Leaking at Bangor High School from heavy rain this week stemmed from a $5 million roof replacement project that’s been in progress since last November and has actually been running ahead of schedule.
While leaking Tuesday prompted the closure of a classroom and hallway sections, heavy rains on Thursday had less of an impact.
The only spot in the school that leaked steadily on Thursday when Bangor was drenched in rain was outside the school’s library, according to Bangor School Department spokesperson Ray Phinney.
A bucket placed beneath the leak was enough to contain it, and the area remained open to student traffic.
Pairs of roofers toured the school during the rain on Thursday looking for leaks, Phinney said. When one was found, one worker would locate the source of the leak on the roof and patch the area.
The leaking problem stems from the kind of work being done on the roof, Phinney said.
Rather than removing and replacing the aging roof all at once, which would leave the school more exposed to the elements, crews are building a new 40,000-square-foot roof over portions of the existing roof. To support the new roof, crews drilled holes into the existing roof, which can let water in during construction.
The work is necessary to ensure the roof can manage the weight of snow.
“We have done our best to minimize and respond to all of those things, and I certainly speak for everyone in saying that we’re quite eager for the project to be finished,” Principal Paul Butler wrote in a message to families on Tuesday.
The nearly $5 million project began last November and is expected to wrap up in mid-November, Phinney said.
When the project was proposed, it was estimated that it would take two years to complete, Phinney said. But crews were able to work through the mild winter, and this year’s dry, hot summer allowed the project to advance ahead of schedule.
Leaking was a problem prior to construction, Phinney said, as the rubber seams in some areas of the 15-year-old roof were deteriorating.
“Like many other older buildings in Maine with flat roofs, we had periodic leaking from rain and snow melting,” Phinney said. “The areas where it was most evident were the ramped hallway areas.”
Construction crews are also monitoring air quality in the school to ensure any moisture entering the school isn’t causing mold, Phinney said. That air monitoring will continue one year after the roof project is complete.
In addition to the roof work, crews are working to complete electrical rewiring in the building, install an HVAC system and replace “thousands of square feet of original floor tile” in multiple classrooms in the high school, according to Butler.
Removal of the remaining original tile will continue this spring.