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the saga of the busted toilet

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

lego plumber - it's more than just remembering that water flows downhilllego fortune teller - i see chaos, hard times and a lot of leg crossing
I didn't realise when Lego included a plumber in their Series 9 minifigures that it was a portent to a plumbing related disaster in my future...

Maybe the Fortune Teller should have been an additional clue... especially with her "Tower" card that often symbolises such things as chaos, hard times, sudden change and an uncomfortable experience.

And the fact that this weekend was a public holiday... if anything ever goes wrong with my plumbing, it always happens either over a weekend or right before a public holiday.

This time the issue was a blocked toilet. Which sounds pretty gross, and to be honest, wasn't pleasant, but it wasn't perhaps as horrible as it could have been. Sure there are few things in life that are quite as revolting as seeing your toilet slowly fill with murky brown water, other than perhaps when that water then overflows, but at least it was only water.

It all started on Sunday night when I discovered that the water level in the toilet was rising, then falling, then rising again. It was like magic... horrible, horrible magic. I spoke to my next door neighbour and my upstairs neighbours just to find out if anything they were doing was causing it, and discovered that the next door neighbours were having the same problem.

So I called the emergency number for my land agent. But because they are completely useless in all things, the number went to a voicemail that clearly nobody was checking.

Over the following 24 hours I left at least seven messages. Which they never returned... I called them at 9am on Tuesday.

Had it not been a public holiday it wouldn't have been quite so bad, they would have sent the regular plumber around and it would all have been finished 24 hours earlier. But because I couldn't get hold of them I decided to call out a plumber from Ken Hall Plumbing, who I have to say was fantastic.

But he couldn't get to any access point to clear the blockage, so after much effort and plunging with a gigantic plunger and digging up part of the side yard to try and find the outflow pipe, he conceded defeat. The two options were either to break my toilet to get to the blockage, hence causing the water that was in the toilet to go all over my bathroom floor, or wait until Tuesday and get hold of the plans to find the pipe.

Since I thought I was going to have to pay for it myself until I could recoup the money from the land agent (which didn't end up happening, the plumber spoke directly with the land agent and sent the account straight to them, which was brilliant, and yet another reason I would highly recommend Ken Hall Plumbing), I chose to leave the issue until Tuesday morning when I could get hold of the land agent.

And I had to do all of this while relaying the same information multiple times to my next door neighbours.

When I managed to get hold of the land agent there was no explanation about why the emergency number wasn't being monitored and no apology for that, which I fully expected since they've been ongoingly useless for some time now.

I also needed to make about half a dozen phone calls to them to find out what was going on. Is it so hard for them to pick up the phone and say "the plumber says he'll be there around 11:30" or "we just called the plumber and he's still working on the problem, but he'll give you a call once he's finished" or "the plumber is on site, here's his number if you need to contact him"?

But no, what I got instead was a bunch of unclear responses (I spoke to three different people there, only one of whom was potentially helpful, but he didn't really know what was going on), and even when I asked them to call me once they knew something, I still had to call them again just before I left work.

Fortunately they gave me the plumber's number, so that's now saved in my phone just in case there is a situation like this in future, I'll just call the guy directly.

On the up side, because they did end up having to smash the toilet (an event I'm glad I wasn't here for), I now have a shiny new toilet... the downside was because they only installed it late yesterday afternoon I couldn't use it for 24 hours... so when I got home last night it was mostly installed, but the seat wasn't on and one of the pipes wasn't installed, partially, I think to stop me from using it before I was supposed to. But they came back this morning and finished it all off, so that's good. I think it's also smaller then the old one (or at least the lid is smaller, but I think the whole thing is).

What was slightly less fun was coming home last night and spending about 45 minutes cleaning the bathroom... while the plumbers had cleaned up as best they could, I pretty much pulled everything out of the bathroom and scrubbed the floors (and parts of the walls).

Whenever anything like that happens though, it always stresses me out a whole lot. Partly because I know having to deal with my land agent and plumber is always an exercise in aggravation. But more so this time because I couldn't get hold of the land agent and the issue was also affecting my neighbour so I had to interpret information for them and the fact that it wasn't like having no hot water or a problem that could easily be worked around... you need a functioning toilet, it's just a given.

I don't think my stress levels were helped by the fact that I didn't eat on Monday beyond breakfast... for obvious reasons.

But it was a vicious cycle... I was stressed, so I didn't want to eat, but not eating made me feel a little sick, which also added to my stress levels. And I didn't sleep terribly well either on Sunday night, which didn't help. So come Tuesday morning I was feeling pretty rubbish. Then because I knew I didn't have a working toilet for another 24 hours, I skipped dinner last night too. Not that skipping a couple of meals would kill me... but I feel like it's thrown my system out of whack a little.

I'm just thankful that I live in North Adelaide which is full of shops and restaurants and a service station and a cinema, all of which have bathrooms I could utilise if I absolutely needed to. If I lived out in suburbia, I don't know what the hell I would have done.

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