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 due to 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 Management (ext. 2012) immediately. After hours, call Public Safety and Service (ext. 2304).

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!)

Make sure Public Safety and Service has current contact information for your space, if a water incursion occurs at night or on the weekend.


Wet areas and materials should be dried within 24 - 48 hours. Facilities Management 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 (or send to Infoshred for destruction) 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 Management to discuss locations for drying
  • for critical documents (e.g., library archival material or art) contact a professional conservator for instructions.

Assist Facilities Management in emptying file cabinets so they can be moved to dry wet carpet or flooring underneath.

Remove personal floor rugs or textiles for drying and cleaning.

Remove all material to be discarded to the trash room immediately. For large quantities contact Facilities Management for removal.

For additional information or to request evaluation of an area or to report a concern, please contact Facilities Management: submit a maintenance request or call 413-538-2012.

For information on filing a claim with Risk Management, see Property Insurance-Department.