Home maintenance: 10 Common problems and how to solve them

November 4th 2022

Home maintenance: 10 Common problems and how to solve them

Designing and creating your dream home can be one of the most satisfying and enjoyable moments of life. And yet, behind the glitz and glamour, owning a home has its own set of worrying problems. No matter how meticulous you plan or design your home, unfortunately, there will be bound to have issues appearing over time. In fact, there are several common home maintenance problems that appear across most households! Therefore, read on to see the top 10 common problems and how exactly you can solve them. 

1. Spalling concrete 

Credits: Pinterest

Have you heard of the horror stories where home ceilings’ surfaces have serious cracks, chips, and even seem to be bulging out? If you haven’t, you should know that if insufficient home care maintenance is taken to prevent this, this issue might happen to your home. 

Also known as spalling concrete, this is a much more common problem than you might expect. After all, everything (including your concrete ceilings) is bound to wear and tear over time. In fact, in the worst-case scenario, your entire ceiling might even collapse and cause irreversible damage. Therefore, it is vital to have the right preventive measures and home maintenance techniques in place to prevent spalling concrete. 

And here’s how you can prevent spalling concrete from occurring. Firstly, you need to ventilate areas in your home with high levels of moisture. This is because excessive moisture and humidity may hasten the deteriorating process, and eventually cause spalling concrete. 

As such, for your bathroom, kitchen, or any area with lots of moisture, keep the windows and doors open as much as possible. Secondly, if there are any empty drilled holes in your walls or ceilings, you need to seal them as soon as possible. 

Even if you are considering using it in the far future, it is much better to seal it and re-drill it whenever you need it. This is because these empty drilled holes are points of entry for moisture and carbon dioxide as they move toward the steel rods. Lastly, you can repaint your walls or ceilings every three to five years. This is not only a great way to freshen up your home, but the fresh coat of paint can actually repel moisture and protect the inner layer. 

2. Leaking ceilings

Credits: m3m

Did you know that leaking ceiling is another common issue that homeowners face after some time? In fact, it is especially commonplace for those living in HDB flats. And while a leaking ceiling may sound like a trivial issue, it is actually a rather serious issue you need to be careful of. 

Not only can the leaks damage your home, but they can even pose a risk to you and your loved ones’ health. In fact, it can even worsen (just like the image above) if you do not repair your leaking ceilings promptly. With that said, what causes a ceiling to start leaking and dripping water then? This is due to the fact of a decreased waterproof coating on the upper’s floor flooring. As such, water may seep through and cause a leak in your ceiling. You might think that your neighbour on the upper floor is to blame for the constant dripping and water stains, but you might be surprised to know that both the lower and upper flat unit owners are held accountable. 

But how exactly can you stop leaks from the ceiling? Well, unfortunately, since it happens naturally as a result of wear and strain, there isn't much you can do to stop your neighbour's waterproof coating from eroding. Nonetheless, currently, there are new and improved repair methods for ceiling leaks that can ensure a longer duration against leaked ceilings. 

For instance, apart from the usual re-screeding method, you may also opt for the nanotechnology waterproofing system and overlaying waterproofing membrane system as a repair method. For HDBs, you can also seek for warranty with HDB, or split the repair cost with your neighbour 50-50. 

3. Cracked walls

Credits: Tiq'

Similar to how your concrete ceiling can gain cracks or chips over time, it can also occur to your walls. The difference, however, is that your ceilings often gain cracks due to excessive moisture. Your walls, on the other hand, are due to variations in temperature and humidity levels. 

With the changing temperature or humidity, it causes your walls to expand and contract excessively, and as such, results in wall fissures over time. This is especially common in Singapore because of our extremely hot, and sometimes cold rainy weather. 

Thankfully, it is much easier to solve the issue of cracked walls as compared to spalling concrete ceilings. You may simply paint over the hairline and minor cracks with elastomeric paint or a flexible sealer. However, if you believe the fractures are extensive, you should hire a professional for their professional opinion. Should there really be extensive damage, such professionals can help you easily repair the cracked walls. 

