Reports of tiles popping and cracking in flats across Singapore; HDB aware of cases

Several residents have complained about dislodged tiles in their homes, which some attributed to the cooler weather.
Several residents have complained about dislodged tiles in their homes, which some attributed to the cooler weather.PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM VIDEO, FACEBOOK/MICHELLE NG
Some residents have attributed the phenomenon to the cooler weather.
Some residents have attributed the phenomenon to the cooler weather.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/JIMMY OH

SINGAPORE - The Housing Board on Monday (Jan 15) said it is aware of cases of dislodged tiles reported across the island recently.

Residents turned to Facebook over the weekend to post videos and photos of tiles that popped and cracked, with cases reported in Sengkang, Woodlands, Toa Payoh, Bukit Panjang and Jurong West.

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

HDB said in a Facebook post on Monday it is aware "that some flat owners have encountered dislodged tiles in their homes recently".

It advised home owners to move any dislodged tiles to a safe area and cover the affected spot with cardboard.

Those who need advice on repairs can call its branch hotline on 1800-225-5432 or the Emergency and Maintenance Services Unit, details of which are listed on lifts at each block.

Sengkang resident Johnson Ng told The Straits Times on Monday that the tiles in the living room of the Fernvale flat he has lived in for nine to 10 years popped up on Monday morning.

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

He called HDB and officers later went to his home and temporarily covered the popped tiles with cardboard.

"I know some of my neighbours have the same problem but they have already 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 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.

Industry insiders told ST that the weather is not the only probable cause for popped tiles.

  • Tips to prevent popped tiles

  • To prevent popped tiles, owners should make sure that the contractors have done necessary preparation before laying the tiles, said  Mr Jayden Shen, founder of Hua Seng Contractors.

    This includes making sure there is no uneven subfloor, no improper cleaning of the floor, or laying of tiles without adhesives.

    For existing tiles, owners should check if tiles are hollow. If they are, they can jet in adhesives to prevent popping.

    If the grout - fluid concrete used to fill gaps - in the tile joints has come off, owners should arrange for the grouting to be redone.

Mr Richard Lam, director of general contractor firm Wellbase Builder, said there are several reasons why tiles pop.

"Sometimes it's because of the cold or hot weather, sometimes it's because the cement was not mixed properly so the bonding is not 100 per cent, 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, told ST the 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.

"There are a number of causes for tiles popping up," 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 (MND) 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 MND.

It added that HDB helps flat owners repair dislodged tiles originally provided by HDB 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 of age, HDB will help carry out inspections and assist the owners to remove and dispose of the affected tiles," said MND. "HDB can also provide owners with a list of registered repair contractors, whom they can then engage on a private basis."