Seventh floor caught in hot water after pipe joint burst

Photo by Gracey Evans
A hot water main burst in Lawrence Hall around midnight Friday. Floor 6 and 7 were off limits and dehumidifiers are now present to evaporate the remaining water as on Monday evening.

Written By Alexander Popichak , Editor-in-Chief

Vanessa Vivas and Mya Burns were working on homework on the seventh floor of Lawrence Hall Thursday night when Burns heard a loud noise followed by a rushing sound.

“There was a really loud noise that sounded like an air conditioner,” Burns said Thursday. “Sometimes the air conditioning is really loud in some buildings in Point Park. We looked at each other and kind of wrote it off for a couple seconds.”

According to Matt Abbott, director of operations for the Physical Plant, a small hot water supply line servicing faucets in the southwest corner of the building burst at a juncture point and water had burst through the ceiling, gushing water into the hallway below.

“I didn’t know what was happening, or that there was water until I stepped outside the room,” Vivas, a freshman theatre arts major, said Thursday.

Burns was closest to the door and when the rushing noise continued, she decided to look into the hallway outside.

“There was a stream of water, like a jet of water coming out of the ceiling,” Burns said. “It was pouring, like blasting onto the other wall and there was already a puddle on the ground.”

When the break happened around 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, Burns and Vivas were the only two students on the floor. The seventh floor of Lawrence hosts offices for the Literary Arts department, Conservatory of Performing Arts professors and the Globe.

After contacting Public Safety, Vivas took to Snapchat to warn other Lawrence Hall residents of the break.

“I took a picture and put it on the Lawrence Hall story, my story, and within minutes there was a group of girls that came down to witness it and they were taking videos and pictures, and then freaking out as well,” Vivas said. “It went from the two of us there alone to a good group of people that were there to witness this phenomenon.”

Public Safety officers responded in minutes. The water gushed for nearly an hour before being shut off at 12:18 a.m. By that point, water had spread halfway down the seventh floor hallway and seeped into two offices on the sixth floor.

Abbot said the line was repaired 75 minutes after being detected and cleanup began immediately. Hot water was shut off to the building during the repair, but cold water was still available from faucets and toilets. Water was fully restored to Lawrence Hall residents by 1:55 a.m. Friday.

“The housekeeping department, along with the Physical Plant, did an exceptional job as first responders to limit damages,” Abbott said Monday via email. “A professional restoration company was called in for the weekend and the Physical Plant took all precautions necessary to prepare the offices for occupancy on Monday. We will continue to monitor the area to determine if anything needs to be replaced.”

Faculty were able to fully use their offices Monday as industrial dehumidifying machines and fans lined the hallways. The Globe offices, which house some archived papers and equipment, were untouched by the water.

“It was so ironic that it happened on this floor because it’s so quiet here all the time,” Vivas said.