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Home Maintenance Guide: 10 Common Problems and How to Solve Them

August 25, 2022

A little TLC goes a long way.

Owning and designing your home is pretty exciting, but with it comes the not-so-glamorous part: maintaining it.

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While home maintenance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (really, is it anyone’s?), it’s still a task that must be done regularly. It doesn’t just keep your home in top condition on a surface level, but also nips potential problems in the bud before it worsens and costs you a bomb to repair.

But what exactly are some of the problems that can pop up? Keep reading to see 10 of the most common ones, as well as the ways to prevent or get rid of them!

1. Concrete spalling

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Everything experiences wear and tear at some point – and for your ceiling, that comes in the form of concrete spalling. This happens when the steel rods embedded within it begin to corrode, causing your ceiling to crack, bulge, and – in the worst case scenario – collapse.

How to prevent concrete spalling:

  1. Ventilate high-moisture areas such as the bathroom and kitchen. Moisture and humidity build-up speeds up the deterioration process, so keep your doors and windows open as much as possible!
  2. Seal any cracks or holes ASAP, even the drilled holes that are no longer in use. These openings create a gateway for moisture and carbon dioxide to worm their way in towards the steel rods.
  3. Repaint your ceiling once every 3-5 years. A fresh coat of paint protects the inner layer by repelling moisture.

2. Ceiling leaks

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Floors in wet areas typically have a protective waterproof coating. But when that coating wears off, water can seep through the result in a ceiling leak.

If you’re the one plagued by persistent dripping and water stains, you may think that it’s your neighbour’s fault – but the truth is, the responsibility falls on both the homeowners of the upper and lower flat units.

How to prevent ceiling leaks:

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent your neighbour’s waterproof coating from wearing off, as it’s a naturally-occurring result of wear and tear. Be sure to clear the area and place a bucket underneath the leak to contain the leaking water.

For repairs, HDB guidelines dictate that both the upper and lower floor homeowners are responsible for this ceiling leak. The recommended way to get rid of the ceiling leak is to discuss with your neighbours, re-screed the floor and ceiling slabs, and split the cost between the two parties.

3. Wall cracks

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Like most things, your walls naturally expand and contract as a result of changes in temperatures and humidity levels. Over time, this movement creates wall cracks, which can be a worrying sight.

How to repair wall cracks:

For small, hairline cracks, you can simply paint over it using a flexible sealant or elastomeric paint. However, if you think these cracks are wide, it’s better to get a contractor to come down and repair it.

4. Peeling or bubbling paint

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The last thing any homeowner wants to see are paint bubbles marring the walls – especially after an extensive makeover!

It’s hard to judge when these bubbles usually appear, because they can appear right after the paint job is done, or even a few months after that. Typically, it happens when the surface is tainted by moisture, dirt, debris, or even – ew – insects, all of which prevent the paint from properly connecting with the underlying layer.

How to repair paint bubbles:

These bubbles can be prevented by carrying out proper preparations before painting, but even then, some pesky impurity can still find its way onto the surface.

It’s best to get your ID or contractor to take a look at the affected area, but if you prefer to handle it yourself, you’ll need to remove the damaged paint and the impurities that caused it, which can be done by scraping or sanding the affected area.

5. Squeaky windows

Fernvale Link by WHST Design
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Something as simple as closing a window can reach a whole new level of bothersome when your ears are treated to grating, high-pitched squeaks every time you do so. This usually happens when things like dust, rust, or other impurities prevent the hinges from shifting smoothly.

Casement windowsSliding windows
1. Ensure that the fasteners aren’t loose or rusty

2. Clean and oil joints and moving parts

3. Get an approved window contractor to change the rivets from aluminium to stainless steel
1. Ensure that the angle strips and safety stoppers are still in place

2. Get an approved window contractor to swap out those that are worn out (if any)

3. Clean the tracks to ensure smooth movement

As irritating as this can be, it’s fortunately preventable using the steps below. Be sure to check your windows regularly, as you may face a fine of up to $10,000 or a jail term of up to one year (or both!) should your windows fall!

How to prevent squeaky windows:

How you maintain your windows varies depending on whether you have casement or sliding windows – but generally, it’s good practice to carry out maintenance checks once every 6 months.

