Living arrangement

Leak Hunter

11:15 AM

Water seepage! If there is one constant I had to deal with in every flats I lived in since moving to India, that would be this one.
Simply put you can’t avoid it, you can move to a nice modern higher end building and you will still end up or having to deal with a fresh leak or see traces left by old ones behind. Old or new the building WILL leak, some more badly or frequently than other, but this is the one thing you can’t really escape, which is rather funny because for a country where rain only comes during one specific season, constructions seem far more affected than the ones in Switzerland were rain is an all year occurrence thing, and while in Switzerland it’s older buildings that tend to suffer from that ill, it’s the exact opposite in India, the older the building I lived in was the less leaks I had to deal with, move into a fancy less than 5 years old apartment building and you are sure to be dealing with big ones. The reason being that developers in their quest to make a quick buck are just about ready to cut cost and everything down to the quality of the materials used to build the whole thing.

The current building in which we are staying is 10 years old, so not super old, but still built at a time were developers had humans in mind when they built apartment buildings, which is why our place is significantly bigger than what is being build now.
The problem is that 10 years of age is enough for a building to start showing signs of ageing. And normally that is when the society cooperative should kick in and maintain the property, which has been done to some fair extent recently with the management commissioning a big external walls fixing and repainting. Our building looks all new and spiffy with it’s new colours on, the problem is that the plumbing inside the walls is still the original and pretty much left alone.
When we visited the flat last December, one of the bedroom had signs of an old long ago dried out leak, so did the utility area, but as I said these are just so common in house in India that we didn’t let it stop us from liking the place (it was the nicest of all the places we visited anyway).
Fast forward to 3 weeks ago when I posted this on a wall in my living room :


DSC02737

The picture is not really doing it justice, sorry about that. But that leak is on a tiny narrow wall by the side of the balcony door. My first thought was that the AC pipes were leaking, but we haven’t even used that AC once, and the leak appears only on that side of the wall and not the other, the other puzzling factor is that this is a wall where no water pipes are encased in, yet the wall is massively damp to the touch suggesting a steady flow of water seeping in, and until recently it was gaining abut an inch a day. For days we asked neighbours if they changed plumbing in their homes or noticed the seepage in their flat, we are on the 3rd floor and nobody above have noticed a leak in their own flats in the same place, however they all reported crazy leaks in the past few weeks in their bathrooms or some bedrooms, so turns out we aren’t the only one plagued by leaks we can’t even figure out the source of.
We approached the society manager with the problem, he whined that he was fed up hearing the same type of complaints from everybody in the building and refused to investigate. So pissed off I did try to trace the leak, more or less unsuccessfully I must admit, my only leads were a few sudden big bulging blisters in the external wall paint job completed a few months ago. So much so that it could be totally possible that a draining pipe is faulty somewhere and the water has been leaking in a crack where nobody can see it for months, and thanks to the waterproof paint the water stayed trapped inside the wall forced to find it’s way through every possible creases and crack and seeped out where it could, anywhere it could.
Acrylic paint suddenly blistering away from the wall it was supposed to adhere to only means one thing: water got in. So if water piled up there and could not escape that meant it had to slowly build up and escape somewhere else: my living room wall. So I took a nice pointy knife and cut all the blisters I could reach on the external wall, immediately getting heaps of water out. The instant result? The leak inside my wall stopped growing an inch a day, on day 3 it started slowly drying out at the bottom, and I now have hopes that most of it will be gone within a few weeks since the burst blisters also just stopped dripping 2 days ago.
meanwhile my landlord got informed of the leak and sent the pictures I took of the extent of the leak, and announced to us at the start of the week that he complained to the society cooperative, whether his voice was louder than the others or not I have no idea, right now I am still keeping an eye on that  seepage which hasn’t started to grow mold, thankfully, but is starting to look like a “Grow your own crystals” experiment.
Less damp is definitely an improvement in my book, even if the process from less damp to completely dry could take weeks. No one has offered to have a look at the problem or taken care to speed up the drying out process, making me far from feeling guilty from peeling away acrylic paint blisters off a newly repainted wall. If the society management wants to ignore resident’s reports and complaints then they should not even think of coming to complain about what residents are forced to do to protect their belongings and their health.
This has been the one thing that has been keeping me somewhat alert during this heat…now if you excuse me, back to just lying down and waiting for the monsoon to strike (hopefully leaving my wall alone)

