Redesign expected to prevent future leaks
After a destructive flood caused by the rupture of a sprinkler pipe at Jamie’s Place in early February, repair work is underway that should allow the six displaced residents to move back home around mid-March.
Jamie’s Place brought in two architects and two engineering firms to do an independent assessment of the cause of the rupture and leak, which occurred in the same room where a sprinkler pipe burst a year ago, Jamie’s Place Executive Director Rana Clarke said.
All inspectors reached the same conclusions about the conditions that allowed the pipe to freeze and burst. The inspectors found that the fire-suppression system had been installed above the ceiling insulation, meaning that the sprinkler pipes weren’t protected from the cold, Clarke said. They also determined that what everyone had assumed was a support beam in the ceiling was in fact hollow, providing another conduit for cold air but no structural function, she said.
The sprinkler pipe has already been repaired and reconfigured and the hollow beam is gone. The new design calls for extra insulation between the pipe and the roof. There will be no insulation below the pipe to allow it to be warmed by the ambient air in the building, Clarke said.
While the leak and damage were confined to three of the six bedrooms, the architects and engineers examined the entire building and found no other areas of concern, Clarke said. The leak also damaged the floor in the main gathering space, the laundry room, and a staff bathroom.
In January 2022, the leak came from a crack in the sprinkler pipe, but this year there was a 2-inch hole where water came gushing out, Clarke said. Although both ruptures occurred in the same ceiling, they weren’t in the same spot.
Fortunately, this year, the rupture occurred when all residents were in the dining area after lunch and there were no injuries.
Progress in repairs
Contractors installed new drywall last week. They are expected to paint this week and then replace the floor in the main area.
The sprinkler pipe has to be tested before the insulation is installed. Once the system is connected and tested, the town of Winthrop will review plans, determine if any permits are necessary, and conduct an inspection, Clarke said.
The entire attic area will be filled with extra insulation that meets enhanced codes that take effect later this year, Clarke said.
Volunteers from Methow At Home will clean all the rooms in early March so they’re ready for the residents to move back in, Clarke said.
Jamie’s Place operates two adult family homes in Winthrop. Three of the six displaced residents have been relocated to Mountain View, the adjacent building, and three to a family-home-care facility in Brewster operated by a former Jamie’s Place caregiver.
There are extra caregivers at Mountain View to assist with the additional residents. For this population, some of whom have dementia, any disruption to an ordinary routine can create anxiety and additional needs, Clarke said.
Three of these same residents were also uprooted last year. The damage in 2022 was more extensive, so it was three months before residents were able to move back in, Clarke said.
Coco, the resident cat that was missing for about a week after the leak, turned up and is being cared for by one of the nurses until the building is ready for people to move back in.
Jamie’s Place is waiting to hear from its insurance company about coverage.