Couple's toilet ceiling still leaking after nine years, despite repeated attempts to fix problem

A leak coming from the toilet ceiling of their master bedroom has caused Mr S. Gunasekaran and his wife much frustration. The leak started in 2008 and would cause the wall to be waterlogged and grow mould.
A leak coming from the toilet ceiling of their master bedroom has caused Mr S. Gunasekaran and his wife much frustration. The leak started in 2008 and would cause the wall to be waterlogged and grow mould.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - For nine years, operations manager S. Gunasekaran and his wife Bavani C have had to put up with an intermittent leak in their master bedroom toilet.

The leak is from the ceiling of the toilet and causes the wall next to the entrance of the toilet to be damp. Mould also grows in the cupboards next to the toilet, and the dampness has also given Madam Bavani an electric shock.

The 56-year-old housewife said it happened about two or three years ago when she woke up one night to use the toilet in their five-room flat at Block 532, Hougang Avenue 6.

"I touched the switch (for the toilet light) and was electrocuted.

"I screamed and woke the whole household. There was also a power outage," said Madam Bavani, who added that when they turned on the bedroom lights, they saw water droplets on the switch.

The couple moved into the sixth-storey flat in 2005 and noticed bubbles forming on the paintwork about three years later. An adult son used to live with them.

Despite numerous attempts by the couple, Housing Board and the Aljunied Town Council to rectify it, the problem would reoccur every few years. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Mr Gunasekaran, 59, told The Straits Times on Tuesday that he is not aware if the previous owner experienced the same problems.

"The first time it happened, we went to talk to our neighbours upstairs and they waterproofed their toilet floors.

"Things were all right for a while, but the leak came back," he said.

There have been multiple attempts by the Housing Board and Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), which the flat comes under, to solve the problem.

When asked if they considered moving, Mr Gunasekaran said: "It's very frustrating, but how do we sell the flat when we have these kinds of problems?

"You have to tell the new buyers about it, you can't cheat others."

When contacted, an HDB spokesman said that in 2008, repairs were done under the Goodwill Repair Assistance scheme, and the leak was resolved.

But the problem returned in 2009 and 2011, and on both occasions, the leak stopped after more repairs were done in the bedroom toilet of the unit above.

HDB received feedback about the leak again last December and did a water test in the master toilet of the unit above, "but no single, specific source" could be identified.

The spokesman said: "For a sustainable long-term solution, our engineers have recommended repairs to the external wall, which falls under the purview of the town council.

"After the town council completes the repairs to the external wall, we will monitor the situation and assess the need for further measures."

The toilet walls of the couple's corner unit are flanked on three sides by the external walls of the block.

Only the toilet doorway is an internal wall.

Responding to queries from ST, an AHTC spokesman said its contractor did additional repair works on the external wall of the unit, located at the back of the block, using a better grade of sealant two weeks ago.

"We recently conducted a joint inspection with HDB on April 25.

"HDB had given us a list of recommendations for repair works, and we are in the midst of clarifying with them, as the actual cause for the continuous seepage is still unclear," added the town council spokesman.

Meanwhile, to mitigate the problem, the couple put a pail - which can be filled up in two or three days - under the toilet door frame where water can be seen dripping.

The sound of dripping water has also forced the couple to move out of the master bedroom, and they now sleep in the next room.

"How do you sleep when you hear 'tok, tok, tok' late at night?

"It is very annoying," said Madam Bavani.

"One day, we'll have to carry umbrellas in our own home."