GHS Flood Final Report CTA Architects Engineers March 31, 2011

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1 GHS Flood Final Report CTA Architects Engineers March 31, 2011 INTRODUCTION: Glacier High School underwent extensive flooding due to a broken frozen fire sprinkler joint of the ceiling in the Small Conference Room B211 the afternoon of Saturday, February 26 th, CTA representatives were on site at Glacier High School from the initial time of the flooding and helped provide oversight to the various stages of water containment, water remediation, drying out the facility, rebuilding the facility, completion of rebuilding efforts, and investigating the root causes of the flood. The flooding was primarily contained to both floors of the area of the facility defined as Pod B. The following report summarizes each stage of this event, CTA s participation and observations, and concludes with what CTA representatives believe were the primary causes of the flood. Frozen Fire Sprinkler Line Glacier High School, Room B211 02/27/11 1

2 CONTAINMENT, CLEANUP & DRYING OUT: Glacier High School Water containment, cleanup and drying out the affected areas of the facility began immediately on the afternoon of the flooding and was handled in an aggressive proactive way. CTA assisted Stat Restoration with identifying concealed areas that needed to be immediately opened exposed and dried. We used our knowledge of the building systems, construction, materials and components to assist with this process. A thermal camera along with a moisture meter was used to find and pinpoint the areas in which moisture had migrated into wall, floor and ceiling cavities. CTA directed and communicated these efforts with all parties involved. Within the initial 72-hours from the time of the flooding 95% of Glacier High School s Pod B was completely dry. Concealed pockets of high moisture content were more aggressively pursued including the removal of entire wall interior sheathing and materials. CTA submitted two reports during this phase. By March 8 th, 2011, just 10-days after the initial flood, all affected areas were completely dry. No mold growth from any of the flooded areas was observed. CTA made daily site visits during this time period. GHS, Pod B, Misc. Drying Efforts 2

3 REBUILD, RESTORE & CLEAN: CTA assisted both Swank Enterprises and Stat Restoration with efforts to rebuild Glacier High School Pod B to a like new condition. CTA helped direct the repair efforts and methods of reconstruction in order for the facility to achieve the original appearance, acoustics, and design intent. CTA also helped assist with the prioritization and phasing of the School District areas within Pod B. CTA conducted Punchlist walk through inspections for the Special Education Area, second floor classrooms, and first floor administrative rooms. Punchlist reports for these areas were submitted. As of the date of this report a few minor items within the administrative office area and completion of Room B211 are the only items that remain. All areas have been cleaned and are ready for occupancy. GHS, Pod B, Porch Room B200, 3/24/11 3

4 INVESTIGATION: CTA has been observing Room B211 before and after the demolition efforts, gathering information and reviewing submitted HVAC data to best determine the cause of the frozen fire sprinkler line. We also conducted further observations of similar areas in the other parts of the facility, investigating both above lay-in ceiling spaces and attic spaces above the Small Conference Rooms and Stairs in the other Pods. This investigation took place in the afternoon of Wednesday, March 30, 2011 with representatives from the School District, Swank Enterprises and Morrison Maierle each present. The following information is the findings of our observations and data collection: Pod B, Room B211; This room was constructed with non load bearing metal stud framing and 5/8 gypsum board walls. All interior walls included fiberglass sound batt insulation for better acoustic sound transmission ratings. The east facing exterior wall comprised of 5/8 gypsum board and vapor retarder up to the bottom of the metal beam. The metal beam runs the length of the room and the south side of the beam had a gap where there was an apparent draft coming through as noted on February 28 th, The room contains two ceilings. The lower ceiling is an accessible suspended lay in panel ceiling. Approximately 42 higher than the lay in ceiling is an unfinished taped gypsum board ceiling. When the gypsum board ceiling was removed it was revealed that there was no vapor retarder and that the gypsum was attached to a 4 metal framing with 3.5 (R-11) unfaced batt insulation lying in between the 16 o.c. studs. Per the construction documents there should have been a thickness of 12 (R-38) fiberglass batt insulation with a 6-mil poly vapor retarder on the warm side. The exterior wall vapor retarder and ceiling vapor retarder should be connected by lapping and taping the joints to provide a complete vapor separation of the cold vented attic and the heated conditioned interior atmosphere. GHS, Pod B, Room B211 Beam Connection Opening to Cold Attic 4

