Students Tricia Timmons and Chandler Sturgis were surveying the top floor of the historic E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center mansion when they noticed something unusual.

“We weren’t expecting to find what we did,” Timmons said.

Both Timmons, a senior, and Chandler, a junior, are majoring in residential property management (RPM). The survey was part of a project for a facilities management class with associate professor Dina Zemke.

The pair was reviewing a checklist of items to monitor the condition of the building when they noticed a rug in a lounge area was wet.

“This led us to discover that the air conditioner unit was leaking, so we reported the problem,” Sturgis said.

Shortly thereafter, another group of students from the same class noticed water on the custom-designed parquet flooring of the second floor. They traced the moisture to a bulging ceiling that was full of water and leaking through oak casework.

Ball State University’s facility management personnel concluded that the root of both problems was the leaking a/c unit that Timmons and Sturgis found.

“We were extremely lucky to have our class survey session in the E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center that day,” Zemke said. “If the situation continued for even another 24 hours without being detected, the damage to the wooden parquet floors and the dining room may have been catastrophic, not to mention the possibility of fostering mold growth in the walls and ceilings.”

Damage caused by leaking A/C unit.
Damage caused by leaking A/C unit.
Damage caused by leaking A/C unit.
Pictured above: the damage caused to the building from the leaking a/c unit starting with the rug (far left), bulging ceiling and dining room cabinetry.

This timely discovery and rapid repairs that followed averted a potentially disastrous situation for the mansion. Built in 1906, the mansion still has most of its original finishes, like plaster walls, custom woodwork and stained glass that would have been damaged if the property management students had not discovered this issue.

“The experience taught me to always take a second look at things and dive deeper because you don’t know what you might discover,” said Sturgis. “This property management class has also given me career experience and knowledge that I will take with me into my upcoming internship and future jobs.”

These vigilant students were able to put their property management skills into practice and help this priceless building stay safe.

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