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Solutions to common waterproofing problems:


Where is the water coming from?


Whatever your problem, the main thing is to determine the source of the water. This is often very difficult but you may be able to at least isolate the suspect area by judicious water testing. Such tests are essentially static and it is difficult to simulate conditions such as wind driven rain which may be the cause.


Each of the following areas are discussed at length below:

1. Bathrooms;

2. Tiled Decks and Balconies;

3. Retaining walls

4. Roofs


1. Bathrooms


If your problem is dampness at the doorway, the most likely cause is that the tiles slope outwards to the door rather than inwards to the drain. Fitting seals to the bottom of the shower door may solve the problem without having to re-lay the tiles.


Another possibility is water filtering through the grout between the tiles and into the mortar bed and travelling to the doorway. There should be an angle set in to the membrane that prevents it going any further but if the edge is not sealed properly, then you will see that the mortar becomes damp after the shower is run for 10-15 minutes.


If this proves to be the case, then you can either:

Seal the floor with Wrimco WB Primer; or

Seal the mortar at the doorway with Wrimco Epoxy Primer.


More serious is when water is causing damage in the floor below, as this most likely indicates a failure in the membrane.


There is, however, the possibility that there is a leaky tap causing water to bypass the membrane system. This can be checked by monitoring after turning off the water main, and when everything is bone dry, turn it back on. If still dry, turn the shower on and if it then becomes damp, it must be the membrane system.


Try sealing the floor with Wrimco WB Primer after first caulking the perimeters with an anti-fungus silicone. A more permanent solution is to take up the tiles and mortar and start afresh, following the NATSPEC Specification for Interior Waterproofing.   



2. Tiled Decks and Balconies


The first thing is to try and establish whether the membrane system has failed or whether it is being bypassed. Perhaps a flashing has been missed or the cavity in the brickwork has become blocked or bridged.


Once everything is dry, try blocking the drain and flooding the area. If it then leaks, then the membrane is highly suspect. It is however possible that water is still bypassing because the membrane was applied to a rendered surface and not the structural elements, which is what should happen,and was not applied high enough on the wall. This can be checked by first sealing the perimeter with Wrimco ealant and brushing Wrimco/Duroseal AR say 50mm up the wall and re-testing.


If this suggests that it definitely is the membrane, then the best solution is to remove the tiles and re-waterproof. This is of course expensive and may create a disposal problem. You should therefore first try caulking the perimeter and then coating the entire area with Wrimco/Duroseal AR.


If you decide to re-waterproof, it is best to remove the old membrane as much as possible. Since Kanga hammers are normally used, the pock marks in the slab will need to be filled to make a level surface with Wrimco self levelling compound. If the wall is rendered, remove say 75mm from above the slab in order to bring the new membrane onto the structural wall and at least 25mm above the height of the tiles.


Since it is often difficult to remove 100% of the old membrane, it will be safest to use a water based membrane such as Wrimco Duroflex P15 or Wrimco Azcothane REO as the solvent in solvent based urethane is likely to interact and cause blisters and bubbling. Best of all would be an Wrimco SBS sheet membrane which is ideal for such remedial work.


3. Retaining walls


When dampness appears on the inside of a retaining wall, water testing to help locate the source is impossible while excavating is often not an option. Normal waterproofing materials will seldom work when there is water pressure in the wall since it causes them to lose adhesion.


If the wall is less than 2-3 months old, then Wrimco Foundation   is an excellent solution.


If the wall is quite old, it is likely to be saturated with salts in which case the Mapelastic Smart, Sikalastic 1K or Cystoflex are preferred.


If the wall is rendered, it is best to remove the render, apply the Mapelastic Smart or Crystoflex and re-render. Otherwise there is a risk that the render will lose adhesion to the structural elements of the building because the water is then trapped within the render.


An alternative system that may be used is a water based epoxy such as Epoxy Primeseal or Hibuild WBE.


4. Roofs


If the membrane roof is loose laid or semi-loose laid, water can track between the membrane and the slab so it makes it virtually impossible to determine the source of the leak. It could well be that the water is bypassing the membrane system so the first thing to do is to carry out a very careful inspection of all constructions above the roof and particularly the flashings.


Water testing could be carried out after a period of dry weather and when there is no dampness beneath. If this proves positive, then it is most likely that the membrane should be replaced. It must be remembered, however, that static water testing does not simulate the dynamic conditions of wind driven rain which may well cause water to bypass the membrane system.


It is not a good idea to simply cover the existing membrane with a much better one such as torch applied elastomeric Wrimco SBS Granules. It is always best to remove the old membrane so you can benefit from a fully bonded system that will not allow water to track.


Naturally there are exceptions to every rule and for difficult to remove materials such as acrylic, it is sufficient to remove the blisters and torch over with Wrimco SBS Granules, assuming that it is exposed.


If there are pavers on "Polypad" supports, then the Wrimco SBS Granules should be used for fire protection. If there is insulating foam and pebbles, then Wrimco SBS plain is sufficient.


Leaks around drains are frequently the cause of problems as are blocked drains that allow water to bank up and go over the membrane upstand. Naturally you should look for any work that may have been carried out such as fitting TV aerials, securing heater coils or installing air conditioning units. 



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