THE problem-plagued public toilets at Chek Lap Kok are undergoing a $7.6 million overhaul to reduce breakdowns and smells that are still drawing complaints two years after the airport opened. Urinals are being ripped out and replaced, tiling redone and new lights installed in what the Airport Authority says is routine work for a new building and 'not a major problem'. Almost half of the airport's 50 public toilet blocks have been renovated and the rest, in areas where demand is lower, are awaiting work. The upgrade comes only about six months after inappropriate water pumps were found to be leading to a build-up of pressure in pipes and causing several to burst. Smelly, malfunctioning toilets attracted a flood of complaints during the chaos of the airport's first days of operation in July 1998. Other problems included thousands of lost bags, broken escalators, faulty flight display boards and a breakdown of air freight handling. The Airport Authority confirmed this week that $7.6 million was being spent addressing the latest problems. Urinals were found to be too small to flush efficiently, and are being replaced with larger units and some urinals at a lower height for children. Grey granite floor tiles are being ripped up and replaced to reduce smell. 'If [the toilets] overflow, the grey granite has smaller tiles so there's more joins. The black granite we're putting in is larger pieces and is a lot denser, so you don't get as much absorption. It's a much better maintenance material,' authority spokesman Chris Donnolley said. Air-conditioners are being fitted to the blocks and better lights installed in cubicles because the new black flooring makes the rooms darker. Mr Donnolley said the need for such work could not have been expected before the airport opened and that there was no question of the original work fittings being sub-standard. 'With any new building, what you've planned and the reality of operating can be quite different. The only way you'll find out whether all those things work the way you planned is to actually subject them to the loads they were designed for,' he said. 'We perhaps didn't anticipate some of the heavy loads that would be occurring in some parts of the building, and you can only find that out after you start operating. 'It's a fair amount of money, but you're talking about $7 million and it's a $17 billion building, so it's not a big percentage of the overall cost. I wouldn't call it a huge rectification programme.' About six months ago, pumps taking flushing water into the toilet blocks were replaced after being blamed for a series of pipe bursts which forced the shutdown of entire blocks during repairs. Mr Donnolley said there were still problems with the flushing valves but that better valves had not yet been found and the current ones would need replacing every couple of years until they were. 'It's not a major problem. It's ongoing rectification works.'