Learn From New Orleans Pump Failure

Damage prevention is way cheaper than damage repair

Citizens of New Orleans came to a violent realization Saturday (Aug 5th) when a torrential downpour brought the city to its knees. Over 9 inches or rain flooded homes and businesses and the entire ecosystem of commerce was shutdown.

What Went Wrong?

It wasn’t the size of the storm, it was the failure of the stormwater drain pumps.

It’s been about a decade since the costliest natural disaster in U.S. History, Hurricane Katrina. Since then, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked on a flood control system to keep that from ever being repeated.
So, you can imagine the outrage and frustration when the boasted water drainage system didn’t live up to expectations. Then, news broke out that the stormwater drainage system wasn’t even operating at full capacity. The information from the sewage and water board went from “Everything’s working” to “At least 16 pumps were inoperable” over a period of a few days. That’s well over half of the pumps in the city.

Cars and homes were flooded as the pumps just didn’t keep up with the rain.

16 of the 24 pumps in the city, designed to do one thing, had been neglected to the point of not even turning on. Somebody seriously made a terrible judgement call by not making the maintenance of those pumps TOP priority.

Was skipping maintenance really worth it?

This is a tragedy that should have never happened. It’s one thing if they were blindsided… but they weren’t. There have been major dollars spent over the past decade for exactly this kind of scenario. The questions becomes, is the problem fixed now? If not, why not?

Systems go unchecked, or results go unreported.

Routine maintenance is deemed too costly or not a priority.

Now fingers are being pointed and people are losing their jobs.

The mentality of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” just doesn’t apply in the world of plumbing and HVAC. How much would it have cost to have the problem fixed and tested before all hell broke loose? While we can’t give you an exact number, we’d simply answer “less”.

It would have caused less money to prevent the problem then to deal with the repercussions,
it always does.

What we can learn from this disaster?

If your HVAC System goes down, you lose more than just heat. Productivity is affected in a number of ways. From machines being inoperable, to staff’s desire to work in uncomfortable conditions. If you have an IT department, they are going to have some downtime due to computers needing a cool environment to run. If refrigeration is a part of your process, you can kiss that inventory goodbye if you can’t keep the right temperature for food.  Let’s not even get into the compliance issues for safety inspectors…

To ensure you don’t lose money due to HVAC failure the best thing to do is have a maintenance schedule, and stick by it. Contact the experts at Chadwick Service Co. to work with you and set up a plan to keep your maintenance in check.

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