Another Steam Leak
by Anessia Hubler
The underground steam pipes at UAF have already been fixed once in early April of 2013, but once again this October a leak was found in the piping under the Hida Parking lot , between lower and upper campus on the trail that lead from MBS to the Patty center.
“Someone notice a little bit of steam coming through a crack in the ground. That was the fist sign that the piping had broke and that the steam was leaking out.” Senior Project Manger Mike Rackhaus said.
The steam piping comes from the power plant, which produces steam and electricity that runs underground through the piping to heat exchangers, which are located in every building at UAF. The steam warms and cool the buildings.
“When the leak sprung up it had to be fixed fast or we start losing heat to the building with winter creeping up quickly,” UAF Contract Manager Leighton Nunez said. They were able to find the leak by digging up the ground around were steam was spilling out.
They started looking for the leak on Oct. 27 and were finished fixing the leak and refilling the dug out hole by Nov. 3.
“All the piping is just too old, I’ve talked with many people and no one knows how old it all is,” said Senior Contract Manger Tom Pascoe.
To fix the leak they had to first dig up the ground and find it. Next,
they cut out the chunk of pipping with the hole in it and replace it with a new piece. Once the new piece was set in place they welded the two ends of the new pipping to the old pipping in the ground. Then the pipping was inoculated and made water proof and the dirt was put back in the whole. “It was easy to fix because the ground was not hardened yet and the biggest thing was just finding where the leak was,” Nunez said.
“I could see the steam from my window in my dorm and was very curious of what was happening, it just look like a big cloud of white down there,” freshman child education major Hanna Gerrish said.
To find and fix the steam leak UAF hired Webber Inc. to dig up the ground and put the dirt back once the pipe was fixed, Patrick’s Welding to weld the pipe back into place after the broken part had been taken out, Industrial Insulators to put the insulation in and Vertex Insulation to waterproof the insulation. “Even though it cost a lot to fix the piping I think we should replace it all so that we wont have to be spending money to keep fixing the old stuff,” Pascoe said. The money to fix the leak came from the power plant’s maintenance fund that is given by the state.
“As of right now there are no plans to replace the old piping in the ground due to how much it will cost to fix but it will need to be replaced at some point,” Pascoe said.