What causes leaks in buildings?

Buildings are constantly under attack from the elements. Whether visible or invisible, leaks have the potential to let those elements in. Unfixed leaks can wreak havoc on any structure, but the easiest way to stop them is to understand how they start.

There are several areas you need to keep an eye on. Leaks either form where a pipe or other internal plumbing component has come under stress or where a building’s envelope has been compromised by wear or damage. Here are the most common areas leaks can develop. 


Plumbing is a regular source of problems in buildings. Burst pipes are common in colder climates and are usually the result of improper planning or insulation. To make matters worse, these pipes are usually inside walls, making them harder to get to and harder to notice.

Sewer pipes can also be an issue. A deteriorated sewer pipe can leak for a long time before being noticed, as it’s usually under less pressure than regular water pipes.

Upstairs bathrooms with failing waterproof membranes are among the worst culprits for leaks. Spilled water on the floor will eventually seep down, causing issues for the entire floor below.

Balcony and roof

Balconies on commercial buildings are among the worst offenders for leaks. Bad drain slope or poor design decisions can direct water into the building at the joints where the balcony touches the main structure.

Roofs are also common failure points. Like with balconies, joints are the main thing you want to be on the lookout for. Roofs don’t often fail in the middle. They fail where things seep through the membrane or at the edges. Watch for valleys, skylights, ice dams, and clogged gutters. Make sure the roof is new enough and has its structural integrity.


Basements are another common area where you can find leaks. A basement is under constant hydrostatic pressure, which means if the water has a path in, it will find it. Broken membranes, insufficient slope, or higher groundwater levels can all cause basement leaks.

There are a lot of areas to keep your eye on in your building. Get some expert help. Talk to us here at JK Industries, and we’ll help you care for your structures.