Why Does My Balcony Leak? Repairs to Fix a Leaking Balcony
Why Does My Balcony Leak? This statement “If it has a balcony, it will leak” was taken from an article titled Melbourne’s high-rise nightmares taking a tall toll on residents and investors from The Age, Melbourne 25th September 2016. Balconies generally leak due to the deterioration of the finished surface.
1. Balcony Waterproofing Design When Built.
The original balcony may not have even been waterproofed during the original construction. Waterproofing balconies that don’t have living areas below them are not required to be waterproofed. Any shrinkage cracks from curing of the concrete are susceptible to leaking from the very beginning.
2. Lack of Proper Drainage
Drainage of all areas exposed to water of any description must be directed away from the living areas. Tilers should make sure there is sufficient fall to drainage. Choice of waterproofing membrane, tiles, tile adhesive and proper installation is essential. Standing water left on your balcony will result in quicker failure of the waterproofing (if any). Most membranes or tiles for the matter are not designed to be exposed to boiling water or even steam.
3. Building Movement Due to Changing Temperatures
Sudden changes in weather results in significant thermal changes. This results in stresses to the building materials used in the balcony construction. Balconies, podiums, tiled roof decks are exposed to the elements. Rain, wind, sunlight, hail and cold conditions. The hot sunny day, then a sudden hail storm leaves hail melting on your balcony. What the temperature change here? Usually more than 30°C in a very short period of time. This sudden change in temperature places high stress on the concrete.
Thermal expansion and contraction can help form cracks and voids that allow the water to seep through. Once the water has penetrated the concrete balcony the damage to the concrete increases overtime. This is why your balcony leaks, increase in magnitude as it ages.
All buildings go through thermal expansion and contraction with shifting temperature levels. Balconies, podiums and tiled roof decks are constantly exposed to the elements and need to withstand sudden transitions between colder temperatures to the temperatures of a scorching summer’s day.
4. Expansion Joints or Control Joints
Tiled balconies are subject to UV and heat. This causes expansion of tiles which in turn compresses any expansion joints or control joints in the tiling. Keep in mind that darker tiles tend to expand more than lighter tiles. The more highly water-absorbent permeable tiles also tend to expand more. For example terracotta tiles.
An adequate number of expansion joints are essential. This decreases the risk of the tiles excessively moving against each other during hot weather and popping. In all probability, possibly breaking the adhesive and waterproofing membrane. This will lead to water ingress. Affect the integrity of the concrete balcony as well as the waterproofing membrane. The worst result, over time, will be the total delamination of tiles and waterproofing.
5. Failure of Waterproofing
All of the issues raised so far can result in membranes failure. Other issues that cause waterproof membrane failure are
- poor preparation of the surface eg. efflorescence
- Substrate too wet or too dry during application
- No primer if necessary
Now we know why does my balcony leak lets get to the fun part
Repairs to Fix a Leaking Balcony
There are many ways to fix a leaking balcony.
1. Using a Clear Coating
See the benefits Sealtight Clear Penetrating Clear Concrete Sealer are seen above. The SealTight is applied to the masonry, concrete sealer, plaster and render will penetrate and by a progressive chemical reaction, which is started at the surface. It binds all component parts of the masonry into a more dense or solid mass. All free lime and alkali are neutralized as this reaction takes place. As the masonry increases in density, it becomes waterproofed, resistant to acid, oil and grease.
SealTight will only work where mortar lines are still intact. If not intact mortar lines must be repaired prior to application SealTight. This type of coating is not designed to fill cracks.
2. Placing a Waterproof Membrane over the Balcony as it is.
This method assumes (as in the method above) that finish coating or tiles are intact and not delaminating. Drizoro Maxseal Traffic is ideal as it waterproofs and provides a trafficable surface all in one application.
The second method is to remove the tiles and any old membrane and start over. Once the surface is repaired Drizoro Maxseal Traffic can be applied directly to the concrete balcony. Otherwise, choose one of the Maxseal Family to waterproof the deck and retile.
3. Repair the Balcony Leaking from the Same Side as the Leak is Showing
This an effective alternative.
Drizoro Construction Products used in this type of repair are