In June of 2004, immediately before we moved into this apartment, the hot water heater was replaced. What had started as a small leak had gone unreported to our landlords until the whole thing needed to be replaced. Unfortunately the leak had also damaged the carpet and carpet pad so within the first week of moving in we reported the smell and that we felt it was water damage in that part of the apartment. The carpet guy tore out the carpet pad in that area and put in a new one, but did nothing with the carpet because the carpet had not been damaged and replacing the carpet would just draw attention to the old and new areas. We also reported that the faucet in the bathroom leaked.
A couple of months later I was doing laundry one Friday afternoon and went upstairs to move the laundry along when I noticed water on the floor; our washing machine was overflowing. It was a smaller than normal load and I was so surprised that that was the load that broke it; but I laid out towels to soak up the water and did my best to avoid water damage. Of course it was a Friday afternoon, one of the most inconvenient times to get anyone in to look at things. The decision was that the 14 year old machine had a broken pump and after about a week and a half my landlords decided to get us a new machine. This was good news for me because it meant I was also getting a new dryer (they’re attached up/down units) and that meant I was getting a dryer that would only beep once when it was done instead of one constant stream of noise until I (uber-pregnant) ran up the stairs to turn it off. Not only was this easier for me, but it meant I could do the laundry after the baby was born and not worry that his nap would end when the dryer load did. The only reminder now of that incident is the water stains on our ceiling in the living room which I didn’t want them to paint over because I was pregnant and didn’t want the paint fumes.
A couple of months later my son was born and it was finally the rainy season. He and I were adjusting to life alone (hubby back at work and our mothers had left the country) when I stepped on the carpet and swamped my foot. Oh no!!! I put my poor son on the futon, saying, “just one second, sweetie, Mummy needs to figure out why the living room is flooding,” and went to investigate. While the rain poured on me I saw that three tiny leaves were covering the one tiny drain on the patio causing the water to enter our living room. I bailed and swept outside and laid down towels across our living room and swapped them out for the towels in the dryer. (Good thing we have an inordinate amount of towels!) Poor baby just laid there, hardly whimpering — what an angel! Since then, armed with the knowledge of what these leaves can do, I sweep the patio often, but have been out several times sweeping and bailing in the rain to protect our living room, and, because they all drain together, the living rooms of both of my neighbours.
With all the knowledge I now had we had many dry months. Then this summer I noticed that our nasty kitchen faucet (which I hated for several reasons) was leaking. Sigh, another report. I waited to make sure it really was happening and called my landlords, report both that and the bathroom faucet from the year before that had been forgotten. I was very smooth and said that both faucets only leaked a little bit and only when I was running the water, but since they paid the water bill I thought it only fair that they know that water was being wasted. They seemed to appreciate the added touch of me trying to save them money and got to it right away. But that was only the beginning of the problems.
As my landlord suspected, the kitchen faucet leaked again and he finally replaced it two months ago. He and the plumbers noticed something not right about the pipes underneath and did what they thought was fix it. I have a shiny new Moen faucet in my kitchen, which has solved many problems.
But the kitchen water stories do not end there. Today when our garbarator backed up (again) I noticed a little bit of water leaking under the sink. It looked like the same old pipe had popped out and I popped it back into place. But this evening as the water in the sink with the garbarator was backed up and the dishwasher going, the pipes went, too. We were swimming in dishwasher water mixed with moldy remains from the garbarator. Frantically I turned off the dishwasher and what I thought were the water valves (which I think were only hot water valves –both??– because we were able to turn the water on even after I had done so) and laid out the towels. I locked my son in his room, “just one minute, sweetie, Mummy has to clean up this mess” and switched out the towels. He was not pleased, nor was my landlady when I called.
My landlord was all-business when he came over, but somewhat annoyed that it happened “after hours” so he couldn’t get to the hardware store. He did manage to figure things out and we are able to use our sink again.
Now let me explain that before we moved here I had only made two maintenance requests in my life, and that when little things happen, like the garbarator and the lack of weatherstripping, we fix it ourselves. We just aren’t complainers. (We aren’t plumbers, either.) But we understand that with an older place things do break down and we want to help our landlords maintain the place. We both try to go out of our way to be friendly to our landlords when we see them and try to make sure that we have many more casual conversations than maintenance requests.
I wouldn’t mind reporting the incidents if I felt that’s all I was doing, but each report is loaded (either said or unsaid) with, “what did you do?” I’m always on trial for “breaking” something and have to prove my innocence. (Innocent until proven guilty came from Greece, did it not?) And I know that the more reports I make the higher my rent will be next year. I also know that my neighbours are all hearing about what a terrible person I must be for breaking everything and complaining all the time (I know this because this is what I hear about my neighbours.)
I’m currently running a pool as to when a bedroom will have water problems, as that is the final type of room that has not yet leaked. The winner will get half of the money collected and the other half of the proceeds will go towards buying more towels.