Thursday, December 4, 2008

Water Damage, "Said Cellophane Crap," and the Thermodynamics of our Situation


Dear Housemates,

I’ve been putting off writing an email about some house matters that have come up since our last house meeting just because I’m a bad procrastinator, which is part of one of our problems, which is that, as I write this, water is dripping down from the ceiling of the first floor bathroom.

First, an update: A month or two ago, I was freaking out over the new stain that had appeared on that ceiling. I opened up the panels in "C's" closet, but you can’t see where that dripping would be occurring from where the panels provide access. So, that yielded nothing. However, since the stains sort of have a bluish color, without doing any further scientific investigation, I decided that maybe it was caused by overzealous mopping in the upstairs bathroom. So I modified my cleaning habits. Now I merely spray a mixture of bleach and water lightly on the floor, and mop that up. Before, I was dipping a sponge in a bucket, wringing it out, and mopping, and this was putting more water on the floor.

With my new method, water damage did not increase until now.

Earlier this week, I saw that the white towel on the upstairs bathroom floor had been moved to the area between the floor and the tub. I figured, “Cool, someone mopped up some water there.” Then tonight I saw the drips coming down from the first floor bathroom ceiling. I went upstairs and checked the floor at the white towel, and found it still very wet. Very Very wet there. So, someone got it wet, dropped the towel there, and went on without really mopping it up.

This would be the fourth time I’ve seen that downstairs bath ceiling fall apart because of water damage since I’ve lived here.

Attached are pictures of the damage taken just now. You can see a closeup of a mound of plaster growing down from the ceiling, and a drop of water on the tip of the mound. That mound might be full of water. I’m afraid to touch it. In another picture, you can see the new “mound” damage next to the older “stain” damage.

Help me out here. Is it the toile leaking? We should be vigilant. Or are we dripping water when we get out of the shower? We should not do that. Keep your towel nearby. I hang mine on the cabinet right outside the shower. Dry off while you’re standing in the shower.

Is water spraying out of the side of the shower head because it’s not tightened well on the pipe? Sometimes this is happening. I have hand tightened it, but it may need more tightening than that. I have not thought it was that much water doing this, but maybe it is.

Is water leaking out from the sides of the tub where the shower curtain is not flush with the tiles? Maybe. Try to press it against the walls when you shower. But here’s where my procrastination really kicks in. Months ago I bought those plastic flanges that you put on the corners of the top edge of the tub to prevent some of this water sloshing out from the shower. I need to put those in. I think I mentioned them in another email.

I welcome anyone’s insight on the water damage situation. If we can stop it now, we can probably live with the current level of damage. But if we keep getting water on the upstairs bathroom floor in large quantities, then we’ll eventually have a hole in the downstairs bathroom ceiling, and there will be plumbers and plasterers tracking through the house; and I always fear that “this time” we’ll be charged by the landlord.

Also, tell the girlfriends and anyone else who may be showering. I have not told my girlfriend. They make water too, and I don’t just mean pee pee. Tell them to keep their dang washing water off the bathroom floor just like we have to. It doesn’t matter if it’s been sweetened by contact with there femininely pheromonal corpi. It does the same damage to plaster once it drips through the floor.

Sometimes I see the shower curtain pulled toward the cabinets, as if someone got out on the tub side. No doubt this is because some folks used to live in houses where you got out on that side. But in our house, try to get out onto the bathmat which is shoved up against the outside edge of the tub, instead of onto the tile beside the toilet. There’s not much space by the toilet anyway.

In other bathroom news, I bought a replacement toilet seat for 19.00. It’s leaning on the table outside the bathroom. How do we want to handle that?

On to another matter: “Said Cellophane Crap,” as it was called by "C" in his email response to my first email mention of it.

A few emails ago I mentioned the Cellophane stuff we put on the windows and shrink with the hairdryer. Actually, last year I blew off (pun intended) the hair dryer and just attached the Cellophane, left it slack, and called it art.

This week I’ve made two trips to Home Despot and they have been out of the stuff. But they keep saying it will be there. It will be on aisle 11, way down, on the left, at floor level. I’ll keep checking.

When I get it, we’ll be applying it to most downstairs windows except the kitchen one because we need that to be openable in case of emergencies like the other night when the burner was left on under the frying pan filled with oil, and the kitchen was filled with smoke.

And, use it in your rooms. Some housemates think it does not help. What it does is prevents convection from facilitating the loss of heat through he windows. We still lose it by radiation, but since the air does not contact the window directly, it does not feed heat to the window by contact, and therefore is not so readily cooled, and therefore does not sink downward and draw new warmer air into contact with the window to be further cooled in its turn. At least, that’s what I think.

News of the presence of this stuff in the house will be forthcoming.

Also, some of you may need to burp your radiators. See me about that. I know who you are. It’s always the same radiators that need burping. Don’t be like past housemates who go all winter saying, “Dag, my radiator always feel cold!”

But these recent days, all our radiators are fairly cold. As is the house. I can explain why the house is so cold. Really. It’s because, when it’s not exceedingly cold outside — like, when it’s maybe 30 at night, but not 10 — the house does not cool down as fast from the daytime. This means that the thermostat is not triggered to run the hot water in the radiators as much. So, the whole house suffers. When it gets exceedingly cold outside, heat runs out faster, the thermostat is triggered more, and the radiators are filled with hot water more frequently.

Just think, one day we’ll all look back on this and laugh. We may own our own houses. And at that time, when we’re putting the Gol-dang Cellophane on the windows and standing around with the hair dryer feeling stupid because our half-assed single panes with leaky seams are basically entropy-vents to the black sky of the universe, at least we’ll be putting the Gol-dang Cellophane on our OWN windows and standing around with the hair dryer feeling stupid because our OWN half-assed single panes with leaky seams are basically entropy-vents to the black sky of the universe.

Always understand the thermodynamics of your situation. That’s what I say.

Here’s a bonus question. When you wake up on a winter morning and the windows have condensation on them, and the condensation is on the outside, should you A) open all the windows in the house or B) keep the house closed?

1 comment:

Alpha + The Speaker Company said...

I am pretty sure that I have NEVER read such a detailed, precise, involved, questions-asked-and-answers-given, scientific, lengthy and well thoughtout account of a bathroom scenario EVER in my life.

If you find the time could you come over to my place and do the same for the ceiling in MY bathroom?

I will pay you with left-over beef-wellington sandwiches.

Happy New Year.

--A.