RISK MANAGEMENT BULLETIN
May 15, 2001
Risk Management Recommendation for Water Escape Losses
In recent months, extensive water damage has occurred within the Leila North School, Pinkham School and R.B. Russell School. The cause of these losses was as a result of deteriorating restraining rods (possibly the wrong type), and deteriorating cast iron water lines. In each case, it might have been possible to prevent these losses if school authorities had been aware of the problem beforehand.
You may have schools where "mild steel" or "black steel" restraining rods were used during original construction. Their purpose is to hold piping together at elbows where the pressure is greatest. Normally these rods are buried in soil. The restraining rods are subject to corrosion. These kinds of rods have relatively very short life expectancy, especially in Manitoba’s acidic soil (eg. about 10 years instead of 50). The result, if they give way, can be very serious. The existing building code refers to and stipulates "type 316 stainless steel" be used for restraining rods and bolts. Similarly, cast iron pipes are subject to rust and corrosion and will deteriorate over time.
The purpose of this circular is to notify School Divisions that buried pipes equipped with materials other than "stainless steel rods" should be examined and if there are signs of wear and tear, then rods should be removed and replaced. Schools that have mild steel or black steel connectors will in time break. Therefore, it is not a question "if" a pipe will break, but rather "when."
What can you do? If accessible, the soil around the pipe should be excavated to a sufficient depth so as to properly examine the rods, bolts and other connectors. Someone will be required to go in the crawlspace, dig down beside those restraining rods and check them for corrosion. If they don’t look good, you know you have a problem. And there’s only one solution – have them replaced, just as soon as possible.
Water supply lines made of cast iron or other material with similar corrosive characteristics should be examined. If there are signs of wear and tear, then these should be well removed and renewed with new material as quickly as possible.
Water escape is an insured peril under the Manitoba Schools Insurance program. But claims directly affect premiums, especially since MSI has a high level of self-insurance. We encourage you to look into this serious risk at your Division right away.
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