So, the story of the leak starts back when I first moved into my apartment five years ago, and first of all, the fact that I’ve been here five years is ridiculous. One, that it’s been that long already and two, that I’ve had the patience to put up with this shithole. I mean, the upside is the rent is cheap and even though I can afford better, staying here saves money for either a better apartment or house. Eyes on the prize.
Not long after I moved in, probably within the first few days, I noticed a leak above the toilet, but it didn’t last very long. In fact, I think it happened maybe once or twice in that first year and was fine for a really long time. I did report it, but all they said was, “Yeah, the previous tenant complained about that, too.” Which is kind of a weird reaction to a leak. You’d think they’d want to fix it quickly so it wouldn’t get worse, but since it didn’t, I kind of let it go.
Maybe a year ago, it picked up again. For a while, the back of the toilet had to be kept clear because it was basically a Splash Zone, but for the most part, we could easily account for it. It was annoying, sure, but it would come and go. We’d put something down to collect water, and we maybe only needed to do that once every few months or so.
And then it started to get worse. First, I noticed the ceiling was starting to discolor, and when Paul went to wipe it down, the slightest pressure poked a hole in the ceiling. Gradually, it got worse, slowly splitting into a long crack that ran from just above the toilet to the tub right next to it. The one good thing was this meant the water’s path traveled, too, ultimately landing right above the tub, so we didn’t have to worry about it until recently, when it shifted back to the toilet. Unfortunately for me, I’d been lulled into a false sense of security and had a box of bath bombs sitting on the back of the toilet. Guess what happened to most of those, and guess how long it was before I noticed.
We reported it at least twice, but no one ever did anything. On one occasion, the apartment below had a leak while I was at work and maintenance came in to see if it came from here, and although it didn’t, they did see the nice, big crack in the ceiling. And still nothing. More recently, I was starting to think they were gonna let it go until I moved out, then fix it, blame me for the damage, and refuse to return my deposit.
So last Tuesday–the first day of our renewed lease, mind you–when my alarm went off and I could hear water dripping in the distance, I wasn’t too concerned. We’re used to the bathroom leak at this point, so although it’s a pain in the ass and we grumble about needing to move, we dealt with it.
So I hit snooze twice like usual, but when I did get up, rather than lay out my clothes and pee like I normally do first thing in the morning, I figured I’d better investigate.
I figured out pretty quick it wasn’t the bathroom–the bathroom door is right outside the bedroom door to the left, and I could tell just by the sound when I opened the bedroom door and walked out that it was in the kitchen, not the bathroom. I was thinking that maybe Paul had left water running, or even that a dish toppled over and was just trickling, albeit loudly, in the sink.
I went into the kitchen and flicked the light switch, but nothing happened. Uh-oh. And then I looked up and saw a nice, big sag in the ceiling, where it was leaking from two spots. One was a drip and the other was a steady stream, but already, it was pretty fucking terrible. I took a step forward and my foot went right in a puddle of water.
Paul heard me swear and asked how bad it was. Like I said, pretty fucking terrible. Once we got into motion cleaning up and making phone calls, I looked and saw that really, it was leaking in three places, four if you count the two streams in the sag. There was a section of the wall puckered, too, with a stream of water running down the side of the cabinets. And the reason the lights didn’t work? The round light fixture had filled with water, which was now slowly dripping onto the floor.
Honestly, I don’t know how long it had been leaking like that–we both slept through the whole thing, with the exception of my 20-minute snooze delay, and it was coming down at a decent enough pace and from enough places that I really don’t think it would’ve taken that long to make the mess it did.
We both called off work. It was that kind of mess, and there was no way I was leaving my apartment with a constant stream of water coming from the ceiling.
So while we waited for maintenance to show up, we got to work cleaning both our usual messes and the mess the leak had made. The puddle of water on the floor? It covered almost the entire kitchen, and after just one bout with a Swiffer mop, we decided it was gonna be much more practical to just throw some towels down. And we had to move tons of stuff out of the kitchen. We took everything off the counter. All the dishes in the drying rack got dripped on and because we didn’t know where the water was coming from, they all needed re-washed, and the drying rack got moved to the table, which quickly ran out of space between that and anything else that had to be moved. Even when the dishes got re-washed, I didn’t put them all back since some of the cabinets had water running down them and I wasn’t sure how bad the water damage was gonna be or what they were gonna need to do to fix the leak. I didn’t want to put stuff back only to maybe have to clear it out later.
