Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Friday, July 18, 2014

Leaking like a Sieve

So when we got back from Salinas, last year, we had some issues with the house. Namely, the shower in my room was dripping from the showerhead, and it was driving us crazy. I really didn't want to call a plumber-I really should have called a plumber-so instead I just took the shower head off, which didn't help at all. Over the period of a few months, though, the dripping stopped, and I kind of worried about why-but I still didn't call a plumber.
One day I went into the downstairs bathroom, with the toilet in it that I had worked so hard to install on Easter Eve, three years ago, when we had the toilet explosion. I noticed there was water on the floor all around the toilet, and worse, I noticed the walls had some mold. It had been leaking for some time, apparently. I examined the toilet, and realized that the bolts I had used instead of the ones that came with the toilet were not compatible with the water in the tank. They had corroded and the tank was leaking. I turned the toilet off until I could get around to fixing it. And then I forgot about it. Nobody ever goes in there, we almost never use that bathroom, so it was easy to forget about. Fast forward a few months, and then all of a sudden the ceiling in the kitchen starts leaking every time someone takes a shower in the big bathroom overhead. Was it a leaky pipe? Was the water coming through the floor after escaping the shower curtain? Was it the caulking that was failing? I tore out all the surrounding sheetrock around the leak, comprising about a square foot, so that I could investigate further. I stuck my hand in the hole, and I could feel the corner of the bathtub. Then I went upstairs, and looked down, and I could see the hole. But I couldnt' figure it out. I wondered if the water was confined to just this small area, or if it was leaking all over the place. To find out, I went into that downstairs bathroom for the first time since I had turned the toilet off all those months ago. When I walked in, my mouth dropped open. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. There was water all over the floor, there was mold from the floor up to about three feet off the floor, on three walls. And the toilet was on. I didn't catch on to the fact that the toilet had been turned back on, at first. I thought it was part of the other leak problem we were having, and I have to say I kind of freaked out. I called a plumber. Before he arrived however, I had a closer look, and realized that the water and the mold were coming from the toilet (and it smelled sooo bad) and that it was not connected to the other leak. So I not only turned the toilet off, I removed it completely, and covered the hole with a rubber gasket.
When the plumber got there, he took a look. He told me it was my pipes and that they were going to have to replace all of it, and the break through my tile, and the whole thing was going to cost six hundred dollars. This was on a Friday, and he told me he would be back the following Wed.  Tues night, I got a call from the Mr. He had been working in Spokane for nine months, and things had been fabulous, but now they were shutting down the project, he was getting laid off, and he was on his way home. Ugh. I had some money in savings, and I was sure he would have a new job by the following week, so I didn't cancel my plumber appt. Wed came around, and I waited and waited, and nobody came. All day long I waited. Then I called. He said it would be Friday before he could get somebody over, but then, I guess he changed his mind, because his two assistants showed up fifteen minutes later at my door. They had a look. First they told me it was the tub. Then they decided it was the pipes. Then the told me it was my tile. Then they started talking Spanish, and looking at the pipes in the wall (the pipes are behind an old laundry hamper at the head of the tub, so if you take the hamper out you can see the pipes, and stick your head and upper torso in.). They told me they would be back the following Friday to do the job. While they were there, I had them fix the showerhead in my other bathroom, the third bathroom, the one that had been driving me crazy, because it's in my bedroom, and I also had him replace the sprayer on my kitchen faucet. He got an old one off the truck, and told me he would put a better one on when he came on Friday. Meanwhile, I went up to my shower and turned it on, and then heard the kids yelling. I turned it off, and raced around the corner to the stairs, (that bathroom sits over the stairs) and was confronted by a wall of water cascading out of the shower pan and down the stairs. They had replaced the showerhead, but they hadn't turned on the water to check it all out and the pipe was leaking like a sieve. I was feeling kind of desperate by then. There was no place to take a shower without leaks.

