Just collected keys to a new house? Whether you purchased a HDB, condominium, or landed property, a new home checklist is always going to pretty much the same. Before you start shopping for interior designers or buying furniture for your new home, look out for these red flags around the house.

New Home Check: 3 Things to watch out for

Report them to your property agent, HDB Town Council, or condominium management, since they can be dangerous and may need to be attended to immediately.

1. Efflorescence

In bathrooms with stone tiles and various other types of masonry (particularly on shower floors), look out for hard white spots, known as efflorescence.

What is Efflorescence?

Efflorescence is a coagulation of materials that were once present inside the stone tiles or masonry used in a home. As water penetrates the tiles, the efflorescence comes out. These spots can indicate the presence of water damage as well as mould and mildew.

However, trying to wash away efflorescence can lead to further damage, and removing the grout only treats the surface symptoms.

The real problem lies with the broken seal on the stone, tile or grout. It’s a job best left to stone cleaning and sealing professionals – try Sir Grout.

2. Scratches

Scratches in stone surfaces can be caused by leaving heavy objects on the stone, using cleaning supplies that are too abrasive or having rough particles repeatedly rubbed against the stone.

As these items scratch away at the stone’s surface, they can cause it to lose its lustre and finish. Some light scratches can be removed by buffing. But if the scratch in the stone is deeper, you’ll need professional help to have the area repaired and polished.

3. Etching

When acidic (pH <7) substances come into contact with a stone surface, they respond by corroding the stone, called etching.

Red wine, coffee, oranges, perfume, lemons, vinegar, grapefruits and acidic cleaning products are all substances that can result in etching, which can dull the lustre on stone surfaces and change their texture.

Note: Etch marks often get confused as stains, but etch marks are always a lighter colour than the stone, while stains are darker.

For stain removal, try Sir Grout’s pH Neutral Soap-less Tile and Maintenance Cleaner. As for etching, it can be reversed, but it requires re-polishing, which can be expensive.

Do your tile surfaces need to be sealed?

Try this test: Sprinkle a few drops of water into the grout. If the grout absorbs the water, it is too porous and ready for a reseal.

The good news? Grout recolouring and sealing is a fast, affordable alternative to replacing grout entirely.

This article first appeared on Home and Decor in 2017.