February 3, 2013

Pipe Bursts, Flooding Cafe at Cornell

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On Jan. 24, at approximately 12:45 p.m., a frozen sprinkler pipe in Weill Hall burst, causing  damage in Synapsis Cafe that kept its doors closed for almost a week. Although Synapsis reopened Wednesday, the University is continuing to repair parts of the cafe.

A sprinkler located in the ceiling near the windows by the west entrance burst and sprayed water throughout the eatery, accompanied by loud screams and laughter from the restaurant’s patrons, according to Todd Pfeiffer, building manager of Weill Hall.

“Luckily, the damage in the ceiling was limited to an area of about 30 square feet, but quite a bit of water leaked into the basement and the corridor too,” Pfeiffer said.

The incident “caused quite a ruckus,” according to Living at Cornell, a student-run YouTube feed, in its video-post recording the explosion.

The damage began as a mere trickle of water from the ceiling, but within seconds, escalated into a flood, spraying Synapsis patrons and their food.

“The sprinkler burst above the ceiling, so at first you couldn’t see any leakage.  Slowly, water started leaking through the ceiling … which tripped the fire alarm,” Pfeiffer said.

According to Myungjoo Shin grad, the damage worsened as more water leaked from the pipes.

“After ten minutes or so, the ceiling fell off,” Shin said. “Everybody was watching this happen.”

The building was evacuated immediately after the pipe burst.

“It helped us to get everyone out of the building to start clean up.  It wasn’t a great day — only about 10 degrees outside.  But we had folks back in the building in about twenty minutes, but [first] we had to assess the damage and drain all of the flooded water,” Pfeiffer said.

Clean-up crews from the Facility Services and Building Care units of Weill, Biotechnology Hall and Corson/Mudd Hall worked Friday, Monday, and Tuesday to repair Synapsis for re-opening.

“The crews were there within minutes of the water flowing, and started doing clean up right away.  They were very, very helpful… they stayed at least two hours late” said Pfeiffer.

Synapsis reopened on Jan. 30, although work repair work is still being done, according to Pfeiffer.

“Currently, there is still a blocked off area in the restaurant, but Facility Services is doing a wonderful job of working around the operations of [the restaurant],” said Pfeiffer.

Although Synapsis is back up and running, the clean-up crews are taking extra precautions to ensure that the pipe doesn’t burst again.

“This kind of thing has never happened before,” Pfeiffer said.  Our extra precaution to prevent this in the future is extra insulation to the overhang on the West side to protect the pipes.  Fortunately there was no impact on research in the building.”

Carolyn Jablonowski grad, said that although the repairs are ongoing, she did not believe it would affect Synapsis’ business.

“Even though Synapsis was closed down for a couple of days, I don’t think this will affect business too much,” Jablonowski said.

Original Author: Carolyn Krupski