The Cost of Having Water Pour Through a Crack In Your Bathroom Wall


[UPDATE: My landlord just told me she is going to pay for my hotel costs. Yay for good landlords!]

One of the best parts of working from home is that you notice things like, say, water pouring through a crack in your bathroom wall, right away.

Then you get to figure out what to do about it.

The pedants among us will say “it wasn’t actually water pouring out of a crack in your wall, it was water pouring out of a crack in the particleboard back to your vanity,” but I argue that if it is the only thing separating you from brick, it counts as a wall.

The first thing you do is carefully take your toothpaste and toothbrush and everything else out of your vanity, wipe it off with a Lysol disinfecting wipe, and put it far away from the water.

Then you call the landlord.

The landlord checks it out and then brings in a plumber, and you explain to them both that every time you hear a toilet flush or a sink run upstairs, water comes pouring out of this crack in the wall behind your vanity.

Both of them assure you that you can sit in your apartment and continue working while the plumber solves the problem, but you go to a coffee shop instead. ($2.50.)

Two hours later you come home to find the back of your vanity has been removed (pictured above) and when you talk to your landlord you learn there’s no set date/time for when they’re going to fix that. Well, okay, fine, you close up the vanity and stuff tinfoil into the gap around the vanity doorframe to keep out the dusty smell currently emanating from your wall hole.

Then you start cleaning up and making a lot of jokes about wall holes on Twitter.

Then you hear someone run a faucet in an upstairs apartment.

Then you realize the underlying problem was not solved.

You call your landlord and leave a message, and try to figure out what you are going to do about the water that is currently pouring out of your wall hole. One of your friends reminds you that you have renters insurance now, to which you reply, on Twitter, “DING DING DING DING DING DING” and then everyone jokes about how they’re going to read about this on The Billfold, because, well, they know you.

The first step is documenting the problem. Because you are a Millennial, you use Vine. (Also, because it’s the only way you can figure out how to make your phone take a video.)

Then you pack an overnight bag and book a room at the Hilton ($208, plus another $10 for Wi-Fi) because it is the cheapest hotel you can find within walking distance.

Then you realize you’ll need to make a stop at the Walgreens and buy one of every toiletry ($71.05) since another friend warned you that the water coming through your wall is probably unsafe to touch (you’ve already spent much of the afternoon cleaning it up, but there’s nothing you can do about that now) and you decide you should probably buy a new toothbrush and toothpaste and moisturizer tube and all the rest of it.

So now it’s the next morning, and you’re—I mean, let’s be serious, I’m—at the Hilton getting work done and not letting housekeeping clean my room. I called my landlord again, on both the office and cell numbers, told her the water was still pouring out of my wall and I was in a hotel, and asked her to let me know whether the problem would be fixed by this evening.

Then I’ll get to figure out how to submit this claim to my insurer. According to Geico, I’ll need to call them today and probably should have called them yesterday as soon as the water started coming out of my wall. They also advise “Don’t begin clearing, cleaning or performing other tasks until you have authorization from the insurance company,” which makes sense, but when your landlord and a plumber both say “oh, you don’t even have to leave your apartment, we’ll get this fixed right now,” you don’t think it’s that big of a deal (or that the water is necessarily unsafe or worth documenting).

I’ll keep you all up-to-date on the details, and thank you to everyone who suggested I get renters insurance, because after a decade of living in apartments it looks like I’m in a position where I actually need it.



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