Hell's Bitchen

A sign from above (the shower)

By Kelly Kreth  |
August 30, 2012 - 10:12AM

About a month ago I noticed an odd wet spot on my bathroom ceiling. By the following day it had grown by 100 percent and become progressively darker. By the third day it was even bigger.

I contacted my landlord about the melanoma spreading across my bathroom ceilng, but being that he was out on leave getting a hip replaced, his colleague answered. He assured me he’d get a handyman to look at it but that it may take a while. 

Days passed and I was becoming sure that the image of Jesus would appear in my bathroom. [An image of the Virgin Mary just appeared in a tree in the little town in New Jersey where I grew up so this is not so farfetched. Although to me, that looked more like a vagina. I’m actually quoted in that town’s paper as saying that.] 

Finally Jesus came. And by Jesus, I mean our handyman, ironically named Jesus (but pronounced hay-Zoose). Jesus climbed a short ladder and touched the ceiling, whereupon he observed aloud that it was wet.

Inspector Clouseau has nothing on Jesus.

He poked around a bit and said he would go upstairs to the third floor to see if he could get the tenants there to let him in so he could see if a pipe had burst. 

After being up there a while he said he had concluded that it wasn’t a leak at all but rather they must have dumped some water on their bathroom floor. This made no sense to me as the leak was above my tub (and theirs.) 

He said he’d come in a few days once it dried to paint over the unsightly markings.

As an aside, in my last apartment I sneaked a washing machine in my unit that leaked and ultimately caused my landlord to have to replace the floor. The leakage got so bad that the wood under the stick-on tiles eroded making it turn to soil.

Every time I took a step mud would slosh up forming constant patterns on the floor. I often joked how it’d make a great sci-fi story to suggest that they would form patterns of numbers that would ultimately help me win the lottery. Kitchen floor as oracle—a million dollar story idea, I’m sure. 

In the next two days not only did the stain not dry, but it got bigger and now there were actual drippings coming from it.

The Lord was crying, and I felt like doing so also. I called the landlord’s colleague again and this time he sent Carlos, who took one look at said he knew for sure a pipe burst.

He went to the third floor but this time the tenants were not home (and he can't enter without their permission). There was nothing he could do without getting under their sink.

By now, three weeks had passed and while no one was making pilgrimages to see the bathroom miracle, I was getting frustrated.

My new apartment’s bathroom ceiling looked ungodly. Being neurotic about dirt,  I’d clean it daily with bleach, scrubbing off the mold that formed there nightly. 

I harassed Carlos via text and finally he got the third floor tenants to let him in, found the broken pipe, fixed it, and painted the ceiling over. The dark patches still showed through so he said he’d come back the following week when it was dry.

But it was not to be. The ceiling continued to leak making bubbles filled with water and had now travelled to the wall-joint leading to the kitchen.

I texted Carlos again and after another week had gone by he showed up. He concluded there must be TWO leaks. It was a leak conspiracy, after all. After hours of searching he found the second leak---in the FOURTH floor apartment. Finally patched, it took two weeks to dry and paint over.

It’s over and fixed….Hallelujah!



Kelly Kreth, recently returned to Hell’s Kitchen, chronicles her misadventures in her tenement-style walk-up in this bi-weekly BrickUnderground column, Hell’s Bitchen

See all Hell's Bitchen. 

Also by Kelly Kreth:

Hell's Bitchen: I vow never to move again

Hell's Bitchen: Meet my super, Aquavelva

15 things I've learned from 'Million Dollar Listing NY' so far

The 20 deadly sins NYC rental agents should never commit (but do)

Escape from the UES: Goodbye douchebaggery, hello Hell's Kitchen

Dear Neighbor: I am your worst nightmare

Living next to a bridge & tunnel club: KY Jelly wrestling, all-night noise, no regrets


Kelly Kreth

Contributing writer

Contributing writer Kelly Kreth has been a freelance journalist, essayist, and columnist for more than two decades. Her real estate articles have appeared in The Real Deal, Luxury Listings, Our Town, and amNewYork. A long-time New York City renter who loves a good deal, Kreth currently lives in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment in a luxury building on the Upper East Side.

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