News Briefs: Equipment behind Bell Center

A mainline heating pipe broke in August. Because of the difficult positioning of the pipe, placed 20 feet underground, Facilities Services will not be able to repair it. According to Jim Baker, senior director for Facilities Services, heating pipes need to expand and contract as hot water flows through it.

“It’s unfortunate that this one is too deep to repair. In that limestone, which is just solid rock that deep, the contraction and expansion of that pipe — it just wouldn’t allow it to give and take,” Baker said.

This heating pipe controls heating water and the hot showers to the Bell Center and six residence halls: Prassel, Lightner, Thomas, Isabel, Myrtle and Susanna. To overcome this problem, Facilities Services has placed a boiler behind the Bell Center which is bringing hot water to these locations.

In the coming weeks, Facilities Services will run four new pipes (two heating and two chilled water pipes) from the Bell Center to the construction pit by Murchison. When these pipes are installed, the boiler will be removed and the water will be redirected to the new pipes. Baker does not anticipate this problem again because facilities services will be using plastic pipes.

“This open cutting will allow the contraction and expansion that it needs. We’re going to also put in new plastic pipe that’s rated for the temperature of the water that we use here on campus. Most plastic pipes can’t handle the heat that we’ve put through these pipes, but in the last two years, someone has developed a plastic pipe that will not melt, and I won’t have any corrosion problems because it’s all plastic,” Baker said.

Because this is a new material, Facilities Services has had to spend some time researching.

“Part of the reason why we haven’t started the project is that we’ve been vetting that the material is the right material. We had to check all of our references, and we’ve made a couple of site visits to places where they’re using it,” Baker said.

There will be more communication in the coming weeks to residents and the Trinity community. Facilities Services does not anticipate any disruptions or water outages during the construction. Additionally, Facilities Services will be hosting a town hall Oct. 18 at 4:00 p.m. in Murchison Lounge to discuss the timeline with any community members that want to join.