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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Pipe Bursts, Causing Flood: Winter Winds Make for Watery Mess

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Here in Northfield, we often personify the frigid temperature, saying things like “it can cut like a knife.” Last Friday, however, the cold nearly turned an Evans room into a swimming pool.

Sophomores Sam Bearak, Ezra Frankel, Austin Neureiter and Adam Shaukat, whose first-floor room started to leak water around 1 a.m. on Friday night, were hosting a social gathering, and things heated up in the room to the point where a guest opened a window.

Later on, the residents of the room below noticed water seeping through the ceiling.

Bearak, Frankel, Neureiter and Shaukat first suspected the water came from an adjacent bathroom.

They abandoned this logic upon the discovery of a thin layer of water slowly advancing across the floor of a bedroom, streaming from the heater below the open window.

The cold air – around zero degrees – entering through the window had frozen the water pipes, and when the warm water continued to course through the pipe, the interior pressure built up and the pipe exploded.

Quickly ushering the guests out of the room, the boys called security and their RAs to help stop the oncoming flow of water.

The boys appreciated the efforts made by security to stop the water, but said the problem ultimately proved to be out of their control.

A specialist was called in to deal with the ostensibly invincible leak and finally, around 2 a.m., the flow was stopped. Custodians showed up on Saturday morning to clean up the rest of the water in the room, and the room’s radiator was fixed two days later.

With the bitter temperatures we routinely experience, actions as small as opening windows can have oversized effects.

Hours of revelry were lost to the suppression and cleanup efforts, and First Evans RA Jake Highleyman noted, “More damage occurred to the room below than to the room with the flood.”

What will happen to the four unwitting students?

They aren’t sure, but say they don’t expect too much fallout.

“Security seemed to believe that we would not be held responsible and our RA had no idea that opening windows was an issue.”

Both Highleyman and Evans Area Director Toni Grant declined to comment on the situation. It seems like it would be difficult to punish anyone for the accident, as no one understood that opening a window would lead to such a catastrophe.

How can students prevent their own rooms from suffering a similar fate? Grant says that “ typically, in a Minnesota winter, open windows can cause such situations.”

Highleyman adds that residents should be aware that “the pipes in Evans and some of the other older buildings on campus aren’t that well-insulated, and pose a real risk in the winter if they are exposed to cold air from the windows.”

If you don’t want to spend a miserably large percentage of your weekend bailing water out of your room, keep your windows closed.

Both Residential Life and Facilities request that students leave their windows closed at all times during the winter to avoid similar situations. If you believe the temperature in your room is too warm or too cold, you can contact Facilities, and they can assist you.

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