Water seepage marks, mold growth, water leakage, crack lines, efflorescence, stalactites forming from your ceiling and rotting parquet flooring are signs of issues with your waterproofing. Clear signs water leakage such as dripping water is easier to fix but water seepage is also commonly found in older buildings or even newer buildings that are poorly maintained or constructed.

Tracing sources of water leak or seepage is challenging and often may require equipment to track, document and monitor the source of leak. Water flow has a life of its own, turning corners or even upwards, entering unprotected roof rafters or through capillary effect seep further from its source then expected. Not surprisingly, in Singapore with hot and wet contraction or retraction cycles, wear and tear with heat and thermal changes may stress existing waterproofing membrane resulting in water seepage or leakage.

Rain is a common source of seepage or unseen water sources such as grouting from your toilet bowl (WC), drainage PVC pipes for your air-conditioning unit or dirty water piping. Heavy rain with strong winds can overtime force entry through the grouting lines along any buildings ledge.

#1: Don’t be surprised if strong winds with rain can penetrate your walls through the grout lines. Water damaged indoors seen from water penetration at a landed property in Katong.

Causes and effects of water seepage

  1. Roof: Over time, wear and tear with our constant wet and hot cycles may result in a tiny tear via the waterproofing membrane. This is sometimes made possible by additional structure or equipment added. It could be as simple as a new condensing air-conditioning unit with its wall plugs and screws weakening the waterproofing membrane. Or the air-conditioning maintenance personnel stepping on the roof tiles and breaking it.

These are common issues affecting roof seepage:

  • Improperly laid sheet roofing membrane, or insufficient overlapping of acrylic modified cementatious waterproofing system,
  • Not enough time allowed for curing of the waterproofing system before application of screeding or rendering for protection. All acrylic-modified type such as the Davco K11 Flex or Green Sheet R brands require protection from rain and sun, or it could also be sudden rain downpour washing away the waterproofing membrane
  • Roofing ventilation not properly sealed as water seepage from rain may move upwards through capillary effect,
  • Movements of building joints
  • Roof gutters not cleared of debris or ponding at critical corners allowing seepage
  • Formation of crack lines on the walls not fixed allowing the waterproofing protection to be affected.
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    Cracked Roof Tiles

    #2: Cracked roof tiles such as these maybe a source leading to water seepage affecting walls and ceiling boards. This is at a conservation house along Neil Road.

  1. Floors and ceilings over toilet and wet areas: First signs of water seepage are when the paint starts to flake off, or signs of protrusions or bubbling, or wet patch appears. If left unchecked especially unseen and hidden inside a false ceiling, stalactites would start to form.
  • Waterproofing membrane that is damaged by drilling from fitting out works such as from installation of new concealed piping, vanity sinks or cabinets, water heater, wear and tear over time
  • Water seepage or leak occurs below bathtubs. Often the piping joint over time may develop a slight crack. This is formed as users move in and out of the bathtub stressing the joints around the drain hole, and sometimes the area below the bathtub may not have undergone proper waterproofing works during construction,
  • Cracks appearing along grouting lines in one corner of the toilet or around the water closet (WC) or toilet bowl, shower trays or in buried drain pipes,
  • Shower drain holes which are detached from the piping allowing water to leak around the neck between the drain hole and pipe. This means water can leak or seep out below the waterproofing membrane into the slab below the floor.
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    Water Damage

    #3: Water damage due to hydrostatic pressure from ground water seeping out through the years. Under URA’s Conservation Guidelines, there is a requirement to paint the walls with mineral paint. Mineral paint allows the walls to breathe. Modern synthetic paint does not allow the walls to ventilate. Project to repair is along South Bridge Road. Conservation properties are built on marine clay as foundation and maybe prone to salt erosion and sinking.

  1. Sliding doors and windows: Singapore’s morning Sumatra thunderstorms and afternoon rainstorms subject windows and sliding doors to water seepage and leakage. A combination of strong winds and heavy rain will create opportunities for rainwater to penetrate and seep into the building structure. Especially after the rain, hot sun will dry the rubber gasket or sealant around the skill level and window hinge arms. This is the long terms affects water tightness around the seals.

#4: Water may easily slip through cracked window ledges through your wall and into your room. Water may then damage your flooring and walls. This project at an apartment in Coronation Plaza shows water damage not only through the window frame but also along the wall.

