University of Maryland Facilities Management is considering replacing central water heaters following recurring hot water outages in some North Hill dorms over the past week.
The water in Anne Arundel, Dorchester, Queen Anne's, St. Mary's and Somerset Halls began to lose heat on Oct. 29. Hot water has since been restored to the dorms, except in Queen Anne's Hall, whose water temperature is still unreliable, said Residential Facilities Director Jon Dooley.
"That's not acceptable. We don't like to lose hot water at any time," said Jack Baker, Facilities Management operations and maintenance director, adding the department is considering replacing some central water heaters on the campus.
The outages occurred after two hot water heaters in one of the campus Satellite Central Utility Buildings failed to work properly, Baker said. The utility building produces hot water for several south campus buildings, including South Campus Dining Hall.
The permanent replacement would start at the beginning of the next semester, Baker said. In the meantime, Facilities Management plans to install a temporary heater to provide consistent hot water until all units in Satellite Central Utilities Building 2 are replaced.
Facilities Management repaired the heaters Monday and no major outages were reported since then, Baker said.
However, Residential Facilities is closely monitoring Queen Anne's Hall because its hot water temperatures are still inadequate after Monday's repair, Dooley said.
Facilities Management will replace the water heaters if there is another hot water outage, but Baker said he is "fairly confident" the equipment will be replaced anyway because it is unreliable.
"We try to provide the service every day to keep the campus running, but there are problems periodically," Baker said. "We lost heating water to Tydings, we lost heating water to Jiménez. … We try to provide good service every day, but things do fail."
During the hot water outages, Residential Facilities suggested residents visit Ritchie Coliseum, Eppley Recreation Center or a different North Hill dorm to take hot showers. Residents were given swipe access to unaffected dorms until consistent hot water was available.
Rachel Amrhein, a junior psychology major who lives in Queen Anne's Hall, said having to walk to Ritchie Coliseum or Carroll Hall — the dorm she was given swipe access to — is inconvenient for her schedule.
"It's crazy we're paying these huge amounts of money to live on campus and it's already been over a week without hot water," Amrhein said. "You never know if you're going to get hot or cold water. Some days it's lukewarm, sometimes it's freezing and they keep sending emails, but they never say when they're going to fix it by, it's just, 'Sorry for the inconvenience.'"
The last major hot water outage to a dorm occurred in February, following an underground pipe leak in New Leonardtown that resulted in lost hot water and heat for more than a day, Dooley said.
"We learn from past situations all the time," Dooley said. "But if the building equipment is malfunctioning, whatever we learned only helps us better diagnose the situation."