7 comments

  1. No fun! I'm sure i'll be facing this when we move in on Monday! Hopefully not too soon as the building is only a few years old... like maybe 2?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well the NRI complex phase 2 building in whcih I was staying in 2010 was brand new and not even fully occupied yet and was already plagued with water seepage, brand new buildings aren't immune to it, lots of developper use low quality building material and botch up the work for what is not visible. The places I had the least problem with leaks and seepage in walls and ciellings were in flats that were inside independant houses in Chennai and Bangalore, simply because the owner of the house is the sole party responsible for the health of his building's structure and do the necessary early.
    The monsoon is the peak water and mold issue time, my advice is to keep the place as ventilated as you can during the monsoon to prevent the mold issues. Because then everything will be damp. My maid in Navi Mumbai said to shut all windows during the monsoon, which is by far the most stupid advice ever, the day she shut the windows in my bedroom and I didn't notice was the day I went into the bedroom in the evening to find my whole bed soggy and my bedside table lamp completely green with fungus. In 12 hours of shut windows!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beatrix1:20 PM

    Every place I've ever lived in India and Nepal has had horrible drainage issues.
    Most houses and apartment buildings have flat roofs where water tends to accumulate & just stand- then slowly 'percolates' through the concrete structure ending in peeling paint, mould & the 'grow your own crystals' phenomenon.

    Then add that there never seems to be adequate drainage around the property outside either, water is often standing in puddles rather than draining away which is a great breeding spot for mosquitoes & slimy algaes & moulds too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh my! This is one of the few things I can thankfully say I never had to see or deal with in Amritsar. I'm not sure if it was just our house or not though. I know the North doesn't typically have the same moisture issues as Mumbai seems to so maybe that helps. That and Papa ji is very determined to keep the house in good shape so maybe he patched all the leaks as he found them, I don't know. I just can't imagine having to deal with this and getting to a place where you feel like it's almost normal to see these things. Yikes!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have seen less of this problem happening in Independently owned house, because the owner has a direct control over the whole property, it becomes nasty in many appartment buildings though.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yep and in my building that's not just the roof that can percolate water in the whole structure, the architect thought it was a cute idea to put what is called "flower beds" past each windows, the problem is that windows have bars on so noway anybod can dream of putting potted plants in these, they are just about 2-3 feet wide water traps nobody can clean or access, many who own the flats they live in did break the window wall and take tese damned flower beds in to make their room bigger, for all the other this is a mosquito breeding trap coupled with a water seepage dispenser. The AC units usually drip water in these, and I would not be surprise to see that it is exactly what is happening somewhere above me, the painters have apparently "waterproofed" the flower beds, which really is just putting water resistant paint on them, all it takes is one missed spot, one tiny crack and water falling in the right spot and then water damages the whole structure totally going undetected until it creates the mess I have on my living room wall. :(

    ReplyDelete
  7. apple6:21 PM

    Leakage is a big problem in mult storey buildings due to the drainage pipe passing alongside many floors. Sometimes, moisture from the roof also percolates down. In our society, we made a rule that no matter whether the leak comes from, all the people from the particular block have to share the expense equally as it affects the structural integrity of the whole building. Though it is easier said than done.


    Much of it is due to poor plumbing and gaps between pipes or inadequate size of the pipes. We had to get our two bathrooms renovated and share the expense for the bathroom for the upstairs flat. The fact, is that relatively good building material is used for the apartments but poor quality is used for electrical fittings and plumbing where money can be earned. Many common people especially living in govt accommodations simply do not have any understanding about these things, as govt flats are looked after by govt agencies.

    ReplyDelete

Follow me on Instagram

Blog Archive