Faulty pipes leak

March 13, 2003, midnight | By Simona Danilovska | 17 years, 10 months ago

Repair-cost estimates over $1,000

Faulty construction and recent weather conditions have caused numerous leaks at Blair and the collapse of many ceiling tiles, according to Principal Phillip Gainous, who blamed the Shapiro and Duncan Corporation, Blair's mechanical contractor, for structural defects.

Although the company paid for new ceiling tiles, Blair still had to pay for associated bills. "The burden of replacing ruined carpets, pianos and hundreds of books is on me. It all comes out of Blair's budget," said Gainous.

According to Gainous, Montgomery County officials were aware of defects in pipes that cost $1,000, but they decided not to reinstall the pipes until the pipes actually burst. "The company is responsible for the batch of bad pipe fittings, but the county decided we should just [not repair them]," he said.

The Shapiro and Duncan Corporation referred Silver Chips to the MCPS Department of Facilities Management, which was unavailable for comment.

Some leaks arose because snow collected on the flat roof, according to Gainous, who said the weight of the snow and rain may have caused minor roof collapses. "It's not designed to hold water like a swimming pool," he said.

Building Services Manager James Brown attributed other leaks to human error. Reginald Tobin, a building services worker, agrees. "The leaks are minor things. The leak in room 215 happened because a dishwasher in [the room above] wouldn't stop running," said Tobin.

According to Gainous, the MCPS maintenance crew inspected Blair before school reopened after the blizzard and found no serious safety hazard.

But this does not mean Blair faculty and students are free from inconvenience. Band director Kurt Lucas said leaks have persisted in his classroom, practice room and office for nearly two and a half years. "There was a lot of mold and mildew. I couldn't even get other teachers to go into my room; they complained about the strong smell," said Lucas.

The building services staff has tried to fix the problem at least four different times, Lucas said.
The overflowing roof and the faulty valve connecting the pipes also impaired students' classwork. "For a while, we would hear a constant ‘whooo.' We couldn't record anything. The pipes were louder than the music," said Lucas.

Science teacher James Schafer experienced a similar problem. "I just came in one day and I had a small river going through my classroom," he said.

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Simona Danilovska. Simona Danilovska is a junior at Blair high school and a page editor for Chips, (a.k.a. the best newspaper in the world.) She was born on March 8, which makes her proud to be a Pisces =). Her favorite activities consist of checking her horoscope … More »

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