A little plumbing problem

On Tuesday morning during my regular daily routine, I (Tina) went to the kitchen sink to wash my hands before preparing my breakfast. Mark was still in the bedroom getting up and ready. After washing my hands, I felt water under my feet. “What the heck?”, then I yelled, “Mark, we've got water damage going on!” I opened the kitchen sink cabinet and the bottom of the cabinet was completely covered with water. It had spilled out onto the floor, as well. My PuroClean training kicked in as I started to evaluate the situation: Where is the water coming from? Has it stopped? Check the valves. Get a towel and bowl.

I quickly realized that it was not a broken valve or pipe – thank goodness. It was the drainage hose. The hose was only held into place with caulking – yes, that’s right, caulking. No wonder it eventually gave way. Notice what else is missing (pictures below)? Yes, that’s right, a p-trap (the U-shaped piece of pipe directly under the sink). I have no idea why the kitchen sink and the other three sinks (2 bathroom and 1 utility) do not have a p-trap. They sell p-traps in Costa Rica - they are easy to find. This is not a third world country. Having a p-trap eliminates the odor from the gases built up in the main line. Water in the p-trap "traps" the gases from escaping. If we don't keep the sink drains closed, we get to experience those escaping gases first-hand. To make things worse, the drain hose for the kitchen sink is ribbed, not smooth. All the food waste gets caught in the ribbing – yuck!  Not sure what they were thinking when they installed this plumbing...  Mind you, when we had our water damage business, we saw stuff like this - and worse - on Maui.  It's certainly not unique to Costa Rica.

Back to the main problem – the hose is not attached anymore. We called the landlord right away and he said Rudy (the maintenance guy) would be right up to fix it. This was about 9:00am.  Hours went by and no Rudy. Mark called the landlord back about 4pm to say “Rudy hasn't shown up yet.” Phons assured Mark that Rudy had to leave for a while, but he would be back and would come to our apartment. So, we waited and waited. Finally, Rudy shows up about 6:00 pm. He inspected the problem, left for a couple of minutes, and returned with a tube of caulking. Of course, what else would you fix it with? He re-caulked the hose and tied it in place with a "sling" made from a plastic bag.  This worked to hold it in place because the weight of the hose would not have allowed the caulking to set up. When finished, Rudy says in Spanish “No use el lavabo durante. No deje correr el agua.” Our Spanish is not that good, but I understood that we were not to use the sink for 24 hours, so the caulk can set up.

He stuck the hose back in the hole, caulked it, and made a sling for the hose to stay up.

He stuck the hose back in the hole, caulked it, and made a sling for the hose to stay up.

The next day, a different maintenance guy shows up about 4pm. I answered the door and he started speaking quickly in Spanish. “Uno momento,” I said, as I reached for my i-Phone with the trusty translator app. I pointed at it and said “hablar” (you speak). He did and it translated close enough to understand why he was there. He basically said, “I heard you had a problem with the sink.” I replied with the help of the i-Phone interpreter, “Rudy came yesterday and fixed it, but we haven’t tested it to see if it is not leaking.” He turned to leave and spoke in Spanish again. I pointed to the phone and it translated his message as: “Wait, wait, wait here right now” and some other stuff which didn't translate well. We waited. He came right back and brought a bucket. Good man! He wanted to have a bucket to catch the water if it wasn’t glued, right? He checked it and no leaks – yay!

That's when Mark let him know the hot water wasn't working. This is unusual because the hot water has been very consistent (and very hot) since we've been here.  The worker said, through the i-phone interpreter, “Learn to ask to see because not battle”. What? I figured he said it’s not his problem but he would check on it. He left again and came back in about 10 minutes. He turned on the hot water faucet and it spits and sputters back to life. Viola! We have hot water again. Gracias!!

Update, Dec 20th:

When we got up this morning, I walked into the hall bathroom and discovered the small mat in front of the sink cabinet was all wet.  I opened the cabinet to find the supply lines to the faucet were dripping away.  The cabinet was full of water and it had leaked out onto the floor.  Once again, I soaked up the standing water and Mark called the landlord.  Within about 20 minutes, the landlord and Rudy (maintenance) were at the apartment.  Rudy inspected the problem and said he had what he needed to fix the problem.  They both left and we are awaiting Rudy's return.  Hopefully today...