Friday, July 10, 2009

Things That Go Drip In The Night

As things start to heat up in Beijing (and the family debate over whether Beijing or DC is hotter in the summer ensues), I have been very grateful that our apartment is equipped with air conditioning. Albeit not central air, these individual units work well enough to keep us cool and comfortable. As is usually the case, though, there are unexpected variations as to how appliances and household items work and are maintained. To drains in the floor and shower heads that protrude from the bathroom wall in sometimes inconvenient places (For example, a friend of ours reports of a residence unit he stayed in for a few days, where the shower head came out of the wall over the sink...Who chose that location!?), add AC to the list.

Sometimes in our apartment, we have discovered items in place that we think, "What's that for?" We've quickly learned that it's definitely there for a reason, and that we should never, never move it! Getting back to the air conditioner units...In the rooms where they are located, there are large, empty containers, like a gallon juice bottle, a big red bucket, and an empty five-gallon paint container. It seems that all that condensation has to go somewhere, so since each unit is independent, it must empty the humidity removed from the room into its own container. If we forget to empty these each day, there are two types of messes that will undoubtedly occur.

One, of course, is if they overflow, they quickly cover the tile floor with murky water. More alarming, though, is when the bucket gets partially full, and the water backs up into the tube, then back into the unit, and starts dripping or spraying out of the air conditioner itself (which is near the ceiling). This usually occurs around two a.m., and makes for a wet wake-up call! Did I mention that the unit is over my side of the bed!?

Now that we're in a better rhythm of emptying the bucket before bedtime, the middle of the night mayhem has diminished. That said, this routine is just another little aspect of daily life that becomes incorporated into a flow that continues to be so different from what we're used to, but still so interesting.



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