Waterproofing a laundry ensures the structural integrity of your home. Has the laundry at your new property been sufficiently sealed?
Blog, Brisbane Building and Pest Inspections

Open Home Checklist: Waterproofing in the Laundry

Waterproofing laundry rooms can be a step sometimes skipped in new builds and home renovations when an owner is trying to save costs. 

But waterproofing is a crucial installation for all wet areas of the home, including rooms that are exposed to rain and rising damp. 

Waterproofing can be a major defect in houses when it hasn’t been done right or if it’s been skipped altogether. 

An open home inspection is the perfect time to check the wet areas of the property to assess if they have been waterproofed sufficiently. This includes the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry.

Let’s explore what you need to know about waterproofing your laundry, how it’s done, and how you can identify if the room you’re standing in has been waterproofed correctly. 

1. Does a laundry need waterproofing?

Yes, a laundry does need to be waterproofed. 

Why does the laundry need to have waterproofing?

The laundry is prone to water leaks just like the bathroom and kitchen. 

In most households, the laundry is used daily for washing clothes. It equates to 23% of the household’s water use and is the third top wet room in the home to draw the most water.  

The high water use therefore requires adequate drainage and protection to the floors and surrounding surfaces should the water not flow where it’s directed to. 

Laundries can also be damp rooms due to frequent water use and humidity caused by the appliances. 

It makes sense to waterproof a room that has a high use of water, to safeguard against overflows and leaks causing water damage to surrounding floors and walls in the home. 

How should a laundry be waterproofed?

Every state in Australia has different laws on who can install waterproofing. 

In Queensland, the waterproofing installer must carry a valid and current waterproof licence. A certificate of compliance should be given to the homeowner to guarantee the waterproofing installed complies with Australian Standard AS 3740 – Waterproofing of Domestic Wet Areas.

Using a qualified waterproof specialist is crucial for all waterproofing applications in the home. If the installer is not properly trained or a DIY job has been conducted, this can lead to big problems with the integrity of the home. It can also be a costly renovation to fix. 

How waterproofing is done

The process of waterproofing is done in stages. It will be applied before the floors and walls are installed. 

For the bathroom and laundry, a primer and a few coats of sealant are applied. 

It can take a day or so for waterproofing to completely dry before tiles can be laid. Your licensed waterproof installer will give the go ahead when the surface is ready to have tiles installed.  

When the floors and walls are tiled, a sanitary grade silicone will be applied where the walls meet the floors and around fixtures and appliances to prevent water seepage. 

What happens if you don’t waterproof a laundry?

If a laundry is not waterproofed, you are risking water damage to your property. 

The laundry is a common place for water leaks and water bursts. While the taps feeding your washing machine should have flood stop valves – meaning the water will shut off the moment a hose bursts off the outlet of the tap – there is a risk they can be faulty or not be installed at all. 

Slow water leaks from pipes in the wall can also occur without you knowing. 

When water finds its way behind walls and under floors it can: 

  • weaken timber studs and rot them away
  • attract termites resulting in termite damage
  • encourage mould and mildew growth which can be detrimental to health.

These problems can not only affect the structural integrity of your home, they can cause issues when trying to sell.

How can you tell if the laundry has a waterproof membrane?

There is no surefire way to tell if a laundry has a waterproof membrane unless a compliance certificate from the installer and homeowner can be supplied. 

But these checks are the ones to make when you’re not sure. 

  • Organise a pre-purchase building and pest inspection. A building inspector will be able to note water damage and structural integrity from their inspection.
  • Look at walls and floor surfaces for mould and mildew
  • Make a note of how the tiled floor feels underfoot. If water squishes through the tiles or the tiles feel like they are floating on the floor – this is a sure sign no waterproofing has been installed in the laundry.
  • Look for water damage underneath the floor if it’s a double storey property. Look at timber beams to check for rotting due to moisture.

Your open home checklist should include a visual inspection of the laundry floors and walls. 

Waterproofing laundry rooms is important, and it pays to check this has been carried out in any property you’re considering for purchase. 

For peace of mind, contact Action Property Inspections to book in your next pre-purchase building inspection.

 

Andrew Mackintosh

About Andrew Mackintosh

Andrew Mackintosh has been answering home inspection questions in the greater Brisbane area since 1995. He has personally carried out over 20,000 building inspections and is a licensed builder and licensed building inspector, Member of Queensland Master Builders Association & Institute of Building Consultants. Being the business owner and the inspector, Andrew is passionate about providing clients with excellent customer service, value for money, honest, unbiased, thorough inspection and reporting in a professional and timely manner to allow clients to make informed decisions when purchasing property.

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