Friday, March 1, 2013

Return of the haunted bathroom or Ritorno del bagno stregata

If you don't remember our haunted bathroom click here to read about it. If nothing else the illustrations are awesome. But for those who don't want to invest time in actually reading I'll provide a short recap. Every time we have visitors coming the plumbing in our apartment goes all Exorcist on us, complete with strange sounds, disgusting liquids, and mysterious events that make no sense whatsoever.

This time, granted, things started getting weird waaay before our company is scheduled to visit. As soon as she contacted me with her intention to come and stay with us for a few days the madness started.

First we had to turn on the heat, which here is in fact plumbing. Unfortunately we already knew last year that the ignition for  the boiler needed cleaning so every time the boiler does its start up it sounds exactly like those spontaneous fires that start in movies. This year instead of the single whooosh that signals the start of the cycle we hear a series of whooshes, sometimes as many as seven. All day and all night with surprising frequency. Did I mention that the boiler is in the kitchen? Kind of annoying but not life threatening so it will wait for better days to get fixed.

Then the toilet began its little mutiny, refusing to stop running no matter how much we jiggled the little button in the wall. It started as a little trickle and just kept growing till finally it would run freely, constantly. Leif started turning the water off and on as flushing was required. (he's the only one tall enough) Then we decided to give up on that and just use our blue bucket to flush because the cheap plastic seat and cover threatened to break from his weight. Thank goodness my farm upbringing taught me to work with what we have, not with what we want. Our plan is to find someone with a super tall ladder we can borrow (the ladder, not the someone) and replace all the inside stuff. Someday. But for now, while we have company, we'll turn on the water and flush with great abandon. We can just say it's a state of  the art, self-flushing, self-cleaning toilet.

When we were a week away from company (Monday) the drains stopped working again. Very reminiscent of the last times complete with ugly water and strange smells. Actually, it started with the one sink we've never had trouble with, the bathroom vanity. Obviously Leif's manly stubble and shaving cream simply became too much for the ancient plumbing to move out. So we got out our handy bottle of Disgorgante (isn't that just an awesome name?) and poured a generous amount into the drain and ran for the hallway as the smoke started filling the room. Good thing we have experience, Leif had already opened the window to let out the worst of the smell and smoke. I'm not even kidding here, the stuff smokes.

Later we went in to flush the drain. It was still plugged so he (brave man) poured more in and ran. This time we were successful and the sink ran like it was meant to....but water started coming up the bathtub again. We didn't get rid of the plug, we only moved it. Sadly, it lodged where it affected all the drains in the house, again. It wasn't end-of-the-world plugged, just annoyingly slow to drain. So we left it be, mostly because we had used up the last of our Italian drain cleaner and didn't  feel like going out and finding more.

During this last attempt on the vanity sink we lost water pressure. Then we lost water. The timing couldn't have been worse. We had pipes of an indeterminate age and material filled with chemicals that eat through absolutely everything and no way to flush those chemicals out or even dilute them somewhat. Adding to the stress level is the fact that every time the water mysteriously shuts off (yes, it happens often enough to have an emergency plan) we have to turn the electric hot water heater off because, for unknown reasons, it doesn't have a one way valve at the inlet and when we lose water pressure all the water drains out. Ten minutes later the water came back on (again mysteriously) and we were able to get the chemicals out of the drain.

I had resigned myself to finally having to give that care-and-feeding of the bathroom speech that I had prepared almost two years ago....but wait! After doing one load of laundry (even though I thought it was pushing things a little too much) everything works fine. My very German side wants to know why, why, why does it work now and how can we repeat this the next time it happens? My rapidly growing Italian side has already shrugged her shoulders, thrown up a small grazie to the universe and accepted that there are things in this world we humans aren't meant to understand like God and plumbing.

Of course, our guest doesn't arrive till Monday night so there's still plenty of time for more bathroom drama but I'm  hopeful that the universe, in her infinite wisdom and with tons of compassion, will decide I've had enough and allow us to make it through the next week without mishap. What do you suppose my chances are?

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