Oakwood Hall: The Site of Water Leaks Prior to School Year

Oakwood Hall Water LeaksWater has been leaking in the residents’ bathrooms, as well as the stairwell in Oakwood Hall, prior to the beginning of the fall semester. 

Tony Conrad,  Area Coordinator (AC) for Oakwood Hall, said, “Leaks were reported at the end of August; we had about four bathrooms, a stairwell, and a laundry room all with leaks.”

The west side stairwell in Oakwood Hall has had multiple cases of water leaking through the roof. There were buckets placed in the stairwell to collect the leaking water and wet floor signs to notify of the water. Handwritten signs were also posted on the doors of the stairwell discouraging the use of this stairwell, instructing residents to use the stairwell on the opposite side of the building.

Jim Pillar, Associate Vice President for Student Services, said, “Facilities responded at the time of the incident being reported, they placed a collection receptacle to collect the water. The Residential Life staff placed signs on the stairwell notifying residents of the leak. Repairs occurred once the rain had concluded.”

The stairwell leak tends to happen only when it is raining. Pillar said, “The stairwell issue was a result of rain leaking from the roof... Facilities have been in the building making ongoing repairs and have repaired and resealed areas on the exterior and areas on the roof.”

Patti Swannack, Vice President of Administrative Services, confirmed the stairwell was leaking water due to the roof. She added, “Whenever a leak occurs, we immediately respond. We repaired the leaks about a month ago and have not seen a leak since.”

Mary Anne Nagy, Vice President of Student Life, said that Oakwood Hall is about 20-22 years old and as roofs age, they can develop cracks or missing shingles, especially with the high winds lately. Nagy added, “Ultimately buildings, simply because of their age, just like your home or my home, come to a point where you have to start repairing the roof.”

“The university works on a three-year budget cycle and there’s a capital plan that goes, not only three years out, but ten years,” Nagy said. “New roofs and heating and cooling systems are all a part of this plan so it’s the stuff we are constantly, not only repairing, but replacing.”

Multiple times the stairwell leaked and had to have buckets and signs placed out. Nagy said, “It is very possible for multiple attempts to fix the roof.” She further explained that it could be difficult to spot on the roof the exact shingle that the leak was coming from and that it would take two or three attempts to find the correct shingle. 

Robert Agosto is a sophomore resident in Oakwood Hall who has experienced leaking in his bathroom. Both times he noticed the leaks he notified the Resident Assistant (RA) staff in an Oakwood Hall 2nd Floor GroupMe group chat. Agosto said, “The RA came in and took a look at the leak to see the severity and immediately called maintenance. Maintenance came after about 15-20 minutes and went in the bathroom and fixed the leak.” 

Agosto’s bathroom leaked twice. He said, “I think it’s simply because the first time they didn’t fix the leak correctly so it leaked again.” After the second time maintenance came, he said, “It has not leaked in a while so I believe that the second time they did fix it.”

“I believe it was accumulated water from the AC system that would just overflow,” Agosto said about the cause of the leaks in his bathroom.

Conrad said, “The bathroom issues were a result of condensation and humidity. All current issues have been addressed and if students are having new issues I’d ask them to submit a work order and notify the RAs.”

The heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) units were the cause of the leaks in the residents’ bathrooms. Swannack said, “The condensate lines in the HVAC units were backing up. We believe the blockages occurred where the lines exit the building. We have blown out the lines to help clear them. In areas where we had experienced a blockage before, we have located where the condensate lines exit the building and are determining what could be restricting the flow.”

Briana Pinelli and Izzy Montes are residents and roommates in Oakwood Hall. Their bathroom ceiling fell down on Oct. 19. The two had walked into their room and opened their bathroom door and the ceiling came crashing down. 

Pinelli said, “An RA came in first, then AC Tony Conrad, and then maintenance came to fix it. They sent someone from maintenance within 30 minutes after it fell, but a lot of people came in to look at it, so it took a little while to fix.”

Carpenters were immediately sent to Oakwood Hall following the ceiling falling. Nagy said, “The work order was put in at 3:56 that day, in the afternoon, and by 5:00 p.m. it was repaired.”

Montes said, “The ceiling had been leaking since the first week we moved in. AC Tony Conrad told us it was because we kept the window open and it was causing problems with the air conditioner. People came in to fix the leak multiple times, but it continued to leak.”

Montes and Pinelli believe that the ceiling fell due to water damage from the continuous leaking and that the ceiling could not hold up anymore.

Nagy said that to her understanding the damages were caused by the grid piece in the ceiling tiles. The grid piece, for an unknown reason, had come down and caused the ceiling tiles to fall. She said, “It was not due to a leak.” 

Swannack said that the cause of the bathroom ceiling to fall down in Pinelli and Montes’ bathroom was because of the ceiling grid shifting due to rivets that had come loose. 

According to Nagy, facilities will be checking the grid piece in bathrooms throughout Oakwood Hall. Swannack has confirmed this and said, “All of the other restrooms in the building have been checked and no issues were found.”

“It has been a particularly wet year,” Nagy said. “There has been a recent report, that since Jan. 1, this area has had a 9.6, almost ten inch surplus of rain.” Nagy explained that it has also been a very hot and humid summer and that all of these factors have created the issues in Oakwood Hall.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University