The Leak

Preface: The following post is a personal diary/timeline of dealing with a leak in our apartment. I’m just posting it to remind myself why we need to move. Probably not of much interest to most!

Tuesday, January 30th 2024 — I notice the carpet in front of the utility room floor is damp. The utility room floor seems basically dry though. This happened a few days after a freak warm, very wet spell caused us to fire up the air conditioning in January and I came to the conclusion that that A/C condensation drain had backed up and spilled over, which has happened in the past. We used a carpet cleaner and some towels to pull up as much of the water as we could and directed a large fan at the wet spot. Figured that was the end of it.

Wednesday, Jan. 31st — In the morning the carpet had gotten more wet. So much for the A/C hypothesis. We contacted building maintenance. They came over quite promptly, looked around and decided they needed to call a plumber. The plumbers also arrived pretty quickly. They disconnected the hot water heater so they could move it and get behind it. After an hour or so they told us the leak was “in the slab” and they’d have to come back to fix it. The utility room floor is concrete and the water line runs up through the concrete, and the leak, they said, was below the surface of the concrete. This means they have to break up the concrete to get to the pipe to fix the leak. This is not good news. They leave. Then a water extraction team arrives, uses a super powerful vacuum to suck up the water, they pull up the edge of the carpet and stick the outflow of a large fan under it. These things are LOUD and basically the whole carpet starts billowing up which puzzles the heck out of Lola. They leave. We wait. Near the end of the day we contact maintenance who tells us they “have to get approval from corporate” to fix the leak due to the cost. What the hell? It isn’t an optional repair unless you’re going to condemn the apartment! Then they tell us the plumbers and someone called “Leak Finders” will be arriving the next day. So now we’re living with 2 fans running and basically have to shout to hear each other speak.

Carpet drying fan similar to the one our guys used. They lift an edge of the carpet and stick the outflow under it.

Thursday, Feb. 1st — Nothing happens except the carpet water extraction team comes back. This time they take the door of the utility room off its hinges, pull up more of the carpet and tack it down around the fan, creating a really efficient ‘tunnel’ to fight the flood. We tell the maintenance guys no one has come and they assure us the experts have been called and we should sit tight. Another night of extremely loud fans.

Friday, Feb 2nd — Carpet water extraction team comes yet again, expresses disbelief that the leak is still active. They’re like family by this point. “See ya guys, have a great weekend.” AGAIN we tell maintenance that nothing has happened and they express surprise that no one has been out, even though we’d told them, several times, that no one had. At almost 5 pm some dude rolls up to check out the leak. He wrecks the set up the water extraction team had made (not really his fault, he had to get in and out of the utility room) and tells us the leak is in the slab. Exactly the same thing we’d been told on Wednesday. He leaves. Nothing from maintenance, until I see the head guy walking towards his car to leave for the weekend so I collar him. He tells me they have had a meeting “with corporate” to advise them of the situation and are waiting to hear back. He assures me that he’s going to be in on Saturday and so is the person in the leasing office we’ve been working with, and we’ll get an update then. He also says that we will probably have to relocate while the work gets done. For how long? No idea? 2 days? 2 weeks? 2 months? Not a clue. Another night of loud fans.

Saturday, Feb 3rd — Nothing happens. We finally call the leasing office (the maintenance guy never showed, or if he did he got in and out without talking to us) and they ask if our carpet is wet. What the F? Our carpet is soaked and it has been wet since Tuesday. They act like this is a surprise. We say yes and they say they’ll get the water extraction emergency team out. At about 5 pm some dude shows up with a giant dehumidifier. This thing is big enough that it is on wheels and it has an outflow pipe that has to drain somewhere, so he sets it up outside the bathroom that is off the kitchen. It too is loud. The guy leaves. The water continues to spread. I think about what our electric bill is going to be this month. We’re trying to hold it back with towels and the carpet cleaner (which sucks up some of the water but not much). We start searching for a new apartment and find something that sounds good to both of us. We send off an email to learn more.

Sunday, Feb 4th — The water has spread to where you can no longer skirt around it. As you walk across our living room the carpet is wet enough that water squishes up between your toes, like some kind of urban swamp. I start packing our stuff up. We do our best to hold back the advance using the carpet cleaner but it’s like bailing out a boat with a teacup, while the boat is still leaking.

