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An Unusual Cause of Thermal Discomfort

It's the first week back in 2020, want to guess what was causing the thermal discomfort in the University Services Building? This situation is pretty unique, even on a campus where every building and every comfort issue is different.

The issue first came to us on Monday, January 6th, one of the first days back after the new year. It was so cold in the building, the issue was quickly escalated through the ranks of Facilities. Are you wondering how cold it was? When we checked the temperature after the first TherMOOstat vote at 8:30am, it was 64°F!

For a story like this, no spoilers, read below to see what our Facilities team found in the building.

Timeline of Incoming TherMOOstat Comments

Thank you to the staff members in the University Services Building who sent in comments via TherMOOstat on January 6th. Your comments helped us see the degree of the heating issue and also allowed us to follow along as our Facilities staff were figuring out what was going on in the building.

Our Investigation in the HVAC Controls System

The first thing we do with TherMOOstat votes is to check the building's Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems remotely. We try to look at the HVAC system at the time the TherMOOstat vote was sent in. We can remotely see the room temperatures at the University Services Building, so on January 7th, we saw it was 60-65°F on the second floor.

John is our triage expert when it comes to TherMOOstat votes. He also knows a lot of other things happening on campus. John was able to combine your TherMOOstat votes with an existing work order in the Facilities system, and a few emails going around about the heating issue.

On Monday, January 6th a work order was submitted to Facilities and it was noted that the heating for the second floor was down. This work order was escalated when 15 TherMOOstat votes came in before 10am on Tuesday. John was able to connect with several others in Facilities, including our Energy Manager, the Director of Building Maintenance Services, and the HVAC Senior Superintendent.

While we were assembling in Facilities, staff in the University Services Building were keeping us in the loop with their TherMOOstat votes. Between 10am and 1:30pm, an additional 8 votes came into our database. It was around 1:30pm that a technician from the Facilities Refrigeration Shop was able to go to the University Services Building on Research Park Drive. Last chance, want to guess what the electrician found?

What We Found at the University Services Building

Phil, a technician in the Facilities Refrigeration Shop, was on the roof troubleshooting the heating issue at the University Services Building. He confirmed there was no heating, and found the fan motor was tripped off.

To get the heat back on, Phil reset fan motor and noticed the amperage was higher than it should be. Continuing with his investigation, Phil found the voltage coming out of the disconnect was low. Upon examining the building's disconnect, Phil found wasp nests! The nests were likely causing issues with the disconnect, which affected the electrical current going to the HVAC equipment.

Phil cleaned out the wasp nests and the HVAC equipment was back in operation. While he was cleaning the disconnect he noticed it was old, and in poor condition. We're in progress of replacing the old disconnect with a new one that will provide more reliable service to the building.

#yourvotesinaction #comfortsuccess

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