Monday, November 12, 2007

When is a Leak Not a Leak?

I had a small leak coming from the ceiling in my kitchen. Nothing major, just an occasional drip (well okay, it did cause some softening and cracking of a small area of plaster, but nothing that couldn't be easily fixed). Like any sensible tenant, I called my landlord:

"Call the handyman to look at it", he said.
"I did, but he says he probably can't come out this week", I replied.
"Well, see if he does. If not, I'll get a plumber", I'm told.

A week went by and no-one came, so I rang my landlord. He again told me to give it a week to see if the handyman would come (I should mention at this point that our handyman is excellent and usually very prompt, but he works shifts and was having a hectic couple of weeks).

Two days later, my landlord calls me at work to say a plumber is coming Friday. On Friday I again get a phone call at work:

"We can't reproduce the leak", my landlord announces. "We are running all the taps upstairs (I have a basement apartment) and we can't reproduce the leak... Oh wait, hang on, it's leaking... I'll call you right back!"

Two hours later I get another call:

"Was the leak directly above the bucket you had on the floor of the kitchen?" he enquires.
"Yes... Why?" (No, I keep the bucket there for nostalgia!)
"We can't reproduce that leak, but we found another major leak from your ceiling in the center of the kitchen. We know the source of this leak, so we're going to fix it!"
"Okay..." (Well, I'm glad they found that leak...)
"Do you own a fan?" my landlord innocently asks.
"Why?" (This doesn't sound good...)
"Well, we caused some water damage to the carpet in the course of finding the leak. We've cleaned it up as best we can, but you really need to make sure it gets properly dry." he announces.
"Uh huh."

An hour later, another delightful call:

"We had an idea about the other leak. We've run lots of water and hopefully when you get home you'll be able to see whether it's a slow, delayed leak. Let us know!!"

I must admit. After all this I was expecting to require the help of Noah, Captain Jack Sparrow, and Jacque Cousteau to navigate my apartment when I got home. What did I find? A large damp, but quickly drying spot on the carpet and a slightly damp ceiling above (both of which have now dried).

Oh, and I still have a small leak from my kitchen ceiling...


Odyssey said...

Since the patch of plaster is already wet and will in all likelihood need to be cut out and replaced, why the heck didn't they just cut it out to see where the leak is coming from? Methinks you need a new landlord...

Goose said...

Oh, but there's more...

He emailed me suggesting it would be most helpful if I could let him know what the leak was like during the day. I pointed out that, between work and spending time with Sweetie, I wasn't every really home during the day, but that I would try my best.

His reply:

"One's best is as good as anyone can do."

Odyssey said...

You should put a graduated cylinder under the leak during the day so you can measure the leak rate. You could then inform him that "during the day it leaks at a rate of x ml/hour". Sounds like he's a bit of a git.

JollyRgr said...

Give him too much info on the leak in measurements he can't understand by repeated emails.......until he gets it fixed. Stubborness me......and he deserves it....he is a git!

Odyssey said...

Of course to be really accurate you'd need a second graduated cylinder containing a predetermined amount of water nearby, but not under the leak. You use that one to determine the evaporation rate so you can correct the leak rate. I would think you could quote him leak rates to two decimal places. Daily update emails to your landlord would be good. And a chart plotting leak rate each day at the end of each week. :-)

Odyssey said...

And don't forget to include measurements (to the nearest millimeter) of the size and shape of the wet patch in the ceiling.

Goose said...

Sadly, I think he would like it too much... He's a retired scientist from my institution who (according to sources) was not far off from a Nobel Prize several years back. I think he'd get far too much pleasure from the science aspect.