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Floor tiles in the living room of a HDB flat in Tampines Street 45 exploded suddenly on Saturday evening, Jan. 22.
Video footage captured the moment loud snapping and cracking noises were heard, followed by the floor suddenly bursting upwards spontaneously, shattering multiple tiles into pieces at one time.
A grandmother and her grandchild were only a few inches away when the tiles exploded.
Details about the incident, plus video footage of it, were put up on Facebook by the homeowner on Jan. 23.
In the post, the homeowner said his wife, toddler, and mother-in-law were at home at that time when the tiles exploded without warning.
The man was at work.
Footage showed that the incident occurred just before 7:35pm.
Loud sounds heard
Prior to the tiles exploding, a audible cracking sound could be heard in the unit, which sent the man's mother-in-law across the living room to inspect what was happening.
She could be seen looking around trying to find the source of the noise, which resembled loud snapping sounds.
Just as she approached her grandchild in a pram watching television, at least three floor tiles exploded under her.
Startled woman and child
The force of the tiles bursting upwards startled the grandmother and the toddler.
The man's wife then came out into the living room and said: "Oh no, what happened?"
The three of them then left the flat.
The man wrote in his post: "They thought that the building was about to collapse. They quickly grab their stuff and evacuated the flat."
He said the idea of evacuating the flat was his "constant reminder to them", in the event something happened at home.
No one was injured in this incident.
HDB informed, but not their responsibility
In an update on Jan.24, the man said he informed HDB regarding the incident.
However, HDB is not liable for the damages as the man bought the flat off the open resale market.
A HDB officer went to the unit on Jan. 24 and arranged for a housekeeping service from HDB Tampines Branch to oversee the clearing up of the debris of the affected area.
74 years of lease left
The man said the 24-year-old, five-room flat completed in 1997 is his matrimonial home with his wife.
The remaining lease is more than 74 years.
He only purchased the flat in 2017.
Making insurance claim
He also said he is submitting an insurance claim for the damages, but investigations need to be carried out first.
According to the homeowner, he has learnt from this incident that resale flat buyers are responsible for carrying out their own checks on their homes and should engage their own surveyor to determine if renovation works need to be carried out before moving in.
He also revealed he did not renovate the flooring of the resale flat and has kept it as it is until this incident happened.
Average of 247 cases of dislodged floor tiles per month in 2019
The issue of HDB floor tiles cracking and becoming dislodged is not a new one, nor is it uncommon.
In 2018, multiple HDB flats across Singapore — in Punggol, Sengkang, Bukit Panjang, Woodlands, Hougang and Jurong West — had floor tiles that popped and cracked spontaneously over the course of a few days.
In January 2020, then-Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said in a written parliamentary reply that there were an average of 247 monthly cases of dislodged floor tiles in HDB flats in 2019.
Comparatively, there were 580 reported cases in December 2019, likely due to the colder weather and temperature fluctuations that month.
This could have caused floor tiles and the substrate to contract and expand at different rates, which could result in the loss of adhesion between the tiles and the substrate, said Wong.
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