Burst pipe floods classrooms, cancels classes at Concord High

  • A disco ball hangs from a tile-less ceiling in one Concord High School classroom Monday. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

  • Concord School District facilities director Matt Cashman looks up at where a ceiling tile used to be before a valve broke and spurted hot water in several classrooms and hallways at Concord High School Sunday. On Monday, work crews removed damaged ceiling tiles and mopped up floors to prepare for students' return Tuesday. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

  • Chairs and other classroom items sit in a hallway at Concord High School Monday, where crews cleaned up the aftermath of a broken valve that flushed the west wing of the building in water Sunday. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

  • Crews cleaned up Concord High School's water damage Monday in order for students to return Tuesday afternoon. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

  • Dehumidifiers line the hallway in Concord High School's west wing on Monday after a valve broken and soaked several hallways and classrooms over the weekend. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

  • On Monday, Concord School District facilities director Matt Cashman holds out a piece of the broken valve that led to the west side of the high school flooding Sunday. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

  • Matt Cashman points to the source of the hot water that came squirting out due to a broken valve on Sunday. Elodie Reed—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Monday, December 05, 2016

Concord High School students got an unexpected day off Monday after a burst pipe flooded one section of the building, but officials plan to resume all classes Tuesday.

“That’s the hope,” said Concord High School Principal Tom Sica, adding that some affected classes may have to be relocated while clean-up continues.

Workers were busy cleaning up the damage from the broken valve in multiple classrooms Monday. The leak occurred Sunday on the fourth floor of the building and sent water cascading into the floors below for hours.

By the next morning, chairs and tables were piled up in the hallways. Dehumidifiers and high powered fans whirred in classrooms, trying to draw out any remaining moisture from floors and walls. Custodial staff mopped up the floors, shampooed carpets and replaced ceiling tiles in rooms where they became saturated and collapsed.

“Not having school today, we’ve been able to make a lot of headway getting this cleaned up,” Matt Cashman, facilities director for the Concord School District, said from inside the school. “All these rooms will be up and running tomorrow.”

The damaged part of the high school houses health and science classrooms, as well as part of the Concord Regional Technical Center, special education classrooms and one large lecture hall.

Hot water flowed out of the burst pipe for anywhere between two and five hours Sunday before the burst pipe was discovered, Cashman said. School officials were notified and were able to shut the valve off.

“We got on top of it in time,” he said. “We were able to isolate the leak.”

A student who was in the school to complete an extra homework assignment discovered leaking water Sunday and went to a teacher who was also in the building. They soon realized there was a larger issue with about an inch of water on some floors draining into classrooms below.

“There was significant flooding,” Sica said.

Cashman said it was fortunate people were in the building on a weekend, otherwise the damage could have been much more significant.

“We were lucky we had someone who came in to do some work,” Cashman said.

Cashman said the cause of the burst pipe was many years in the making; the problem occurred in a drain line that carries hot water. A valve in the drain line had been mistakenly set to open for years. Water gradually eroded the valve, leading to the rupture.

“That valve was on and just over time, under pressure, it cause a failure,” Cashman said. “It just happened to give way (Sunday).”

The problem went unnoticed for a long time because the pipe was hidden from view, located above a ceiling tile in a custodial closet.

Besides the damaged ceiling tiles, floor tiles, baseboard and dry wall will also need to be replaced, Cashman said. He estimated between 8,000 to 10,000 square feet of the building was impacted by the flooding. He said it was a relatively small area, considering the building itself is 538,000 square feet. The cost of the damage and repair is still being assessed.

Sica commended the efforts of school custodial staff, district officials and an outside contractor working to get the building ready to open Tuesday.

“People have been great about being real team players,” Sica said.

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, enilsen@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)