A sewage overflow in a Hoblitzelle Hall bathroom disrupted classes and forced several faculty and staff to temporarily relocate offices.
On Oct. 28, the Facilities Management office received a call alerting them to what was described as standing water in the women’s restrooms at Hoblitzelle Hall. When they arrived at HH, they discovered that the flooding was much more serious. The sewage overflow was caused by a blocked toilet, which clogged the pipes.
The water damage affected hallways and offices in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, and one classroom was temporarily closed until Nov. 6. Several administrators, including Academic Support Coordinator Becky Wiser, were relocated because their offices were flooded with sewage water.
“I came in Tuesday and it was pretty nasty,” she said. “They had fans drying everything up, and some kind of machine sucking the air out and trying to clean everything up.”
Wiser was able to move into an available office within Hoblitzelle, however, other professors had to relocate off campus. This will continue until new carpet and paint is installed, which should take about one to two weeks.
Kelly Kinnard, director of Physical Plant Services, said the issue was a toilet clog, not a problem with the pipes or plumbing. The blockage prevented the water pipes from functioning properly. On-call plumbers ran jets inside the pipes, and the water pressure eventually caused the substance to break up, allowing water to continue flowing through the pipes as usual. No actual damage was done to the plumbing in this situation.
The walls and surrounding area needed restoration after the water damage. Kinnard contacted a third-party contractor, who drained the stagnant water and placed dryers and air purifiers to restore the flooded area. They also disinfected the affected areas with biocides.
A flood of this magnitude is a rare occurrence and only happens a few times a year, Kinnard said. However, blocked toilets are a much more common event because of the disposal of paper towels and feminine hygiene products into the toilet. Both expand inside the pipes, and eventually cause blockage.
“Thanks to everybody for understanding all the noise and all the dryers, and bearing with us for the week while we got everything dried up,” Kinnard said.