Monday, Feb 5th — Carpet team came. Different team from last week. Last week’s team was excellent. Today’s was useless. All they did was turn up the dehumidifier. At this point the water is about 50% across the living room floor. We’ve moved everything we can but we’re out of room (we have a lot of stuff). Then maintenance shows up with someone “to get a 2nd opinion” even though 2 different plumbing teams visited last week. They decide to go check the next door apartment (since sometimes their leaks seep under the walls into our apartment) and then melt away without offering any further insight. Next, two trucks from a place called Leak Locators roll up. They go in to the utility closet. One of them is a real leak whisperer. He turns off all the fans and listens. “I don’t hear anything”. Then THEY go next door. Everyone is stumped until they hook up an air tank to the water line and pressurize it, and I clearly hear gurgling coming from the utility closet. The culprit is a single 1/2″ cold water line that runs to the downstairs bathroom. Of course these guys aren’t here to actually FIX it, they just find it. So now we wait, again, for the plumbers to come and fix it. Everyone seems to think they can “Just cap that line off and run it above ground” meaning they won’t have to break up the concrete slab. Once again, the waiting begins… we still are flooded, though.

Monday afternoon, everything shifted. First a team came to cut a hole in the sheetrock so they could dry out inside the walls, and to replace the carpet. Which seemed odd considering the leak was still leaking but whatevs. They needed me to move the entertainment center which was still all wired up, so I frantically started tearing out plugs and cables and moving stuff into the kitchen or far corners of the living room. I just about got that done when yet another plumbing team arrived, this one was here to actually fix the problem. But no one had told them exactly what the issue was. Fortunately I am nosy and had asked the earlier team what was going to have to happen, and I conveyed this info, best I could since I speak English and he spoke Spanish, to the head plumber dude. I tried to get the maintenance staff to come over and talk to these guys but they were AWOL. It took a few hours and a LOT of removed sheetrock but eventually, the leak was fixed! But this was not the end of the adventure. Now we need sheetrock replaced, carpets replaced and basically the apartment put to rights. But at least at this point things were no longer getting WORSE. The plumbers left but the carpet/sheetrock crew did not return, though to be fair it was pretty late in the day by that point. Monday night I spent both purging junk and trying to figure out how/where to move stuff to let them get at as much of the damaged carpet as they need to. Not sure if it’ll be possible.

Tuesday, Feb 6th — As we start the day, no leak, the carpet is semi-dry but disgusting. Inside the utility closet lots of sheetrock has been removed. Bright and early a team arrives to rectify the latter issue. Right behind them comes the plumber. But a different plumber. They are surprised to learn the leak is now fixed. Long story short, the plumbing team who’d showed up Monday is NOT the plumbing team maintenance had expected and now frankly I don’t know who they were! But the fix was inspected and deemed to be solid work so I don’t really care at this point. (I THINK they were affiliated with the sheetrock guys since they all seemed to know each other.)

Next step is the carpet. Management would like to replace the entire carpet but we have so much stuff and no room to put it that it isn’t really viable, so with our OK they’ve decided to patch it. The new carpet will not match the old but we’ll just live with that for now. We still expect to move soon and after we’re out they’ll no doubt replace the whole thing. Bad news is we’re not sure when the carpet repairs will happen and until they do we can’t really put things back to normal. In fact it looks like we’re going to have to move even more stuff for the patching and I’m not sure WHERE we’ll put stuff. We have TOO MUCH JUNK!

Anyway by about 3:00 pm the utility closet was patched and repainted & the door re-hung. Crew did a good job. Bad news was that the carpet guys wouldn’t be out until Thursday. I was hoping for Wednesday but we’ll manage another day of chaos. With no more work until Thursday I put the TV back and hook up the PS5 and put Lola’s bed back to its customary place in front of the TV (which she definitely appreciates) and we have a relatively normal evening.

Wednesday, Feb 7th — Things are feeling semi-normal. With the utility closet completed and the door back on the place was feeling a little less industrial. The only plan for the day was that a crew was going to come and take away the dehumidifier and I’ll be glad to see the end of that monstrosity. My plan for the day was to shuffle around more stuff to make it easier for the crew to patch the carpet, and once again disconnect the PS5 and the TV so we can move the entertainment center out of the way.

Picture of a giant dehumidifier in our living room
Lola included for scale…and because I didn’t want to bother her 🙂

Thursday, Feb 8th — We’d been assured this was the day that the carpet would be patched and we could start returning to normal. I woke up early and moved furniture, jamming everything into one big block on the side of the room and… waited. No one showed. After arguing with @partpurple [she is very much about trusting the process and assuming people will do what they said they would do, I am very much about checking in and nudging things along] about it, we finally contacted the leasing office to find out what was going on at about 11:30. They told us they’d call the company and let us know what was happening and then… more of nothing happening.

