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Brick leak or plumbing/roof leak?

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  1. #1
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    Default Brick leak or plumbing/roof leak?

    Just trying to get a starting point on which trade to engage first to diagnose a fix a leak in my roof.

    I have a 2 story house and we have some leaks on the bottom floor roof in one spot and on top of 2 different window frames. The leak is visible in the roof (stains and dripping water) and only seems to occur when we have a heavy southerly driving rain. I can see on the external brickwork what looks to be a damp/stained sections of mortar so for mind the problem is coming from either saturated and poorly draining brickwork or something above that, ie roof or plumbing.

    If we have a really heavy rain, we start to get water drips inside about 10-15 minutes after the rain starts. I have this problem in 3 different spots on the house on the same side so I'm thinking it is more likely to be leaching through the bricks rather than roof or plumbing.

    Does this timeframe suggest water leaking through the brickwork or more likely a roof/guttering leak? Can water through the brickwork occur so quickly?

    If it is leaking brickwork, any harm in sealing with something like Crommelin - Waterproofing, Sealers, Roof Coatings and Asbestos Treatment.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashes View Post

    I have a 2 story house and we have some leaks on the bottom floor roof in one spot and on top of 2 different window frames. The leak is visible in the roof (stains and dripping water) and only seems to occur when we have a heavy southerly driving rain.

    If we have a really heavy rain, we start to get water drips inside about 10-15 minutes after the rain starts.
    Where you mention "we have some leaks on the bottom floor roof", are you actually referring to the ceiling and is there a single story section or is it all double story?

    If there is also a single story, is there a spreader near the window frames you mentioned?

    Also, if the rain is not so heavy but you still have a stiff southerly, do you still have the problem?

    How old is the house?

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response.


    We have a bay window/dining area on the ground floor that extends beyond the upper story brick wall so the leak is pretty much in line with the 2nd story brick work. There is a colorbond roof over the bay and some guttering around it. The other 2 areas are pretty much just a brick wall above a window and a sliding door. There is a pergola with flashing against the brickwork above these areas as well which may be a factor. It really only appears to a problem in heavy driving rain so I initially was thinking it was a backup of a gutter or rain being forced under the colourbond roof but the apparent stained/darker mortar on the bricks above the problem areas makes me think the problem is higher up or water not draining correctly behind the bricks in those areas, building up and then working through the inner wrapping over the frame.

    Who would you recommend getting in to look at the problem? Brickky, Plumber or other?

    House is 12 years old and the problem appears to be getting more frequent.





    Sorry but I'm not sure what a spreader is but will do some googling!

    It really only appears to a problem in heavy driving rain so I initially was thinking it was a backup of a gutter or rain being forced under the colourbond roof but the apparent stained/darker mortar on the bricks above the problem areas

  4. #4
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    I am only considering a possible roof drainage problem and it sounds like an issue that I regularly see. Some of the forum's brickies and builders should hopefully also provide some ideas as to other possible causes.

    A spreader is fitted to the bottom of a downpipe that distributes water from a higher gutter onto a lower roof area. The problem with these is that they deliver a concentrated fast flow to a small guttering area and this can overwhelm the gutter's mitigation capacity at that point during an intense rain event. In other words, they take the water from a large section of guttering and dump it to a roof area above a very small section of guttering. Does the lower roof area have water draining to it from an upper level?

    A lot of newer houses are now experiencing problems that were not apparent during the dry years and Melbourne has had a series of small but intense storms this year. I have problem solved numerous houses over the past few months and in every instance, the problems have been caused by either non compliant or badly designed roof drainage. I think you should look at this area first but finding someone competent will present an additional challenge.

    Are you able to post a photo of the problem area that shows the guttering and roof area? I am in the dark here and possibly going down the wrong track as I do not know how large this area is.

    EDIT: Have you used the forum's search facility to try and find similar posts?

  5. #5
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    The roof area is quite small and isn't used as a runoff for a larger area. There isn't a downpipe putting water on it. I'll pop up a photo or two tonight if I get home in time that will explain it better.

