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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

THE WORD'S WORTH: Lexicon for Leaky Taps, Perturbing Plumbing




I sometimes wonder if the drying up of the Aral Sea is not directly related to the millions of dripping faucets to be found in Russian cities. Perhaps one of the clearest manifestations of that renowned patience of Russians is their tolerance for years of constantly running water in their kitchens and bathrooms (I also suspect that the New Russian fashion of installing little fountains in their villas and apartments is just a way of evoking childhood memories of leaky faucets).


But it doesn't have to be this way. As in the West, Russia is full of santekhniki, or plumbers, who are ready at a moment's notice (well, within a few days) and for a reasonable fee (well) to come and end your troubles.


So, whether you need to pochinit' rakovinu (fix a sink), ustanovit' unitaz (install a toilet), zamenit' kran (change a faucet) or podklyuchit' stiral'nuyu mashinu (hook up a washing machine), all you have to do is vyzvat' santekhnika (call a plumber).


Needless to say, it is wise to dogovorit'sya o tsene zaraneye (to agree on the price beforehand). You may need to ask, tsena vklyuchayet materialy ili tol'ko rabotu? (does the price include materials or just labor?). The basic problems for which you may need to call a plumber are if your kran ili batareya techyot (faucet or heating battery leak) or if zasorilsya tualet ili kran ili sliv (the toilet, sink or drain are backed up).


In my apartment, the usual problem is that clogged pipes lead to slabyi napor vody v krane (weak water pressure in the tap). The plumbers always want to change my faucet and I always get into a big argument over whether this is necessary. When I mentioned this to a friend, he said this was because the plumbers want to charge me for replacing my faucet and then take my faucet and use it to replace someone else's. As soon as I started telling plumbers that they could replace my faucet if they wanted, but I wouldn't let them have the old one, they started agreeing that I only need to have the pipes cleaned.


Knock on wood, but I have not yet had a real plumbing emergency in Russia. I've never had to call in the middle of the night and desperately cry, "U nas prorvalo trubu v vannoi!" ("A pipe broke in our bathroom!").


But I do have an idea of how long it takes to get help, judging from the amount of water that came through my ceiling when it happened to my neighbors upstairs. In such cases, your neighbor calls the santekhnik, and you call a plotnik (carpenter). But that is another column.


For now, I end with the exhortation to call a plumber if you need one. It might not be too late to save the Aral Sea.