Our microwave ended up sitting in the middle of the living-room floor for a day.
Maintenance took two hours to show up and ended up spending basically their entire day in the apartment, minus a few stretches going upstairs and going to Lowe’s.
Given that the bathroom and kitchen share a wall and the leak was just on the other side of where we’d had trouble in the bathroom, I figured the two were probably related. What seems to have happened is that our upstairs neighbor, for reasons that are a mystery, had water running in his sink overnight, which created a big fucking mess for us. They cut into the sag in the ceiling, which at least altered the water’s path and isolated it, and then they start ripping out drywall–and I do mean ripping, because it was so wet and damaged it was soft and crumbled. They took out chunks in both rooms and found the cause–an old metal pipe that had probably been wearing down for years. It had a nice, long crack in it, plus a few small holes, and the reason it had gone untouched in the bathroom for so long is because the cracked side was actually facing the kitchen, so they couldn’t actually see the damage. Which is still pretty fucking stupid to me, I have to say. If our rent was higher or we were in a house, someone would’ve torn drywall out to find what was wrong rather than let it go. Most people don’t see a leak, shrug, and leave it.
The fix wasn’t simple, I think because of the location mostly, but they did get it done. They were here from a little after 8 until a little after 4, and almost that whole time, the bathroom was off-limits–they were either in it working or it was a mess, with drywall and tools everywhere. They had us clear out our sink and shower, so all that stuff ended up in the middle of the living room with the microwave. Even after they showed up, I was still trying to clean up and make the place look better, but at a certain point, I couldn’t do anything else. When two rooms are pretty much off-limits and you have to maneuver around a box of toiletries and a microwave, you might as well not bother.
And of course, not having access to the bathroom and kitchen presents the kinds of dilemmas one might easily predict. Paul got us doughnuts for breakfast from Shop N Save across the street and a Hot N Ready Little Caesars pizza for lunch, and when I had to pee, I got in the car and went to said Shop N Save, not only in my pajamas still and unshowered, but without a bra and underwear. If I were to rank how much I cared about that on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it maybe a 2. Sure, I looked like a true People of Walmart level mess, but I had to pee. Whatever.
We had concert tickets for the evening, and after a while, I was getting worried about how long we were gonna be without the bathroom. Worst-case scenario, we probably could’ve gone to my brother’s to shower since he’s the closest, and my mom offered to send my dad out so we could leave if we had to. Our original plan was to have dinner in Pittsburgh and drink heavily, but maintenance was there too long for us to have the time. So we did the next-best thing–I got ready as quickly as possible around 4:15 and we went down to President’s Pub. Thank God for living only a half-hour away from the popular outdoor concert venue and coming in from the opposite direction as 99% of the other attendees.
It was nice to come home to a repaired apartment, though, even if the new drywall needs mudded and painted, and to hear water running upstairs and knowing it was going down a brand-new PVC pipe. But there is one small problem–the other night, when it was quiet, I heard the shower run upstairs, followed by a small trickle of water. So small, in fact, that when I went to look, I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, and I had to get in the bathtub, feel for the drip, and follow it. There’s still a leak somewhere, and it was dripping right over the edge of that brand-new drywall.
I guess it’s a good thing they haven’t mudded it yet.
I will say, though, that it could’ve been worse. I was sending some quality SnapChats of the whole thing and Meri in particular felt bad we had to deal with it three weeks out from the wedding, but frankly, I’m glad it happened then and not, like, day of, or even in a different place in the apartment. We have boxes of things like cookie bags and gifts for our parents–plenty of things that were expensive and could get ruined, and that’s not even considering our treasured book collection or our computers and TV. Honestly, if it had to happen, even though I was pissed and had to spend time dealing with it, the kitchen’s not a bad place for it.