||Case Study 5
"The Civic Centre Tower Block Carlisle"Probably the most important building in Carlisle.
The hub of the city where flood waters entered the building and flooded basement and ground floor areas to almost 2 meters. The building is fully furnished with all offices above the ground floor expecting to resume work when power is restored.
Three weeks after the flood the only controls that were in place was security. This was the case at the time of this report Friday 28 Jan. So damp was the building that it was raining on the S/E second floor, caused by uncontrolled evaporation condensing and falling from cold ceilings.
The council undertook a triage assessment and recognised their I.T. computer floor to be a priority for restoration of service. Temporary generators were installed and power supplied to heat and work computer systems. Unfortunately without other controls this action may cause extensive secondary damage caused by additional evaporation caused by the heat, see infrared thermal image showing heat transfer.
Contractors incredibly used diesel powered generators or pressure washers inside the building creating both a serious health threat of carbon monoxide poisoning, and of course creating heat which caused uncontrolled evaporation and transfer of moisture.
A survey was undertaken with a senior council official and during the inspection of all floors it became apparent that secondary damage “condensation” was affecting other floors. A thermal imaging camera was set with an alarm at dew point and temperatures below this turned the screen blue, substantial areas of building and contents are at risk. This was seen by the official.
When I pointed out the failure of controls and possible risk of loss the council official accepted my logic but said the loss adjuster was running the job and therefore he was responsible! A substantial risk of increased loss caused by preventable secondary damage because mitigating controls were not installed.
It can reasonably be stated that the true cost and level of secondary or consequential damage currently revolves around the luck of the council and insurers. Minor environmental changes in barometric pressure, temperature, and wind direction could dramatically change the evaporation rate and cause the uncontrolled evaporation, to escalate and spread to previously unaffected floors and areas, which could cause extensive decorative, and content damage.
Note. Uncontrolled evaporation will be adsorbed into hydroscopic materials, condense on cooler surfaces as dew point is reached. The result would be corrosion, short circuits, and intermittent I.T. faults in micro circuitry and health risks from mould. Amplification of naturally occurring bacteria within the building fabric, turning the building into a giant grow bag, with the far reaching potential of a sick building and associated future high absenteeism.
Claims cannot be structured around luck and this incident alone considering the possible enormity and ramifications of damage escalation must be seen as a focal point of this audit. It reflects the state of the industry response to disaster, salvage and recovery. If this building wasn’t cared for what chance the public? What chance of insurers capping claim costs, what chance that insurance may not be available in future?
Security installed but no drying equipment or controls, just heat generators from the IT suite. See thermal imaging of heated building profile!
Risk or Chance of Considerable Escalation in DamageThe building in its current condition can be said to be analogous to a giant hybrid dehumidifier. The basis of dehumidification is evaporation, dew point and release from the air of collected water. Due to the natural evaporation caused by air movement around the ground floor, limited heat generation moisture is evaporating and the stair treads of solid wood can be seen to be nearly dry. Even plywood wallboard has only 17% wme and this was totally submerged. So where has the water gone? It has evaporated and moved up or sideways. This as previously described is likely to cause some unnecessary damage, but things may be about to get much worse. You must appreciate the term “may” is dependent on various factors and some will be described here. I am not predicting catastrophe but I am predicting it’s risk.
The It room can be seen in all three thermal image photographs below. The IT room is currently emitting three types of heat; each of which has a specific vector agent and will affect the building in different ways.
The most significant factors seen in the trio of photos is that the heat is rising upwards and across the building. This means it will heat moist structural components, heat can travel downwards too and warm dry air will carry or absorb much more moisture than cold air. The heat generated coupled to natural or open drying, air movement from ground floor doors open, will create massive evaporation.
This could be seen as a benefit but the moist air will rise or follow convection currents or laminar/turbulent air flow, and will at some point meet a cooler surface, the air will cool. This will cause the moisture to fall out of the air known as Dew Point, or condensation. Put in practical terms this can mean that the heating of the wet building without control may result in substantial evaporation with nowhere for the water to go except hydroscopic materials.
This Infrared photo was taken at night and the temperature scale (7-11) provides a comparison of building temperature on different faces and locations moving away from the I.T. rooms. The 4-degree differential is across the coolest part of the building. Take special note of the 6.8 c temperature on this aspect of the building and the following 8.5c just five minutes later but at different elevations. A hot to cool heat or moisture movement!
Note: This is not a picture of hot air rising.
This infrared picture shows the heat gradient of 7 degrees but clearly shows the heat rising internally.
The I.T. floor generating heat through walls. See vector agents taking the heat to wet areas!
Note the heat being generated at ground floor (circled) creating even more evaporation but with no collection. The heating here will add to the evaporation and moisture will rise with nowhere to go.?
When these pictures were taken on Thursday 27th January absolutely no drying equipment was installed. The development of mould, additional water damage to all floors is now a matter of luck!
Claim management in the 21st Century?
Condensation running down wall, secondary damage already happening!
Raining from ceiling as condensation forms and falls.
Temporary lighting but no moisture controls to stairs or lower floor.