The Edmond Sun

Local News

February 13, 2014

UCO students return to housing after pipe freezes, bursts

EDMOND — University of Central Oklahoma students displaced after a pipe froze and burst are returning to their dorm rooms, a spokeswoman said.

Last week, multiple storm systems brought wintry precipitation and sub-freezing temperatures to the Edmond area. Highs were 25 Feb. 5 and 18 on Feb. 6, while Feb. 5’s low was 10 degrees, according to accuweather.com.

During the late afternoon hours of Feb. 6, a sprinkler line in the attic of UCO’s University Suites froze and broke the PVC pipe, UCO spokeswoman Adrienne Nobles said. The water then impacted mechanical rooms and 16 resident rooms on the four floors below, Nobles said.

University staff and its third-party partner TRC Disaster Solutions responded until the rooms met humidity levels to ensure a quality living environment, Nobles said.

UCO offered alternative accommodations in the university’s Commons Apartments to affected students, Nobles said. As of mid-day Wednesday, all but two rooms had been resolved and administrators anticipate those to be so by Friday, Nobles said.

“Our vendor has tested for moisture and is repainting where needed,” Nobles said. “Students are moving back as they want to.”

Nobles said UCO’s repair bill will be $10,000-$15,000, primarily in equipment rental for dehumidifiers. Regarding potential student losses, UCO does not carry property insurance, according to the 2013-14 campus living guide. Students are encouraged to carry their own property/renter’s insurance.

HOW PIPES FREEZE

Water expands as it freezes, putting tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it including metal or plastic pipes, according to National Weather service experts. No matter the “strength” of a container, expanding water can cause them to break.

PVC pipe is made from polymerized vinyl chloride, a synthetic resin.

Pipes that freeze most often are exposed to severe cold like outdoor hoses, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas such as basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages or kitchen cabinets.

Methods for thawing frozen pipes cited by the National Weather Service include applying hot water to a bath towel or cloth wrapped around a section of the pipe, using a handheld dryer to blow warm air onto the section, propping a small space heater close to the frozen pipe and leaving it for an hour and wrapping the frozen pipe with electric pipe heating tape, which is available at home stores.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108

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