Sewage floods first floor of South Mass

by Davey Archwamety | 11/12/01 6:00am

On Friday evening, just a few days after a faulty water pipe caused a flood in Hinman Hall, another pipe -- this one filled with sewage from the women's bathroom -- exploded on the first floor of South Massachusetts Hall.

"We thought it was going to leak into our room," Mary McVeigh '03 said. "It was really gross."

"The plumbing broke everywhere, and it was coming up through the shower drain," said Blaise Trigg-Smith '02.

Hugo Castillo '02 found out about the breakage after he had received a Blitz. "I walked out of my room and saw that the pipe had exploded."

Facilities, Operations and Management was called and arrived on the scene within the hour.

Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman said he is unsure of what exactly caused the pipe to break, but he did not rule out old age as a possibility. "It was built in the 1920s," he said. "Things do wear with age. But just because a building is old doesn't mean that the pipes are going to start bursting."

Redman stressed, however, that the main cause of water damages in dorms is not due to pipes. "More often, toilets get stopped up and they keep on running. Also, students sometimes hang things on sprinkler heads, causing them to go off."

Woody Eckels, Director of Residential Operations, said events such as this one are not common and that regular work is done on the dorms to keep the level of these occurrences to a minimum."We do routine maintenance on the buildings in an ongoing basis. Also, we do normal renovations of them when we get chances to," Eckels said.

Redman explained the routine work done on the building. "We service the heat plant and plumbing, we paint, and we repair electrical systems. It depends on the building, the location and what the particular need is."

Both Redman and Eckels agreed that a pipe breaking is an unpredictable but unlikely event. "I don't know that this is a predictable thing," Eckels said, "but it's something we keep an eye on, and we respond whenever we can."

"It's not the kind of thing you'd expect to happen, but the kind of thing that does happen," Castillo said.