Insurance statistics reveal that balconies and terraces are the most vulnerable when it comes to waterproofing failures. Without proper inspection or planning, leaking balconies can have devastating consequences, and should be of concern to any homeowner or builder.

Why balconies leak

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. Many balconies are being constructed with minimal falls to the substrate, especially in multi-level apartments. Such balconies are susceptible to water pooling and moisture between the membrane and tiles, known as ‘ponding’. If the waterproofing membrane cannot withstand ponding water, over time the membrane will break down, causing water leaks. Waterlogging can also cause joint failure, leading to leaks.

Common causes of balcony leaks

Common causes of balcony leaks include lack of planning prior to construction; absence of building maintenance; rainwater causing pooling and breakdown of membranes; lack of drainage; and natural building movement leading to cracks and leakage.

When balconies are constructed, proper care and supervision must be ensured in the preparation stage. The contractor must be aware of the correct installation of components, and the use of waterproofing membranes in compliance with current manufacturing and building codes to minimise the risk of a leaking balcony. Taking shortcuts during the build or lack of expertise can result in an improper waterproofing installation, leading to leaks, damage to the structural component of the balcony and building, and possible collapse or breakdown of the structure, not to speak of potential health risks that may occur due to mould formation.

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, and health and safety hazards.

Preventing balcony leaks

Balconies are constantly exposed to the elements, making them vulnerable to water seepage. Balcony designs vary from building to building, and 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. Waterproofing failures occur mostly due to inexperienced contractors, incorrect membrane selection or cost-cutting during construction.

When you spot a water leak on your balcony, get a professional to perform a thorough check and assessment to identify any abnormalities or maintenance issues. Indications include cracked or missing grout; water stains on the underside of the balcony or internal ceiling; problems with opening and closing balcony doors; peeling or splitting paint; and weak structural joints in balcony railings and posts.

Get a professional waterproofing service to fix a leaking balcony

Hiring the services of a professional waterproofing company will ensure the remedial works are carried out using the right products, expertise and techniques. A professional service will ensure only the best waterproofing membrane solution is applied to withstand the balcony’s structural movement and seal it from the elements. They’ll also inspect the balcony and advise you on any additional work that can alleviate other potential problems such as drainage and overflows.

The Projex Group supplies high quality waterproofing membrane systems – Wolfin and Cosmofin – that can withstand building movements and offer excellent longevity for waterproofing on balconies and terraces.