Progress continues on the plumbing project in our lobby ceiling and throughout the 2nd Floor. Overall we remain on time and continue to expect to be completed by October. So for we have received a lot of positive comments and feedback from residents which has gone a long way to help our team deal with the unique challenges we have faced.
There are some important updates for residents and several changes are in process.
At Monday night’s Board Meeting (July 27th), the Board authorized change orders integrating the replacement of very deteriorated AC and Cold Water line insulation. In some places the insulation was dry rotted; in others it was completed saturated including locations where it was slowly dripping. Replacing this will cost additional dollars – but aside from averting damages from leaking, new insulation on the AC lines will save energy, and replacing this while the ceiling is down is about half the cost it would be with the ceiling in place. Typical Areas Of Failing Insulation:
They also approved a change order to install “drain-downs” on all the water service lines. For any future plumbing work on these lines in the building (including many of the riser replacement projects still on the calendar), we will save several thousands of gallons of water and reduce the time it takes to shut down and drain a line. With the entire ceiling of the 2nd Floor and lobby removed, it became obvious to our staff that this improvement would greatly reduce the cost and time involved with future plumbing projects – not just to common elements, but improvements unit owners make in their bathrooms and kitchens which require shutdowns.
Also, we have been working on changing our approach to the water shutdowns, so residents can better plan for the water to be back on around 5pm each day. Since the Board Meeting, we sat down with the contractor and plumbing team to understand why water shut offs were continuing sometimes late into the evenings. There are two big obstacles:
1. Water and waste is still coming down the drains. Despite the shut downs and notices, everything from human waste and foreign objects, to food and other debris, are coming down the lines. Not only is this unpleasant for the workers, it prolongs the time it takes to tie in the new lines. The longer it takes to tie in the new lines, the later the shutdowns go. How can residents help? Please do not use your sinks and toilets at all when the water is off!
2. Many of the valves that control water flow are old and deteriorated and are not sufficiently holding when workers are tying in the new lines. In one case, there was so much water coming through a valve, it took workers several hours through the afternoon and evening to divert enough water so the new tie-ins could be completed. Until this was done, water could not be turned on without causing a flood.
To deal with this, we are forced to change our strategy with water shutdowns. It is our goal each day to have water on by 5PM. While there is no possible way to guarantee that, the only way to come close is for the entire building to be shutdown. This will allow our team to completely circumvent the problematic valves.
Also, they will begin at 8am each morning. Because of the water and waste continuing to come down the drains during shut downs, they are planning work-arounds which take the additional time. If we do not give them more time, they will have barely have anytime to do the actual work we need them to after prepping each day. In order for everyone to be better able to plan, and better depend on the water returning around 5pm, they must begin at 8am.
As of now, the next shutdown is scheduled for Thursday August 6th from 8am to 5pm, for all units, all fixtures, for all floors from 2 to 55. We will be watching their progress closely and provide updates via e-mail.
After Thursday, we expect building wide shutdowns from the 2nd to 55th floors to continue each Monday through Thursday from 8am to 5pm until all the plumbing has been replaced.
Fortunately our staff has devised a way to bypass our water mains to provide water to the cooling tower, so the AC can be available. Should we have any problem putting this in place, we will distribute a notice. But for now, we expect to be able to provide air conditioning when we shutdown.
We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding throughout this process. This is a challenging project, but residents and owners – and the Board – have kept a mostly positive attitude which has been helpful for everyone involved. We understand the frustration and inconvenience this is causing, which makes us that much more grateful for the support.