Outdated plumbing causes water supply issues in Francis Hall

When Loyola student Meghan Hall woke up for her morning shower in early March, the water in Francis Hall was ice cold. This came after months of problems with the building's plumbing, including an interruption in hot water supply that lasted over 24 hours.

“Even on the hottest setting, the water wouldn’t get hot. It’s frustrating because there’s nothing we can do to fix the problem,” Hall said.

Francis Hall, the main campus' senior dormitory, has been dealing with plumbing issues since the start of the 2023-24 school year. From hot water shortages to fluctuating water pressure, residents have expressed concerns.

According to Facilities Director Kyle Gregore, these issues are due to Francis Hall's vertical layout. The building relies on special devices called booster pumps to pump the hot water up through the pipes. The regular lifespan of these devices is around 20 years; However, Francis Hall's plumbing is 27 years old, causing frequent hot water and pressure outages throughout the school year.

The Facilities Department secured a replacement for the booster pumps that would solve these problems for the building's residents. They should finally be replaced by mid-March.

But on March 10, hot water disruptions were reported in several main campus buildings, resulting in most of the main campus being without hot water for two days.

The Facilities Department recognized the problem when they discovered a number of broken pipes around campus caused by a pressure buildup. These pipes deliver both hot and cold water from the central plant to buildings on campus. The New Orleans Sewage and Water Board, the city's water utility, refers to its water as “hard water” due to the high amount of dissolved minerals in the water. The pressure build-up that caused the pipes to break was due to limescale deposits in the boiler pipes.

The facilities department treats all water on campus with additives to prevent calcification. However, some pipes broke and had to be taken offline for repairs.

Gregore said the university currently has a water maintenance contract in place to prevent further water heating interruptions in the future. The facilities department is also in the process of replacing the damaged pipes and those that show signs of calcification.

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