It’s raining in the room!

(This blog post was drafted and edited using the Ms Office Mobile apps on Nokia N8 smartphone – it was an experiment to see if I could jot down my thoughts as and when I am on the move and don’t have access to my computer)

Sorry for missing on a post last week but something more urgent came up and derailed the whole plan for the week. Water was leaking into the master bedroom and things were getting from bad to worse.

leaking_room1

(This was bad, very bad indeed – the water was leaking into the room and we had to keep replacing the cloth on the floor as it was getting very wet within minutes. But that was the lesser of our concern – we were more worried on the damage on areas that we could not see and whether there were other leaks that we could not detect. The last thing we need now is a large crack on the wall)

Having water leakages in the house was nothing new since we moved in many years ago. But it rarely happens and when it does, it is when we have “mother of all storms” and the drainage on the roof unable to cope with the sudden influx of rain water. And even we have that, it will quickly dry up in minutes. This time it seems different. It actually started a week ago when we noted a small patch wet area on the master bedroom ceiling but since it had just rained and it was rather heavy, we thought that it will go away like it did in the past. It did not and that small patch got larger. And one day, when I got back home late and getting ready to take my shower, something large and dark caught my sight. Water was flowing from the ceiling and along the wall and to the floor. And worse thing is, it did not rain for past few days, so it was clear that the leak was not from rain water. But it was too late to do anything about it then.

I came home earlier the next day and decided to climb up the roof where the house water tank was located to check whether there was anything leaking there. It was no easy to climb up to the roof but the good thing was I had the expandable steel ladder which was long enough to reach the place (losing some body weight recently made the climb a lot easier). Asking my wife to hold one end of the ladder (and be ready to call the ambulance in case I fall), I started to climb. The ladder shook a bit but it held my weight well until I reached the place where the water tank is located and what I saw shocked me. There were plenty of water dripping from the base of the water tank and making the floor very wet. I did not see any where this water was leaking into my room but some how I knew that the leak in my room and the water dripping from the water tank was somehow connected. We had to stop the water drips from the water tank first for 2 reasons – one was obvious, to stop the leak in the room and two, to stop the unnecessary high water bill due to the water drips (I must have lost a good number of pails of water due to this leakage).

I usually do and done most of the smaller repairs in the house but repairing the large house water tank was not something that I had the skill or experience. We need to call a professional plumber and we need to set aside some money for the repairs (especially if the damage was bad and we had to change the whole tank). We checked with our neighbour who had a minor repairs to his house recently to recommend his trusted contractors but those guys was not reachable when my neighbour tried to call. It seems they were doing work outstation and it will be some days before they can come over. We could not wait that long – a mini flood had started to form in the room by now. Just when we were deciding to pick up the yellow pages to call a random plumber (and open ourselves to insane quotations – CNY coming mah!), my Dad came home from work and after I showed him the leak in the room, he proposed that we engage an Indonesian man who was working as a security guard a couple place away from my Dad’s workplace. My Dad know him well. This man had formerly worked at a construction site and was a very capable handyman. We immediately called him on the phone but he was working then. He promised to come first thing in the morning.

The next day, my Dad called me and said the man had come over and waiting for me to take him to my house. I drove over to my Dad’s workplace and a small built man in a sarong and quite worn out shirt was waiting for me. We introduced each other and I took him to the house. I showed him the leak in the room and informed him on what I saw on the roof. He then climbed up the roof and confirmed that we needed to fix the tank for the leaks first (the leak in the room would be the next thing in the list). He said one of the tank drain pipes had moved (probably due to the recent rains and the original sealant had become too old & brittle) and caused the leak. That was something not unusual and is easily fixable (for all house owners out there, please remember to service the water tank once in a while, you will never know what is leaking up there). He needed to detach all pipes leading to the water tank, remove the old seals, apply fresh seals, stabilize the water tank position (it was in a way slanting a bit to one side) and reattach all the pipes to avoid any more leakages.

