Leaks in Banning Hall dormitory have led housing officials to seek new climate control systems.
Banning Hall uses the oldest heating and cooling system on campus. In this chilled water system, pipes run cooled water to fans that blow air into each room. While innovative at the time of its installation 30 years ago, the system has begun to deteriorate.
Several Banning Hall residents have experienced leakage from the pipes, due to cracks formed when the pipes expand and contract. Two residents moved out of their rooms so officials could fix leaks and clean mildew.
There are other drawbacks to the old system. With the chilled water system, residents can control the speed of the fan, but not the temperature of their rooms. When the weather becomes cooler, facilities turns off the AC and turns on the wall-unit heaters. This changeover is abrupt.
Students said they go from freezing one night to sweating the next.
Housing officials said they hope to find an alternative where residents have more control of their room temperature.
“We hope to find a system that is efficient, cost effective and satisfactory for students,” said Kevin Culbertson, coordinator of housing operations.
Facilities seeks a contractor to install a new system.
“We have not settled on a decision yet,” said Andy Wiley, assistant chief engineer and assistant director of facilities. “We will use the best system we can get for the best price.”
Housing officials hope to switch to a new system during Christmas break, if a decision about the system is made.
“If the switch must happen during school, it would be to minimum residence disturbance,” Culbertson said. “However, Banning’s current system is not dangerous. Any excess moisture causes mildew, not mold.”
If students notice leaking pipes, they can submit a work order, and facilities will patch the problem.
One resident said the current system sounds like a tiger in her wall.
“I’m ready to get rid of Tony the Tiger, who makes noises in the pipes,” said Celia Tedde, music theater and vocal performance freshman. “As fun as it is to pretend there’s a tiger in the wall, it’s pretty loud and a bit startling.”
Housing plans to eventually replace all of the residence halls’ systems.