Sunday, July 26, 2015

How Much Confidence?

Last week we got the following notice from the complex management. I understand that maintenance needs to be done. I also hate to be at the mercy of the schedule of others.

So this was a little worse than normal. These notices are usually about pest control or smoke alarm inspection. They usually are restricted to a certain day or two. This one is spread over at least three weeks. 

The reason I hate these intrusions is that you never know when these folks will show up. They either have a key or are with someone from the complex staff. Will they come first thing in the morning while I'm still asleep? Will they come when I'm in the shower? Will they come while I'm taking a dump? It is just disrupting.

Besides spanning three weeks, this particular intrusion has other concerns. There are sprinkler heads in every room, including closets. I live in a two bedroom, two bath apartment that has 13 sprinkler heads. My understanding of fire sprinkler systems is that they are always full of water. The sprinkler heads are activated by heat. I would guess that the water in the system might get a little nasty over time. 

So what could go wrong? Repair/replacement of at least 13 nozzles on pipes in my ceilings. I was a little uneasy when I got the notice. That uneasiness increased exponentially on Tuesday. 

The day started out normally. I was out and about early before the Texas sun got too high and hot. In the late morning, the fire alarm went off. It was on steady for several minutes and then intermittent bursts for several more minutes. I checked on the alarm and found that 
some of the sprinkler guys were at the control panel in my building. OK, maybe these guys were new to the fire/alarm system at our complex. Not encouraging but also not devastating.

Then the crowning blow to my confidence. In the mid-afternoon there was a knock on the door. Three guys were there from the sprinkler company. They asked if they could come in for a minute to check out something. OK with me. They stopped at the first sprinkler head they saw which is in my front hall. The obvious leader of the pack reached up to take the chrome collar off the sprinkler and then used a knife to cut away some drywall ceiling so they could better see the sprinkler head. One of the guys was using his phone as a flashlight. Shouldn't workmen have a real flashlight? I pointed out that there was a hall light and kitchen light that might help. They mucked around with the sprinkler head for about 10 minutes.

Seems the sprinkler heads are circa 1986, not made anymore, and this company doesn't have a wrench that fits the connection. They were taking measurements to manufacture a tool for the job. I'm of an age that 1986 doesn't seem that long ago, but it is almost 30 years in the past. Wouldn't an established sprinkler company have tools to deal with old installations? They took one of my sprinkler collars I guess to help confirm their measurements. 

So, how much confidence should I have that this exercise won't result in a bunch of rusty water on my furniture, electronics, books, clothes, photos, ...?

For the most part, the complex management and staff does an OK job. The sprinkler guys who came by today were very nice. I'm thinking OK and nice is not the optimal combination for this task.

I did not see the sprinkler guys the rest of the week. Guess they are still trying to find or build a wrench.

The GFCI outlet has been installed without incident but there is a story there too. I'll relate that in another post.

I'll let you know how this sprinkler adventure turns out. Hope it isn't wet and rusty.


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