By Laura Blenkinsop
A pipeline in a heating and cooling unit broke and flooded the 11th floor in Pitman Hall Oct. 7, forcing students out of their rooms to bail themselves out with garbage buckets. The manager of student housing said the pipe was not sealed properly.
“Our thinking is that the soldering on this joint wasn’t perfect,” said Glen Weppler.
He said the piping in the building was expected to last 25 years. Pitman is 18 years old.
“It was right at the elbow joint that the seam just didn’t hold any longer so that would be a workmanship issue initially when the building was built,” he said.
In September 1991, Pitman opened a week late and was still under construction when the first batch of froshees moved in. ACME Building and Construction Ltd., the company that built the residence, hired sub-contractors to do the plumbing.
“If we determine later that we have evidence, that we can go back and make a claim against the original installers, then we’ll make a decision to do that,” Weppler said. “But our focus right now is to get the students back in [their rooms] as quick as possible.”
Evan Reynolds, a first-year chemical engineering student, has been staying in the International Living Learning Centre since the pipe burst in his room and ruined the linear algebra notes that he needed for his midterm last Friday.
“Yeah they got soaked,” he said.
Housing wrote him a letter explaining what happened and his prof gave him a copy of the notes.
His clothes and a pair of brown Adidas running shoes were also soaked. Reynolds said he will be reimbursed for all the laundry he’ll have to do to salvage his clothes. But his blue hoodie, used by the repairman to block the leak, is permanently damaged.
“They’re replacing all my furniture that was in my room. They’re replacing the drywall, they’re replacing the carpet,” he said.
Weppler said they haven’t cemented a time to get the plumbing, drywall and electrical work done, but students should be back in their rooms in three to four weeks.
The university has insurance to cover the cost of the repairs but Weppler is not yet sure how much that will be.
“It’ll certainly be in the thousands of dollars,” he said. “And tens of thousands of dollars is a very real possibility.”
To prevent future problems, Weppler said, the school needs to move forward with a ten year “master facilities plan” that will cost millions of dollars and has been in the works since a building audit was done in 2006.
“We’re getting to the point with Pitman where it’s going to be important for us to be reinvesting back into the building.”