Negligent Boiler Maintenance Causes Two Deaths In Low-Income Apartment


Public Housing ExpertThis case involves two plaintiffs living in low-income apartment housing that died due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The pipes in the boiler room allegedly began to rust and crack causing a carbon monoxide leak. There were no carbon monoxide detectors present in the apartments or boiler room to warn the residents. The building superintendent alleged that an inspection of the boiler room was conducted 6 months before the second resident passed away. An expert in boiler maintenance and repair was sought to opine on inspection and maintenance standards.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please describe your experience in boiler room inspection and maintenance.
  • 2. Are you capable of determining the approximate amount of time necessary for the rust build up and erosion of the pipes would take to occur?
  • 3. If done timely and correctly, should an inspection of the pipes have determined their wear?

Expert Witness Response E-167157

I am the Director of Engineering at Powerhouse Equipment & Engineering Co., Inc. where I have performed and written reports on multiple boiler room and steam system inspections for various customers and clients. I am also in charge of the inspection, maintenance, investigation, troubleshooting, and reporting of any issues faced with our portable boiler room units. We have over 100 units in our fleet that must be inspected and maintained. There are many factors that contribute to the erosion time including, but not limited to, air quality in the boiler room, any chemicals or processes releasing contaminants in the air supply to the boiler room, fluid medium type and quality, velocity and turbulence of fluid medium, and type of pipe. A part of the inspection of a boiler room should be to determine the condition of all equipment and piping in the boiler room. I previously worked for a condensing boiler company that was the target of several cases for carbon monoxide poisoning and therefore am aware of the dangers and potential risks of improperly installed or maintained equipment.

Expert Witness Response E-035708

I founded and owed as president and CEO a metal fabrication company that built pressure vessels, power boilers and fabricated piping and have been in the business since 1966. From what you have stated, the problem is not just a boiler room, but the failure of the piping associated with the boiler system. That is a corrosion and erosion issue of which I am well qualified to speak with authority. I am a mechanical engineer, with an MBA and extensive education and experience in metallurgy. From the forensic examination that I am sure was done, I can tell the projected life of the piping from its installation until failure. Adequate inspection (determining the thickness of the piping) should be done on a regular basis and would have alerted the operator of a potential problem. I am currently an expert witness in a case in Virginia of an exploded pressure vessel downstream of a boiler system with very similar conditions of inadequate inspection and zero maintenance.

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