University News

University buildings, pipes give in to winter weather

Havoc wreaked by harsh sequence of winter storms and cold weather keeps Facilities workers busy

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Freezing cold temperatures and large accumulations of snow this semester have affected a number of University buildings, including Graduate Center E, Diman House and T.F. Green — the building that houses the Production Workshop.

In January alone there were 110 snow-related issues reported to the Department of Facilities Management, but only three snow-related issues have impacted student bedrooms, said Stephen Maiorisi, vice president for Facilities Management.

Most of the issues Facilities Management has encountered this semester have been leaks due to frozen pipes or excessive snow and ice on roofs, he added. On Feb. 11, the roof of the Pizzitola Center partially collapsed due to snow accumulation. Though Facilities Management has not yet done an official comparison of this winter’s issues to those of previous years, the number of reports has increased this year, he said.

February’s low temperatures have caused ice and snow to build up, Maiorisi said, adding that in warmer temperatures, snow on roofs is usually the first to melt. Though it is “impossible” to remove snow from all roofs, Facilities Management has removed snow from flat roofs with structural issues, he said, adding that the department only does so in special cases since removal has “the potential to cause more damage.”

Facilities Management prioritizes leaks as an immediate issue, though sometimes they may not to be able to fix the problem on the spot, Maiorisi said.

A leaking pipe caused recent water damage in Grad Center E, Maiorisi said. The accumulation of snow prevented a door from shutting completely, consequently freezing the pipeline, he added.

A similar situation occurred in Diman House, where the Social Action lounge was flooded because a frozen pipe burst, said Noah Schlottman ’16, a member of the Social Action House. Facilities Management responded within the first hour, though it took a few more days for the lounge to dry, he said. Since then, Social Action has been using its lounge again and “there is no long-lasting damage,” he added.

The ceiling leak in T.F. Green was also due to water intrusion — this time from the roof, Maiorisi said.

The ceiling in the Production Workshop Upspace has leaked every year for the past three years, said Austin Draycott ’15, a member of PW. But “this year is by far the worst,” he added.

Every 12 hours, about 15 to 20 gallons of water leak from the ceiling, dripping to the floor below and causing the drop-ceiling to collapse, Draycott said.

Though most of the electronic equipment has been moved out, certain expensive equipment, like the soundboard, has been ruined, he said.

PW placed a garbage can under the leak, into which Facilities Management later installed a pump as a temporary solution, he said.

“Sometimes people think (Facilities Management) knows about an issue, but we may not,” Maiorisi said, encouraging students to call Facilities Management about any issues. “It’s better to get to (the problems) sooner than later,” he added.