Unfortunately other than himself, he did not bring any tools but it was fine with me – I had most of the tools he wanted in my tool box. He asked for large adjustable spanner to unscrew all the pipes connected to the tank and adjust the tank once he had released all the water in the tank (I knew that this happen, so for good measures, I had closed the main supply to the tank the night before so that the tank would not be so full when the tank need to be emptied). I did not have the spanner that he wanted in my toolbox but I had a large monkey wrench that might do the trick. But I did not have the next thing that he wanted – water tank sealant. I only had those small silicon sealant tubes for smaller leaks. I called the handyman who was still busy on the roof unplugging the pipes and cleaning the interior of the water tank (something that we have never done before, so I’m very sure that the base of the tank is very dirty by now with sludge) and told him that I will go over to the hardware shop get him the water tank sealant (he wanted the bitumen sealant which cost me less than RM8 for a small can). I also got the larger adjustable spanner for him – he still need to use it to reattach the pipes later and it is better that he does it with the proper tools to ensure a proper fit.

By the time he finished, it was almost lunch time. He was all dirty and sweaty by then. He did not mentioned any specific amount for his work (he said he was too shy to ask for a specific amount and he was ok with whatever I feel is right). Frankly speaking I was not sure how much to give and I was not sure if the leak in the room is fixed for sure – he may still have come back to fix that another day. I sheepishly asked if RM50 was enough for the job he did and he was happy with that amount. That and a packet of iced Milo before I dropped him back to his workplace. And quality of work was really good – the water tank was cleaner now and it was no longer leaking. He told me to wait for at least half day for the sealant to dry & harden before I can turn on the main supply to the tank. The water in the room continued to leak though, so I decided to do something while I wait for sealant to dry and the handyman to come another day to fix that. I still had a small bag of cement left from the time I did some work to fill some holes in the bathroom wall a couple months ago. I suspected there was some holes near the wall or floor where the water tank was located and this is how the water was leaking into the room (I had checked and there was no running pipes near where the water was leaking in the room but seemed to be a small hole where the water might be coming in).

leaking_room2

(With a long ladder and me holding my phone from the safety of the ladder to catch this shot, the mystery source of the leak seemed to be have been resolved – it looked like there was a small hole on the wall. There were no running pipes at this point which was a good thing. I did not dare to step on the soft ceiling with my current body weight to take a closer look – just couple months ago, my neighbour accidentally stepped on the ceiling when he was fixing something and broke his legs. We did not want a repeat of that happening to me. Besides, we still needed to tackle the actual source of the leak which we suspected to be from the water tank on the roof)

So I mixed the cement and laid it along the edges as enough to patch any holes there maybe. The mid-day sun was bearing on me as I was doing this. I climbed up the ladder to the roof a couple of times just to make sure that the “patch” to the water tank held up and it did. Then there was nothing to do but to wait for everything including the cement to dry and the incredible pain on my knees (from all that climbing) to be more bearable. The rate of water leaking in the room some how have reduced but it was still leaking (probably from the residue of water in the wall) but I decided to get the handyman the next morning when we saw that the water was still dripping as we were preparing to go to bed. If it is about residue of water in the wall, it should be cleared by now but it was not. We began to suspect that there was another cause of the leak other than the drips from the water tank or rainwater (perhaps from some water pipes running through the walls that was not visible to us) but the consolation was that at least we had fixed the leaks from the water tank that potentially could cause a even more serious damage to the house (like roof structure giving way due to weaken wet base). The fix for leak in the room seemed like need to wait for another day.

leaking_room3

(Just a few months ago, I actually painted this part of the wall with at least 3 coatings. The aftermath after the leak had “ended” – only left was the ugly stain on the wall that need to be cleared with a fresh coat of paint  but we were happy – it finally stopped leaking)

At about 3 in the morning, I still remember, I woke up to use the bathroom. I was not thinking about the leak in the room at that point – my mind already made up that there was nothing we could do until the handyman comes in the morning to check and fix it -I was half asleep too. I used the bathroom and promptly went to bed. When I woke up at about 9 in the morning later, the condition of the leak was the first I did – if the leak had gotten worse, I may need to ask the handyman to come earlier. To my relief, the leak had actually stopped and the walls were actually drying up (the lower part of the walls had dried completely). So now we can confirm the leaks from the water tank that had actually caused the leaks in the room but the residuals of water in the walls surprisingly took a longer time than we anticipated to dry up. It took almost 8 – 9 hours from the time we stopped the leaks from the water tank. So imagine how much water has been collecting over the past few weeks and if we did not have the leak in the room, we would have missed it until it is too late.

To think about it, it was in a way a blessing in disguise – we are now more aware of the water piping system in the house and now know the need to service some of the key components to avoid unnecessary leakages. We could now sleep peacefully compared to the past few days and I am sure that the next water bill will be lower than months before.

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