Flooding batters biology building

A leaky sink led to recent damage to several rooms throughout Albers Hall

Photo courtesy of Physical Plant | Last week’s flooding in Albers Hall caused damage throughout the building as water leaked downward from the third floor. A number of baseboards, ceiling tiles and drywall had to be removed from various classrooms. 

A substantial amount of water leaking from 305 B (a storage room) in Albers Hall attracted the attention of a member of the custodial staff last Thursday around 11:45 p.m. Xavier Police (XUPD) and maintenance staff were immediately notified and rushed to the scene to try to minimize the damage.

It was discovered that the leak originated in a sink with a rubber attachment that extended from the main plumbing to allow for easy scientific instrument cleaning. The problem, however, was that this sink did not have the retrofitted auto shut off valve that ensured no water would seep between the metal and rubber piping.

“We’ve pulled all the others in Albers that haven’t been retrofitted,” Executive Director of Physical Plant John Schulte said.

Yet the damage caused by the separation of the valve was monumental. Schulte said the rooms most affected were the main lecture hall (room 103), a group of first-floor offices (rooms 105 A-D), a Human Physiology lab (room 203) and the storage room where the leak began.

Biology department chair Dr. William Anyonge noted the effects in room 203, directly below 305 B where the leak occurred.

“When I first saw it, it looked like the ceiling had exploded,” Anyonge said. “With those ceiling tiles, the water just kept building and building, and it couldn’t hold it anymore.”

Room 203, the Human Physiology lab, could have suffered the most damage, but thanks to the proactive cleaning methods of whoever was in the lab last, only a computer sustained any damage.

The building structure of Albers, however, did not skate by as easily. Three 2×2 LED lights had to be replaced because of water exposure, and a significant number of baseboards, ceiling tiles and even drywall had to be removed from within various classrooms.

“There was still old plaster work that was in here prior to the newer remodels where it’s all drywall, and it took a little longer than expected to dry things because we had to dry the plaster,” Schulte said.

Albers’ last building remodel occurred 26 years ago in 1992. Although there have been slight upgrades throughout the years — such as the addition of auto shut off valves to sinks — none have addressed some of its more serious structural issues.

Leaky sink.jpg
Photo courtesy of Physical Plant | The lack of an auto shut off valve on a sink in a third-floor storage room in Albers Hall set off a wave of flooding last week. The rooms most affected by the flooding included first-floor offices, the main lecture hall and a lab. 

“The basement floods a couple of times a year,” Dr. Jennifer Robbins, who teaches at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. in Albers 103, said. “Although my office isn’t affected, everybody else has to move out of the hallway.”

As a result of the damage, many classes were relocated to Hailstones or Logan Halls, and some were even moved to the Conaton Board Room located in Schmidt Hall.

Despite the sudden relocation, one of Robbins’ students actually prefers the change.

“When I think of a college classroom, I think of a room like Hailstones,” first-year biomedical sciences major Aidan Noga said. “Albers is difficult for my professor to pass out assignments and just hard to work in in general. I think updating the building could be beneficial.”

Even with updates, Anyonge said, it would have been difficult to prevent this most recent bout of flooding.

“There wasn’t much to do here, prevention-wise,” Anyonge said. “It’s not like when the Albers basement occasionally floods due to heavy rains, it’s just that these pipes are old and need to be replaced. But that, of course, requires funding, which can be hard to come by.”

By: Alanna Bellmont | Staff Writer