Facilities Services replaces aged pipes


Photo credit: Oliver Chapin-Eiserloh

Photo by Oliver Chapin-Eiserloh

Repair projects are currently underway near Chapman and behind the Bell Center. The repairs are aimed at fixing compromised hot water pipes that supply Chapman and Halsell as well as Prassel, Lightner, Thomas, Isabel, Myrtle and Susanna Residence Halls.

According to Jim Baker, senior director of Facilities Services, breakages in the water pipes near Chapman resulted in a lack of heating in both Chapman and Coates Library. In response, Facilities Services has placed temporary pipes above ground to restore hot water.

“The section of the [water] pipe feeding the library and Chapman failed, and I know we could not check that out while classes were going on so we opted to do a [temporary] pipe replacement to get heat back on in Chapman,” Baker said.

The replacement pipe is laying above ground between Chapman and the library and will remain there for the rest of until next summer in order to continue providing heat to Chapman and Halsell. Facilities Services will bury the pipe in summer 2020, thereby completing the repair project.

“The temporary replacement pipe that’s lying on top of the ground is complete and in service. The part that still needs to be done is we need to remove a large section of the concrete and bury the pipe, so it’s part of work this summer so that we don’t disrupt you guys and your classes,” Baker said.

According to Gordon Bohmfalk, university architect and sustainability director, the pipes failed due to their age.

“They are just old. It is difficult to predict when you are going to have a break, eventually, they do break, and that’s why the temporary pipes are in until they can replace the pipe underground,” Bohmfalk said.

According to Baker, pipes behind the Bell Center also began leaking due to old age, though the cold front may also be a contributing factor.

“When it gets cold, I need more hot water in the building, and in order to achieve more hot water in the building, I have to ramp the pump pressures up to achieve the volume,” Baker said.

The construction taking place behind the Bell Center is a continuation of a previous project aimed at permanently restoring hot water to the Bell Center, as well as to Prassel, Lightner, Thomas, Isabel, Myrtle and Susanna Residence Halls.

According to Baker, progress on this project is underway. Repairs to the damaged pipe have begun at the baseball field. The next steps involve setting a new layer of grass above the buried pipe in order to restore landscaping on the field.

“I am guessing we are going to spend a full month on the baseball [field]. Now that we got the pipe buried and the ditch kind of covered up, I’ll have to bring in the landscaper to properly prepare and compact, and put down the sod, and fix the irrigation and put down new grass. I’m guessing that will take him three more weeks,” Baker said.

Sharon Curry, sustainability coordinator, emphasized that the repairs taking place do not affect drinking water or irrigation systems on campus.

“It’s just an independent system from the domestic drinking water and landscape irrigation water,” Curry said.

According to Bohmfalk, a new building project will soon be underway to increase the energy efficiency of the Chapman and Halsell buildings. This project will include the construction of a new high-performing building in the area to improve overall efficiency.

“We have the Chapman-Halsell project that is getting ready to start and our intent is to make those buildings more efficient by adding a new building to be more efficient than before,” Bohmfalk said.

All in all, these projects aim to enhance the performance of Trinity’s energy systems.

“We are always trying to improve our systems and make them high-performing,” Bohmfalk said.

The Office of Finance and Administration did not respond with the cost of construction in time for publication.