So Friday comes, and I wait. And I wait. And I wait. It's been eight months and I'm still waiting. (In case you are wondering, if you are local to Bonham, it's Dobbel's plumbing. I guess if they don't want your job, they just stand you up, instead of being honest and saying they just don't want to do it.) And I'm pretty mad about it. They never called, they never showed up, they never apologized for not showing up, or calling, and I called someone else after three weeks of waiting. By now it rains in the kitchen when anyone takes a shower. We move the trashcan there until the new plumber shows up. We still can't figure it out, despite spending a lot of time with our heads in the hole in the kitchen ceiling.
The new plumber comes, and tells us it's the pipes, and he caulks it all, and spends the rest of the day fixing the leaking shower over the stairs. He had to do a lot of sawing and drilling but he fixed it. Four hundred dollars later, we breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that all was well and we could get back to living. Only...it wasn't. The ceiling in the kitchen was STILL leaking when somebody took a shower. I could see where he had caulked it. It wasn't the bathtub itself. It only happened during showers. I could feel with my hands, and see with my eyes where the water was dripping from. But I could not figure out where it was coming from. There was no pipe where the water was dripping from, and all the other pipes were dry. It had to be the caulk. So I replaced all of the caulk. And went over every single bit of the grout with caulk. I spent a whole day in the bathtub smearing caulk over every single place where water could escape. And I was successful. It stopped leaking. I was so glad. Then last week...you guessed it. I came in the back door and there was water on the floor, right below the hole that I haven't fixed, for fear of this exact reason. It doesn't leak every time, but sometimes it still rains in the kitchen. And I ran out of funds to call another plumber a long, long time ago. So for now we are stuck with it.
One night, while I was doing the caulking, I took the old hamper at the head of the tub out so I could see the plumbing. I didn't connect the large hole and  the underworld that is my house to the old cat that was roaming around looking for adventure. Truth is, I didn't even know she was missing, until my son started laughing maniacally in the kitchen. I went downstairs, and there was old Sox, with her head through the hole in the kitchen, meowing away for us to save her. Sox is thirteen years old, and not in the best of health, so I was concerned. I got a ladder and reached up to coax her down. She was having none of that. So I grabbed her by the neck and pulled. And she pulled. She planted both her feet on the sides of that hole and held on for dear life. I really tried to get her out, but you could read the cusswords in her eyes. She yowled really loud and I let go, and she retreated. Now I was really concerned, because I had no way to retrieve her. I tried sticking my head all the way in the hole, but there was a copper pipe and a two by four  blocking the way. I probably could have wedged myself in there to have a look, but all of a sudden I had visions of the ladder falling and myself swinging from the hole in the ceiling, I decided I would have better luck from above. So I went upstairs to the bathroom and the hole where the hamper went, and called her. Soxie, soxie, soxiesoxiesoxie, I called in my best cat wheedling voice. She meowed, but she wasn't coming up. She was clearly angry with me. I did the best thing I could, then, I turned off the light in the kitchen, put a bowl of food for her outside the hamper hole in the bathroom, and left the light on, hoping she would have the strength to find her way back upstairs. And I worried. I had bad dreams about what would happen if she died in between the floors. How would we get her out? Would she starve? I finally fell asleep, and was awakened at seven in the morning by Alyssa, who told me that cat was out and the food was gone. I went in the bathroom where she was resting, to look at her. she looked like H E double hockey sticks. She looked like she had had a tough night. Her fur was sticking out in all directions, and she was just laying on the rug, as if she didn't have the energy to go downstairs after such an experience. I put the hamper back and was just glad she was ok.
But we still haven't figured out that leak. We have come up with all kinds of strange hypothoses, ranging from possible to downright strange. The answer eludes us. The nearest thing we can figure is that that end of the bathroom is on the downward side of an unlevel slant, and that gravity is feeding water from somewhere to the corner where it drips off into the kitchen. But where is it coming from? 
So long story, somewhat short, the house is not pretty right now. I still have two broken windows, that happened while we were in California. And that hole in the kitchen ceiling. And no downstairs bathroom. I went in right after I discovered the horrible problem in there and gutted it. Took all the stinky moldy sheet rock and threw it out and brought it down to bare studs. I haven't been in since. And with six people, three dogs, and two cats living here, it is tough to keep tidy. But it's home. And soon it will be fixed, and way too quiet, I'm afraid.

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