Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

The wind blew fallen snow around Appel Commons, a North Campus service center, earlier this month.

January 24, 2019

Warmth Returned to North Campus Housing After Heater Failures

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After an icy start to the semester, maintenance staff restored warmth to the rooms of several North Campus residents who were lacking heat on Monday night.

Multiple students had broken radiators Monday night, The Sun reported. Robert King, director of residential and new student programs, said this was not caused by an outage but rather was a “product” of the heating system.

“Each of these issues were individual to student rooms for a variety of reasons. In some cases, heating valves were stuck, there was some operator confusion over how to adjust radiator temperature, and persistent extremely low temperatures were a factor on the demand for heat,” said Karen Brown, senior director of campus life marketing and communications, in an email to The Sun.

Since it is a forced air system, there is not instant heat output, according to King. He noted that students likely turned off their radiators before break and it is taking time for them to fully warm up again, in addition to the negative effects of the cold weather.

According to King, the defects are known issues.

“Our heating system is the same that has been in place for years,” he said. “We all want our students to feel comfortable especially when they return from breaks. I hate that the extreme external temperatures impacted the comfort of our students.”

Brown said that Cornell experiences “heat issues” every winter.

“They tend to be more profound when outdoor temperatures and very low wind chill remain for a longer period of days,” she said.

She noted that if repairs were unable to be finished, space heaters were placed in the residents’ rooms. “No students were left without heat throughout the course of the week,” Brown said.

Sara Mills ’22, a resident of Low Rise 7, said that the knob was broken on the radiator in her suite, so it was stuck on a low setting.

After the previous article about heating problems was published on Tuesday, Low Rise 6 and 7 Residential Hall Director Mark Schneider emailed her and her roommate, asking about the heating system, Mills said. Maintenance employees then came to her suite on Tuesday morning to fix all of the heating systems.

“Originally there was an email sent out about the Low Rise heating from the director himself, and he said that you could file for maintenance requests, but it was better to just stay warm,” Mills said. “No one was really checking the heating systems.”

After Monday night, she said that Schneider and the maintenance staff “went out of their way to make sure that the heating systems were working,” citing The Sun’s article for the prompt response.

Salaiha Mughal ’22, another student who did not have heat on Monday night, also had the heating in her room restored. She submitted a maintenance request on Monday, and her heating system was fixed on Tuesday.

Mughal said that the radiator in her room did not work last semester either.

“I just thought that all the rooms were like that, so I’m assuming my heat was also broken last semester, but I just didn’t really realize that it was broken, so I never got it fixed,” she said.

According to Mughal, the temperatures were cold enough to impact her night, saying that on Monday it was difficult to fall asleep.

“It was okay because I had a lot of blankets on — like I had two — so it was okay, and I was wearing like thick clothing, so it was fine, but it was kind of hard,” she said.

Amina Hasan ’22, a resident of Balch Hall, also lacked heating in her room. She said the cold  did not affect her because it was not “unbearable,” but when she walked out into the warm hallway, she realized there was a problem.

Hasan filed a maintenance request on Monday night, and her heating system was fixed on Tuesday afternoon.

“Now I’m a lot more comfortable,” she said. “I’m sitting at my desk. I’m doing work.”