Cases of tiles in some HDB flats popping up or cracking

VIDEO: JOHNSON NG
Bukit Panjang resident Rachel Chong posted a video on Facebook of tiles that had popped out and fallen from her kitchen wall (left), while the living room floor tiles in Mr Johnson Ng's Sengkang flat popped up yesterday morning. In the past two years
Bukit Panjang resident Rachel Chong posted a video on Facebook of tiles that had popped out and fallen from her kitchen wall (above), while the living room floor tiles in Mr Johnson Ng's Sengkang flat popped up yesterday morning. In the past two years, HDB received about 2,000 cases of dislodged floor tiles per year.PHOTOS: FACEBOOK/RACHEL CHONG, JOHNSON NG
Bukit Panjang resident Rachel Chong posted a video on Facebook of tiles that had popped out and fallen from her kitchen wall (left), while the living room floor tiles in Mr Johnson Ng's Sengkang flat popped up yesterday morning. In the past two years
Bukit Panjang resident Rachel Chong posted a video on Facebook of tiles that had popped out and fallen from her kitchen wall, while the living room floor tiles (above) in Mr Johnson Ng's Sengkang flat popped up yesterday morning. In the past two years, HDB received about 2,000 cases of dislodged floor tiles per year.PHOTOS: FACEBOOK/RACHEL CHONG, JOHNSON NG

Residents say cooler weather to blame but contractors cite other causes like tile quality

Residents of Housing Board (HDB) flats in several areas who found tiles in their homes popping up or cracked are advised to move them to a safe spot and cover the affected space with cardboard.

HDB also said in a Facebook post yesterday that it was aware of the cases reported in Sengkang, Woodlands, Toa Payoh, Bukit Panjang and Jurong West.

Residents of these places had posted on social media over the weekend videos and photos of dislodged tiles, mostly on their floors.

Some homeowners attributed the damage to the cooler weather, with temperatures falling below 24 deg C for several days last week.

Sengkang resident Johnson Ng told The Straits Times the living room floor tiles of his Fernvale flat, where he has lived for about 10 years, popped up yesterday morning.

The 34-year-old property agent, who lives with his parents and brother, said the tiles shattered partially and he broke the remainder that was blocking the front door so that he could get out of his home.

He called HDB, and its officers went to his home later. As a temporary measure, they covered the tiles with cardboard.

"I know some of my neighbours have the same problem but they have rectified it," said Mr Ng. "I think it's the weather. It's too cold, maybe the tiles contracted."

Bukit Panjang resident Rachel Chong posted a video on Facebook on Sunday of tiles that had popped out and fallen from her kitchen wall.

"What do you do when your kitchen tiles start cracking and popping out (guessing it's due to the recent cold weather)," she wrote.

Contractors told ST the weather is not the only probable cause.

Mr Richard Lam, director of general contractor firm Wellbase Builder, cited other reasons.

"Sometimes it's because the cement is not mixed properly so the bonding is not 100 per cent, and sometimes it's because of the quality of the tile itself," said the 55-year-old, who has worked in construction for 19 years.

Mr Jayden Shen, founder of Hua Seng Contractors, said his firm received three queries on tiles popping up in the past week - two from HDB flats in Woodlands, and one from a condominium in Balestier.

Said the 35-year-old: "Tiles can swell with high moisture absorption. Due to expansion, the pressure will cause the tile to pop up."

The Ministry of National Development issued a written and oral answer in response to parliamentary questions on cracking and popping floor tiles made in April last year, saying that tiles are subject to wear and tear over time. It said that in the past two years, HDB received about 2,000 cases of dislodged floor tiles per year. This works out to a nationwide yearly average of about two cases per 1,000 dwelling units, or 0.2 per cent per year.

"Flat owners are responsible for the maintenance of their flats, including repairs for general wear and tear," said the ministry.

It added that HDB helps flat owners repair dislodged tiles originally provided by the board during the one-year defect liability period, and "offers goodwill repairs for dislodged tiles for up to 15 years".

"For flats that are older than 15 years, HDB will help carry out inspections and assist the owners to remove and dispose of the affected tiles," said the ministry.

Yesterday, HDB said residents can call its branch hotline on 1800-225-5432 for advice, or the Emergency and Maintenance Services Unit, details of which are listed on lifts at each block.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2018, with the headline 'Cases of tiles in some HDB flats popping up or cracking'. Print Edition | Subscribe