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So yesterday was kind of split down the middle in terms of how I like to spend a Sunday. I had nowhere to go, nothing I absolutely had to do, and my husband took the kids to Coney Island right after lunch, leaving me with an empty house. I popped a bag of popcorn, grabbed a Diet Dr Pepper and my Kindle, and settled in on the couch to read the last four chapters of a really good book. Then I reached for my laptop and wrote about the book. Then I just leaned back right where I was and took a little nap. I don’t think I moved from the couch for about four hours. It was heavenly.
When my family got home a bit after six I decided that it was time to do the job I’d been dreading for months, re-caulking the upstairs bathroom. This is our only bathroom with a tub or shower, so the timing has to be just right: the next day nobody can bathe, and this being a holiday weekend it was perfect. My husband could go shower at his work gym, and the kids – who have no school today – could just be a little stinky. We aren’t going anywhere, it doesn’t matter. I can just send them into another room when the smell becomes unbearable.
Of course, while I was doing the caulk – which at this point was black with mold in many spots – I might as well clean the grout, too, which hadn’t been deep-cleaned in the five years since it was put in, and the ceiling, which had started developing mold about a year ago. If there’s one thing I know about mold it’s that it keeps coming back if you don’t get it all, so I thought I would just take care of everything at once.
I stripped naked (didn’t want to get bleach on my clothes), put on a shower cap (or on my hair) and safety glasses (or my eyes), grabbed the bleach and a sponge, and balanced myself on the side of the tub, holding onto the shower rod for dear life (since the moldy part of the ceiling is over the tub I can’t reach it with a ladder). How I didn’t fall is really a mystery, since I’m the clumsiest person on the planet. An hour later, the ceiling was free of mold, and I moved onto the grout, which took just as long but did not involve me almost falling and breaking my neck. Plus I got to use a fun little gadget.
Then I had to remove the old caulk and let the space dry overnight. Now, I’m not going to go into the completely convoluted way our bathtub is set up, except to say that our architect made a monumental mistake (which I apparently OKd, not knowing what I was OKing), necessitating a fake-Corian deck around the top of the tub to prevent shower water from running onto the floor instead of into the tub and down the drain. This is not an easy space to caulk, and there’s a couple inches of empty space between the deck and parts of the tub. Caulk had to be removed from the top of the deck where it meets the wall, and the bottom of the deck where it meets the tub. And last night I discovered that the space between had become filled with black mold. I’d had so much trouble keeping the caulk clean these last few months because the mold was coming up from underneath!
So, I was doing my best to clean that space out (a space I couldn’t see, by the way). I was flushing it with hot water as carefully as I could and jamming a sponge in there, but I realized after a few minutes that I was flooding the bathroom floor: with the caulk gone we were back to our original problem of the water not flowing into the tub. I reached for the handle to turn the water off, and heard my husband screaming “Stop! Stop!” and running up the stairs. The water from the bathroom floor was flooding the room below, a storage room that would someday also be a bathroom, but for now only had pipes and a bunch of our crap in it. Our wet crap, thanks to me.
About fifteen towels later, I threw in the proverbial towel and just went to bed, bathroom a disaster and mold still probably thriving under the deck. Today not only will I have to caulk the tub and clean the bathroom, but also go through that storage room to see what was damaged. Fun way to spend a holiday.
Some day we have to get that tub replaced, but it’s a monumental job. It’s not a standard sized tub (unusually wide and deep), so if we don’t find another one the same size the fixtures won’t be in the right place. The entire thing is framed in tile, and attached to tile shower walls, and we’re told it will be difficult to rip out part of the tile and then get new tile to match up again. And, you know, we don’t have the money. There are about seventy other much more pressing things that need to be done the next time we do have the money, like getting electricity on the second floor or replacing some windows that are falling apart.
For now, I’m just going to seal the mold in as well as I can and hope it takes a while to creep back out. Lovely.
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