Campus, News

Cold water pipe leak affects air conditioning in three liberal arts buildings

A cold-water pipe leak has prompted an air conditioning outage in three Liberal Arts buildings on Monday, Sept. 20 and Tuesday, Sept. 21 as temperatures reached over 90 degrees.

While conducting a planned repair on a leak in a hot water pipe located in the Liberal Arts 4 quad, Beach Building Services engineers discovered an adjacent chilling water pipe was also in need of repairs.

Liberal Arts buildings 2, 3, and 4 were renovated in 2015 for the first time since they were built in the 1950’s. The three buildings run on the same air conditioning.

The pipes run hot water heated by boilers and chilled water cooled by ice making machines, from a central plant located in the lower campus.

Liberal Arts 1 and 5 were constructed later on a different air conditioning system and were unaffected by the outage.

According to the Beach Building Services lead engineer repairs began last Tuesday after being aware of the leak for “a couple months.”

Initially the repairs were not going to have any effect on the cold air conditioning.

But Beach Building Services sent an email Monday saying engineers were performing “emergency repairs due to a break in the chilled water line” that will affect air conditioning in the upper campus buildings. The email indicated an update would be sent out “when repairs are completed.”

“We’re hoping to have the chilled water back online hopefully Friday, Monday at the latest,” one engineer who declined to give his name said.

The outage has left professors and students battling the heat as temperatures reached the high 90s on Tuesday.

“To me it’s a minor inconvenience but there are students who have been complaining big time about this,” professor Chris Karadjov, who teaches Global News Media, said. “Luckily it doesn’t last long, in a few weeks we won’t even think of the air conditioning until like May.”

Maintenance staff distributed box fans to several classrooms. However, the fans were loud and somewhat ineffective as it became an inconvenience to have on during class.

Two big block fans were given to classrooms affected by the air conditioning outage.
Two big block fans were given to classrooms affected by the air conditioning outage. Photo credit: Sebastian Perez

“I kept the fan on in my 11 a.m. class but it was so loud, I’m not even sure the students really heard me, it was difficult to be heard,” professor Gwen Shaffer who teaches Culture and Politics of the Internet, said. “My 12:30 [p.m.] class, I asked my students, ‘Can you really feel the air from the fans?’ and most of them said no and I said I’m going to turn them off because I’m screaming.

Two big fans were provided due to the air conditioning outage.
Two big fans were provided due to the air conditioning outage. Photo credit: Sebastian Perez

Students confirmed that the fans were a distraction and made it difficult to hear professors.

“We had two fans in our classroom, they were brought maybe 20 minutes after class had already started,” Noel Garcia, a third-year journalism major, said.” It was hard to hear the professor, especially because of the mask.”

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