Frozen Pipes, Heaters Reported Across Campus as Temperatures Tumble

Damaged sprinkler heads and heating coils caused by frigid temperatures over the weekend of Jan. 4-5 kept plumbers and custodial staff busy with water leaks in several campus buildings, according to Dan McCarthy, assistant director for building maintenance at Physical Plant.

McCarthy said the most significant flooding occurred in Holdsworth and Herter halls, but other problems were reported in Lederle Graduate Research Center, Life Science Laboratories, Recreation Center, Marcus Hall and the Mullins Center.

A laboratory area in Holdsworth was soaked when a domestic hot water line ruptured, said McCarthy, who added that cost estimates are still being compiled. In other cases, flooding was confined to stairwells, hallways and classrooms, where there is little to damage and clean-up is simple.

McCarthy said fire sprinkler heads are prone to freeze-ups, especially in stairwells and corridors that are not as well heated as other areas. Sprinkler heads, heating coils and ceiling tiles are relatively inexpensive, he added, so most of the repair costs will be for the maintenance staff who were called in to deal with the breaks.

“The custodial staff were pretty busy cleaning up the water,” he said. “The plumbers also deserve a lot of credit for working 12-14 hour days.”

At the Mullins Center, which is managed by Comcast-Spectacor, a heater failed in a stairwell on the west side of the arena and a frozen pipe broke causing minor damage, according to Shane Cadwell, the facility’s general manager. He estimated the cost of repairs, including the heater and the pipe as well replacing several fire sprinkler heads, will be about $200.

Water line breaks were also reported in three residence halls, according to Ted Mone, associate director of facilities operations in Residential Life.

On Jan. 5, a ruptured water pipe in a 12th floor staff apartment storage room in Washington Tower caused minor damage, he said. On the following day, there was a broken water pipe in an unoccupied staff apartment in Brooks House and a leak on the 7th floor of John Quincy Adams Tower. The Brooks House break resulted in moderate damage, while the JQA leak resulted minor damage, said Mone. Repair costs are not yet totaled.