Extreme cold leads to busted pipes, plumbing problems around campus

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Burst pipe in Rowe building at UConn’s Storrs campus

With temperatures dipping below negative across the state, there have been six burst pipes on the University of Connecticut Storrs campus since Monday, four of which occurred Tuesday night, Director of Building Services Aris Ristau said.

The incidents occurred in Buckley, Beach, Rowe, the Engineering & Science Building, the Pharmacy Building and the Nathan Hale Inn, Ristau said.

The ruptured pipes were caused by frozen water in the pipes, Ristau said.

“Pipe bursts typically happen after a period of extreme cold when there is not adequate heating or compromised insulation in a space,” Ristau said. “The cold freezes the water in the pipe, which expands, and can crack and/or damage pipes.”

Tuesday afternoon in Rowe, shortly after noon, a sprinkler pipe burst.

“It was a sprinkler pipe in a vestibule in Rowe,” Ristau said. “Either the heating system in the vestibule failed or could not keep up with the frigid conditions.”

Because of the burst pipe, the building was evacuated and classes held in the building were briefly disrupted.

To avoid issues like this from happening in the future, Ristau said the on-campus work staff is trained to spot potential trouble spots.

“We avoid many of these issues by training our teams out in the field (custodians, tradesfolks, etc.) to report heat issues as they see them,” Ristau said. “We also rely heavily on faculty, staff and students to report heating issues to the Operations Center. Facilities also has a preventative maintenance program that proactively services and addresses mechanical systems on campus.”

Ristau encouraged students to report any issues to the facilities department.

“Students should feel comfortable reporting any maintenance issue that they come across on campus or in their residence hall to the Operations Center at 860-486-3113 or on the myUConn app,” Ristau said.

With temperatures expected to rise in the coming days, Ristau said minor flooding could be a concern.

“When the temperature outside then increases, the water unfreezes and we sometimes end up with a significant amount of water to clean up,” Ristau said.


Luke Hajdasz is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at luke.hajdasz@uconn.edu.

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