Abbott Library Closes Lower Level and Works on Water Leaks

The posting on the Sunapee town library website reads: “The lower level of the library is now closed to the public and will not reopen for several weeks. During this time, mold remediation and repair work will be performed. A limited collection of children’s materials will be available for loan from the main level of the library. All children’s programs will be held off-site until the work is complete. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please contact the library if you have any questions.”

Although the notice had no date, a two-week fix is now unlikely based on recent findings of more water related damage and drainage failures at Abbott Library.

Thursday, Library Trustee Barbara Chalmers with help from Sunapee Road Agent Tony Bergeron, Superintendent David Bailey from the water and sewer department, and Henry Cunningham, a former W & S chief, discovered old foundation drains at the library. It looks like they are not draining properly and contributed to water leaking into the basement.

“Our guess was that drainage ran to the river, given the age of the building,” said Chalmers, after researching old construction documents for the building. “We searched the river bank and couldn’t find any pipe, however we did find a granite niche in the old stone wall that extended back about 10’.”

After Cunningham did a dye test from a clean-out discovered near the [library] basement door, a trickle of dye was eventually seen at the niche by in the Sugar River, located across Main Street from the library.

The town highway department will excavate some test pits to locate the pipe, which is likely broken, plugged or otherwise not working, Chalmers added.

This is one factor contributing to moisture found in the library’s lower level, and the goal is to “get the exterior system back into some sort of working order” along with a new drain system below the floor slab to ensure a dry basement, Chalmers said.

Cracks in the concrete floor slab and foundation walls,  and failed sealant at basement windows, are also involved.

In a presentation to the trustees last week, Chalmers reported: “Significant long-term water damage and wetness was found in the children’s room, west wall below the upper floor main entry. Wood floor members are rotted and substantial ant infestation was found below the main library entry door.”

A dehumidifier has operated in the library basement for years. This year the library discovered toxic mold in the lower level, where children and adult book collections are housed and where the After School Kids (ASK) program normally meets three times a week. The library re-located the ASK program to Community Methodist Church when the mold was discovered.

To prepare for the mold remediation work, which was done Nov. 11 – 13th by DecTam, Inc., the lower level rooms were packed up and moved with help of trustees and volunteers. With bookcases, wall finish and carpet removed, evidence of water leaks and water-related damage to the building became evident.

Last week the trustees discussed the timetable, costs and potential scope of repairs, including foundation and interior repairs.

Not including the excavation and exterior drainage repairs, the cost estimate is $26,000 to $32,000.  A date for re-opening the lower level has not yet been determined.

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