Flooding isn't just something that happens in low-lying homes-it can also occur in a high-rise apartment like your HDB flat if you are not careful. When this happens, anything from your flooring to furniture can get damaged in the process. Failing to clean up excess water can also lead to mould and microbial growth, bringing up a whole host of health issues. To keep your apartment dry, take the following measures to safeguard your home from flooding:
1. MONITOR SIGNS FOR LEAKS
There are several indicators to imply that there's a leaking pipe somewhere. One of which is a sudden increase in your water bill without any known cause. Another likely sign is a wall with patches of unknown stains or damaged kitchen cabinets. These can be caused by a leaking pipe concealed behind walls or your cabinets. Water pooling on the floor is also an indicator of a leak somewhere.
A water stain on your ceiling might be due to a leakage from your upstairs neighbour's floor slab, possibly due to a wear and tear of the waterproof membrane and screed. In this case, arrange with your neighbour for a re-screed of their flooring. Under HDB's rules, both of you have the responsibility to pay for the repairs.
You will want to fix leaks as soon as possible to prevent them from worsening over time, which can cause flooding to occur.
2. REGULARLY INSPECT YOUR PIPES FOR LEAKS
Every once in a while, check the pipes in your home are not leaking. It's a must especially if you own an older flat where pipes are older and therefore more likely to suffer from corrosion and wear and tear.
A minor leak can be easily fixed using tools like a waterproof tape or an epoxy paste that you can purchase from your local hardware store. Before repairing the leak, make sure the water supply is turned off. Then, clean and dry the pipe area where you're fixing before applying the tape or paste. If an entire pipe or a section of the pipe needs to be replaced, engage a professional plumber to do the job since a poorly installed pipe can lead to more serious issues down the road.
3. KEEP DRAINS FROM CLOGGING UP
When there's a foul smell or when water is flowing down more slowly, it's likely your drains are starting to clog up. Don't ignore these early indicators though. Clogged drains aren't just an inconvenience; they can cause sinks, toilets and showers to overflow with water leading to flooding. To keep your drains from clogging up, here are a few useful tips to keep in mind:
ALWAYS USE A SINK STRAINER AND A DRAIN TRAP GRATING: In the bathroom, this prevents soap scum and hair from getting into the drains and choking them up. In the kitchen, it prevents food particles from clogging up the drains. Clean and clear them regularly to ensure that they continue to work properly.
DON'T POUR GREASE OR USED COOKING OIL DOWN THE SINK: As grease and oil tend to accumulate rather get flushed down. This leads to a build-up, which eventually clogs up your drains. Pour grease and used cooking oil in a bag and dispose them in the garbage.
CHECK THE POCKETS OF YOUR LAUNDRY BEFORE YOU THROW THEM INTO THE WASHER: Loose change, pieces of tissue paper may clog up the drainage of your washing machine, causing drainage issues and flooding.
CLEAN YOUR LINT FILTER IN THE WASHING MACHINE: To ensure that it still remains effective in catching lint. For top loaders, the lint filter may be located inside the drum at the side of the machine. Simply take them out and give them a quick rinse under water. For front loading machines, the lint filter is likely to be located on the outside at the bottom of the machine.
CLEAN YOUR DRAINS OCCASIONALLY: Rather than wait for your drains to clog up, clean them every once in a while with a mixture of hot water and a bit of dishwashing liquid. Slowly pour the mixture down the drain before flushing with hot tap water. This helps to dissolve fats, removing any gunk that is stuck in the drains. Don't use boiling water if you have PVC pipes though, as that will damage the lining.
4. CHECK AGEING APPLIANCES
Older appliances also tend to leak, so do routine check-ups on appliances like the washing machine, dishwasher, air-conditioning unit and the water heater to prevent a potential flooding episode at home.
WASHING MACHINE: Check that the hoses that connect to your water supply hasn't gone brittle or come loose due to wear and tear. You might have to replace them. Clean the filters to ensure that they aren't blocked, which will cause leaks. If hoses are already secured and your washer is still leaking, it might be an internal issue that will require repairs or a replacement machine.
DISHWASHER: Are the valves connecting to the water supply still secured? Also inspect the door latch and the insides of the tub to make sure there isn't a hole.
AIR-CONDITIONING: Wash your filters regularly to make sure they can still get proper airflow. Blocked filters can cause leaks to the unit. Engage a professional to clean your air-conditioning regularly to make sure that the condensation drain line remains clog-free. A clogged condensation drain line is one of the most common reasons for a leaking AC. For older machines, the drain line might be damaged, which can be assessed and replaced by a professional.
WATER HEATER: Leaking water heaters can be due to rusty or faulty parts that come with wear and tear or it could be due to a loose connection. If valves are the cause of the problem, you should replace the problem valve, but if connections are secure and there is still a leak, it could mean time to replace the unit.
5. EXAMINE YOUR WINDOWS DURING HEAVY DOWNPOURS
Besides pipes and appliances, another source of flooding at home could be from your windows during heavy downpours. Water leakage from windows could come from a number of issues.
It could be caused by gaps between your window frame and the wall or at the joints due to poor installation. It could also be due to improper or insufficient drainage tracks. Get a BCA-approved window contractor listed with HDB to examine the issue and advise you on the next steps.
For older homes, this might be due to broken seals around the edges of the windows which can be easily resolved by applying a new layer of waterproof caulking that you can purchase in hardware stores. Do so on a dry day and cure it overnight.
This article was first published in Renonation.