HDB, fix spalling concrete, ceiling leaks and faulty windows

The old adage “prevention is better than cure” applies to more than one’s health and wellbeing. Like us, our homes need tender loving care, too — and it’s not as hard as you imagined.

Here, we list three common issues faced by owners of older flats – spalling concrete, ceiling leaks and faulty windows – and how you can easily prevent or fix them. Regular maintenance is key to keeping your home in good condition, as well as saving you time, inconvenience and money in the long term.

After all, you’ve already put so much effort into doing up your home and turning it into your own bit of heaven. Why not give it a little after-care to keep that shine going?

HDB, fix spalling concrete, ceiling leaks and faulty windows


What it is

Spalling concrete is identified by the cracking and bulging of surfaces such as ceilings and walls. It is common in older buildings.

Why it happens

It is the result of a natural deterioration process in buildings called carbonation, which occurs when steel bars in reinforced concrete come into contact with moisture and start to corrode. This is common in areas such as bathrooms and kitchens, where the level of moisture is higher. Though the early stages of spalling concrete will not compromise the safety of your home or building, damage that is left unattended may cause cracks, peels and even cause concrete to give way. It does not look good!

How to prevent spalling concrete

Keep your bathroom bright and airy. Humidity encourages the formation of spalling concrete, so make sure your bathrooms and kitchens are well-ventilated. Open the windows and doors to air the spaces. You can also install a ventilation fan or place a dehumidifier in your bathroom.

Painting your flats regularly with anti-carbonation and good quality paint is helpful; painting slows down the carbonation process and helps to reduce the chances of oxygen and moisture penetrating the concrete. Re-painting your flat is also the perfect excuse for an exciting makeover, don’t you think?

The easy steps to repair it

Remove early signs of spalling concrete promptly. You can seal any cracks or holes with hydraulic cement or caulking. If it has spread, hire a contractor to clean the exposed steel bars; they will remove any rust before patching up the holes and repainting the area.

TIP: Not sure which repair contractor to approach? Refer to this list.

HDB, fix spalling concrete, ceiling leaks and faulty windows


What it is

Water leakage that typically occurs in wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchens of older buildings.

Why it happens

During the construction process, HDB would have adequately waterproofed all bathrooms. However, wear and tear can thin the floor screed and waterproof membrane over time, causing water to leak through to the flat below. Taking care of your floors will prevent this.

How to help prevent ceiling leaks

Make sure your renovation contractor adheres to proper waterproofing guidelines during renovation. Poor waterproofing can cause inconvenience to the neighbour below you, and you may need to fork out more money and time to resolve the leak.

Use a non-corrosive detergent when cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen. Such detergents are gentler on your skin and the environment, too.

You should also mop the kitchen floor instead of washing it with lots of water. Mopping regularly will help to prevent grease build-up, reducing the need for excessive washing which will hasten the wear and tear of the floor surfaces.

The easy steps to repair it

There are several methods to address ceiling leaks, depending on their severity. Re-screeding is one option. If water is leaking into your home, approach your upper-floor neighbours about investigating and repairing the leak. As owners of upper- and lower-floor units have a shared responsibility in maintaining the floor and ceiling slabs separating their units, neighbours need to share the cost of repair work, as well as agree on a contractor and price.

The good news is that HDB offers the Goodwill Repair Assistance (GRA) scheme to help with repair works for spalling concrete and ceiling leaks for flats up to 15 years old. Under this scheme, flat owners pay 50 per cent of the repair cost – meaning each household pays 25 per cent – while the remaining cost is borne by HDB.

However, as additional fittings such as shower screens, bathroom vanities or bathtubs are not within the scope of the GRA scheme, the upper floor owners would have to engage their own contractors to remove them during the repair and reinstate them thereafter.

As the leaks can be a major source of inconvenience to the lower-floor neighbours, repair should be carried out as soon as possible.

HDB, fix spalling concrete, ceiling leaks and faulty windows


What it is

When your windows are not opening or closing smoothly, or not sliding smoothly along the window tracks, or appear to be loose, it is a sign that wear and tear has set in.

Why it happens

Exposure to the sun, rain and wind can cause some of the window parts to wear out over time. Rough handling, such as slamming and pulling the windows, or sliding them with excessive force, may also cause the windows to become misaligned and result in premature damage. Faulty windows can fall, potentially causing injury to others walking near the building.

How to maintain your windows

Make it a habit to check your windows every six months. It is fast and easy. Simply follow the 3Cs:

hdb, fix spalling concrete, ceiling leaks and faulty windows

Casement Windows:

  1. CHECK that fasteners are not rusty or loose
  2. CLEAN and OIL joints or moving parts
  3. CHANGE aluminum rivets to stainless steel ones by engaging an approved window contractor

Sliding Windows:

  1. CHECK that safety stoppers and angle strips are in their proper places
  2. CLEAN the tracks and ensure window panels can slide smoothly
  3. CHANGE worn-out safety stoppers and angle strips by engaging an approved window contractor

You can find out more about how to maintain your windows here. Do remember to engage a BCA-approved window contractor for all window retrofitting works!

Brought to you by HDB.