Over two weeks ago, on Feb. 3, the community of Springfield College was thrusted directly into one of the coldest nights they would ever experience on campus. While the day was a modest 20 degrees, by nightfall, that number had dropped significantly lower.
By 3 a.m. the following morning, the temperature had hit its lowest point: -9 degrees.
It wasn’t the coldest temperature ever recorded in Springfield, that being -18 degrees﹣which has happened five times in Hampden county history – most recently on Jan. 22, 1984. But, the over 30 mile-per-hour wind gusts made the air feel like it was -25 degrees outside.
By Monday, Feb. 5, the weather had picked back up again, ballooning to a more normal near-50 degree day. But the effects of the frigid climate were still lingering.
As faculty and staff of the administration building got ready to start a new week, they quickly realized that all of the water pressure in the building was severely weak, prompting them to report the issue to the faculty management team.
After initially being unable to find the core of the issue, Springfield College Director of Facilities Kevin Roy realized that they needed to look deeper – literally.
He decided that in order to find the problem, they needed to look at the water pipes located directly under the Admin Green.
The facilities staff, along with an outside company, joined together in excavating the area. Once they did, the heart of the water pressure issue had been pinpointed.
“Ultimately, what we found out was there was a valve that came off of the main water line that was not closing, and so I couldn’t isolate the building totally,” Roy said.
The valve had come off because of the sub-negative degree weather just days prior. In order to fix the problem, a couple of valves had to be added and removed.
“We ended up cutting a couple of new valves so we could isolate the building,” Roy said. “Then we put a new valve in for the building itself. What we did was we ran a new pipe from the main (water supply) into the building. That’s basically what the job was.”
By Friday, Feb. 17, the construction had ceased, and the hole was filled back in.
Although the issue was fixed, a relapse is not completely out of the picture. But with the addition of the new valves, if a problem like this is to occur again, it will be much easier to solve.
“It doesn’t mean that the issue is preventable,” Roy said. “The line was old. But now we can control the building better, so we can make repairs easier in the future.”
Overall, Roy is happy with how quickly and efficiently the project went.
“We went as quickly as we could to keep the job moving,” he said. “There were a few days we had to wait for parts and things like that, but we still managed to finish in an appropriate time frame.”
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College