Flush It Friday: That Sinking Ceiling

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The joys of apartment life.

Apartment living: It’s pretty much a fact of life. Most of you reading this either currently live in an apartment or have lived in an apartment at some point. Yay weak economies and stagnating wages! It has its pros, like not needing to take care of the lawn or paying for repairs, and its cons, like noisy neighbors living below people who apparently feel the need to jump as much as possible and waiting for repairs to be done.

I had been living in the same apartment with my girlfriend for over four years. It was a pretty small floor/basement level apartment that was right next to the laundry room. It wasn’t great, but it was affordable and close to where we worked. There had been some minor issues with the place, but nothing that wasn’t eventually fixed or replaced. At the same time, both of us got better paying jobs and were casually looking to move to a better apartment. That casual attitude changed to “oh my god we have to get out of here” just a few days before both of our birthdays.

The Bad: Early this past June, I came home from work to find my apartment door open. My girlfriend was still at work, so I went into my apartment ready to punch any and all things. Thankfully, there was no one in the apartment and nothing was missing, but I saw that some furniture had been moved. I also noticed that the carpet throughout the entire apartment was wet. Living room, bed room, hallway, closet floors all wet. Many parts of the ceiling had water stains and even some of the walls had the tell-tale marks of water dripping down. What the fuck?

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The carpet shouldn’t be that dark.

It turns out that the apartment above mine had a pipe burst and all the water that came pouring out soaked through their floor and down into my apartment. The company that owns the apartment had called someone to soak up the water in their apartment and he had come into our apartment to see the damage. The company did not inform us that this had happened or that someone had been allowed into our apartment. Fucked up, right?

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I tried frantically to get stuff off the floor and move things to the few dry spots left in the apartment. That’s when I noticed a slight drip coming from the ceiling. A drip that started to get faster and faster.

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Yeah, the ceiling isn’t supposed to bulge like that.

The Ugly: My girlfriend, who had left work early to help me deal with the clusterfuck, was on the phone with the insurance company when it happened. A section of the living room ceiling, weakened by all the water, collapsed. Boom! Down goes the ceiling.

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Exhausted and terrified that more of the ceiling would collapse, we spent the night in a hotel (which the landlord company would not pay for) and spent both of our birthdays at my girlfriend’s mother’s house.

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The company was unresponsive and unsympathetic. Despite the fact that there was now a giant gaping hole in our ceiling, the landlord took over a week to clean up the mess and fix the hole. Of course, that didn’t fix the problem of the carpet retaining all the water and the wonderful smell of mold soon encompassed everything in the apartment. How would the landlord fix this? Replace all of it? Oh, no, they’ll just have the guy clean the carpet again, but in order for him to clean it, we would have to get everything off of the carpet. Everything. In one day, I managed to get all of the furniture, including dressers full of clothes and our bed, off the carpet and out of the apartment.

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The results of the carpet cleaning were negligible. The place still stunk of mold, the doors in the apartment wouldn’t close properly because they had expanded from the water, the wet insulation in the ceiling was not replaced, and the rest of the ceilings in the apartment were badly water-stained. We had to throw out some clothes and some furniture. To top it all off, we had apartment insurance, but they wouldn’t pay out because the damage didn’t meet their minimum monetary requirements. Happy fucking birthday to us.

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The Good: It took about three long months, but we managed to find an apartment that is better in every possible way. We now have a lot more room, we’re on the top floor, and this new company is responsive and quick on repairs. Though it was an incredibly frustrating few months, we are now free from the basement and the shitastic company that gave minimal fucks. For those of you living in an apartment, I hope you don’t have to go through this and that all your problems are taken care of quickly. Sound off in the comments below about your apartment horror stories. Let’s commiserate together and hope for a day when we all live in nice houses with white picket fences.

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