AUGUSTA — Dozens of brown boxes filled with paper files were stacked in the lobby of the Capital Judicial Center Friday waiting to be freeze-dried.

The freeze-drying is an attempt to recover court records that were soaked last weekend when a hot water pipe partially separated, and water flooded the records-holding area in the courthouse.

The accident, which was discovered Feb. 6, forced an early closure that day because of the lack of heat. Initial reports indicated the pipe had frozen.

Mary Ann Lynch, spokesman for the Maine Judicial Branch, said the records restoration should last about a month.

“Many court records from both the Superior and District Courts, and many different case types, were affected by the water,” she said via email on Friday.

The four-story court building, which also has a lower level basement and garage, has an alarm, but Lynch said the leak was not large enough to set it off.

“The heating alarm did go off Monday morning, once the building had cooled to the trigger point for that alarm,” Lynch said.

The 120,000-square-foot facility, which combined Augusta District and Kennebec Superior court functions as well as the Office of Information Technology and the Administrative Office of the Courts, opened in March 2015.

The total project cost, including parking lots and a series of renovations on the Kennebec County Courthouse, to which it is attached, was $57 million.

Since then it has had a series of problems, including caulking problems in the glass-stairway tower on the southwest side of the building and issues with interior doors.

“In any new, large, complex structure, a shake-out period is expected,” Lynch said. “This is true for any building of this size, with this many systems.”

So far, she said all remediation work has been covered by the warranty.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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