5 The space between the two ceilings is referred to as a return air plenum. This plenum atmosphere is semi-conditioned by the fact that it is a pathway for the air to return to the air handler unit from the conditioned occupied and heat spaces. According to the provided school district records we hit a low early morning return air temperature average of 45 degrees during the same day that the fire sprinkler pipe froze and broke. We were informed that the unoccupied weekend set back temperature that evening was 55-degrees. Pod D, Room D215; This room was constructed very similar to Room B211, the only differences noted was that the room exposure to the exterior wall is west facing (a mirror image) and in the cold attic space there was a layer of 12 batt insulation and vapor retarder within the cavity of the sloping joists. The vapor retarder had fallen down in a few places. This higher layer of insulation and vapor retarder was not present above the room with the freezing fire sprinkler pipe. However, this additional higher installation of insulation did not serve any purpose and was not called out in the Construction Documents. We also made note of locations where the vapor retarder over Room D212 did a good job of being lapped and sealed onto the penthouse supporting beam, and the vapor retarder over Room D214 did not. We also observed where some duct insulation had been cut off of the ducts and were splayed open exposing the galvanized round ducts. Duct Insulation was Cut? Upper Layer of 12 Batt Insulation and Vapor Retarder 5

6 Pod E, Room E211; This room was also constructed very similar to Room B211 and even shares the same east exterior wall exposure. The only difference was in the cold attic space where there was a layer of 12 batt insulation within the cavity of the sloping joists. As mention in Pod D, this additional higher installation of insulation does not serve any purpose and was not called out in the Construction Documents. According to the provided school district records we hit a low early morning return air temperature average of 55 degrees in this upper floor Pod E during the same day that the fire sprinkler pipe froze and broke. We were informed that the unoccupied weekend set back temperature was also 55-degrees for this area. We also checked the area over the Pod E stairs, since these stairs do not extend all the way up to the Penthouse. We found 3.5 (R-11) batt insulation with no vapor retarder. GHS, Pod E, Room E211 Beam Connection Opening to Cold Attic 6

7 GHS, Pod E, Room E211 View from Cold Attic Above Pod A, Room A215; This room was also constructed very similar to Room B211 and lacks proper thickness of insulation and a vapor retarder. We also checked the area over the Pod A stairs, since these stairs do not extend all the way up to the Penthouse. We found 3.5 (R-11) batt insulation with no vapor retarder. CONCLUSION: After spending time observing and investigating this situation we believe that the primary cause of the fire sprinkler pipe freezing and breaking in the return air plenum space above the lay-in ceiling in Room B211 was the fact that there was a direct pathway for the cold air in the vented attic to make its way directly into the semi-conditioned plenum atmosphere. This path came from a void within the beam s bolted connection area. There was no vapor retarder or insulation that stopped the cold air migration into the semi-conditioned plenum space. Just like a refrigerator this small hole allowed the ceiling plenum area to fill with sub freezing air and freeze the water in the fire sprinkler piping. Why didn t this happen earlier, within the first three winter s prior to this one? It may have, but the pipe didn t break, or it could have been that the situation was different that evening when we had the right eastern wind direction, low temperature, and a mechanical system scenario that allowed the average return air temperature to dip 10-degrees lower than the unoccupied weekend setback temperature. 7

8 What needs to be done to assure that this doesn t happen again? Room B211 has been reconstructed with 12 (R-38) batt insulation, all voids in the bolted beam connection was filled with batt insulation, and a vapor retarder was installed underneath the gypsum board of the ceiling and connected to the exterior wall vapor retarder, completely separating the cold attic from the semi-conditioned plenum ceiling space where the fire sprinklers reside. Room E211 Reconstructed with R-38 Insulation & Vapor Retarder The same attention to the separation and thermal protection between atmospheres need to take place in the other three pods. Warm side ceiling vapor retards should be added and connected in the best way to the exterior wall vapor retarders. 12 (R-38) insulation should completely protect the conditioned spaces from the cold attic, and all voids and penetrations should be taped and sealed. All areas that were disturbed during our investigation and the reconstruction efforts should have a new coating blownin insulation added. In addition to this effort, the School District should further investigate the setback and return air temperature differentials along with the proper unoccupied temperature setback setting point. It should be noted to the relief of all parties involved that all other areas observed had a good thermal shell protection and separation. These transition areas between the low-sloped structures and the high sloped gabled structures appear to be the only areas neglected. We sincerely regret that this unfortunate flooding event occurred and want to see that all proper actions are taken to assure that this never happens again. Please let us know how we can provide further assistance. Best Regards, Corey A Johnson, MT Licensed Architect #1913 CTA ARCHITCECTS ENGINEERS 8

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