Aluminum air pipes

Freezing temperatures cause pipes to burst at Haverhill schools | News

HAVERHILL — Freezing temperatures over the weekend are responsible for several burst pipes, including one at Haverhill High School that forced a two-hour delayed opening on Tuesday, and one at Moody Preschool that caused it to close on Tuesday.

Mayor James Fiorentini, chairman of the school committee, said the broken pipes were discovered in three buildings: the Moody’s, the high school and the Nettle. A stuck steam valve at the Burnham Parent Registration Center required manual intervention, allowing the building to remain open on Tuesday.

“The broken pipes were caused by the extreme cold,” Fiorentini said in a social media post in response to questions about the Moody School in particular. “The school’s maintenance department tells me that the broken pipes (at the Moody’s) are unrelated to the Moody School renovation project, which is moving forward.”

Facilities manager Steve Dorrance said the problem at the Moody was discovered early Tuesday morning by a caretaker and the Moody was to be closed Tuesday while repairs were made and the building was brought back to a comfortable temperature.

“We have pipes that go into two univent units that are exposed to outside air through a damper, so if the damper doesn’t close tightly when it’s really cold, there’s air infiltration and the result was that the water froze in the univent coils, which are heating units powered by the school’s ovens,” he said.

He said the building had become very cold and the furnaces needed to be turned back on and it had taken a while to bring the building to its occupancy temperature.

The high school had a two-hour delay after a pipe in a building in the C wing of the building burst and released “large amounts of steam” which set off a smoke detector around 5:45 a.m.

“The fire department responded and we also had significant flooding in five classrooms and two hallways,” Dorrance said.

An old work van that Dorrance says is unsuitable for everyday use is loaded with emergency response equipment, including a high-powered wet vacuum, and that having that equipment handy hand helped speed up the cleaning process.

“As of 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, the furniture was returned to those two classrooms,” he said. “Some additional work needs to be done, including replacing damaged floor and ceiling tiles that have been affected by the steam. We immediately removed these tiles to make sure they didn’t mold. All water has been removed and all loose tiles have been removed. All floors were dried with mops and blowers.

He said the damaged univent unit was removed at 9.15 a.m. and was to be repaired and returned to service on Tuesday evening.

At the Nettle, a broken 3/4 inch pipe that brings hot water to a hallway heating unit located just inside an exterior door in a stairwell caused minimal flooding.

“It happened over the weekend so we had custodians clean it up and the repairs were underway on Tuesday,” Dorrance said. “Any school district with univents that have shock absorbers on the outside is going to have problems.”

School superintendent Margaret Marotta said many people helped clean up after burst pipes caused flooding.

‘Haverhill Fire and our own HPS facilities and custodians have been fantastic at cleaning things up safely,’ she said. “The staff were flexible to deal with the unexpected and I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to our ROTC Fellows at Haverhill High for their early morning cleanup support – they were fantastic.”