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MSC Steam 2

The steam problems in the MSC are worse than expected.  Some of you may have noticed the crew out digging on the southwest corner of the Swarm Inn.

 

They were able to isolate the MSC from the rest of the steam system in order to determine if the problem was with the traps inside the building or the pipe outside the building.  While there may be a problem with one or more steam traps inside the building, the major problem is within the pipe outside the building.

 

So they dug to expose the pipe.  They exposed the anchor*, a large cement block outside the building, as well as the pipe outside the anchor.  Then they cut into the pipe, which immediately started letting out a lot of steam.  However, it also continued inside the building.  So the next step is to shut off steam long enough to pack something around where it enters the building, then allow the relief hole outside to do the work.  This is a short term band-aid because it involves leaving a giant hole in the ground open right next to the Swarm Inn.  No one wants that to be there long.

 

Unfortunately, steam exposed within the pipe may have compromised the insulation.  If that is the case, we'll likely have to replace a significant portion of steam pipes under the campus.  At a minimum we'll have to replace a portion that enters the MSC in that corner.  It just isn't known how much yet, and we probably can't find out until we can turn steam off for a while, which will require warmer weather.

 

* You may be aware that many things expand and contract with heat and cold.  It turns out that steam pipes are no different.  They have a tendency to grow and shrink with the heat and cold passing through them.  The anchor is used to prevent the pipes from bending out of shape at the point of entry in a building.  They'd tend to move in the ground quite a bit, stretching themselves to the point of breaking underground or right inside a building.

 

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