Under Water

A few weeks ago I received three emails in rapid succession during the middle of the work day. One was from my neighbor, who lives upstairs and next door, asking if I had the water shut off instructions. The second was from our property management company, informing us that there would be an emergency water shut off in the building. And the third was from my next door neighbor, who lives under the first neighbor, informing us that water was raining down into her apartment.

When I got home, I went upstairs to check in with my neighbor and inspect the damage. Our building was built in 1970, and any unit with the original valves is playing a risky game. As it turns out, his dishwasher had begun to leak, and when they tried to tighten the valve it instead exploded, gushing water into his kitchen and living area for the better part of ten minutes. The water, in turn, leaked down through my next door neighbor's ceiling, causing the same if not more damage down there. Now, several hours after the incident, both neighbors still looked shocked and confused, meekly inspecting the damage. I offered my upstairs neighbor a hug and a shot of whiskey, and promised to check in later; I had a standing appointment to go running and couldn't be late.

It wasn't until I returned home from said run that I noticed the large puddle that had collected on my kitchen floor. It wasn't a lot, but rather looked like someone had given the floor a very wet mop. Why I hadn't thought the water leak would have affected me was either hubris or wishful thinking, but luckily the damage wasn't nearly as bad as my neighbors'. I cleaned the puddle up with a single bath towel and called my insurance company. It appeared that the damage was mainly to the floor, and that the water had leaked through the baseboards from my next door neighbor's into my place.

This was over three weeks ago, and the clean up saga continues. As it turns out, what was just a small puddle of water had wet the floor from my sewing area, around the kitchen, all the way to my front door. The insurance company sent men with fans to dry the area, tented my entire kitchen with plastic for a weekend to remove asbestos in the wet drywall, stripped a portion of the hardwood from the floor, ran more fans, and scheduled a contractor to make repairs. Now we are finding, as it turns out, you cannot just replace a section of hardwood floors so the entire living space, from the living room to the bedroom to the closet, will have to be torn up and new hardwood floors installed throughout. Luckily my neighbor's insurance should hopefully be covering the work, but it is still a major pain!

ny sewing area and kitchen with the fans (left) and asbestos tenting (right)

On my part, I've been playing contractor, scheduling with nine different companies to get through inspections, clean-up, and reconstruction. What started as some small damage is likely to take over a month to repair. As for my sewing area, I have moved my desk into a cramped corner of the living room. I have still been managing to sew away, but have been taking things at a more reduced pace. Luckily, none of my sewing supplies were damaged, although they were briefly sealed up behind the asbestos tenting when the environmental company failed to notify us what exactly they would be covering up.

All this is to say that I've been doing more dreaming about sewing lately than actual sewing. But I will be back soon, and with new hardwood floors to boot! Oh, and get your pipes checked! I'm about to ask my neighbor directly upstairs to do the same...


  1. Ugh, I feel your pain, had a big leak caused by 19th century pipes last year. Amazingly no bad damage - it missed both my computer and sewing stash! Glad your stuff was safe too, and glad you're able to keep sewing.. hope the rest gets sorted quick.

  2. What a bummer! But it's a good thing insurance is taking care of it. Once when I was just out of undergrad, I came home to an apartment shared with a friend to find it was raining in the bathroom - literal showers of rain coming through the ceiling from above. The people above us were having their bathroom remodeled, and the contractor had messed up something (something major apparently!) Unfortunately, he didn't realize his error, and when I ran upstairs to knock on their door, no one was home. I can't remember how that resolved itself... but anyhoo, I hope you get your sewing space back soon!

  3. So sorry to hear about the water damage! A couple years ago the building I working had a leak - pipe burst over the weekend and the walls in the hall and our conference room had water damage. Those fans were running in our office and the halls for a week. So noisy! What a bummer that your sewing area was affected and that you have to deal with the aftermath of contractors and inspections! Hopefully it'll be over soon. Good luck!

  4. Oh no. Glad the damage is being repaired albeit slowly. Just think how relieved you will feel when it is all over.

  5. Oh no. Glad the damage is being repaired albeit slowly. Just think how relieved you will feel when it is all over.

  6. Oh, this really sucks - sorry. But count your blessings its just water. Ive had a clients art studio flood with the entire buildings sewerage - now that was NOT fun!!!

  7. What a pain! At least everything is being taken care of and will soon be repaired. I had something similar happen when I was an undergrad, and it was such a pain to have all of those fans running! I hope all goes well.

  8. Oh yuck, how awful! We've had two water leaks just in 2015 from the apartment upstairs and it's a royal pain in the butt. So sorry you're dealing with this!

  9. I could imagine how annoying that was. How is it now? I hope that it was already fixed and that there are no more leaks. It’s certainly tough to deal with these kinds of plights, specially when you still have a lot of other things to attend to. Well, I hope that everything’s going fine in your apartment right now. Have great day!

    Nathan Riley @ Steemer Atlanta

    1. Thank you! It took 5 months to fix (!) but it is finally all done :)


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