From the Houstonian:
Students in the Dan Rather Communications Building and Evans complex may have noticed it has been a little cold in these buildings this week. Ronald Hendershott, SHSU's heating, ventilation and air conditioning foreman, explained these buildings, and others on campus, are on a low-pressure steam boiler system.
"The piping is extremely old, buried underground, and it's extremely hard to get to. The piping keeps breaking, which means I have to shut down everything," said Hendershott.
After shutting down the boilers, HVAC must wait 24 hours before they can go into the pipes. The tunnels contain asbestos and are heated with 250-degree steam. Hendershott said the size of the tunnels to be about four feet tall and about three feet in width.
"If the repair happens to be in an area where we don't have a man hole, then I have to make another one," he said.
Hendershott said it takes an average of eight hours to make the repairs themselves, and then another four to five hours to bring the system back.
"The piping that is in the ground is probably fifty years old," said Hendershott. The Estill, Administration, Farrington, and Jackson-Shaver buildings are all on the same system as Evans and Communications, but have auxiliary systems for back up. Hendershott said auxiliary systems would require more electricity than the Evans and Communications buildings could handle. Replacing the entire pipe system is not an option.
"We would have to dig up the whole campus...[it would be] an astronomical devastation to the campus."
The university will continue to try to fix the problems as they occur until the summer, when individual "package boilers" might be installed in the Evans and Communications building.