  1. Common causes of seepage in windows are:
  • Gaps between the concrete wall and window frames without proper filling. Water seeps through the gaps, and slowly will affect the wall structure itself over time. Wet patches below the window sill is one a common occurrence,
  • Sliding doors mounted on aluminum frame often has issues of water seepage. This may lead to consequential rotting and termite infestation especially if you have parquet flooring. Water seepage comes from drain holes built into the frame of the sliding door. And the sliding door frame at times is at a higher level then the parquet floor. Improperly sealed door frames on the parquet flooring side would surely lead to seepage and subsequent rot,
  • Window overheads or lintels can also be a source of water dripping leading to seepage. This is due to the capillary effect of water going upwards especially the flow is not properly directed away,
  • Improperly installed window air-conditioning units may also result in water seepage that means the sealant is defective or drainage PVC pipe has a leak somewhere or joint is cracked. It could also be a lengthy list of reasons leading to heavy condensation from the cooling copper pipes such as overloaded condensing units, poor insulation applied, length of copper pipes being too far away between the fan coil and condensing units.

#5: Water seepage through window frames may cause damage to your flooring over time. Project at Parc Olympia Condominium.

Methods of testing and tracing water seepage

The methodology weFix team follows requires step-by-step approach to finding the source of water seepage. The key point is to understand how the seepage came about. This is done via:

  • Visual inspection of the affected area in order to assess the depth of the seepage issue
  • Discuss with the customer to get as much information as possible such as frequency, any particular heavy flow especially if the flow can be linked to rainfall or heavy water usage
  • Water seepage checking equipment such as Infrared camera, humidity tester and bright fluorescent dye illuminated by UV
  • Review the extent of the water seepage by visiting the neighboring toilet or apartment or vicinity and assess if the source of water is from them
  • Trace the existing plumbing, air-conditioning piping and other potential pipe carrying water sources for cracks or signs of leakage
  • Assess surrounding structures for drain holes, access points and defective sealants

What is the equipment used by the weFix team?

Every equipment or testing method has its pros and cons. It is required that the assessor understands that and applies experience and observation to the particular situation. Commonly used by water detection personnel would be tracer fluorescent dye and UV light in the 365nm region, Rapid Infrared Thermographic (RIT) scanning camera and electrical moisture meter such as the electrical resistance meter (or protimeter) and electrical capacitance meter.

Tracer fluorescent dye testing with UV light

#6: Leaking spots may be detected using UV light

Fluorescent dye testing can be used upon completion of waterproofing and to ascertain the robustness of the waterproofing done. Typically after the waterproofing membrane is applied, water ponding is done to ensure the waterproofing system holds water. On the flip side, fluorescent dye is may not be used in this instance as it may lead to coloured stains over at the neighbours or flooring on which it was applied.

Rapid Infrared Thermographic (RIT) scanning camera

#7: Infrared thermal camera maybe able to scan for heat differences in the wall due to trapped moisture and “dry” sections of the wall

Infrared thermographic camera can reveal the presence of entrapped moisture in the wall or ceiling. Typically it can be coupled with hot water ponding test or flushing hot water into the drainage pipes. Heated water appears easier via the camera as compared to normal temperature tap water.

Moisture meter or Protimeter

#8: Protimeters can be pinless or with pins and equipment calibrated for different types of materials such as wood or masonry

Moisture meters or protimeters are designed to register the percentage of water content in any substrate that can be probed. The most commonly used models have two sets of metal needle like attachments that are inserted into a substrate to detect moisture. Substrate in this instance means more reliably with wood, paints and similar types of cladding. The meter is less reliable for stone, masonry and pre-case substrates as it is normally designed for wood moisture.


Endoscopes have a tiny camera attached to the end of a flexible cable. It permits the probe to be inserted directly into crevices or used externally whereby human access is unsafe. The video captured can be viewed directly or recorded for subsequent review and assessment.

#9: Wireless transmission of visual in tight and deep holes to check for crack lines and evidence of water seepage in hard to reach places

Regardless of the wide range of equipment available for use, all these are unable to give a pinpoint reason foe the water seepage or leakage. It is important that accurate feedback by the customer affected with the seepage is critical. The feedback has to be coupled with an iterative step-by-step process of elimination and observation post initial treatment. Often, commercial constraints and customers’ haste on insisting unsightly assessment locations are painted back lead to future re-visit of the water seepage.

For content concentric website on waterproofing, please visit our sister website: www.waterproofing-singapore.net

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