Water, Water, Everywhere: FM Complaints

A little riddle: What is necessary for life yet can make life miserable for an FM? Water. Where it should be, water is great. Where it shouldn't be, water is insidious, destructive and a nightmare to remediate. Just ask these Building Operating Management readers who submitted stories of facility occupants complaining of water in the wrong place.

Urban Farming

"Tenant called and complained there was brown water dripping from the ceiling above him. Referred call to maintenance who informed tenant it was impossible.  There were no pipes between floors that could cause this. Tenant called again to complain it was getting worse. Maintenance went to take a look and sure enough there was brown water dripping from the ceiling. Confused, the maintenance guy had no explanation. He thought of going to the suite upstairs to take a look to see if he could figure out the problem. What he found was a total surprise.  Tenant above had put soil down on the floor and was growing pot!  He was watering the plants every day causing the "brown water" to drip to the floor below."


"Work order was called in by a student whose apartment was flooded. She said she saw water coming out of the cabinet but had to go to class so didn’t call it in."

Water Delivery

"A few years ago, I was the FM responsible for the property holdings of a financial group’s asset management division. One of our leaseholders, an international accounting firm, occupied a prestigious four-story building. At the period of this event the local water-supplier company was carrying out an exercise to replace their underground twelve-inch mains along the street fronting three of our buildings, resulting in frequent interruptions of supply and empty reserve tanks.

As this was a planned exercise, we were mostly able to arrange for truck borne augmentation of our supplies. This I organized without incident over a period of two weeks for our first two buildings so much so that as the repair crews approached the third location the process was becoming routine.

A dawn call by an early-arriving tenant staffer alerted me (while still at home) that 'Mr. FM, there is NO water in the building, shall we have the day off?!'

'No,' I replied, 'I shall arrange it,' and having already prepped the trucking company, they were on site within the hour. At that early hour none of my facility staff were as yet at work, but I alerted security to expect the first delivery of two trucks, totaling 1,800 gallons of water. No problem; and please let me know when the trucks arrive.

 'HELP! There is water coming from the ceiling!' was the next call I received while still preparing to leave home. A lot of water? But how could that be? There was no water in the building.

 This building’s access to the underground tank went along the back yard through a fire door. Unfortunately a few feet before the tank’s hose coupling was the red painted fireman’s hose coupling... These bumbling incompetents connected to the fire coupling and pumped over 1,000 gallons before they were alerted to the error. Tragically, the fire equipment maintenance contractors had removed the valve from the third floor pipe riser, for some defect, to be replaced. All of the water spouted onto the deserted (at this early hour) executive level third floor; soaked through to the second floor, first, and eventually to the ground. You can imagine my next twenty-four sleepless hours, hectically coordinating recovery and continuity operations to achieve resumption of business in the next day."

Usually, these stories make me giggle. But that last one just makes me stare in horror. What are your water gone wrong stories? Share in the comments below, or send me an email at naomi.millan@tradepress.com.

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