Hampshire College aerial Fall 2015

Preventing and Responding to Building Water Damage

All offices should take precautions to prevent damage should water enter the space from a pipe break or leak. While top floor and basement areas are more prone to water coming from the outside through building leaks, pipe breaks can occur throughout the building from plumbing and sprinkler systems.

Being vigilant about keeping equipment and materials off the floor will prevent potential loss of those items, and make clean-up if a water incursion occurs faster and easier.


  • Do not store paper, boxes, or other porous materials on the floor.
  • Raise all computers and other electronic equipment off the floor. 
  • Report any evidence of leaks to facilities and grounds immediately. After hours, call campus safety and security.
  • Turn off your computer at the end of the work day; more serious damage occurs when the computer is on. (This will save energy too!)


Wet areas and materials should be dried within 24-48 hours. Facilities and grounds will respond to all water incursions to remove the water and dry out the space. Wet vacs and extractors are used to remove water from the floor and carpet, and dehumidifiers and fans placed in the area. In some cases wet surfaces, such as dry wall and carpet, may need to be removed.

Office staff should:

Open the windows and keep interior doors open to increase air circulation, if the outside air is dry (low humidity).

Empty dehumidifiers when full. Leave dehumidifiers on overnight. Units shut off when full, so you do not need to worry about overflow.

Identify wet papers or other porous materials and either:

  • discard non-essential papers and other materials
  • remove papers from boxes, file drawers, piles, and spread out to dry
  • copy wet papers and discard originals unless maintaining originals is required
  • for large amounts contact facilities and grounds to discuss locations for drying
  • for critical documents (e.g., library archival material or art) contact a professional conservator for instructions.

Assist facilities and grounds by emptying file cabinets so they can be moved to dry carpet or flooring underneath.

Remove personal floor rugs or textiles for drying and cleaning.

Remove all material to be discarded to the trash area immediately. For large quantities, contact facilities and grounds for removal.

For additional information, or if you need an evaluation of a flooded area, contact environmental health and safety (413.559.6620).

For information on filing a claim with risk management, see Property Insurance - Department.

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Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002