The Gigantic, er, well, Mini Apartment Flood

Sunday morning, I noticed the carpet in my mini-hallway area was a bit damp. I tend to get water everywhere when I shower, but it was a little too removed from the bathroom even for my most extravagant shower frolics. I thought maybe Bionic Kitty was getting even for the near drowning, but it didn’t smell. Plus, Bionic is fastidious about using her litter box and her revenge is much more subtle (i.e. eating the cable cord right before the season premiere of Entourage). At a loss, I checked the utility closet and the ceiling. I couldn’t find a leak, so dried it the best I could and went about my day. Monday morning, I hopped out of bed and stepped in the same spot. It was now uber-squishy, clammy, and just not what feet should touch before morning caffeine. At that point, even my homecare-clueless self knew this was not right. I still could not find a leak and the utility closet was still dry, so I put down a plastic bag, a bowl and a towel and headed off to work.

When I got home, the bowl and towel were dry but under the bag, the soggy area had grown substantially. It like was miracle grow was in the water and it helped the wet area blossom and swell into a gigantor puddle in just a few hours. That’s when I recalled the only upside of renting: problems can be foisted off on somebody else. Happy to foist, I called Landlord. Of course he did not answer. Wanting to remain proactive, I mentally ran through all the men in my life and came up with only one who is capable of fixing house problems and also tool-savvy: Dad. Called him. No answer. Flummoxed, I called Mom for moral support. She agreed this was A Very Bad Thing but reiterated that I should talk to Dad or my landlord. Supportive, sure, but nothing I didn’t know all ready.

I went back to check on the spot, hoping it had magically cleared up. No such luck. In fact, it had continued to grow and was now spawning other wet spots in the hallway area. I tried Landlord again. Voicemail. Again. It was clear that I was going to have to put on my Big Girl Panties and deal with this myself. I started to poke around in my shoe closet, on the other side of the wall from the wet area, and found the carpet was damp there, too. The hallway being wet is inconvenient and clearly not ideal. But a leak in my shoe closet? Oh hell no. I broke out the Power Panties and became a Woman on a Mission.

On the top of the priority list was rescuing my Uggs (yeah, World, I own Uggs. What of it?) and the other assorted shoes/stored stuff from the water invading the closet floor. As I put down another batch of dry towels, I tried to reach Landlord. No answer. Clearly, his Spidey sense was turned off and he had no idea I was in Apartment Peril. Irritating. Becoming desperate to identify the leak source, I checked with the neighbor who shared my wall, those heavy walkers above me, and those below me (yeah, I know water and gravity are friends, but hello, this could be an apartment geyser thing). Nobody had water but me. The fate of my shoe storage area was not looking good. In a last ditch effort to get help, I called the apartment concierge desk. Of course, Hot Concierge was not on duty. Instead I got Delores.

Delores turned out to be uber-concerned (more about structural integrity of the floor than my shoes, but who am I to judge a value system?). Still, she couldn’t do anything until Absent Landlord reappeared and gave her permission to “send in the engineer.” I was very impressed with that phrase: send in the engineer. While standing on soggy carpet, it sounds better than “Send in the Calvary” or even “Free Jimmy Choos!” Anyhoodles, I switched out the towels again (thank you Ancient Dryer, you were a trooper), dashed off a frantic email to Landlord, tried his phone for the umpteenth time, and helplessly watched the water start to invade my clothes closet and my bedroom. First damp, then squishy, then sopping. With no other options, I started pulling up carpet to see if I could locate a leak under the padding (again, who knows how the plumbing works in these places and what gravity-defying anomalies water pressure can cause?). Nothing. I checked the utility closet again. Still dry. Ditto the ceiling, the walls, everything but my darn floors.

Finally, finally, finally, after three more phone calls to Landlord and the apartment maintenance, the concierge and the Chief Building Engineer (don’t I live someplace fancy? What a title!) decided to forgo Landlord’s permission and mosey on over to check out my water situation. I swear I could hear angels singing when they told me that. The Engineer On Call was going to be at my place in 45 minutes and I patiently waited, sopping up water in the meantime.

When the EOC showed up, he was a short guy who didn’t speak great English and carried his tools in green Safeway basket. Not the type of person to instill confidence in the middle of a minor apartment flood. But whatever. A girl saving her shoes can’t be picky about her Superman. Before he said hello, before did anything, he went straight to the utility closet door and yanked. And this being my life, a minor rush of water sloshed out. I was perplexed and all, “Where did that come from? It wasn’t there before! No fair. I could have figured out where the leak was if I got a tsunami rushing out of the utility closet, too!” EOC gave me a look intended to convey that he had tools, thus, he had answers and I should stay out of his way. So I did. Eventually, he opened up the HVAC unit itself and behold, there were several inches of standing water in there. Apparently, that’s not normal. The EOC then proceeded to show me how dirty my HVAC system was, how it was causing a clog, how some pipe interregnal to the whole HVAC system was backed up and in I had, “lotsa messy. Water. Messy. Dirt. Messy. Cause lotsa messy on carpet. Wet, wet, wet.” Oh. OK.

In short order, EOC worked a miracle and fixed the water-ruining-my-carpet issue. First, he blew out the pipe where I guess the water was backed up using a nifty gadget and chemicals and short-man brawn. He then sucked up the water from the HVAC with a shop-vac. That took over half an hour. He stood there the entire time, hands on hips, glaring at the sinking water level inside the HVAC. It was his version of Moses and the sea. After that, he expressed in broken English that the HVAC unit needs to be cleaned (more than just filter changed) at least every 12 months, preferably every six months. He made me repeat it back to him three times to make sure I understood that it must be cleaned by a professional and not just by me. Like I would clean an HVAC unit? Puh-lease. Just to cover my butt, I asked him if the filters were being changed enough and he said yes, that the one I had in was clean (well, until it got dirty in the pipe blow out phase and then wet because everything in the hall areas was wet, and he made sure I knew I couldn’t reuse that one). Finally, EOC produced a Honkin’ Big Fan from his wondrous shopping basket and instructed me to keep it blowing all night and all day and maybe, if I was lucky, the water would dry. So I plugged it in and away it went. EOC left around 1:30 a.m. Just to be nasty, I tried Landlord one more time. That’s when he answered. Grrrr.

* Please note: I took pictures, but for some reason, I can’t upload them right now. Until I have time to do battle with Flickr, you can find them yourself over there.

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One Response to “The Gigantic, er, well, Mini Apartment Flood”

  1. I Am Doomed, or why I should never open my mouth « Who Invented Roses Says:

    […] the wear. Nothing else in the place matches. Even the carpet is in bad shape thanks to the recent Great Flood and Bionic Kitty’s stomach issues. It feels like I tried for Bo-Ho Eclectic Chic but only managed […]

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