4. Bubbling or peeling paint 

Credits: paintzen

While bubbling or peeling paint may seem similar to the initial stages of spalling concrete ceilings, do not mistake this home issue with that! They are, after all, very different home maintenance problems that are caused by different underlying issues and can result in varying negative consequences. 

For this issue of bubbling or peeling paint, you should notice that only the paint show signs of damage and your walls should be completely intact. With that said, it is difficult to predict when these bubbling or peeling of paint will occur because they might appear immediately after the paint job or perhaps even, months afterwards. 

But what exactly causes your paint to start bubbling or peeling (just like the image above)? Well, it usually occurs when the surface has been contaminated by debris, dirt, moisture, or even insects! All of these contaminants prohibit the paint from properly bonding with the underlying layer, and as such, bubbling or peeling will occur. 

Do not worry, however, because there are ways to avoid and solve the issue of peeling and bubbling paint! Proper preparation of the wall surface before painting can reduce the risk of contaminants affecting the surface and as such, reduce the risk of this common home maintenance issue. But what if you already have bubbling or peeling painted walls? In this case, we recommend having your contractor or interior designer inspect the afflicted area. 

Alternatively, you can choose to turn it into a DIY project! You can simply scrape or scrub away the damaged paint and the contaminants that caused it, and reapply a new layer of paint afterward. 

5. Squeaky windows

Credits: House Trick

Something as easy as closing a window may become vexing when your ears are subjected to harsh, and noisy squeaking noises every time you do so. Unfortunately, squeaking windows are a common issue among homeowners as time pass. This is the case, especially for casement windows and sliding windows. 

But what exactly causes your windows to start squeaking? This commonly occurs when corrosion, dust, or any other impurities hinder the hinges of your windows from moving smoothly.

As annoying as squeaking windows are, it is thankfully, easily avoidable and solvable! For casement windows, check that the fasteners on the windows are not rusty or loose. If they are, you should change them to new ones. 

Next, remember that the moving and joint parts should be thoroughly cleaned and oiled. Following this, request that an authorized window contractor replace the aluminum rivets with stainless steel rivets. For sliding windows, on the other hand, first, check that the angle strips and safety stoppers are still attached. 

Next, request that an authorized window contractor replace any worn-out windows (if any). To guarantee smooth travel, you can also further clean the rails. With that said, regardless of what type of window you have, it is typically a good idea to perform maintenance checks every 6 months.

6. Popped tiles 

Credits: The Strait Times

If you use tiles for your home’s flooring, look out for this common problem! Unfortunately, tiles can easily pop or get dislodged as you can see from the image above. And this is because of temperature changes or water absorption, which then causes tiles to expand and contract. 

This movement will then wear away the adhesive between the screed surface and the tiles over time, eventually causing them to become dislodged or pop out. 

And while things like temperature and humidity are beyond your control, do not worry because there are other things you can do to prevent and solve this issue. For instance, you may reapply tile grouts or more adhesives to help keep the tile in place. 

But in the case where your tiles have already been dislodged, simply cover the damaged area with cardboard while you wait for repairs to begin. Take note that whom you contact for repairs will differ based on the age of your apartment. 

If your home is less than a year old, you can reach out to HDB because your flat is still under warranty. If your home is 1 to 15 years old, on the other hand, HDB will still be able to undertake goodwill repairs if the tiles were initially supplied by them. However, if your home is more than 15 years old, you would need to seek your own contractors to fix the popped or dislodged tiles. 

7. Noisy air-con units

Credits: KAC Express

Another common home maintenance problem in Singapore households? It is the faulty or noisy air conditioner units. And this can be one of the most annoying, warm, and exasperating issues that you can face. Especially in such hot weather in Singapore, for some of us, living without any air-con is such a nightmare! And yet, many households often find their air conditioner units breaking down or becoming extremely noisy because they are unaware of what they need to do to maintain their air-con in tip-top conditions. 

