Campus heat will turn on October 4, Director of Facilities Operations and Maintenance Ted Stam informed students in an email on Tuesday. Although there is no official start date, Facilities typically turns on the heat around October 1. Because a boiler was replaced in the heating plant, the heat cannot be turned on until next week.  

“Because [the boilers] share some common equipment that serves them, we have to start the plant on a [certain date] this year,” Stam said. “I probably would have recommended starting it this week because it’s going to be a little windy.”

The new boiler is one of two in the plant. Together, they serve all campus buildings connected to the central heating system.

The high-pressure steam system the boilers use will take two days to become fully operational. 

“Basically what you do is start the system slowly and you bring the pressure up in the system slowly,” Stam said.

The pressure takes about a day to rise completely. Once the pressure is up, Facilities turns on each individual valve in every building to start feeding the steam.

“[We] run around and you check everything—make sure there are no leaks, make sure that the system is properly drained and make sure that there’s no chance of a problem,” said Stam.

The boiler installation took all summer.

“The roof has to come off the building, the old boiler has to be completely demolished and removed, the new boiler has to be set in place, then it has to be connected … structurally, mechanically, and electrically. Then the roof has to be put back, and then it has to be tested,” said Stam.

The previous boiler was 40 years old and no longer worked well, Stam said. The upgrade means either boiler can heat the entire campus if the need arises.

“The boiler that was being replaced was a little bit smaller and we couldn’t really heat the whole campus with it in January of February if we needed to,” said Stam. “Now we have 100 percent redundancy, so if either boiler goes down, we can heat the entire campus.”

Despite the chilly weather, Stam said Facilities has not received complaints from students about cold rooms.

“People are usually very understanding of situations if you communicate to them and we try to do that,” said Stam.