Maintenance issues may leave buildings with ‘hot water’

The Plant Operations and Maintenance department announced Thursday that several problems with the University’s Central Chilled Water Plant currently exist.

These difficulties impede the supply of chilled water to the campus buildings linked to the central distribution loop. Kendall Jones, director of plant operations and maintenance, discussed the nature of the problem.

“We have two chillers that are down. We have one chiller that’s operating and it’s generating half of its capacity,” Jones said.

This third chiller is in need of minor repair. These repairs will be made once the other two chillers are back on line. New tubes and a main motor must be reinstalled, in the remaining two chillers. Several wells must also be repaired.

Plant Operations and Maintenance, along with contractors, has been working to repair the chillers for three and a half weeks. Jones estimates that the restoration will be complete in two weeks. “We’re talking about major chillers. When you tear them down it requires major work,” he said.

The problem was first discovered during a routine inspection. The Central Plant team maintains the University’s chillers and boilers. Rotations are made “every hour, on the hour” during a 24-hour day.

The equipment checks are conducted every day of the week.

Jones also said that he encountered problems with the water wells and is unsure when the problem first occurred.

“Rocks and gravel caused this problem. Filters only protect small debris,” Jones said.

He added that several contractors are checking the wells for additional problems.

During inspection, the teams use cameras to locate debris. Jones said that the contractors pull 100 feet of shaft out to inspect the wells.

Jones does not want students or faculty to be alarmed.

He urges the affected parties to remain patient in this manner.

As long as temperatures do not rise at night, then no observable change is likely to occur.

“We’re still generating cold water. As long as the weather is cool, there is really no effect,” Jones said. “The cooling capacity can be maintained until we’re above 70-degrees consistently. The cooling ability is there, but if all the A.C. is on, we can’t meet the demand.”

A rise in temperature will tax the system, for there are over 30 campus buildings dependent on the Central Plant system.

James Paramore II, a media specialist, has not encountered problems with cold water while working in Coleman Library’s Instructional Media Center.

“Not that I can recall,” said Paramore of the water temperature changes. “The only change that I’ve seen is that the water pressure has been low at times. But I don’t know if that’s a related problem.”

Tomika Morris, 20, a junior business administration student said, “I have not experienced any trouble.”

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