sbalcony substrate.
- Correct Waterproof System - make water tight all balcony surfaces, interfaces, and penetrations.
- Membrane Flexibility - the waterproof membrane must be able to move with the normal contraction & expansion of the balcony envelope.
- Waterproof Membrane must be able to withstand “ponding” water.
- Waterproof System installed with minimal disruption to building occupants.
Balcony Waterproofing Company - Melbourne
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Read Our Article - First Published March 7, 2017