In dire cases, you should engage a contractor form the Building and Construction Authority (BCA)’s list of Approved Window Contractors. Remember – if your windows fall as a result of poor maintenance, you’ll be in huge trouble.

6. Dislodged or popped tiles

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Unlike flooring options like vinyl, tiles can expand or contract as a result of temperature changes or water absorption. Over time, this movement wears out the adhesion between the tiles and screed surface, eventually leading to them getting dislodged.

How to prevent dislodged tiles:

Things like the temperature or humidity level are beyond anyone’s control, but what you can do is to reapply tile grouts or additional adhesives, as they each help to keep the tile in place.

In the event that your tiles have already been dislodged, be sure to cover the affected area with cardboard while waiting for repairs to begin. Who you reach out to for repairs will change depending on the age of your flat:

  • <1 year: you can contact HDB as your flat is still within its defect liability period.
  • 1-15 years: HDB will still be able to offer goodwill repairs, provided that the tiles were originally provided by them.
  • >15 years: you have to engage your own contractors.

7. Faulty air conditioner

Telok Blangah Heights by Key Concept
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Let’s face it – air conditioning is a necessity in Singapore. And if you don’t want your air conditioner to break down in the middle of a 36ºC spell, you’ll want to give it some TLC to ensure it remains in good condition.

How to maintain your air conditioner:

The most important thing in air conditioner maintenance is to keep things clean. By things, we mean the filters – which can block the flow of cool air when it’s clogged by dust – and the coil fins, which disperses heat away from the air conditioner.

Generally, cleaning them can be done once every month – but take care not to use any hard-bristle brushes on the coil fins, as their slim build makes them susceptible to bending.

On top of these self-maintenance tips, you should also get a professional to service your air conditioner every 6 months (or every 1 year, if you don’t use it frequently). Aside from doing a deep clean, they can also check for faulty parts and take care of it on the spot.

8. Clogged or leaking pipes

Jurong West Street 91 by Kingsley Interior
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Food, dirt, hair, and other bits of debris often get stuck inside a pipe – and if left as it is, it’ll cause a slower water flow, a leak, or worse – flooding. But before it even gets to that point, keep an eye out for these indicators that point towards a leaking pipe:

  • A sudden, unexplained spike in your water bill
  • Damaged kitchen cabinets (especially for pipes that have been concealed)
  • Unexplained stains
  • Random pools of water

How to prevent pipes from leaking (or getting clogged)

Prevention is better than cure, as they say – and in this case, you can keep the clogging at bay with these simple tips:

  • Using a sink strainer and/or a drain tap grating to catch any solid bits before they go down the drain
  • Cleaning the lint filter in your washing machine regularly
  • Avoid pouring grease or cooking oil into the sink as they tend to build up rather than get washed away
  • Avoid flushing dense, bulky items down the WC

You can also eliminate any existing build up using vinegar or a mixture of hot water and dishwashing liquid/baking soda, which you can pour down your sink and bathroom drain every month or so.

9. Rusty steel fittings

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Contrary to how it’s marketed, stainless steel fittings can still rust – especially in homes near the sea. The culprits? The moisture and salt particles in the sea breeze, which damage the chromium layer in stainless steel and cause it to rust.

How to prevent rusty fittings:

Simple habits like wiping down steel fittings with a soft cloth can go a long way in keeping the chromium layer intact. Alternatively, you can also use powder, paint, or even car wax as a protective layer against the elements.

10. Pest infestations

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Sure, every home has its fair share of pests, but if you don’t clean or ventilate your home properly, you’re going to have an extra hundred or thousand housemates living with you.

Signs that you may have a pest infestation on your hands include:

  • Unsightly stains on the wall or ceiling
  • Uncommon sounds like rattling or scratching
  • Presence of droppings around the home
  • Presence of an odd, pungent smell

How to prevent pest infestations:

While pests can come in all shapes and sizes, you can generally keep them all at bay with proper, regular maintenance. For more specific advice, be sure to check out our guide on how to get rid of common house pests!

Tips to keep the most common home maintenance problems at bay

These potential home maintenance problems can be intimidating, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying life in your new home. All it takes is a little diligence on your part to ensure your home remains in good condition!

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