Halbert-Walling Research Center reopened Monday with some damage to the building after a hot water pipe burst Friday.
Dr. Tom Lee, chair of the biology department, discovered the leak Friday morning around 8 a.m. Lee said he was walking to his wife’s office on the second floor to put his lunch in her refrigerator when he noticed water coming from under a door and windows of a classroom fogging up.
He initially thought the hot water was coming from chemistry labs on the third floor, but after running upstairs to check, he determined the problem was on the second floor.
Lee followed the hot water and found ceiling tiles falling while water poured from the ceiling of a classroom in the building. After the pipe burst, it hit the sprinkler system pipes, causing even more water to be released into the building.
“All the while, I’m running making phone calls,” Lee said. He immediately called maintenance because he didn’t know how to turn off the water.
The alarm didn’t start going off for roughly five minutes after the pipe ruptured.
“It seemed like forever to me before anyone showed up but in reality, it was about 10 minutes before people came,” Lee said.
One class was meeting on the first floor in classroom 101, and Lee said fortunately, few people were in the building at the time of the incident.
Lee said the pipe burst due to a weakness in the soldering.
Little equipment was lost in the incident, but several scales were completely damaged. Lee said the microscopes in the labs seem to be working fine.
“The pipe has been repaired, but I’m really leery about the long-time future of this building,” Lee said.