Cold weather causes broken pipes at various Penn State buildings

mdawson@centredaily.comJanuary 8, 2014 

It's negative 10 degrees in State College, Pa., and photographer Nabil K. Mark changes water to snow to demonstrate the chilling temperature. Warning: If you try this at home, always use caution with hot water to avoid injury. CDT/Nabil K. Mark

CENTRE DAILY TIMES

— This week’s bone-chilling weather burst some pipes and created some chilly moments Wednesday at Penn State, a spokeswoman said.

Damage estimates were not immediately available, said spokeswoman Lisa Powers, as crews were still in the process of cleaning up and evaluating what happened.

The Food Science Building, home to Berkey Creamery, was one of the buildings affected.

A technician found a fan coil unit was not on and not working, and filters became clogged in a vestibule on the sales floor of the building. That meant there was no heat, which froze the sprinkler pipe and caused it to break, Powers said.

The sales floor of the Creamery and the testing laboratory were flooded, and water had gotten into the elevator shaft, she said.

The temperature around 7 a.m. Wednesday on campus was 6 degrees, said National Weather Service meteorologist Elyse Colbert.

That made for the second straight morning of bitter cold, with Tuesday morning temperatures below zero.

Powers said a pipe burst in Steidle Building, causing a leak on the third floor.

Frank Driscoll, an employee in the department of materials science and engineering that is housed there, said the damage was minor.

In addition, a stairwell in the McCoy Natatorium was flooded after a coil froze and broke, Powers said. A part of the building also had no heat.

Employees in the Hammond Building worked in colder-than-tolerable temperatures, too. Powers said an outside vent on the building froze and a heat coil was not working properly.

Elsewhere in State College, Grace Lutheran Preschool and Kindergarten was closed Wednesday because of a leak that resulted in water in several classrooms.

In a note to parents, Executive Director Laurel Sanders said the school was professionally cleaned to prevent mold or allergy concerns.

The cold snap ushered in a record low of minus-9 degrees on Tuesday. The cold air also brought in a quite a temperature shift: At 4 a.m. Monday, the temperature was 40 degrees, and by 4 a.m. Tuesday, it was 7 below.

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