A Really Hot Babe, and the Sky is Falling (the Ceiling, at Least)

07 Apr 2006

Veronica’s got a fever. Last night before going to bed she was at around 103, and it continued to climb during the night; it must have been at least 105. I guess this is common in very young children (she is 17 months). The strange thing was that she didn’t really seem to have any other symptoms, besides being a little crankier and clingier than usual — she continued to nurse, wet diapers, dance, giggle, climb, play with toys, and do her usual baby work. Apparently the actual temperature is not as significant an indicator of overall sickness as behavioral changes.

I know what I feel like when I have a fever of even 102, so I am pretty impressed that our baby Squeaker is still so squeaky! She picked up a virus yet again at a church-related event with other children. Grace and I have a lower-grade version of the same thing. I am half inclined to just stop going to any of these potlucks altogether until it is summer. I am really tired of getting viruses from every child in the neighborhood courtesy of baby (and virus vector) baby Squeaks-a-lot, a.k.a. Typhoid Baby.

Meanwhile, we’re experiencing a situation of mind-boggling stupidity with our apartment complex, Ann Arbor Woods. It makes me want to shake someone and ask “were you born a moron, or is idiocy something you’ve worked hard to achieve?”

The roof of our apartment is leaking, and has been leaking for over a year. We’ve reported problems numerous times. Eventually the water came through the plaster in Isaac’s room, first staining the ceilng, then pooling in the light fixture (occasionally blowing a breaker or causing light bulbs to blow out in other rooms on the same circuit).

After complaints about that situation, management sent out a contractor to repaint the stained ceiling. He told us at the time that he knew there was not really any point to this, because it would just leak again unless the roof was fixed. This was perhaps six months ago.

Of course, it did continue to leak. Eventually the plaster couldn’t hold any more water and formed a big wet open crack running the width of the bedroom. (I wonder if the phrase “big wet open crack” is going to lead to any unintentional search engine hits on this blog post?)

Despite our efforts to catch the drips, we couldn’t always be at home when it rained, and Isaac was not always conscientious about removing the bucket after the rain stopped, so the carpet where the drips landed and the catch-bucket sat has become moldy.

Roofers have been up there a couple of times, but have not yet managed to fix the problem; water continues to come in with each rainstorm. Management decided that now was the time to have the ceiling in the bedroom repaired. (It took a demanding letter, but they finally did it).

We moved Isaac out of his bedroom — all his things are in storage. There is a lot of mold in that room, and sleeping there has aggravated his asthma, so he’s actually been sleeping on the living-room couch for the past month already. Getting his room emptied and packed up was quite an ordeal in and of itself — Grace is pregnant, and sick, and I can’t take days off work for this kind of thing (I am saving my days to take off when the new baby is born). Isaac was a trooper, and did a lot of the packing and organizing himself, but it took a full week and a lot of tears.

There’s a problem, though. The leak in the ceiling has not been fixed. So, yesterday morning, a contractor came and tore out a chunk of the ceiling and replaced it with new plaster. He did a nice job, and helped disassemble Isaac’s bunk-beds, carefully wrapping them in plastic — going above and beyond the call of duty. I just want to make clear that none of this is his fault; he is not a roofer, and has told management this, and told them that if the roof was not fixed it was just going to leak again; management had him do this anyway, apparently preferring wasting money and effort to actually firing up brain cells.

It being April — April showers and all that — it rained again last night and this morning. The contractor came by this morning and we saw that, not unexpectly, his brand-new plastering job was getting saturated and stained with water again. He apologized profusely (although again, none of this is his fault!), removed the light fixture, and capped off the wiring to help make sure there was no more electrical shorting.

This repair has probably just succeeded in making everything worse. Now that the original crack is sealed up, the interior topgraphy of the ceiling has changed slightly, and the water is looking for new ways down. This afternoon Grace told me it was dripping through again already, in a new spot. The leak is getting worse, because the water has chewed through the ceilin and formed a new hole in only a single day of rain. It could be headed for the hallway and may wind up migrating across to my office, where I have my computers set up, and a lot of valuable technical books. We can’t tell yet, but I have an uncomfortable feeling water is probably running down inside an interior wall and getting ready to leak into the kitchen. Brilliant. Awe-inspiring. Dare I say it — genius!

I have not been this, ummm, impressed by a landlord since my former girlfriend’s apartment was invaded by an entire hive of bees, which eventually chewed through the window frame and swarmed in the living room. coating everything in bee crap. Management’s response to the numerous reports that there was a hive of bees in the bedroom wall — you could put your ear to the wall and hear them — had been to send a maintenance man out to stand on the balcony and shoot a can of bug spray at the corner of the roof where they were flying in and out of the wall, but he complained that he kept getting stung. Just as now, that landlord had a year’s warning to do something about the problem. His lack of promptness meant that eventually it was necessary to fill the wall with pyrethrin, prompting the swarming of the sick bees, then tear it open and cart out wheel-barrow loads of melted honeycomb while the tenants lived temporarily in a tiny basement apartment in the same building. The situation was eventually fixed, but at great cost and frustration all around.

Anyway, back to our apartment. A more sensible approach might have been to just open up the ceiling and leave it open with some fans going to dry the crawlspace, while the roofers put up a tarp and got the roofing work finished. They could leave it open so that we can tell when it no longer leaks during a storm, and until it is bone-dry in there. Apparently there’s a lot of water damage in there; Grace saw it, but it was closed up by the time I got home. This is not terribly surprising. It presumably took a lot of water up flowing up there there before it wasn’t just seeping through the plaster, but actually ate a big crack through plaster, paint, and all. And what do you get when moisture sits in an enclosed space? Mold. Mold and asthma are not a good combination.

Our financial plans center around us not moving until at least the end of the year. I guess we have to be prepared to write off this place, which was a good place to live until management changed a few years ago, and move earlier. Not the aggravation we need. We’ll see if they actually come through with something, and keep prompting them. What a pain!

Update: the roofers have been back out and have put some kind of a temporary protective covering on a section the roof. We haven’t been told whether this means they have isolated the problem area and are starting work on it, or whether this is in place as a test the next time it rains. My past experience, although somewhat limited, with roofs of rental properties tells me that the water is most likely coming in via leaky flashing around the chimney and running down inside the crawlspace, but what do I know?

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