It's not about the house.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Something Stinks

It didn’t rain the entire month of August and, since we’re not very hosey-folks, our entire garden died. We are now the only people in the state of Massachusetts (and beyond) without zucchini. Poor, poor, pitiful us.

But it finally did rain last week. And the night it did, Johnny came out of the bathroom – the older one, not the en suite one we built – muttering “Huh, that leak is getting worse.”

Wha? What leak?

See, this bathroom – or, I should say, part of this bathroom – is the only thing we’re keeping the way it was when we moved in. Neat-o art deco tile in there. Also pepto-pink tub and basin, which Poppo and MD insist is authentic ‘50s style, but which I insist must go. Eventually. When we’re rich.

I probably can’t do it justice, but here’s a picture of the floor (it could use a mop, so?):

And of the soapdish (ignore the soapy crud – also the paintbrush on the back of the sink...

Huh, I’d forgotten that paintbrush was in there. See how things just become a part of the landscape if you leave them long enough? Also how long it’s been since anybody painted anything around this house? Anyhoo…)

This tile was near enough pristine when we moved in, but within a year or so I started to notice squares cracking on the floor around the toilet. Not sure at first if they had always been like that and I’d just never noticed, I kept an eye on them (loads of fun, let me tell you, for a girl who doesn’t clean her house that often, to make a point of keeping an eye on the tiles on the floor around the toilet. Yuck.). Sure enough, the cracks were spreading.

That happened to be the summer that Johnny’s nephew stayed with us. He happened to be a guild-trained mason (the brick-and-mortar kind, not the secret-handshake kind), so I asked him to take a look. He said the tiles weren’t the problem, the floor beneath them was.

Apparently the toilet had been leaking for donkey’s years. Wax ring, kaput. But the lady who died here hadn’t been using a toilet in a while, and when she did she only weighed about a dozen pounds. The spongy floor and pretty tiles weren’t used to actual people sitting on the throne.

We had a few other things going on at the time, however – and besides, we wanted to save that tile floor – so we changed the wax ring and Nephew went down to the basement and boxed in the floor. Couple of 2x6s, couple of big strong screws, couple of sheets of plywood. Even the inspector (who was here for other reasons) seemed to think it would be fine.

I don’t know if it is or not, or if that’s just how it goes, but the tiles have continued to crack – albeit much more slowly. I fear someday I’ll sit down and fall right through the floor. Which would be a shame, because those tiles are lovely. In the meantime, however, we’ve been worrying more front-lobally about other things like furnaces and—oh...

Which reminds me why I started this whole story in the first place.

So Johnny comes out of the bathroom muttering “Huh, that leak is getting worse,” and the first thing that springs to mind is the toilet and the tiles. Worse? How worse? What do you mean, worse?

“No,” he says. “The pipe.”

Pipe? How pipe? What do you mean, pipe? My eyes sweep under the pepto-sink…

…which actually looks kind of pretty here. But I see nothing.

“No,” he says. “The stack pipe.” Except he didn't say "stack pipe." He said “stink pipe.” Which, if you ask me, makes more sense. But which a plumber laughed at me for saying, so I don’t say it anymore.

Wha? The leak from the stack pipe? What leak from the stack pipe? And how leak from the stack pipe? What do you mean, stack pipe? Water goes down the drain, not up the stack pipe…

Johnny pointed to the wall above the sink – the newly stripped and joint-compounded, but not-yet-painted wall – and there, in the new, smooth joint compound, was a spreading water stain. (This happened last week; it's dry now, so I can't show you.)

“That’s why I haven’t painted yet,” Johnny explained. “Because I noticed that leak last month and I wanted to see what was going on with it. If I put paint on there, I wouldn’t see the leak, and the paint would just get wet and peel right off again.”

Ah. So that’s why it's been so long since anybody painted anything around this house. Because it hasn't rained. And the closet that I started and you insisted that you be the one to finish? Is there a leak there, too? And how 'bout that door you convinced me to let you take over, and then convinced me to hang before you did? Is there a stink pipe in the living room as well?

Now, Prudence. Johnny hurt himself. And he's going back to work next week. Wouldn't you rather have a paycheck than a painted bathroom?

Fine, Goody. But I'm finishing that damn closet on my own.


Poppo said...

It's the stink pipe seal on the roof. Easy peasy fix. Just get a good flashing kit at blowes. Some one can do it cheap.. Look at this

momo said...

good old poppo.