Singapore — In the wake of 43 cases of fallen windows reported this year at Housing and Development Board (HDB) units, and residents being reminded to conduct regular checks on their HDB windows design, a rising chorus from the public has suggested that improving the window designs could be a more effective solution.
The HDB and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said in a joint release on Saturday (Dec 11) that there were 43 recorded cases of fallen windows in the first 11 months of this year.
About half of the cases involved casement windows, while 16 cases were of fallen sliding windows and the remaining five instances consisted of other types of windows, specifically noting the HDB louvre window design.
There were no injuries from the cases reported, said the agencies.
According to the BCA’s investigations, the main cause of the fallen casement windows was the aluminium rivets corroding until they couldn’t hold the window panels firmly in place.
In response, the BCA’s Retrofitting Order, issued in 2004, mandates all homeowners to replace all aluminum rivets in casement windows with stainless steel ones, as part of the overall HDB window maintenance protocol.
Meanwhile, the issue behind the sliding window cases was the lack of proper safety stoppers and angle strips to keep sliding window panels within their tracks.
“Without these safety features in place, the windows became detached and fell when homeowners applied excessive outward force when opening or closing them,” said HDB, underscoring the importance of proper HDB window maintenance and adherence to BCA window safety regulations.
For homeowners with sliding windows, the HDB advises that they check the safety features and promptly replace any worn-out ones, as part of their HDB window maintenance routine.
During the same period, BCA was also alerted to 12 cases involving windows that were not well-maintained and on the verge of becoming dislodged, adding to the growing concerns over fallen windows in Singapore.
Homeowners with sliding windows are advised to check the safety features and promptly replace worn-out ones.
During the same period, BCA was also alerted to 12 cases involving windows that were not well-maintained and on the verge of becoming dislodged.
BCA worked with HDB to engage with the affected owners to appoint a contractor to inspect and repair their windows.
“Hence, we urge homeowners to inspect and maintain their windows regularly,” said HDB, adding that this should be done at least once every six months.
“Homeowners can face a penalty of up to S$5,000, a jail term of up to six months, or both, for failing to replace all aluminium rivets in casement windows with stainless steel rivets,” said the agencies.
“In addition, if a window falls due to lack of maintenance, homeowners can be fined up to S$10,000, imprisoned for up to one year, or both.”
Since 2006, 388 people have been fined, and 92 people have been prosecuted for fallen windows.
A list of BCA-approved window contractors as well as window maintenance tips can be found here.
In response to the advisory, members from the online community wondered if it was better to improve the design of the windows to prevent such risks.
“Would be wiser if HDB improves the design so that windows dislodging risks can be reduced to almost zero, instead of asking owners to make regular checks,” commented Facebook user Allan Tan.
Facebook user Calvin Loh Kok Howe noted that a homeowner inspecting the windows might fail to spot signs of compromise. “Sigh…you think ordinary houseowners would know what to look out for?”
“Unless the corrosion or damage is very obvious, majority of the houseowners will just go by casual visual inspection and then assume it’s ok. And then when something really happens, then who is to blame? Isn’t it better for HDB to schedule routine inspections and then give the stamp of approval for households that are ok?” /TISG