Construction was a hot media topic in 2019, with a raft of stories about combustible cladding, collapsing apartments, and crooked contractors.
With so much drama, you may have missed a report that the most common type of building defect in Australia is actually water damage.
While waterproofing isn’t as eye-catching a topic as a “phoenixing” builder, the effects of not getting it right are grim.
If a building hasn’t been properly waterproofed, moisture will mount up. As a result this can:
- Breed toxic mould and bacteria (linked to respiratory diseases)
- Harm floors and walls (causing conditions like efflorescence)
- Impair the property’s structural integrity.
When To Run A Water Test
Do you have a persistent leak, or is water pooling on your balcony? Have tiles been patched repeatedly by previous owners? Whatever the case, it’s best not to make assumptions about the fault as this could be concealing a bigger problem.
Unfortunately, many contractors and building managers don’t know how to test for the underlying issues behind water ingress (entry) into buildings.
As licensed builders and waterproofers, Core4 regularly carry out diagnosis and reporting for our Brisbane commercial property maintenance clients.
The good news is, water testing is pretty straightforward. You can run a basic test yourself, and hand the results to a waterproofing specialist if you detect a problem.
The not-so-good news is, you need to be systematic and invest some time and patience in the process.
Testing ... 1, 2, 3
Based on Core4’s experience the secret to successful water testing is to isolate potential faults one at a time.
Our next big tip is to always start in dry weather, as rain will wet all areas in your testing zone at the same time.
After that, follow these simple pointers to make your investigations stress-free.
Stepts to Water Testing
- Segment the area you are testing into separate zones, and set up temporary barriers if it’s a large area like a floor.
- Always start hosing or saturating the zone you’re working in at its lowest point – even if you don’t think that’s where the fault lies. (This is logical: if you spray above an area, this will wet the zone below it).
- Once you’ve started, take your time. You’ll often need to reach a point of saturation, so wet an area for a period (e.g. 10 minutes), then let it soak for a further 10 minutes. Following that, move on to the next element.
- You might be find it helpful to add a low dilution of food dye to a water test. This can assist with confirming the possible cause of the water entry. In particular, this can be useful when there’s more than one potential source of water ingress. Use different coloured dyes to confirm your suspicions.
- If you need to flood test a large area like a floor, try to monitor the water entry rather than water level. The water level can be subject to evaporation, as well as other leaks around any temporary barriers you have created for the test area. If you’re taking this approach, it’s best to leave the water for 24-48 hours to obtain accurate results.
- Sometimes you may need to undertake minor deconstruction work to expose the problem or understand the original waterproofing details. By digging deeper into the problem, you can be sure of how to fix it.
- Once you have found the problem, retest it differently – for example, by hosing directly into a crack to reconfirm.
When To Call In The Experts
If the mention of deconstruction work started to raise your hackles, we understand. There are some cases where it’s best to call in an expert.
However, Core4 believes it’s sensible to run a few minor tests to confirm a problem before you embark on major repairs. We always test prior to a job, as we like to know what the problem is before we provide a solution.
Test Before Trouble Escalates
In our daily work, Core4 provides hassle-free commercial property maintenance throughout Brisbane. We routinely come across water-related problems.
- Our advice is don’t delay a diagnosis. You might have a long-running drip or stubborn mould. Ignoring it can lead to structural building damage, or health issues for your occupants.
- Before you kick off a series of expensive repairs, it makes sense to be confident you are going to fix the issue. You can achieve this by proving the fault with a series of water tests.
All images: Core4.