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Leak in pipe causes heavy damage in judicial facility

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - It was bad but it could have been so much worse.

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Thanks to quick work by county employees, the water damage caused by a busted sprinkler system was much less than it could have been inside the Bullitt County Judicial Center last Wednesday.

Even with that quick reaction, it will be some time before the restoration work is totally complete at the facility which has been snakebiten since its inception a dozen years ago.

“It’s bad but it could have been so much worse,” said Mike Howe, who supervises the maintenance of the facility which is being leased to the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

Howe said that when the maintenance staff arrived at around 6:30 a.m. last Wednesday, there was panic in her voice.

Water was everywhere in the first floor.

Howe said the cause of the water damage was not necessary the cold temperatures.

In finding a place were two thin pipelines crossed one another, a hole was worn through the copper.

When the hole in the four-ton heating and cooling allowed the freon to escape, the system basically shut down.

Howe said he believes the system pumped out cold air even though the thermostat on the third floor read 0 degrees in the grand jury room.

When the system shut down, a sprinkler unit was activated on the third floor. Luckily, the water did not escape at a high volume.

The water was pouring down the second-floor stairwell to the foyer in the front office.

Howe said he shut off water to the entire building in an effort to find out what was wrong.

This resulted in the court system shutting down on Wednesday, due in a large part to having no restroom facilities for the staff or the public.

Howe wasn’t sure how long the water was running but it was long enough to cause significant damage. But the court system was back in operation the following day.

In terms of damage, Howe said there would be extensive drywall and insulation that must be replaced.

The third floor restroom near the grand jury room must be repaired.

And the heat and air unit was supposed to be fixed as of Monday afternoon. That would allow some of the portable heaters to be removed.

Within six hours of the initial call, Howe said the county employees got in an clued up everything. Sprinklers were in use for the first and second floors with the third floor still needing repairs.

The county’s insurer, Kentucky Association of Counties, has been active in the restoration work, said deputy judge/executive Lisa Craddock.

The expectation is the incident might persuade the AOC to lower some ceilings on the first floor to asset with heating and cooling issues.

There was no timetable on the actual conclusion of the work.