Leaky centralised cooling system in Tengah BTO flat leaves unit flooded while owner was overseas


Ruth Chai | January 28, 2024, 06:55 PM



A Tengah homeowner has been facing issues with her Build-To-Order (BTO) flat's centralised cooling system.

A faulty component led to large puddles of water on her floors and stains on her walls.

The woman, surnamed Ye (transliterated from Chinese), told Shin Min Daily News that within three weeks of collecting the keys to a new residence at Block 131B Plantation Grange on Nov. 28, 2023, she had already encountered problems with the centralised cooling system (CCS).

Serious water accumulation

Ye was inspecting her four-room flat on Dec. 5, 2023, when she found a few drops of water leaking out from below her door.

When she entered the room, she noticed that the floor was covered with a giant puddle of water.

She promptly reported the matter to SP Group, which manages the system in Tengah town.

Maintenance personnel subsequently came down twice to perform checks on the system and confirmed that there was a problem with the insulator.

As Ye had to go overseas, she had no choice but to put maintenance works on hold.

On Dec. 14, staff from the BTO project's Building Service Centre discovered a puddle of water outside Ye's front door.

As Ye was out of town, her sister-in-law came down and helped open the door.

Water was found to have accumulated on the living room and bedroom floors. Water stains were also found on the walls.

Spent S$3,000 on the system

Ye and her family decided to terminate the centralised cooling system at the end of December.

However, no one came to remove the system from her flat.

Ye lamented that she had spent over S$3,000 on the centralised cooling system only for it to come with so many problems.

"I feel really helpless," she told Shin Min.

Speaking to Shin Min, SP Group said it has been working with its partner Daikin to resolve Ye's issue.

"We are working closely with the homeowner to make repairs to the unit," they said.

Maintenance personnel, who came down to perform repairs on Jan. 22, reportedly assured Ye that repair works would be completed within the month.

Not the first time

The centralised cooling system in Tengah works similarly to the system that cools the Marina Bay district.

Instead of each household having an individual compressor, the system operates using central chillers situated on rooftops, which pipe chilled water into homes.

This would yield up to 20 per cent of life cycle savings compared to conventional aircon systems and up to 30 per cent of energy costs, HDB said previously.

However, the system has divided Tengah residents. Some residents have reported leaky cooling systems, while others feel that the system looks overly bulky and unsightly.

Lessons learnt

On Nov. 23, 2023, Member of Parliament Yip Hon Weng posed a question to the Ministry of National Development (MND) regarding the key learning points in implementing the centralised cooling system.

In a written reply, MND said it was aware of feedback by Tengah residents regarding water seepage and air flow issues.

"These issues arose from the compressed flat delivery schedule of the Tengah BTO projects due to extensive delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This in turn resulted in insufficient time for comprehensive testing and commissioning by SP Group before key collection," MND said. 

The ministry said SP Group is working closely with residents to resolve the issues, and stated that SP Group announced it will waive usage charges for all Tengah CCS customers for the rest of 2023.

MND said:

"As we implement and pilot new systems at scale, like the central cooling system in Tengah, we can expect teething issues to surface. However, these do not detract from the sustainability or technological viability of the central cooling system."

The ministry concluded that it will work closely with the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and SP Group to collect feedback and improve the performance of the system.

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Top photos via Shin Min