By Russell J. Zazueta
Classrooms around campus were closed Oct. 3 as a result of a leaking pipe needed to the vital operation of East Los Angeles College’s air conditioning system. It has since been repaired and is working properly.
According to Plant Facilities Director Abel Rodriguez, he, along with other staff members, discovered water seeping up from underground in an area outside the Central Plant near Weingart Stadium along Floral Drive.
They found the problem Oct. 3 around 2:30 a.m., after a repair inside ELAC’s Swim Stadium was taken care of.
“As we (Plant Facilities staff) were leaving, we discovered water flow on the hillside (near the Central Plant) and it was one of the distribution lines for the chilled water,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez notified Plant Facility staff members shortly after and arrived on the scene to figure out what the issue was.
The crew discovered that water was leaking out of a crack found on the distribution line. They then dug a large ditch to proceed with the repair.
“Something really heavy drove over it (the distribution line). I don’t know how, or when, but something drove on top of them and pushed the thing down . . . and it created a crack,” Rodriguez said.
The large pipe, along with others, are used to send chilled water to pumps, where they will distribute it to air handlers on buildings across campus.
Air handlers are like freezer-boxes. They are radiator-like devices permeated with chilled water, by way of small metallic coils, used to extract heat out of air.
Each classroom has a designated vent to suck the ambient air into the air handler, where the heat is stripped and distributed back out into the classroom as cold air through other vents.
Without chilled water, an air handler cannot extract the heat out of the air, leaving classrooms warm and muggy Friday night.
This system of air conditioning is cleaner, more energy efficient and cheaper to operate than traditional air conditioners.
ELAC has had this air conditioning system in operation for about five years. Rodriguez said that just like any mechanical device, the complex air conditioning system at ELAC is not fail-proof.
As crew members worked to repair the crack in the pipe. Other parts around campus needed to be checked out too.
The air conditioning system at ELAC is complex and spans to different areas on campus.
Some crew members broke off to tend to other sites of the system as it was shutting down, for security reasons.
Plant Facilities had been working on the problem since early Friday morning and closed off classrooms around 10 a.m. on Friday.
They rigorously worked through the night until they finished around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. At that point, the system was back online and in sound operation.