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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Railings & Concrete Balconies: Deterioration Warning Signs, Solutions & Prevention Methods

Old balconies on an apartment building



POP QUIZ

1.  You know you have a problem with your balcony(ies) when you see:

    a.  Rust stains dripping down
          the concrete slab
    b.  Cracked concrete
    c.  Corroded railings
    d.  All of the above




The correct answer is...








d.  All of the above

Whether you're a property manager, facility manager, building owner, or a top decision maker for a multi-story high-rise, you've probably taken note of the red flags for balcony deterioration at least a few times in your experience, such as rust and cracked concrete.

Below are some warning signs of balcony deterioration, along with repair solutions and some suggestions for prevention.

BALCONY DETERIORATION WARNING SIGNS

Salt Stains, Rust Stains, Cracks, Pits, Tiny "Potholes" in or on Concrete
When the steel inside the concrete is exposed to oxygen, it expands, which cracks the concrete and causes it to fall apart.  The visual cues listed in the above subheading might signal that damage has already occurred due to water infiltration.  Monitor and make note of cracks that exceed two inches in length. Doing nothing, or waiting too long to correct the problem, could quickly evolve into a life safety issue.

Corroded, Rusty or Loose Balcony Railings
If the balcony railing is loose, the reason could be something as simple as a screw that's wiggled out of position - or something as serious as a structural flaw.  It's always a good idea to have an exterior safety inspection conducted by a professional structural engineer at least once a year.

The type of material used might also be a factor in the condition of the balcony railing(s).  When steel railings are used on balconies and are exposed to salt (near coastal regions) or moisture, rust and corrosion are inevitable.  Once corrosion begins, it's nearly impossible to stop completely.  For more information regarding corrosion-resistant aluminum balcony railings, click here.

Deterioration of Sealants
When sealant deteriorates or a caulking is noticeably peeling from fused areas, the possibility of water seepage and subsequent damage increases exponentially.  

BALCONY REPAIR SOLUTIONS

  • Protective coatings
  • Rust inhibitors
  • Switching railing mounting method from embedded to surface
  • Patching/chipping away old concrete and adding new concrete
  • New aluminum railing installation (when steel railings have or are corroded)
  • Cathodic protection (a process which raises the pH level and lessens the acid around steel reinforcements using a low voltage electrical current)

PREVENTION 

Maintenance is key to preventing any type of degradation issue associated with balconies. If ongoing maintenance isn't practiced, trouble can arise.

Professionals recommend a thorough balcony cleaning or power washing once a year, in addition to an annual exterior safety inspection.


To learn more about aluminum railings for balconies, CLICK HERE




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