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The Blue & Gray Press | August 17, 2017

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Heating outage reaches campus due to emergency repairs

Heating outage reaches campus due to emergency repairs

By KATHERINE BARTLES

On Nov. 6, the University of Mary Washington’s Facility Services sent out a campus wide announcement that they would be shutting down the steam and condensate systems on the Fredericksburg Campus.

The shutdown was scheduled to take place on Nov. 10 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The email read that this outage was necessary in order to make repairs on the heating system before it became colder, and that the majority of the campus would not have hot water.

According to John Wiltenmuth, associate vice president for facilities services, the emergency repairs were due to leaks that appeared when the campus steam system was activated for the winter. When asked why the repairs to the heating were planned for November and what the outage intended to fix, he responded by saying that the leaks were only discovered two weeks prior to the outage.

Wiltenmuth added that the heating plant boiler had to be shut down in order to fix the main steam and condensate piping systems, explaining why heat and hot water was temporarily unavailable in residence halls and academic buildings.

“We rely upon a third party contractor for repair services. This week was the earliest they were  available,” Wiltenmuth said. “[It is] somewhat similar to turning off water to repair a plumbing pipe. Several leaking pipes will be fixed and a valve will be replaced.”

After the hot water outage had ended, he said that the necessary work was finished and the repairs that were done should be expected to last more than five years.

However, because the system is somewhere between 15 and 70 years old, there may be more things to be fixed later on. There is no guarantee that there will be no more outages for the remainder of the year, according to Wiltenmuth.

When the email was sent out about the hot water being shut off, students living on campus became frustrated and afraid that the residence halls would be incredibly cold, due to the fact that there was a high of 57 degrees that day and they would not be able to use hot water for showers or turn on the radiators.

“For the hot water outage on Tuesday, we were aware of the outage because of the e-mail and we just had to take showers later on in the day,” said Allie Ruhlen, a freshman who lives in Westmoreland Hall.

Ruhlen also said that Westmoreland Hall also had an unannounced hot water outage all day Saturday Nov. 7, but they were not sent any information regarding that outage.

This outage in Westmoreland Hall was not confirmed by Facilities Services Another student, Nikolas Dennis, a sophomore English major, who lives in Willard Hall, said that the outage caused issues for him.

“Because I have OCD, I wash my hands a lot so I had to make sure I was in a place with hot water, so the hot water outage was definitely an inconvenience for me,” Dennis said.

Although the outage was not a huge inconvenience to most people, there were many people who were not aware of the outage until immediately before the system shut down. This was due to fact that they had not checked their emails. Altogether, the heating outage was necessary in order to fix the leaking pipes, but UMW students are still frustrated about the inconvenience.

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