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San Diego, California: Water Damage in Museum

A pump float valve malfunction floods the new wing of the Mingei Interntational Museum.

The Mingei International Museum is a nonprofit public institution in San Diego. It exhibits folk art, crafts and design from around the world. At 6 a.m. on April 20, 2021, FIRST ONSITE Project Director, Mark Findlay, received a call from Kyle Lane of Layton Construction, which was overseeing are novation and expansion of the museum: “We have a water loss.” In a fourth-story mechanical room, the HVAC system’s humidifier pump float valve had gotten stuck. The valve continued to drain until it overflowed.

The loss was extensive, with 4 to 6 inches of standing water that caused damage to the drywall before trickling to the three floors below. The water hit all floors, with damage to ceilings, walls, and cabinetry. Many of these exposed elements were brand-new and having to remove any materials was a sensitive matter.

The Layton Construction team was experiencing a type of loss that requires quick thinking and a fast reaction. Luckily, Layton Construction had already established its partnership with FIRST ONSITE and had previously made an on-site visit and assessment.

“We had onboarded FIRST ONSITE as a zero-dollar T&M(Time and Materials) contract (Work Authorization), and they were pre-qualified to work with us through our master service agreement.” Lane said. “Because of this, they were able to expedite Layton’s concerns with the water loss.”

Findlay arrived on site one hour after his initial call with Lane, and his crews arrived by 8:15 a.m. The FIRST ONSITE team got to work immediately. Their industrial hygienist proceeded to write a protocol for what needed to be removed.

“That’s what we followed,” said Findlay.

The Layton Construction team had just finished putting up drywall and having to remove it was a major
concern. Based on the hygienist’s recommendation, the team was able to remove very little drywall
and instead ordered a trailer-mounted desiccant to dry water-damaged areas more efficiently. To dry
the damage in place, FIRST ONSITE installed temporary ducts in all of the rooms and posted a 24-hour
guard to address the museum’s security concerns. FIRST ONSITE continued to mitigate the issue and
completed the full repair in just four days.

FIRST ONSITE and Layton Construction agree that this efficient turnaround was a result of their pre-loss partnership and early deployment of the desiccant. FIRST ONSITE’s visit to the site ahead of time helped both parties establish a relationship and develop the right protocols for how to handle this water loss event as quickly as possible.

“It’s all about just mobilizing as quickly as possible for your client, and if you haven’t been to the site, you lose hours.”
― Mark Findlay, FIRST ONSITE Project Director

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