Not to worry, here is how you can maintain your air conditioner units in excellent working order. First, you need to remember that the most crucial aspect of air conditioner maintenance is keeping everything clean. And what do we mean by this? It means you need to ensure that the air conditioner filters are kept clean. Such filters can easily get clogged with dust and restrict the passage of cold air, and the coil fins, distribute heat away from the air conditioner. 

Therefore, you should try to clean them once a month. With that said, try to avoid using hard-bristle brushes on the coil fins due to their slender construction, which makes them prone to bending. In addition to these self-care methods, you should have a professional service your air conditioner every 6 months. In the case that you do not use your air conditioner units often, you can also seek professional service once a year instead. Aside from performing a thorough cleaning, they may also inspect for damaged parts and repair them on the spot.

8. Leaking or clogged pipes

Credits: MassTamilan.tv

It goes without saying that no one, including you, wants to suffer the nightmare of a leaking or clogged pipe. Not only can it become difficult to use the sink or water source, but it can also cause a sudden and inexplicable increase in your water bill. 

In fact, while it may start off as an annoying slow water flow or leak, if nothing is made to fix this issue, it can worsen tremendously and cause flooding. And more often than not, leaked or clogged pipes are due to containments being stuck within the pipe. And this usually refers to dirt, hair, food, or other debris. Some other indicators of a leaked or clogged pipe, apart from the sudden expensive water bill, are also pools of water at random, unidentified stains, and kitchen cabinet damage (especially for concealed pipes).  

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, and in this situation, you can keep the clogs at bay with these simple techniques. To trap any solid particles before they travel down the drain, you can use a drain tap grating or sink strainer. Regularly cleaning the lint filter in your washing machine is another great way to prevent your washing machine pipes from becoming clogged. 

In terms of protecting your sink’s pipe, you should avoid pouring cooking oil or grease down the sink (no matter how much more convenient it may be). For your toilet’s pipes, try to avoid flushing heavy, bulky things down the toilet. In addition, you may also remove any existing build-up by pouring vinegar or a mixture of hot water and dishwashing liquid/baking soda down your sink and bathroom drain once a month or so.

9. Rusty steel fittings

Credits: Sunshine Property Claims

While the image above may be an extreme case of rusted steel fittings or pipes, this is actually a much more common issue in Singapore homes than you might think. And if you live near the sea, watch out because you are at a higher risk! 

In fact, even if you make use of stainless steel fixtures, did you know that while they may resist rusting effects, they still can become rusted over time? That’s right, contrary to popular beliefs, stainless steel fixtures may still rust. And why is this so? This is because the salt particles and moisture in the sea breeze corrode and rust stainless steel's chromium coating.

Not to worry, there are ways to keep rusted fittings at bay, even if you live near the coastal waters! Simple practices such as cleaning down steel fittings with a soft cloth can help prevent your fittings or pipes from rusting. Alternatively, as a protective coating against the weather, you can use paint, powder, or even auto wax.

10. Pests

Credits: Adorable Home

Sure, every home has its fair share of bugs, but if you don't clean or ventilate your home correctly, you will have hundreds or thousands of extra housemates living with you! And that is definitely a nightmare that no homeowners wish to live with. Apart from noticing that your home has lots of unwanted insects or pests, here are some indicators that your home has much more pests than usual – a pest infestation. 

Stains on the wall or ceiling that are unsightly, unusual noises such as rattling or scraping, and droppings in and around the house are some indicators. The presence of an unusual, strong odour is another sign that you might be having a pest infestation in your home. 

If you realise that your home is showing signs of a pest infestation, do not freight because there are ways to solve and prevent this issue from occurring again. No matter the type of pest infestation, effective, regular management may keep them all away. Making use of natural repellents such as lemon and vinegar, as well as sealing up your rubbish chute and other entry points are some other great ways to deal with this troublesome issue. 

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