Cold snap causes major water damage near RSOP
In the early hours of Feb. 1, a frozen sprinkler head burst in the Recreational Sports Outdoors Program (RSOP) vestibule. This caused flooding from the vestibule all the way to the sign in desk and over to the ticket booth for Romano gym. This break will result in an insurance claim as no one is at fault but the cold weather.
This main hallway was closed the morning of the burst, but the portion near the ice rink study lookout has been reopened to allow access to the women's locker room. The study lookout is currently closed to students as all carpeting had to be torn out. The ice rink and field itself however is fine and open for use as normal.
The major insurance claim has not been filled. First, a total damage estimate must be reached. John Kessler with Construction Projects Administration with the Facilities Management Department speculates that the claim will be nearly $100,000 dollars to the University of Minnesota’s personal insurance.
“As water freezes it expands and breaks the pipe,” Kessler said. “So, when it warms up then the ice starts to melt and the pressure of the water behind it lets loose.” Let loose it did. The water in that area is running at about “150 pounds per square inch,” Kessler added. To put that into perspective that is roughly 300 gallons of water every minute.
A ruptured sprinkler head causes an alarm to engage, notifying Duluth Fire of a water detection break. A faculty staff member was also notified and the first people on scene arrived roughly 20 minutes after the alarm triggered. Water pressure at 150 PSI after 20 minutes resulted in roughly 6,000 gallons of water being pooled into the recreation center hallway. Kessler cited that the water was about “two to three inches deep on the first floor from the vestibule all the way to the Rec Sports entry desk.”
The ice rink lounge and all athletic office carpets had to be pulled out.
“All of first floor athletics is carpet,” Kessler said, “and it just sopped up all the water on that end.” He further explained the damage, “all the way down the hall it blew out the ceilings down below.”
Moisture not being absorbed by the tile in that hallway caused the ceiling tiles below to disintegrate.
Kessler estimates the space will be back to normal in roughly three weeks. Carpet must be replaced, the pipe cleared for use, and the Duluth Campus office of Environment Health and Safety (DCEHS) must clear the space for public use. The DCEHS has gone to all affected rooms checking for water in the walls. These walls must be torn out for fears of mold.
Athletic Director Josh Berlo released a statement. Berlo said, “Bulldog Athletics operations continue as usual. However, some staff and offices are in different locations for the next week or so. We appreciate the understanding and flexibility of our students, faculty, staff and fans for any minor inconveniences. Signage in Romano Gymnasium will help with navigation of Athletics Offices in the meantime. A big thank you to UMD Facilities for their prompt response and to the Bulldog staff for seamlessly working through the adversity.”
Currently the hallway after the ticket booth to the vestibule remains closed but the Rec sports center is still open and accessible by means of the Romano Gym Balcony.