A Claim at the Snow





One of the challenges we find in Restoration is to be able to go anywhere at any time to ensure that a customer is professionally looked after. So, it’s no surprise that FRA was recently seen at a claim in Mt. Hotham, in mid-winter where we had to attend a chalet that experienced a large leak to all parts of the home with sub-zero temperatures to work in and contend with.





Our staff had to wear full thermal and waterproof PPE gear that would enable us to work in the subzero temperatures.
















So, how did we approach it?





  • FRA had to dispense with the original drying methods and needed to use more suitable equipment due to the extreme weather conditions.
  • Using advanced heat drying techniques, we could significantly reduce the length of time spent on the claim.





Cause of the Claim





As advised by the electrician on-site who has provided temporary power, a leak from a pipe to the dishwasher on the top floor of a 3-level ski lodge, has leaked for approximately 7 days prior to being discovered.





However, upon closer inspection it has been identified that the tap under the kitchen sink has a 2-cm wide crack in the body. This has caused a large escape of water to the triple level property to be affected. Water inundation is throughout the entire property on all levels, and all the ceilings, walls and subfloors have been saturated and are reading 100% wet.





A plumber was appointed to rectify the tap as a matter of urgency to repair the tap as the water has been isolated at the mains, and should it be accidentally turned back on, then this will cause the building to be flooded again.












Due to the outside subzero temperatures and challenging blizzard conditions currently on the mountain, meant that the building was below zero temperature inside.





Heat and vapour pressure was used to release the bound and trapped moisture, utilising desiccant dehumidification and a portable Diesel heater which will work in conditions up to -20c as conventional drying methods will not work in these conditions.





Due to a large amount of deeply bound moisture present and the very cold conditions it had taken 5 weeks to return the remaining structure back to an acceptable condition, to allow for building reinstatement works to begin.





Target drying goals for structural timbers and the chipboard subfloor were between 14% and 19% equilibrium moisture content.












The Challenges we faced





We were delighted with the overall outcome of the job but there were several challenges we faced. Some of the items of note include:





  • Accommodation costs were excessive due to the remoteness of the location. The Assessor originally wanted to relocate the FRA staff one hour away from the mountain. Following further negotiations, closer proximity on the mountain was granted and this offered a better solution over the course of the claim and demonstrated a cost saving to the insurer.
  • Chains on the vehicles for the snow were not available to FRA until we reached the mountain. We had to hire these over the course of the project which was an arduous physical task given the conditions and we would have fared better to have had a 4WD.
  • The refuelling the Dragon (mobile drying unit) was a time-consuming exercise. We used fuel drums (jerry cans) which were more portable to ensure a timelier outcome. However, if we had the ability to subcontract a mobile refuelling service, it would have been more economical.









the dragon1

the dragon2

the dragon3





The Outcome of the Claim





Despite all the challenges faced by the remote location, weather conditions and general state of the complex, FRA completed the claim within acceptable time frames to the insured customer and the insurer, reinstated the chalet back to its former condition. We also learnt a lot from being in this area, lessons that will hold us in good stead for future claims of this type.