The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 16, 2004


Frozen pipe causes water damage at Carlisle School

A frozen pipe in a first-grade classroom at the Carlisle School burst after the cold weather last week, causing extensive water damage and requiring two classes to move out of their rooms this week.

Checking the building at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, Buildings and Grounds Supervisor David Flannery discovered a pipe in the unheated attic over Mrs. Walker's first grade room had burst, spilling an estimated 1,500 gallons of water. The water damage also affected Ms. Clark's room next door. Ms. Horgan's first grade class also had some wet carpeting due to water coming under the wall, but Ms. Greenwood's first grade class, furthest away from the burst pipe, luckily had no water damage.


Teachers all pitched in Monday morning to help the first-grade teachers move books and instructional materials out of the rooms. Mrs. Walker's and Ms. Clark's students moved to the school library where they set up makeshift classes this week. When the students can return depends on how well their classrooms are drying out and whether the sheetrock walls have to be replaced to prevent mold growth.

The school immediately began cleaning up all the water Monday morning and called in a flood drying contractor who set up 20 air dryers, industrial dehumidifiers and several HEPA filters to try to keep the air clean. The wet ceiling insulation, and parts of the ceiling wallboard and other wet materials were removed by Monday night from the classroom by a carpenter. An industrial hygienist visited the school Wednesday to sample the air quality in the classrooms based on protocols established by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The pipe that burst provided water to a spigot on the outside of the Spalding Building used for watering plantings at the school. The valve was apparently not entirely shut off last fall, says Flannery, and ran through the unheated space above the room. He thinks the pipe froze during the cold weather and then thawed out during the "warm-up" on Sunday when the pipe burst. Flannery says the school will permanently disconnect all outdoor piping on the 50-year-old building as soon as possible to prevent any further problems. As a precaution, over the weekend all sinks and faucets in the building were left dripping to keep water moving in the pipes during the extremely cold weather.


After running the air dryers for several days, the administration was to decide this week exactly what to replace in the classes. Along with ceiling patches, sections of the sheetrock walls may need to be replaced in the two classrooms. Replacement will depend on whether the walls are dry after 72 hours, a "best practice" standard to prevent mold growth, says school business manager Steve Moore.

The school is covered for the damage by its insurer, the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Agency (MIIA). The deductible is expected to be about $1,000.

Ms. Horgan's class shared space with Mrs. Clark's second graders on Monday, but was able to move back into its room in Spalding on Tuesday. Other classes did not have their regular library time this week, but librarian Mrs. Kelly and staff visited many of the classes with books at their scheduled times. First graders going to class in the library on Wednesday morning appeared cheerful about the change in their classroom. "Oh, I forgot where to go," said one boy to another child when he started to go to the Spalding Building, then ran over to the library.

The Spalding Building that houses the kindergarten and first-grade classes also had problems last week with the gas heat's boiler, due to a malfunctioning part. Students in the building were treated to a movie in the auditorium last Friday morning while the part was replaced and temperatures were brought up to normal. The heating system was checked on Saturday and Sunday and it was functioning normally, says Flannery.

Flannery says that last October he attended training on handling water damage offered by the state in its Tools for School program that provides loss prevention training. The program ran after many schools, including the first grade classes in Carlisle, sustained extensive mold damage in the extreme humidity of last August.

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito