Friday, March 2, 2012

Avoiding the flood

As if the salon across the hall and the broken shower weren't enough, we are in the midst of a full plumbing problem.

Ever since Steve bought this flat, there's been an on-again / off-again issue with the kitchen sink backing up. It usually happens when the upstairs neighbours (it's rented) use the washing machine.

This week as the washing machine upstairs started to run through, our kitchen sink started to overflow. We called a plumber who tried his best but since the blockage is a communal pipe problem, our insurance won't cover it. There was a possibility of taking off a hatch on the (very old looking cast iron pipe) under our sink but our hopes for that were quickly dashed.

A second plumber came in Wednesday and said, "no" to the possibility of opening a pipe and potentially letting gallons of water rush onto our floor and down to the apartment below us. (Poor neighbour already has a puddle in the middle of her kitchen floor from our sink.)

We found out that this is a common problem in all the blocks of flats (great) and they have to periodically go on the roof and have a pressure cleaner shoot water down the pipes to unblock it. This means that I had to orchestrate a neighbourhood watch and set up a good day when everyone will be home while they unblock said pipe. The pressure wash will apparently make all of that gunky water come up through the sinks if they're not plugged tight. Everyone has to stand by and make sure a mess doesn't occur.

After Steve called one plumbing company to come out on Saturday, they tried to tell us that they had no crews available and could come next Saturday. Since they’re a 24/7 emergency call out team I just would not accept this as an answer. Luckily, without much more than the use of my teacher voice (once you find yours, you never lose it) and the crew will be here tomorrow morning to take care of the pipes.

In the meantime none of us on our side of the block have been able to run the washing machine (the downstairs neighbour has a dish washing machine - oh, the luxury!) But as far as we can tell by Saturday once the pressure wash happens, things can go back to normal in the kitchen.

I do count our blessings though - this isn't the bathroom pipes that have blocked. Also, apparently the overseers (who were very nice about helping us plan out this plumbing extravaganza) have told Mary Kay across the hall to get rid of the waiting room outside our door. Yesterday in the evening while I was at the store, she took out the chair, the plants, and the framed Marilyn Monroe picture out of the hallway. She left a big, black rug but, whatever. I count this as a small victory.

By the way, in the five minutes that I had a chat with our downstairs neighbour in the hallway, Mary Kay had two customers come and go. She wears a uniform of salon scrubs and everything. Yup, full blown business going on over there. She is not a mobile beautician / at-home working Avon lady as she told the overseers. Amazing that she'll allowed this but we'll probably be out of this flat before she or the sink can do much more damage.

Lastly, I was turned down from my last job interview. I was kind of surprised because I thought I did well at the interview but, of course, once you leave an interview there are 100 things you think you could have said differently. But with that knowledge that there are no 9-5 job possibilities at present, it’s back to my project I go!


  1. Hope you get the plumbing sorted quickly! We once lived in a cul-de-sac where several houses drains just kept backing up...awful! Trying to coordinate with neighbours is a real pain.
    Also really surprised she's allowed to run a salon at home, I thought it was illegal to set up that kind of business without business premises and business rates! Good luck with it all.

  2. Thanks. I think this major pressure wash on Saturday should get it fixed up - for now.
    Yeah, we've talked to the Council and they told us that there's no problem with anyone running a business in a residential area if they have less than 10 customers a day. Sounds crazy, I know!

  3. Hope your plumbing is better now. Our house has similar problems and we're the only ones here. :) If you want to shower in more than a trickle of water you have to run the wster ubtil you hear the well pump kick on (wasting all that water) then shut off the water while the pump runs and fills the holding tank. When the pump shuts off you can shower. The joys of old homes!

  4. Also - sorry to hear about the job disappointment. I' m currently working a degrading part-time reception job while waiting for a better opportunity -like a library! Hope something good comes your way soon.

  5. Thanks so much, Tami. Luckily everything went smoothly with the pipes - now we can wash dishes in the sink *and* wash clothes! Yes, these older places are built strangely sometimes.
    I haven't been able to find any kind of job since I moved here last year. It's frustrating but I know I'll find a library who needs me! :-)