Balconies are nowadays commonly found in homes around the world, both in private properties or apartments. Be it as a sunbathing lounge area, a barbeque place, home potted plant range or laundry, balconies are an important space in a home. Yet, being an open space area, it is vulnerable to natural elements such as water and wind. An inherent danger then arises in the form of water leakages and damage.
In fact, there has been a global trend of residential multi-story, multi-dwelling, apartment buildings experiencing an alarming frequency of building defects. According to building insurance studies, the majority of which occur due to waterproofing failure. Furthermore, balconies have been identified as a weak spot in your building’s waterproofing system.
Reasons for Balcony Leakage
Your balcony is an open area which is exposed to forces such as rain, wind and direct sunlight. This makes it a prime suspect spot for water seepages and thus require strong handiwork to defend against leakages.
Over time, water that enters your balcony will begin to seep past the top balcony surface and exposed edges of any reinforced concrete or timber frames. Once this happens, concrete spalling occurs, whereby the surface starts to peel, pop out of flake off as a result of the trapped moisture. This means that components of your balcony will start to become lose and even detached, resulting in large gaps.
In addition to moisture issues, gaps in your balcony surface also occurs due to temperature or building shifts. In either case, the forces create a misalignment that weakens the bonding between the materials and the core structure. Typically, your construction team would have predicted the possible temperature changes or general building shifts. As such, they would have built in buffer for any expansions or contractions.
Porous & Deteriorated Grout
Grout is used as a sealing material between your balcony’s tiles. Without it, water would easily get into gaps between your tiles and then transit beneath the tiles. However, grout is still a vulnerable component of your balcony which can taken in water over time. When this happens, you will start to see dark spots appearing on your grout. A subsequent removal of porous grout and a replacement of a new layer would then be required.
Poor Drainage & Fall Path Design
A huge component of your balcony’s surface defence against water penetration involves its drainage and fall path design. Any good waterproofing system can be made null if it is exposed to a significant amount of water for prolonged periods. This typically occurs when either your drainage point becomes clogged or if poor fall path design is in place. In which case, water will not travel towards the drainage point as intended.
If water is not allowed to swiftly exit from your balcony, then puddles or even ponding may occur. Due to the volume of standing water that would be sitting on top of your balcony’s tiles, they would be allowing in a significant amount of water seepage.
Summarising the Signs to look out for
Having covered the reasons behind balcony water leakages, we will now list the signs to look out for. We have alluded to a few of these previously, however we will now be specifying what to observe.
- Stepping on any tile and realising that it is loose or seemingly popping up on one side.
- Hearing any hollow noise when you step on a tile.
- Black spots appearing on your grout.
- Cracks in your grout.
- Staining of the tiles, in particular any yellowish or brownish spots
- Swelling wood parts of your balcony, i.e. wooden door frames or windows
- Peeling or flaking paint
The Dangers of Water Leakages
Once water has bypassed the initial surface of your balcony, it can then affect any other space within your home or even your neighbours.
The Difficulty with Tracking Water Movement
Water is a highly mobile substance, capable of passing through the pores of almost any material in either moisture or vapour forms. Furthermore, it is pulled by capillary forces, allowing it to travel even sideways and upwards within the hidden spaces of your flat. This means that no space is safe once water has seeped in.
Water eventually accumulates within a space behind your ceiling or walls. From here, it rapidly increases the amount of moisture or damp in the space. Given that these spaces have no direct sunlight, they then become ripe for mould growth. Mould, by its nature, eats away at your building’s materials, weakening the structure.
Should sufficient time be given to mould, it can cause parts of your ceilings or walls to collapse, endangering everyone in the vicinity. Furthermore, it might come in contact with your home’s electric circuits. This further complicates things as it could lead to short circuits and even electric fires that would cause extensive property damage.
Waterproofing Membrane Failure
The waterproofing membrane is a professional solution used by contractors to seal off your balcony’s surface from water. This is the most critical layer of defence and thus a leakage would also indicate a failure on the part of the membrane. Common reasons for waterproofing membrane failure would include:
- Insufficient waterproof membrane detailing on the surface
- Cheap & inferior materials used
- Failing to seal joints or protrusions
It should be noted that the waterproofing membrane has failed, any surface sealing or re-grouting works will not be sufficient. While these methods may serve as a band aid or short term relieve for incoming water, the grout will inevitably crack once thermal expansion or building movement occurs. Instead, professional water leakage repair services need to be engage to relay the waterproofing membrane or fix any fault in drainage and fall designs.
Ultimately, any installed waterproofing membrane must be flexible to accommodate any structural movement or expansion. Furthermore, the detailing needs to be done to a satisfactory level, ensuring uniformity in all areas and being adequate to withstand some amount of standing water when needed.
Trust Flux Solutions to Help You Fix Your Toilet Leakage
Flux Solutions Pte Ltd is a waterproofing contractor Singapore specialist that services many different waterproofing issues. We are continually researching and evolving to be at the frontier of the industry.
Flux does water leakage repair and solves other kinds of leakages such as toilet leakage, roof leakage, ceiling leakage. Trust us to handle your toilet leakage issue today.