Balcony Repairs – Builders Melbourne
Leaking Balconies & Structural Repairs
Balconies and rooftop terraces are often created above apartments, offices, retail & general living areas.
Water ingress into occupied spaces can lead to not only interior damage but also structural damage to the building envelope.
Balcony Design & Australian Standards
- The current design trend is for residential & commercial balconies to be constructed with minimal falls; this particularly evidenced in multi-level apartments.
- Balcony design has a significant effect on the waterproofing method used and selecting the correct waterproofing product is critical.
- Balcony structures designed with no or very little fall, require a waterproof membrane that is able to withstand "ponding water".
There are several critical issues unique to keeping a balcony water tight that are not always taken into consideration when designing balcony waterproofing systems.
Recent article below highlights issues involved within commercial construction and leaking balconies.
"Melbourne’s high-rise nightmares taking a tall toll on residents and investors"
Summary of the Article key points:
Residential multi-story, multi-dwelling, apartment buildings are experiencing an alarming frequency of building defects, most commonly caused through waterproofing failure.
Developers were identified as partly responsible for the condition of the building, with a call to be financially responsible.
Balconies were identified as a major cause of waterproofing problems, with the assumption that“proper waterproofing membranes have not been installed”.
Faulty windows and installation process causes considerable water leaks into walls and ceilings.Pressure issues identified as causes were nominated as; a failure to pick up defects through the building surveyors inspection process; plus the cost pressures to use cheap (inferior) materials to save money.
The market has inconsistencies in Insurance cover, both from building trade cover and the residential owners cover. Resulting in the building owner necessitating to self -fund the corrections to the building.
The Victorian Government is making new laws to protect consumers whilst also recognising the‘overwhelming majority of builders’ do the right thing.
Why Balconies Leak
- This maybe due to the membrane lacking flexibility and drying out over time with cracks appearing.
- The waterproof system may not have the necessary thermal expansion & contraction capabilities.
- Balcony membranes need to move with normal thermal cycle of the balcony materials and adjacent building envelope.
- Poor waterproofing membrane transition between different surfaces, penetrations and interfaces - i.e vertical walls, balustrades etc - leaving areas of weakness for potential water ingress.
- Membranes must adhere, create a bond and seal around all surfaces and still maintain long term flexibility.
- Don't underestimate the power of wind driven rain to penetrate the building envelope if flashings etc are not water tight.
Balcony Waterproofing Products
Waterproofing System for Balconies
Tiling by the way, is not an effective or acceptable waterproofing product on its own.
- The correct approach, obviously, is the installation of an appropriate and robust waterproofing membrane system that "works and lasts".
- A basic principle of construction is movement of the building envelope will occur.
- Therefore a waterproof membrane must be able flexible to accommodate structural movement.
- Balcony systems must permanently seal all wall/floor joints, drains, balustrade, water exit points, hobs, sheet joints and movement joints.
- Penetration of water through the balcony surfaces and/or the exposed balcony edges of both reinforced concrete and timber framed balconies can lead to structural deterioration.
- For concrete structures this leads to significant construction defects, such as concrete spalling.
- Selecting quality waterproofing products, using meticulous balcony preparation and implementing correct membrane application methods are all critical components of successful balcony repairs.
Balcony preparation requires meticulous detailing prior to applying the waterproof membrane.
Waterproofing Products for Leaking Balconies
- We recommend Liquid Applied Membranes for the Australian climate as the most practical and economical waterproofing product for balcony repair projects.
- Spray Applied Liquid Membranes are capable of resisting UV rays, withstand "ponding" water and coping with structural movement and deformation.
- Liquid waterproof systems are seamless and spray applied - no joins, overlaps or seams to come apart.
- These systems can be used on the most complex of details, which are often found, for instance, around handrail supports, thresholds, rainwater outlets and downspouts.
- Seamless liquid applied elastomeric have become the ultimate repair solution for balcony and deck waterproofing.
Benefits of using Liquid Applied Membranes
Liquid Rubber is a spray-applied liquid waterproofing membrane that provides a seamless environmentally safe and highly flexible membrane that will "hold" and "contain" water without breaking down.
Liquid Applied Membranes
- High Performance & Robust Adherence.
- Cost effective & long life waterproofing.
- Fast spray application with minimal disruption to building occupants.
- Liquid waterproof systems contour to the structural shape.
- Extreme flexibility so will move structural expansion & contraction.
- Suitable for concrete, timber and metal surfaces.
Repairs to Leaking Balconies
How to Fix Leaking Balcony
- Choose a membrane suitable for balcony structural movement.
- Complete ALL penetrating works PRIOR to applying waterproofing mmebrane.
- Ensure penetrating structures have additional sealant around them.
- Ensure balcony levels have good drainage system so water does not pool.
- Best to remove A/C unit while prior to waterproofing repairs - much tidier job.
- Water test the membrane BEFORE tiling–ensure the membrane is water tight..
Waterproofing a Balcony over Existing Tiles
- Re-Grouting and sealing is defiantly not the way to repair a leaking balcony that has a defective membrane.
- This would probably slow or stop down leaks for a while - that is until the sealant/grout moves and cracks start to leak again.
- Laying a new waterproof membrane over clean existing surfaces can work ONLY if the existing tiles are soundly fixed.
- Very often there may be some blistering of the new membrane due to water vapour trapped within the existing tiles.
- This is easily managed as it basically just takes time for the vapour to dissipate - with the new membrane over the top of existing tiles.
- Warning - Great attention needs to be given to the waterproofing products used.
Balcony Articles - Australian Standards & Technical Drawings
Master Builders Association (MBAV) - Balcony Technical Drawings
Australian Institute of Waterproofing (AIW) AS4654.2