Thursday, December 1, 2011

Not, in hot water

OK, this is going to sound like a rant but I figure I’ve been nice enough to you Canadians for long enough. I’ve been pleasant about your countryside and your food (although I’ve steered clear of your penchant for poutine). I’ve yarned favourably about your sport, cars and weather. I’ve penned platitudes about you people for so long that I’m fit to burst: like a high pressure water pipe with a tiny crack in it, I’m going drip, drip, drip, just ready to blow.

And that’s how my current bad mood began, with a dripping pipe. Drip, drip, drip it went from somewhere behind my bath, seeping into the ceiling of my downstairs washroom. It was undetectable at first but, just like my temper, it began to seep out.

Eventually, a bubble formed behind the thick layer of dark burgundy paint that the previous owner had thought fit to slather all over the washroom walls. I investigated. I popped said bubble and the water gushed out, revealing sodden drywall and a leak from above.

OK, I thought, let’s fix this thing. I jogged up to the bathroom to find the source of the problem, gauged the situation, and, after a couple more trips up and down, guesstimated that the leak was coming from behind the bath.

OK, I thought once again, let’s fix this thing; my mood still bright and breezy. And then it hit me. There was no way of getting behind the bath. The beige acrylic all-in-one bath and shower module installed in my home (by the previous owner) was, I’m sure, a marvel akin to technologies such as the Space Shuttle on its invention in the late 1960s. Formed by layer upon layer of fibreglass into a granite hard shell, I can just picture the awe it inspired to a generation of Jetson wannabees. To me, on the other hand, it presented a problem. How to get to my leak?

Now, in the land of my birth every bath tub has a removable front panel. And I mean every bath tub, it’s the law. Whether a stand alone model or some fancy affair with whirlpool attachments and a multiple headed shower for that all over clean sandblasted type feeling, they all have a panel. Alright, may be it isn’t the law but it’s the norm. And, it should be the law, worldwide, because it allows you to peak behind the tub without having to rip the bathroom apart! But oh no, not in Canada. Here, you like your tubs moulded in one piece: forget that they might leak from time to time!

I approached the knowledgeable folk at our local hardware store and got the helpful advice: “You’ll have to take the washroom ceiling out.” FOR A LEAK! “Or, you could cut a hole through the side wall, from the stairway.” Again, FOR A LEAK!


I opted to do neither and instead I took the bath out. Oh did I take the bath out!

We (the father-in-law and I) ripped all of the timber edging strips from around the bath; pulled down the bulkhead and diagonal timber paneling (previous owner!!!) from above; disconnected the taps, shower attachment and associated gubbins and heaved. Would the bath move? Like hell it would!

“They must have built the house around this freekin’ thing,” I sneered. And then it dawned on me that they had. Too tall to fit through the door, too wide to fit through the timber studs of the wall: they had put the bath in place and then built around it.


Of the lowest order.

I hit it with a hammer. The reverberations temporarily deafened us but the bath stood firm. We drilled holes and attacked it with a hack saw: the effect, like cutting bedrock with a butter knife. We eventually went back to the hardware store and purchased power tools. Only then did the bath yield.

Slowly, we sawed the bath into chunks small enough to be carried from the room; all the while coughing and spitting fibreglass dust. The extraction, like some mammoth root canal operation, took an entire day but by the end of it my anger at the idiotic design of this Canadian tub had subsided; turning instead into elation at a job finally complete.

“Best check on that leak now,” said the father-in-law.

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