After lunch @partpurple went over and wouldn’t leave until she got an update. She was told the carpet team would definitely be there by 3 or to let them know. 3 came around, no team. She called them and was told “they’re just finishing up and they’ll be right over.” They never arrived, of course. We called, we went over. We were told over and over that they’ll be there soon, right up until 6 PM. Maintenance told me “We’re doing everything we can, we have one company we’re approved to use and we’re at their mercy.” I have no idea if this was true or not. End result though, no one showed and another day was lost.

Friday, Feb 9th — Today the story changes once again. Now we’re told the carpet company needs some kind of release form before they can do work in an occupied apartment. This is the first we’ve heard about this. The property manager has to sign it, but our property manager is out of work with a broken ankle so… once again we are screwed. Now this property is trying to get a sister property’s property manager to sign (they say — at this point I don’t believe a word coming out of their mouths because their story changes like the weather).

A few hours later we get notified that the mystery form is signed and in the hands of the carpet company so they’re willing to do the work. Now they were going to try to get the crew out and we should stand by for an update.

A few hours after that, no update so we nagged them again. And were told the Supervisor (of the carpet company I guess?) ‘admitted they dropped the ball’ and were trying to expedite a crew to come out.

And FINALLY at about 1 pm, a truck rolls up and a couple guys come in to patch the carpet. They were done and gone well before 2 PM, so we spent like 3 days arguing to get guys to come do less than an hour’s worth of work.

What a debacle. But finally we were dealing with stuff we could control. We’d decided to get a new table for the entertainment center. It arrives near 5 pm and @partpurple spends the evening putting it together, finishing near midnight.

Saturday, Feb 10th — I get up early and start setting up the entertainment center again, a bit more thoughtfully than the hodgepodge we use to have. I did some basic cable management and opted to remove devices we hardly use. By about noon I’m done and from there things are more or less back to normal.

Sunday, Feb 11th — We rest, and on Monday things are basically back to normal.

8 thoughts on “The Leak

    1. Funny story… in fact the next door neighbors DID have a leak on Monday, Feb 12th! (Or maybe it was Tuesday.) It was in their upstairs bathroom and water was running down inside the walls… but thankfully (for us) it was on the FAR side of their apartment so didn’t impact us, thank goodness!

      Also, theirs got fixed asap and as far as I can tell it’s all been fixed and cleaned up. I dunno why they get next day service and we had to fight for 2 week service, but there ya go!

  1. Yuck. Been there, though happily only a week instead of two to resolution. I hate those fans with a passion! Glad you guys survived the ordeal.

    1. Yeah, they’re awful. I mean they do the job, more or less. But I was legit wondering if they were doing permanent damage to my hearing. Probably not but y’know, I’m an old worry wart!! 🙂

  2. Oh boy. This sounded quite the adventure of the unamusing kind. Glad things are essentially back to rights now, but sorry you had to go through it!

    Hopefully the rest of the year progresses more smoothly, hah!

    1. Next thing to worry about is “Will the air conditioner keep working for another summer.” It’s so old, the last time it broke they had to cannibalize another unit for parts because they aren’t being made any more. I’d really like them to give us a new (and no doubt, more energy efficient) one, but from what I’ve seen they take weeks to do it and give you these old window units that look to be about 20 years old themselves.

      Well, this was all the kick in the pants we needed to get us being more serious about relocating to some place nicer!

  3. Having been in both situations, I can never decide which is worse: renting a property and having to rely on and negotiate with a landlord to get anything done or owning a property and having to organize everything yourself. Either way, it generally sucks and water is the worst.

    In the last month we’ve had to have someone come and put the lead back on the roof after a storm blew it off, had to have the toilet replaced after it started to leak (then had to get the plumber back to re-do a joint in one of the water pipes that was leaking) and now just yesterday I noticed the gutter on the side of the house is coming loose and water is seeping through the wall where it’s sagging. The good thing is that we’ve been able to get someone to come and fix things almost immediately; the bad thing is we have to pay them for it ourselves.

    Sometimes I think it would be easier to live in a cave.

    1. Yeah one of the things I kept telling myself to get through this is “At least I don’t have to pay for it.” 🙂

      Sounds like you’re about due for a nice stretch of “nothing else going wrong with the home” and I hope you get it!

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