CASE STUDY: HAMPTONS ESTATE STRUCK BY FLOOD DISASTER
AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE BENEFITS OF PERFOMING
BEST MAINTENANCE PRACTICES
On a cold February evening, at around 6:00 PM an alarm rang out at the Central Station headquarters. The alarm warned of an unusual drop in temperature in a bathroom at a Hamptons estate, a vacation home belonging to a NY investment banker. The estate’s caretaker was notified immediately by the Central Station dispatcher. During that evening, several additional alarms at the estate warned of unusual motion and “trouble” at the estate. The caretaker was again notified. The caretaker told the Central Station dispatcher “not to worry”.
It was not until the following day that the caretaker visited the estate and discovered that a fire sprinkler line in a second floor hallway had burst. The sprinkler system had been free flowing for approximately 12 hours. Everything on three floors, from the second floor, to the main floor to the basement level was inundated, almost everything damaged or destroyed; furnishings, artwork, appliances, the finishes in the home…the cherished memories of countless family vacations…all washed away in a single evening.
After the flood event, PCH was retained by the owners of the estate to renovate the home and to take over responsibility as property manager. First, PCH hired a Sprinkler System expert to provide an objective evaluation of the sprinkler system and to offer their opinion on the cause(s) of the system failure. Their report noted several deficiencies in the sprinkler system installation by the original home-builders.
But how did it get so cold inside the house, in that small hallway on the second floor? The simple answer lies in a failure to perform Best Maintenance Practices. During winter months, PCH always requires that thermostats be set at a minimum of 64 degrees. This is essential to protecting the plumbing, finishes and furnishings in the home. PCH learned that on that fateful night, the thermostats had been set to 55 degrees. Some of the thermostats may have even been set lower to 50 degrees. Even more disturbing, the caretaker told PCH that the door to the bedroom that led to the hallway where the pipe had burst was “locked”. This is a violation of the most basic wintertime Best Maintenance Practice: all interior doors must remain open to permit the even flow of heat to all rooms. We’ll never know exactly how cold it got inside that hallway while it was cut off from the heat circulating in the rest of the house.
Many conditions may have contributed to the flood disaster at this Hampton estate. But there is no doubt that it could have been prevented by a simple wintertime Best Maintenance Practice; leaving the thermostats set at 64 degrees and regularly checking to make sure that all interior doors are left open.