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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Fixing Stuff

Somehow, the Cairo Condo seems to need a lot of maintenance.

We encountered a fair number of problems upon arrival this year.
  • After restarting our Internet DSL service, it was very intermittent
  • The satellite dish displayed no channels
  • One toilet was leaking - we soon discovered that the kitchen sink drain was too
  • A light switch jammed in the off position - followed by a second and a third!

The Internet problem was simple to solve.  Do you remember that big wad of wire that I had leftover from our telephone installation?

I never did fasten it securely.  Apparently the wind blew it loose from its position wedged into our balcony railing and it was dangling a few feet below.  I pulled it up,wedged it back into place and re-twisted the wire connections.  Problem solved.

The satellite dish appeared to have drifted off-target.  This took a bit longer to fix since it requires two people with working local cellphones - one to aim it while out on the balcony with the wrench and another for the "watcher" in the living room with the TV.  I should have brought my satellite strength meter with me.  Of course, I have one - doesn't everyone?

The plumbing was going to need professional help.  We put in a request for a plumber.  Like most things, plumbing is done differently in Egypt.  Our plumber was a daytime plumber who "moonlights" small jobs in the evening.  He showed up around 8 p.m. and diagnosed the problem under the sink as failed plaster.

Let me explain that.  Connections from the fixtures to the building plumbing pipes are made by inserting a flexible plastic pipe into the wall pipe and filling any gap with plaster or cement.  I sort of like 3M or Dap caulk for this job myself, but the local plumbers insist that it doesn't hold up.  Well, we had one of each type leaking.

Like all tradesmen in Cairo, our plumber brought his tools in a cloth bag.  It is important to know this because he is going to set it and his tools someplace, like on your dining room table, as soon as he arrives.

After examining the problem, he announced a need for some "white cement" and  some "gypsum".  You didn't expect that he would bring the necessary materials to fix a leak did you?

While we had tea with the plumber, a friend headed out to the local hardware store and came back with a kilogram of white cement and a kilogram of gypsum.  A mixture of these would be used to re-caulk the joints.

In case you were wondering, the gypsum is used to accelerate the setting of the cement.  This allows the joint to dry in minutes instead of several hours.

It was only a short time before he had the old caulking cleaned out and new caulking in place.  It is holding up very well so far.  And, I have almost a full kilo of cement and of gypsum left for the next time a plumber is needed, which we anticipate with some certainty in the future.

We will take up the light switches in a separate post.


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