Spare a thought for these luxury car owners whose vehicles were parked in a basement garage when a mega storm struck Singapore in 2011. Amazing cars worth millions of dollars, including a Lamborghini Gallardo, a Ferrari and a Rolls Royce Phantom, were wrecked when the carpark flooded.
Okay, so that photo is pretty extreme, and we all know from the 2011 Brisbane floods and more recent weather events that a dramatic deluge is different to a day-to-day storm.
But leaks in underground carparks are a common – and concerning – scenario.
You’ve probably noticed that after one of our frequent South East Queensland storms, you’ll often see big puddles of water pooling up in a basement carpark. Sometimes, the puddles linger for days.
Leaks are a Common Problem in Underground Garages
If you’re a property owner or body corporate manager and you notice that carpark puddles are taking a long time to evaporate, don’t assume that’s normal.
So what causes this common phenomenon, and why is it essential to investigate further if your carpark shows signs of leaking?
Most importantly, how can you treat or better yet prevent the puddles from pooling up?
Why it’s Important to Look Into Carpark Leaks
As waterproofing and maintenance experts, Core4 regularly investigate and remediate the effects of storms and water damage in carparks across Brisbane.
From our perspective, the reason carpark leaking is such a common problem is because it is very, very hard to fix.
Under the Building Code of Australia and the Australia Standard, there is no requirement for basement carparks to be watertight. Therefore, waterproofing is one expense that developers can skimp on to save dollars.
Unfortunately, lax industry standards could explain are why insurance claims related to water damage are on the rise nationally.
Underground car park after storm. Source: Core4.
When it comes to carparks, inadequate waterproofing is a safety hazard and administrative nightmare for building owners and property managers
A Carpark that isn’t Watertight? Watch Out!
There are a few good reasons to be careful if you notice repeat moisture in your garage.
- If a carpark is built with reinforcing steel inside the basement walls, moisture can react and rust the steel. This causes spalling and long-term structural damage, which may mean expensive repairs.
- Without regular preventative maintenance, the carpark condition will deteriorate. If there’s a flash flood or extreme weather, a poorly maintained garage can experience massive interior and exterior destruction in seconds.
- Water build-up causes slippery surfaces that are highly dangerous for cars to drive on. This can cause accidents and hence insurance claims.
- Steady water seepage or drips onto a car can cause calcium deposits to build up on the vehicle over time. These are both difficult and costly to remove. If you’re the carpark owner, you might be liable for damages.
So resolving leaks early makes good business sense. It’s not just that you might be up for exorbitant repairs to degraded structural and surface elements; there are also major risk and safety factors to take on board.
Stop your Carpark from Seeping
If you are facing the challenge of a poorly waterproofed garage, avoid the pitfalls of many carpark owners and managers who aren’t experts in this area.
- Often people without a background in waterproofing will try to drain water away, rather than treating it at the source. This doesn’t get at the real problem.
- Sometimes you can apply a waterproof lining to the positive (dirt) side of the basement. While this is an effective approach, it is very expensive as it normally requires significant earthworks to access this side of the garage.
- You can also treat the water where it appears through the negative (carpark) side membranes, or through a crack injection. However, these are rarely successful long-term solutions as the leak will simply appear somewhere else.
Tackle Leaks at the Source
There’s really only one sure-fire way to get to the core of the problem in a dripping garage: stop water at the source where possible. Core4 does this by checking likely reasons for water ingress (entry) such as:
- Drainage around the building. When we look at carpark leaks, Core4 investigates whether all the drainage is intact, and if there are any blockages to the drains. We also explore whether water is ponding or pooling around the drain.
- Has there been building movement that has opened up cracks and joints, which may need now treatment and resealing?
- Is water travelling through a penetration from services such as pipes, conduits, cables, ducts? These are often run through a carpark’s walls and create a waterproofing weak spot. Exhaust ducts in particular are notorious for causing issues.
- Are there trees and/or garden beds that could be causing the issue, particularly those with irrigation around the building exterior? Tree roots can wreak havoc with the foundations of a building, while irrigation can unnecessarily saturate the soil.
In some cases, particularly if you are below the water table, stopping the water retrospectively is very tricky. If you are faced with this scenario, you are best off trying to keep the basement floor dry and safe by using a series of surface drains to pump the surface water to a suitable location.
The next steps in taking on carpark leaks are waterproofing and treatment – but that’s a big topic for a whole other blog!
Shut the Gate on Carpark Puddles
Wrapping up, your basement carpark allows an internal view of your building’s foundations. It pays to regularly inspect all undercover garages for changes of condition, and signs of distress.
Feel free to contact us, or if you have any concerns take a photo and email it to email@example.com. We’re licensed in waterproofing and are more than happy to come out and have a look at your carpark. It’s heaps better than having your customer’s brand new Audi ruined by rain!