Frozen and burst pipes highlight a busy weather week on campus

It has been a wild weather week, and while Facilities Management crews have been busy responding to weather related damage, Director John Furman noted that the university escaped relatively unscathed. Several trees came down on the Ridge and near the Physical Plant, parts of campus lost power, and frozen pipes, drains, and sprinkler systems led to flooding, especially in the residence halls where some residents turned off the heat before leaving for winter break.

According to FM Auxiliary Maintenance Supervisor Jim Brady, Ridgeway Beta and Kappa suffered frozen pipes and radiators where windows were left open and heat turned off, leading to flooding in several rooms. Frozen drains in Ridgeway Alpha also led to some flooding. In Buchanan Towers, the fire sprinkler line in the foyer froze and broke, flooding first floor rooms along the north and east walls, and more turned off heat on the first and second floors created freeze breaks in the heat piping, flooding multiple rooms on each floor. Birnam Wood had some siding damage, and a pipe freeze caused flooding in two apartments.

“Considering how cold it got and for how long, there was very little damage to the academic buildings,” said Daniel Miller, FM Academic Maintenance Supervisor.

On Jan. 1, just as crews finished sweeping through, a frozen fire sprinkler head in Environment Studies burst. The fire system was shut down within thirty minutes and back online two hours later with minimal damage. Crews cleaned up water on the floor and replaced the sprinkler head. Miller Hall also had a sprinkler break just outside Miller Market, also with minimal damage. Carver and the Communications Facility both had coil breaks, which are currently being repaired.

FM would like to remind building occupants to leave the heat on low when leaving buildings for breaks to help avoid future problems. Furman credits FM supervisors and crews with foresight in checking buildings for potential damage and with quick responses to challenges that arose for keeping the damage and disruptions to a minimum.