Rising damp

You would think that living on the 3rd level would mean that you were immune to rising damp in the walls, right?

Wrong.

A couple of weeks ago the paint started flaking off the wall that divides the bathroom from the hall. Or rather, this evil white mould started growing out of the wall and literally pushed the paint off the wall. It started in one spot and then it spread to the laundry cupboard. It wouldn’t be the first laundry cupboard that had a damp problem so I kind of ignored it. I realised I would not be able to store sheets and stuff in there and simply decided to compromise by storing things that would not be affected by the smell or a bit of damp (cleaning products, brooms and mops, that kind of stuff.)

After it stunk out the laundry cupboard it spread to the hallway which was adjacent to the laundry cupboard. But it only really started to scare me when in jumped.

After a few weeks I found traces of it on opposite wall of the hall, near the front door.

Then it jumped again. This time it jumped across the kitchen entry way and started into the living room. It also stared coming up between the floor tiles in this new area. I was now pretty concerned because I figured the cats would stand in it and probably die of penicillin poisoning or something. This was some super-evil looking white mould that was growing at 5mm per 24 hours. Every day I would sweep it with soft broom into a small spade and throw it out. It smelled rank.

De Evil Mould (notice how the spores fall onto the skirting and the floor tiles).

De Evil Mould (notice how the spores fall onto the skirting and the floor tiles).

Up until this point I had assumed that it was a fact of life in Dubai, and since I had paid my rent one year in advance I’d better suck it up and deal. I’d even devised what I thought was an ingenious containment solution which involved sticking plastic sticky contact over the wall where the damp was. This locked out the oxygen which stopped the spores growing any further. It also blocked the smell and stopped the spores getting into the air, and consequently our lungs.

Then it entered the bedroom. Oh hell no! There was no way I was sleeping in a moudly bedroom. I was born an asthmatic and even though it is well controlled, and I rarely suffer from attacks, this is precisely the kind of thing that asthmatics need to avoid. I wasn’t having it.

Coincidentally, shortly thereafter it broke through our wall and started coming out the other side of the wall, in the public hallway. It was ugly, smelly and very visible. ‘That’s good’, thought I. ‘Now they’ll have to do something about it’.

So I wrote to the landlord who lives in Pakistan. He seems very reasonable. He arranged for the building maintenance engineers to come and inspect it. Naturally they turned up without first making an appointment. I wasn’t in but they left me a note. Today they returned for the inspection. Its hard for me to tell if the guy was simply incompetent, afraid of getting in trouble, or trying to save his company money by saying nothing was wrong. All I know is that at the end of hte visit I felt like I’d had my first real taste of the famed Middle East fuck up.

‘There is no water here, says the allegedly qualified plumber. ‘I fixed it last time. I will send someone to paint the walls again.’

Me: ‘The walls were painted fresh when we arrived and this mould is growing from the wall’ I show him the white fluffy mould coming out of the wall and brush it off onto the floor. ‘And what about these droplets here. That’s water’

Him: ‘No water here. I will send painters’

I’m thinking to myself, ‘Anyone that can look at droplets of water and say, ‘No water here’ is not worth arguing with so lets just close this off and I’ll go back to the landlord and he can fight this fight.’

Then I remember the floor. I show him the floor and say, while running my finger along the grouting and then showing him my white mouldy finger, “And what about the floor? What do you suggest we do about that” (In my mind I added ‘fuckwit’ to the end of that sentence.)

Him: ‘Clean it?’

LOL How did I never think of that? I’m telling you. This guy was a virtual genius!

Anydumbdumb, tonight I filled the bath and then sat on the couch for a while. Later, I went in to take a bath and yikes! Water everywhere all over the floor. It was bubbling up through the grouting. Also, the bath was now half-empty. Bingo! The bath was obviously leaking at the drain and the water was running under the bathroom floor and thats why the first wall in the hallway to get damaged was the wall between the bathroom and the hall.

I sent another update to the landlord letting him know what had happened.

I said to Richard, ‘I wonder what is happening to the ceiling of the apartment underneath us? Maybe we should go and see them’.
‘They’ll contact us if they have water coming in’, says he.

At that very second the front door bell rings. Guess who has come to see us? The underneath tenants… looking a little concerned and bamboozled. When he told me who he was I gave him a great big smile and said, ‘I know exactly why you’re here!’ This seem to frighten him even more (unsurprisingly).

I took his details and have sent yet another message to the landlord saying he has water coming through to the downstairs apartment etc etc

… to be continued.

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