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  1. #1
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    Jan 2018
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    Default Who is Liable for Water Damage After a Water Main Break

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: NJ
    Our business property was damaged due to backflow water flowing into our property after a water main break. When my husband arrived at the property after Christmas break, he found a large hole had been forced ,due to extreme pressure, through the cinderblock wall where the dry fire system resides - and water was furiously flowing into our business. There was water up to his knees and the size of an Olympic swimming pool as our shop is 10,000 sq ft. What kind of lawyer do I need and who would be responsible for all the damage - the water company, town, other? Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2016
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    Default Re: Water Main Break Caused Backflow Flood Through Dry Fire System

    You should contact your insurance company. The will pay the claim and go after whoever is at fault assuming someone it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Water Main Break Caused Backflow Flood Through Dry Fire System

    Based on what has been stated, it’s impossible to guess who may be liable. You haven’t mentioned whose water line ruptured or why it ruptured or on whose side of the public utilities valve it is.

    . I am terribly curious how this pipe break caused a hole in a concrete block. I’m also curious as to what would have created this “extreme pressure” (or maybe what the op considers extreme pressure to be.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Water Main Break Caused Backflow Flood Through Dry Fire System

    Quote Quoting Rock Knocker
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    Just a guess, but the fire main froze. A lot of water there, with enough flow that a CMU block wall could get eroded with enough time. But as you state, we really know nothing. Pressure was unlikely to be the issue, it takes a lot of over pressure to exceed the safety margin of pipe. But regardless, my bet is on cold related issues, either a frozen pipe or ground movement, given the time of year.
    Without more facts, sounds reasonable. If true, if the area the ruptured pipe was in is heated and the person responsible to maintain the heat was negligent, that might be the liable party.

    especially given the extreme weather experienced in the northeast this year I suspect there have been a lot of water pipes rupturing due to freezing. The reality is that a good portion of the time there is no liable party to chase. It’s simply an unanticipated af God and hopefully thoss expeiencing such have adequate insurance coverage.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Water Main Break Caused Backflow Flood Through Dry Fire System

    Th OP calls it a dry fire system. There should be no water in it to freeze.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Water Main Break Caused Backflow Flood Through Dry Fire System

    Quote Quoting PayrolGuy
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    Th OP calls it a dry fire system. There should be no water in it to freeze.
    A dry system still uses water to extinguish a fire. It is constructed that the area exposed to freezing temps is kept without water but there’s is a point in the heated area that is charged with water. A special valve along with an air compressor and a few other gadgets allow the water to be prevented from entering the dry area unless there is a need for it. Once triggered, the dry area becomes filled with water.

    That’s why the original title was so misleading to those that are familiar with dry fire suppression systems.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Water Main Break Caused Backflow Flood Through Dry Fire System

    Quote Quoting Rock Knocker
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    Almost with certainty, the dry sprinkler side had nothing to do with it.

    Dry systems are fed with a wet main typically 4" to 8" IPS (iron pipe size) to an air pressure held valve. If air pressure (light blue) goes to zero, then the hold valve (yellow) opens and water flow starts. A slow air leak would not result in the sprinklers flowing, but only some or all the pipe becoming water charged.

    Both sides of the valve and a small section of the air riser are typically filled with water as a matter of coarse. But this entire riser should be in a heated room.
    Of course that is a basic dry type system. Some systems go a step further and use another means to release the water. This would be a pre-action system where it also requires a developing fire to be detected through some sort of detection system (smoke detectors, heat detectors.). That would then open an electrically activated water valve which releases the water into the dry section of the fire suppression system.


    Just poking at ya rock knocker
    I just had to one up you after posting the description with pics

    now you can whack me by posting pics of a pre-action system.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Water Main Break Caused Backflow Flood Through Dry Fire System

    Quote Quoting Rock Knocker
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    I've built a lot of buildings, and I've never seen a system that used any sort of detector driven solenoid valve to charge the system. I'm sure they're out there, but all of my experience was in Type I and V residential buildings, and offices and restaurants in Type I, II, III and V buildings. There they want the simplist system for the chore.


    All I could do would be to stare at a "pre-action system" with my jaw agape.
    Well, I’ve been on a few builds and know of a few myself. One (where the company I worked for was installing the fire alarm system which included the pre-action system, was in a school gym. We had to string a wire designed to melt at a specific temperature all along the entire length of the sprinkler piping. The loss of continuity registered as a high temp present and as such, activated the sprinkler system. Another was in a hospital where any unintentional water was a serious threat to the contents.

    While a typical dry system is used to avoid water freezing in the pipes, a pre-action system is where unintended water is a threat to the room or its contents. In the gym I spoke of above the wood floor is what was being protected. If somebody accidentally popped a sprinkler head (in a typical dry system) , the floor still gets wet. With a pre-action system it requires the detection system to activate the water control valve before you have water flow.

    its basically a system to protect a room or its contents from the sprinkler system being activated accidentally.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Water Main Break Caused Backflow Flood Through Dry Fire System

    Quote Quoting Rock Knocker
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    Wow, that's quite a system. I suppose they have to have a UPS or generator system 1000% functional and reliable, which a hospital would of course. I'll stick to the old mechanical system. Even those need power for booster pumps and 100% reliable backup power on the big Type I skyscrapers to make up for loss of head with elevation.
    No more so than a dry system. Whether it be for the main pump (even if on a municipal water system a booster pump is still often used to pump the water when the sprinkler is activated), the air compressor, or a jockey pump, or to power the actual well (where it is on a private well as opposed to a public water system) , no power means it doesn’t work.

    Thst school was only 4 story but it still uses a booster pump for the system. The municipal water supply isn’t calable of pushing enough water through the system without help.



    Btw. The one system I spoke of was in a public high school. It was in a gym (wood floor)

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