It happened about two years ago. Prior to that, I heard sometimes loud “thuds” above the hall of my apartment, as if someone was hitting with the sledge hummer the floor in the apartment directly above mine, which is the 6E, where Grace Bishop and Alberto Rutigliano live. I asked Al several times about these noises, but he denied everything: hearing them and knowing anything about them.
On the day the ceiling in the hall, in the center, around the lamp fixture, started to buckle and streaming down the dust, I heard the loud “thud” noises above this area too, but they were louder and stronger.
My patience with this occurrence expired, as expected, and I went upstairs to investigate. And what do I see?
Two Russian speaking men were working in the apartment 6D, neighboring with the 6E. They were scraping the floor with the special scraping machine, which looked rather bulky and heavy.
One of the men wore a very interesting T-shirt. The picture of the KALASHNIKOV semi-automatic rifle with the same name spelled out in large letters was painted rather demonstratively across that T-shirt, and the man wore it with the expression of the ANGRY PRIDE, for the lack of the better term to describe his mixed emotions, conveyed by his facial expression.
When I told them what is happening and started to inquire further, they got very anxious, and one of them finally admitted that they broke the rule: instead of emptying the floor scraping machine after taking it outside, the worker banged it repeatedly on the floor inside the apartment, in the area neighboring with the apartment 6E, and thus directly above the hall area of my apartment.
The men got visibly uncomfortable, and they left soon after that, and I never saw them again.
During my conversation with workers, Grace and Al came out of their apartment. Strangely enough, Grace appeared as if she tried to defend the workers, and she said, interestingly, that my ceiling “was already compromised”. Apparently, she had some knowledge about it.
However, it was evident to everyone at that time, that the men practically admitted and acknowledged their responsibility for what happened.
Several weeks after that encounter with the floor scrapers, on one summer evening, the ceiling collapsed completely. I was lucky to be outside at that time and I was not hit directly by the debris.
However, the place looked like after the bombardment, thick dust hanged in the air, irritated the eyes, throat, and lungs. I had to spend a night there.
That’s the story. Now, “analysis”.
Apparently, the ceiling was indeed “compromised” , and by Grace and Al themselves. They had a small dog, who was getting ill and old, and suffered from urinary incontinence. Eventually, they put that dog to sleep, and got another one. They kept the dog in the hall, by the entrance door, and it peed there.
Apparently, this whole area was constantly wet, and the moisture was seeping down and loosening the ceiling panels and their fixing areas, for which large, upwardly waged nails were used.
The “thud” noises were from the hits by the sledge hummer, indeed: Al was breaking the bones with it, to feed them to his dog.
And the banging of the scraping machine, as described above, (which very well could be intentional) was apparently the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
The heavy hits during the roof repairs and maintenance are also the factor.
Now, some thoughts. Like almost all things in life, the ceiling collapse in general is “multifactorial”. Among the factors are:
- Poor maintenance.
- Failure to inspect.
- Structural defects.
- Architectural problems.
- Leaky pipes or water damage.
- Inadequate repairs.
- Improper construction.
- Building code violations.”
And the excess of moisture:
“AS EXPLAINED BY ROBSON FORENSIC, CEILING COLLAPSES ARE MOST OFTEN THE RESULT OF AN ACCUMULATION OF MOISTURE. THIS MOISTURE IS USUALLY THE RESULT OF LEAKING ROOFS OR PLUMBING SYSTEMS. BOTH THE INTEGRITY OF THE ROOF AND THE PLUMBING SYSTEM ARE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PROPERTY OWNER OR POSSESSOR, AS ARE OTHER COMMON ISSUES THAT RESULT IN CEILING COLLAPSES, SUCH AS CONDENSATE DRAINAGE FROM WINDOW-MOUNTED AIR CONDITIONERS.”
In each case, it is the unique combination of factors with various weights of contributary effects.
What can we do about it? In brief:
Control moisture, check plumbing, fix leaks.
Ban scraping the floors with the heavy equipment, and most definitely ban it banging on the floor, instead of taking it outside.
Be very careful about the scraping men wearing “Kalashnikovs” on their chests, whatever it means. Investigate them.
And no hitting the floors with the sledge hummer!
All this has to be codified.
In my opinion, most of the ceiling collapse accidents that happened is the result of the criminal negligence of the Condo Board, which did not want to acknowledge, to face, and to deal with this problem.
The first order of business is to remove that old, Grace Bishop’s Board: corrupt, incompetent, dysfunctional, arrogant, self-destructing.
The discussion of the suspicions of the possible criminal factors is left for the next time.
Michael Novakhov | 6.2.23