A week after the flood

Roann Kopel, an accounting professor, had her office flooded on Jan. 12 after a pipe burst in Lumpkin Hall. She also had her accounting class re-located to the Doudna Fine Arts Center. A number of other professors also needed to have their classes meet in different buildings around campus.

So far, besides changing buildings for her class, Kopel said she needed re-organize her office from the flood, which, according to Kopel, was a good thing since she is retiring at the end year.

Suzanne Davis, a business law professor, had water pour into her classroom and has had her classes relocated to Coleman Hall.

“It has been a little difficult because there is not as much technology in Coleman Hall as in Lumpkin Hall,” Davis said. “In Coleman Hall there are no Starboards and very little Smartboards, which I use to take notes in class.”

Gary Reed, director of facilities planning and management, said the water leak in Lumpkin Hall was caused by a fire main freezing over while in a mechanical chase, or a hollow section of a wall, that runs along the north wall of the building.

Although not certain, Reed thinks the fire main could have been damaged because of the recent significantly low temperatures.

Since the flooding, Reed said improvements to the insulation system in the building and sealing the building against outside air infiltration are being made.

Reed said pipe damage could also be caused by ice buildup on the roofs of buildings and gutter systems, plugged roof drains or the wearing out of roofing systems.

What can students do?

Students on campus need to take precautions as well to avoid pipes from freezing.

Mark Hudson, director of housing and dining, said the most important thing to prevent leaks in the residence halls is to keep windows closed.

He said when the residence halls have flooded, like with Carman Hall last year, it was because someone left a window open when they left for class.

“Windows open for a prolonged period of time can freeze the pipe,” Hudson said. “Instead of pressure flowing, it can build up and break the pipe.” Hudson said this can cause flooding in an entire residence hall, since water travels from upper to lower floors, and leaving a window open can have an effect on other residents in the building.

Opening a window in one room can heat up the rest of the rooms because the thermostat is making up for the cold air in that one room.

Hudson said workers try to pay attention to open windows during the winter to prevent floods from happening.

“This is not a super-regular occurrence, but more significant cold air is present (in the winter), which can therefore freeze pipes,” Hudson said. “Whenever you have significantly large environment, sometimes the pipe can eventually fail as well.”

Heather Holm can be reached at [email protected] or 581-7942.