This Old House, Glaser Edition

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Kitchen!

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Tammy was strolling through the dining room to the kitchen when she noticed something funny, meaning "curious; strange; peculiar; odd." She heard a drip and, when she looked up, Tammy saw an ominous sight: little dribbles pooled at the top of the dining room ceiling.

Of course, Steve was on a business trip, and Tammy's brother had left only fifteen minutes earlier and was shopping for groceries. Clearly, Tammy had no clue about what to do, so she grabbed her dad, who had witnessed this same terrifying vision on his dining room ceiling about four years ago. He bolted outside to the main water valve and shut down the supply. Tammy ran upstairs, checked both bathrooms, and saw absolutely nothing! David's bathroom was bone dry, and the master bathroom was slightly damp from a shower earlier in the day. Her dad came to the same conclusion--the source of the leak was not obvious to the most casual observer.

Tammy's father headed off to the grocery store and then to her brother's place and, after what seemed like hours, located him. Robby turned several shades of white as he threw anything cold into the refrigerator and sprinted to the car. Meanwhile, Tammy and David set up buckets and moved all the tools stashed on a sleeping bag in the dining room into a different room. All she could do was wait, wringing her hands, until someone with expertise arrived on the scene. As she stared at the pitiful vision, a crack slowly crept across the ceiling, mocking her inch by inch as it formed an evil sneer. Because we were fairly certain that master bathroom held the key to the mystery of the leak, Tammy's brother headed upstairs and checked his top worst fear: the sink and toilet, which he had installed himself. Both seemed buttoned up tight so perhaps the problem lurked beneath the floor. Then he checked his second worst fear: the pipes in the wall behind the shower had a slow leak, which would require him to tear into the lovely (and expensive) tile in the wall. He pulled out the switch to the fan, inspected carefully with his flashlight, and saw no signs of moisture. Then a very simple, but obvious explanation hit him: perhaps, the drain seal in the shower pan had failed, which would be the best scenario and easiest repair possible. He took off the cover, resealed it, and must wait twenty-four hours before testing for leaks.

We headed downstairs to the dining room. Tammy's brother cut a hole in the sheetrock, and the sopping insulation slimed him. An awful stench permeated the room, and we suddenly realized we had solved the mystery of the smelly bathroom. From time to time, an odd odor had wafted through the master bathroom, which had no relationship to the contents of the toilet. This odor had appeared well before we moved into the house and before anyone had started tinkering in the master bathroom. We suspect this slow leak had been happening for a long time and three long hot showers in one morning proved to be too heavy for the ceiling to support. We now think this is why the closet in the master bedroom stank so horribly we had to mask it with a cedar liner.

Ripping off the sheetrock diverted our attention momentarily. Exposing the layers of ceiling covering was like opening a time capsule. We could see the wooden ceilings, which still remain in three of the rooms. Shiny wallpaper once covered the dining room ceiling before being covered by sheetrock. The PVC piping looked odd amidst the evidence of the good old days.
The next issue Tammy handled was Steve. She opted to lie boldly and convincingly on the phone to avoid worrying him on his flight home. The last thing he needed after spending the day schlepping his way through Washington, D.C. was fear of the unknown. "Yes, honey, everything is fine! In fact, my brother plans to work a bit tomorrow." She rehearsed several variations of gently breaking the news and finally settled on (1) Ben & Jerry's butter pecan ice cream, (2) two comedy DVDs (Young Frankenstein and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou), and (3) a joyful announcement that we had finally solved the mystery of the smell in the master bathroom. From there, it was all down hill.

Steve took it philosophically and focused on the positives.
  • It wasn't a deluge.
  • It didn't ruin the dining room floor.
  • We had no furniture in the dining room.
  • No one was electrocuted or died during the making of this mess.
  • We may not have to tear up walls and tile.
  • We didn't make this mess. We inherited it.
  • We found Shelob's lair.


  • Some keeps trying to post a comment advertising their solution to my so-called "contractor problem." In this case, I do not have one. The shower was installed under the watch of the previous owner! Tammy's brother is solving problems created by another contractor!

    By Blogger The Glasers, at 8:07 AM  

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