How Leaking Pipes Can Cause Structural Issues

28 September 2018
By Jeff

Leaking pipes are one of the most significant issues property managers need to action immediately, yet despite acting promptly, the effects of leaking pipes can last well beyond the time they were leaking. So, imagine what happens if they are ignored or not known about for a long time. In these instances leaking pipes can cause significant structural damage to the building, transforming the scope from simple plumbing repairs to major construction issues.

What happens when water seeps through your building?

Water damage is not limited to floors, as water can seep through walls, cracks and ceilings. But what causes it? Well, the most common causes of water seepage include:

  1. Leakage in the water supply/drainage pipes of yours or surrounding buildings.
  2. Deteriorated waterproofing of existing seals.
  3. Cracked plumbing due to tree roots, construction or time.
  4. Seepage of wastewater or rainwater through roof / external wall.


Leaking Pipes and Your Building’s Structural Integrity

The greatest threat of water seepage to structural integrity is when moisture has reached the building’s steel frame, which is part of the structure’s foundation. Structural steel SHOULD last several lifetimes, but when it’s not properly protected, the metal will rust. And when it does, it swells.

The steel corrosion will push into the space around it, causing slabs of concrete to break away exacerbating the issues (as more moisture can get it). When left unrectified, the corrosion can cause various types of structural damage such as cracks on both interior and exterior walls, broken arch bars of doors, falling masonry and displacement of door/window frames.

Signs of Water Seepage

Unfortunately, not all leaking pipes are easily identifiable. The pipes behind walls and in ceilings can leak and you may only notice it when the damage to structural integrity is already well underway.
But fear not, there are a few signs to look for allowing you to get on top of an issue quickly:

  • Cracks and bulges on floors and ceilings;
  • Cracks on walls especially when they run through multiple levels or around the room;
  • Mould presence or musty odours;
  • Water stains especially when it’s rusty in colour; and
  • Warped floorboards and wallpapers.

What Should You Do?

To ensure the structural integrity of your building, it is vital that property owners or property managers regularly conduct building and other maintenance checks.

Alternatively, a periodic conversation with structural repair experts who can use equipment to find anything unwanted is also useful. Whilst the cost of a preventative service may seem high, less us assure you, the cost if you have a problem, is much, much higher. If you would like any assistance, contact a Remedial specialist today.