At 9pm yesterday, I heard a peculiar ticking from the gas hot-water system on the wall above my kitchen cupboards. Inspection revealed water was trickling down the tangle of grimy antique pipes. The origin of the stuff wasn't visible (note to self: replace torch battery). I moved the appliances underneath, wiped them and the counter clean, put electrical tape over the power socket, and positioned ice-cream containers to catch the drips. I resolved to call the real estate agency first thing and have them send a plumber. (Even if I'd been prepared to pay an exorbitant out-of-hours fee, my lot discourage you from hiring your own tradesmen.) It meant I'd be late for work, but that couldn't be helped. Little did I know...
Three hours later, as I was preparing to turn in, it began to rain - from the light fitting in the kitchen ceiling. I bolted for a bucket, placed it directly below the bulb-turned-showerhead, then mopped up the excess. Great. I had a serious leak to go with my merely incovenient trickle. Where previously I'd suspected that a pipe had simply worn through at some point, now it seemed the water might be coming from one of my nameless neighbours. But surely they'd realise if a sink or bathtub was overflowing? So could it be capillary action? Or cracked roof tiles? Nah, it wasn't raining and my flat's on the middle level. Whatever the source of this reddish, musty Nile, I wasn't about to go door-knocking at midnight to find it.
The best alarm clock is a tall glass of water. This technique served me well as I awoke three times during the night to empty a bucket that (along with my bladder) was dangerously full and to wipe/mop any splashings. I forgot to mention that I left the kitchen window wide open to assist with drying, so it was "nice" and cold in there - not to mention slippery and dark due to me not being able to use the light. When 9am came, I rang the agency and the fella said he'd have a plumber over right away. In the meantime, he asked me to check if the people in the apartment above mine were home, in case the tradie needed to investigate their joint. I thought I'd heard them creaking around, but there was no answer.
I was then rung by a dude at the strata management firm to say a second plumber was en route. He told me he'd phoned my door-shy neighbours and been assured they had no water problems. You can see where this is going... Both plumbers arrived, glanced at my kitchen and headed straight upstairs. It transpired that the fault was with *their* hot-water system, which had busted a gut, allegedly without them realising. To her credit, the wife came down and saw me, sympathised with the flooding and claimed she'd thought the building manager's call was a joke. (Yeah, but that doesn't explain why you ignored my knocks, mate!) Anyway, the tradesmen conferred and it was decided plumber A would fix her unit immediately.
On his way out, plumber B said to continue with my cleaning up and warned me that there could still be the occasional leak for the next two days! Indeed, the fitting didn't cease dripping steadily until after lunch. I'd kept in contact with the real estate fella who was concerned about long-term damage to the ceiling. It sounded like he really wanted to check it out, so I agreed to wait for him. I phoned my boss who was cool with me taking an annual leave day (silly to rush into the office for only a few hours). Of course, the agent never showed. Just when you think they actually give a crap for renters... Later in the arvo, I scrubbed tiles, benchtop and lino with disinfectant and they've remained bone dry ever since. Good job, plumber A.