The Mystery of the Cold Floor


#sol17- April 4, 2017

I live in Malaysia and you can bank on the weather being hot. I also live with a cat, so I leave the ceiling fan on in the living room during the day because otherwise, it is so hot I would worry about her. Imagine my surprise last week when I came home, took off my shoes and left them in the shoe closet outside my apartment door, and stepped inside to notice that a few of the floor tiles were cold- really cold.

I really thought no more about it, after deciding that maybe I had a new downstairs neighbor who really airconditioned their apartment to such a level that I was getting some benefit in my place. For the next few days I noticed the cold tiles again, but no problem. Then on Wednesday night, I noticed moisture on the cold tiles. It looked like condensation- lots of small droplets on the tiles, with nothing in the grout between the tiles and no obvious leak from above. Weird! I was puzzled and did not want the water to damage anything so I texted the air conditioning service person I had used in December to do my semi-annual air conditioning service visit, to make sure it was not anything air conditioning related. I discovered that cranking up my ac kept the water at bay.

Saturday morning he arrived with a ladder, some tools, and his assistant. After a brief check in the air conditioning above the water, he declared the system sound. He had a humidity reader that told him the level in the apartment was normal. He also had some kind of laser thermometer which showed that indeed the temperature of a few of the large floor tiles was a few degrees cooler than the others. He was perplexed. He phoned his friend, a plumber, who proposed that maybe there was a leaking pipe under the floor. Apparently,  sand surrounds floor pipes and is there to absorb some water. When the sand is “too full” of water it has to go somewhere. This sounded strange to me, but I am no expert, so I immediately stopped using water in the bathroom nearest the cold tiles and texted my landlord. I went downstairs thinking I might knock on the door and see if they had noticed any water issues, but the apartment had clearly not been occupied yet, as there was still plastic on the door. Then I wondered if the agent had perhaps shown the place recently and turned the ac on quite a low temperature to cool it quickly for visitors and forgotten to turn it off upon leaving.

After describing the situation to my landlady she said she would send “uncle”, a master plumber, over after lunch. Uncle is a term of respect for an older Chinese man here in Malaysia. I waited and waited, and just before 3 got a message that “uncle” was afraid to leave home since it was raining so hard near his home (I think because that meant that traffic would be bad, but…). I reinforced to her that I was worried that the water may end up damaging her property or the apartment downstairs and she promised that he would be by in the morning. I kept running the air conditioning at a quite cool temperature, so that gave me some peace of mind.

The next morning she texted me that he was near and then asked that I go down and meet him to get him past security. She told me that he did not speak a word of English and that I could communicate with him via sign language and call her for translation as needed. Uncle was indeed elderly and drove up on his motor bike. He carried no tools, no equipment- nada! After patting the tiles by hand he called the landlady. He told her it must be condensation from the apartment below because there was no sign of water damage on the walls (I think something must have been lost in translation here, but that is all she repeated back to me). She said they would contact the apartment management company early Monday morning to see if they could get someone to go into the apartment downstairs and see if the problem was there. I told her that I would keep my ac running to minimize the water, but she said there was no need (I ignored her- I did not want water everywhere).

By Monday morning my landlady had started a Whatsapp group for me, her husband, and their agent, so that we could all know what was happening. After they contacted management they discovered that a few other apartments had had similar issues. They would try to contact the owners or property agent for the condo. I told her again that I would leave the ac running and she responded with several confusing messages. Throughout the day my phone had many notifications. The landlord was frustrated that they could not reach the management company again (I could have told them that the company is like a black hole). The agent suggested a plumber she had worked with for another property and was ready to make an appointment when the landlord suggested we wait until we heard from management again.

Tuesday I left for work with some water on the floor, so reduced the temperature again. At the end of the school day, I had a message waiting- “…She has contacted the owner of the unit below, and the assistant came to switch off the aircond. It appears that the aircond has been left running for the past 5 days, causing dampness to the ceiling. Erika, let me know if the problem persists.”

Yippee- now I am hopeful that the “problem” is fixed. Of course, there is still the question of construction- how can the ac downstairs affect my apartment so much- that seems sketchy, but for now I am hoping that this is the last of the mysterious puddles!



********Totally unrelated: Some of my students wanted to continue slicing and wanted to share their slices- I promised I would link them on the bottom of my weekly slices, more may or may not appear throughout the day. Grade 3 Slicers: Zhi Hong did not know he would get some surprises!

8 thoughts on “The Mystery of the Cold Floor

  1. Wow, Erika, what a detailed story of this slice of your life. You certainly made a great diagnosis. It sounds like it was exactly what you thought. I’m sure you will be all back to normal now.

    Well done,

  2. I honestly thought you were going to say that your cat had found a way to get to the ice cubes and was cooling off the floor itself 😉 That would be just like a cat! I’m glad that your mystery has been solved!

  3. What an odd problem, and such a circuitous route to get it fixed! Glad it could finally be explained, and without a lot of damage done.

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