Sometimes, if Things Get Broken in Romania, They Remain Broken

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One of the reasons why I chose apartment living here in Romania was the fact that everything related to maintenance was easier and I didn’t have to do it: the manager would deal with the problems while I sip my coffee in the comfort of my nicely heated living room. Well, it appears that I was a bit wrong – or at least terribly unlucky – and things are not as simple when you’re living in Romania. Where, apparently, if things get broken, they are left broken.

Ever since we moved in – and we only have two months of living here – we’ve had our fair share of problems, all of them unexpected: condensation became a real problem for our balcony because the lady below doesn’t have her closed and ours gets too hot, while her remains cold because, umm, it’s winter outside! But we learned to deal with this, we take care of it daily and in the end decided to take it as a minor problem.

Until other crazy things started to happen. Two days ago, the pipe that brought us hot water (well, not only to us, but the entire building) decided to crack and as a result, we have no hot water for two days now. And let me remind you something: it’s friggin’ WINTER outside! I must admit, a team immediately reported to the area and apparently fixed the leaking pipe – but ever since they disappeared and they have never returned to give us our water back. I decided to give them one extra day (yesterday) but it was all for nothing. So later I’m going to the manager, but I’m expecting an answer that won’t make me happy.

But that’s not all. Another extremely strange things happens in our living room: our heater doesn’t work. At first, it worked like a charm, but a few weeks after heating started (the entire city receives its heating from the local power plant or whatever), only half of it was heated. Last night I just realized that it was dead cold and probably it will remain like that.

Why? Well, nobody seems to know. I went to the manager, who recommended I should bring in a plumber. OK, I did that. The plumber decided that it’s not air in the heater (as everybody initially thought), inspected some of the pipes in the building and said that it’s nothing that can be done. He has no idea what might cause the problem. “Maybe that’s how it works,” he said, completely ignoring my claims that it certainly did its job just a few weeks ago. So he took my money and left, doing nothing in return. I am looking to bring in another plumber, but finding one is not the easiest job on earth.

What completely shocks me is the reaction of my neighbors, though. When I realized that there were problems with the heater, the first thing I did was to knock at my neighbor’s door and ask if everything is fine with his heater. “No, the pipe is cold, it’s not working”. And that was it. No wondering why or what might have happened, no desire to get that fixed or even worry about the fact that a thing that should’ve been working is not. And most of my neighbors have, unfortunately, the same mentality.

Which drives me crazy. If things are broken, they should get fixed! If things get broken, I shouldn’t be the one doing the digging and the running and everything else when we have a MANAGER that is paid to do this for us. But no, things are different in Romania and nobody seems to care.

Probably this is because most of the people living in this building are pretty old. They lived during the communist era here in Romania, they got used with poor service, with a lack of the basic stuff and they consider broken things something natural, just like the weather: of course it’s cold inside, it’s cold outside too. The heater is not working. Ah, that happens!

So sometimes these things really drive me crazy. Sometimes Romania can drive you mad and crazy.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Calin:
    This is terrible for you! You own the apartment, but someone owns the building, right? It’s like a condominium here in the USA. You’ve paid for your apartment and the owner (is the owner an Iranian;-) of the building is responsible to you to maintain the building’s heating, water, electricity, etc. And I thought this kind of problem only happened here (USA), with building owners not giving much thought to the apartment owners, themselves. The building owners figure they’ve got their money (paid-for apartments) so why should they invest in keeping the building habitable? This totally s*cks! Is there not someone you can complain, too?
    The manager seems a feckless person.
    Maybe, all the apartment owners (you all) should get together and hire a lawyer to get the owner of the building to fix all the problems.
    BTW: The photo looks like place I’ve seen here in the USA. The photo is not from Romania is it?
    BTW: We have crumbling infrastructure here, too. Our roads and bridges are unsafe, our water mains and sewage lines (EEW!) are cracking, sink holes are opening up in the strangest places, etc. Yet we foolishly spend billions and billions of U$D on unwinnable wars, foreign aid to countries who stab us in the back, etc., etc. (Remember I have to dis the USA, too;-) Hopefully, in the mean time you can get some space heaters to tide you over. Of course, the electricity bill will be high, too;-()
    I hope you will still be able to have happy holidays!
    Best of luck!
    ~Teil (guess where from;-))

    • Hello Teil,

      Indeed, the photo is not from Romania – I just Googled it and it was the first result 🙂 Regarding the apartment, I had a chat with the manager and it seems that my problem with the living room is caused by my neighbors, actually, who did some Romanian-style improvisations and if they have their heaters off, I won’t get any heat either. And since they don’t live there… guess who’s adding an extra layer of clothes? 🙂 I will try to reach them and have a chat with them first to see if we can solve this amiably.

      Regarding the infrastructure and pipes cracking… this is something that all governments should consider. It can only lat that long before all the old materials start cracking everywhere in the world….

  2. Sorry about your problems. It totally sucks! I had to laugh at the job your neighbors did, probably tying into your heater..it so sounds like something that would be done at home! I hope it gets sorted out soon. Sometimes, one scoffs at the Homeowners Association (hoa), but l guess they serve their purpose..

    • That’s true, it seems I rushed to consider them guilty for all the wrongs – but I really couldn’t imagine that it’s the neighbors who are doing this. And, of course, I am not the only one affected by this – more apartments are in this situation. And until I started this “investigation” nobody seemed to care or want to do something about this….

  3. Wow, that is a bummer! No heat in the living room and no hot water. Maybe you’ll have to get a wood burning stove! Thought you were living in the city, did you? I remember when I visited Romania the first time and requested to use the shower. We’ll let you know when the hot water comes back on, I was told. Three days past and I finally moved to another family which gladly allowed me to shower. I entered the bathroom where there was this gigantic water heater that looked like a smoke stack with a visible gas flame roaring at the bottom. The water was hot and I was so relieved to be finally showering, but I kept a close eye on the water heater, convinced it would blow at any second. Needless to say, I was very reluctant to shower again, worrying that it was too much trouble for my hosts to fire that thing up.

    • It’s impossible to get a wood burning stove when living in an apartment, as I do and that’s what I ran from when I moved from the house I was living in 🙂 There are indeed all sorts of improvisations in most homes and people are poor so they can’t afford changing water heaters and such so they go for risky options – such as the heater you are talking about. However, in my city, we use gas tanks and those are used exclusively for cooking – the heaters are all electric.

      Today (yes, a Sunday) a few plumbers came and as I am writing this they’re hitting pipes and they promised that they will fix everything. Hopefully they won’t make things even worse 🙂 And regarding the hot water – until that’s fixed and to be better prepared in the future, we’ve already ordered a water heater.

    • Many people say that Romania is the country where everything’s possible – and not in a good way :)) This kind of stuff also happens in bigger cities – it’s basically how lucky you are: if you are lucky and get good neighbors and a good manager, you’re all set. If not… prepare for some meditation and anti-stress pills :))

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