  6. #6
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    Didn't get a photo last night as I'll probably need to get on a ladder and onto the pergola roof to properly show the area. I do think though that I can see some minor cracking in the mortar in the area which I guess would allow a larger amount of water though the bricks in a heavy rain. We do have some slab deflection due to a broken sewer pipe which was repaired about 9 months ago which I'm hoping will eventually dry out and the slab will resettle. I'd be reluctant to repoint morter given that I expect the wall to move a bit over the next 12-18 months. The more I think about the problem it probably started infrequently 2-3 years ago so a good chance this is related.

    As a temporary measure is it OK to silicone any cracks to see if this is the cause with the intention of repointing later if this stops the leaks initially?

  7. #7
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    It now sounds like the problem and solution is outside my area. Maybe a couple of good photos will draw a response from others with the appropiate expertise to elicit an appropiate determination.

    Good luck.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashes View Post
    We do have some slab deflection due to a broken sewer pipe which was repaired about 9 months ago which I'm hoping will eventually dry out and the slab will resettle. I'd be reluctant to repoint morter given that I expect the wall to move a bit over the next 12-18 months. The more I think about the problem it probably started infrequently 2-3 years ago so a good chance this is related.

    As a temporary measure is it OK to silicone any cracks to see if this is the cause with the intention of repointing later if this stops the leaks initially?
    Slab heave is a consequence of excessive hydration in reactive soil and the continuing high rainfall after a prolonged dry period is now causing problems for a lot of newer houses built during the drought. While your symptoms do not appear to be as visually dramatic as those described in the (today's) news article I have linked, the recent high rainfall combined with the broken pipe may both be contributing factors to your problem.

    The golden rule is not to fill cracks with a solid substance as this will cause further problems once the house settles. I am not a builder and so I am not about to suggest what to use as a temporary measure to fill the gaps but another forum member is sure to suggest an appropiate product.

    There are several threads on this forum that deal with foundation movement and brick cracking. While these threads dealt with the consequences of diminished sub soil moisture content during the drought, the subject matter is still one of reactive subsoil hydraulic expansion/contraction and so you may find reading those threads of some benefit.

    http://theage.domain.com.au/home-own...221-1p5or.html

  9. #9
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    Managed to get back to this today and have found most of the problem.
    Hopefully the photos show a crack in the mortar. Where the horizontal crack is there is a lip in the bricks where they have moved. This is about 2-3mm. Water is running down the wall, hitting the lip and then some is draining behind the bricks. Managed to confirm this with the garden hose.
    What also worries me is there are no weep holes on this section of wall so any water getting behind the bricks I assume will drain into the roof!
    Hope the photos show the problem.
    I'll silicone the gap up as a temporary measure while the house hopefully continues to move back into level (it is slowly getting there). I might also need to give that wall a coat of sealant to limit any other water penetration.

    brick-crack-dining-small.jpgdining-room-leak.jpg

  10. #10
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    you really should have damp course set just above your roof flashing. as long as you just put a surface "smear" of silicon, it shouldn't cause any further dramas down the track for brick movement. hope this helps!

  11. #11
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    Hi Ashes,

    I was expecting to see much larger cracks. It's amazing that cracks that small could cause the problem.

  12. #12
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    Yep, me too.
    The cracks werent obvious until you got right up close to them. I think the big problem was that the course of bricks below the crack created a ledge that stopped the water running straight down. I'm also concerned that the damp course in that area is not installed properly or is non existent because if it was there and OK, a bit of water through the bricks should not cause a problem. I need to run the hose over it this weekend again to see if the silicone has done the trick.

  13. #13
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    even if water does get through your brickwork, it should be stopped at the sizalation paper, then run down the cavity. it is very concerning that water makes it anywhere near plaster. are you absolutely positive, that this is the only possible entrance for the water? no leaking pipes in the cavity, no leaking gutters above the eave, or anything else? hope this helps!

  14. #14
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    Yep, about 95% certain as I could get the leak to happen in about 45 seconds when running the hose against the problem area in the bricks. There is a possibility that there is a weep hole below the height of the roof which is probably a mistake from the brickie or negligent in terms of the roofer not identifying it. I suspect there is a weep hole under the roof line and only recently when the bricks cracked I started getting water behind them which now drips straight onto the plaster roof in the bay window area.

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