MONMOUTH — When the Western Oregon University campus gets its supply of steam and hot water through four boilers that run 24/7 throughout the year, some wear and tear is expected.
Monmouth Avenue through the WOU campus has been closed while contractors replace the main steam line from the steam plant to Vault No. 4 by the Werner University Center.
The WOU Campus is supplied steam and hot water through three Cleaver-Brooks boilers and one Kewanee boiler. This is the heart of the campus steam system. The steam travels from the boilers though a large main steam line that is either buried in the ground or run inside tunnels throughout campus. Once the steam arrives at its destination it is carried through smaller branches of pipes to be distributed to the individual pieces of equipment to be used to heat buildings or to create hot water for heat, as well as heat domestic hot water for consumer use.
Michael Smith, director of capital planning and construction at WOU, said it is hard to pin down an exact date when the leaks and holes were first discovered.
“Last summer is when we really could see the issue,” Smith said. “The obvious problem with finding leaks is that the pipe is buried.”
So far, contractor HR Mechanical replaced the lines to vault No.1 and No. 2 in October in the $2.2 million project. The replacement of the line through Vault No. 3 and No. 4 had been scheduled to be completed by mid-November. Smith said, however, they have extended the project from vault No. 4 to vault No. 6.
“But it can’t start until we receive the additional pipe, Smith said. “Supply chain issues and shipping issues and delays have made it hard to get material.”
A new estimated completion for this phase of work is now estimated for mid-December.
According to WOU, the boilers have been in use for more than a hundred years, providing a safe and efficient way to supply the campus with domestic hot water and heat.
Smith said the last time work was done on the main steam line was in 2008.
“So, they are not that old, relatively. We are adding pipe traps and additional valves so that we can better drain the system of corrosive particles in the future,” he added.
To keep up date with the project’s progress, go to https://wou.edu/cpc/current-projects.