Balconies are a fantastic place to wind down after a long day at work or to host friends for a dinner al fresco, so it’s unsurprising that they enjoy immense popularity in the mild Sydney climate. With this increase in popularity, it’s important to ensure that balconies remain safe. Today, we will look at signs that your balcony needs attention and what residents can do to tackle these issues.
Is my balcony common property?
If you identify any of these issues with your balcony, it’s important to check your strata plan to see whether your balcony is common property in part or whole, as this will change who is responsible for certain repairs.
Here are some common issues to look out for and our tips on how to deal with them:
Poor water drainage
When water can’t drain from your balcony, it starts pooling. This can lead to a range of issues, including deterioration of the balcony surface, mould growing and water stains forming at the bottom of the balcony. In a worst-case scenario, the water can intrude into wooden beams and endanger the structural integrity of your balcony.
If you frequently have water pooling on your balcony after it has rained, it’s best to have the balcony assessed and discuss your options with a professional – maybe an existing drainage system is blocked or inefficient, or maybe your balcony lacks a drainage system entirely and needs one installed. If that is the case, it’s likely that all the balconies in a building will have the same issue, so installing a drainage system will be of interest to the entire owners corporation.
Loose handrails are an obvious safety risk as they could break and lead to potentially fatal accidents. If you think a handrail is loose, keep a safe distance from the edge of your balcony when you check its stability. If it is indeed loose, ensure that no one uses the balcony until the issue is fixed.
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Cracks, discoloration and rust stains not only make your balcony look worse; they can also potentially be a sign of the structural beams being compromised by water entering into the balcony. This is an issue often related to poor water drainage, so if it shows up together with water pooling, you will need to look into your drainage system first.
If rust stains grow in size over the span of a few months or cracks show up, the structural integrity of the balcony might be at risk and an assessment will be necessary. In very minor cases of rusting, such as on the railings, it can be enough to use protective coatings and rust inhibitors to stop the problem from getting worse.
Deflection is the technical term for how much your balcony or the railing bends when pressure is put on it. While a balcony with a high amount of deflection is not necessarily unsafe, it often feels unstable and leads to people not using their balconies. This is usually an issue originating in the actual design of the balcony, so unless the entire structure is replaced, there is no way of fixing it. However, the balcony and railings can be reinforced to reduce deflection.
Cracks showing in concrete are called spalling, and they are the visible signs of concrete cancer. If you notice other tell-tale signs of concrete cancer, such as expanding walls, extensive works might be necessary to save your balcony. You can read more about how to tackle concrete cancer in our article on the topic here.
Looking for more information on common property, maintenance and forms you might need? Head on over to our all-encompassing document bank.