Heating water costs money. Accordingly, it makes sense that you do not want any of the heat you are paying for to be lost while the water is being moved from the hot water heater to the faucet. In Bouke building on the Penn States campus, heat is being lost through the un-insulated pipes found in each bathroom. It may seem insignificant but there are between 3 and 5 sinks in each bathroom with at least 2 bathrooms on each of the 4 floors so you have between 24 and 40 sinks being used that have un-insulated pipes. These pipes were only exposed for a few feet and then went back inside the wall. It is possible that the entire length of the pipes is un-insulated and not just the part visible to the eye. If this is the case, there is a lot of heat escaping from those metal pipes into the air and money is escaping along with it.

There is a simple solution to this dilemma that just takes some time and effort. The pipes need to get covered 360degrees around by some form of insulating material. Over time the insulation should be checked on to see if there needs to be repairs or replacements. Once the pipes are insulated there is little to no work required to worry about the plumbing situation in this building.

The fixtures in Boucke building have also proven problematic at times. According to Ed Koren, a member of the Boucke custodial staff, at one point one fixture failed to properly cut off the water flow. This constant drip of water created a constant demand for hot water. However, Mr. Koren noted that this problem was remedied within days of contacting the OPP.


Uninsulated piping in a Boucke building restroom.



Heating in Boucke Building, like most buildings on campus, is fed by the steam system that runs underground. Examination in the rooms showed a number of radiant heaters (shown below). These heaters utilize fin technology to facilitate heating (show below). While more statistics would be needed about the steam system to judge it, it is almost guaranteed that a geothermal heating system would be far more efficient in general. However, due to the aging construction of Boucke building, there is very little argument for upgrading the current system. The payback period for such an operation would no doubt be far greater than the proposed lifespan of the building. Perhaps the best method for upgrading heating would be to demolish the building and rebuild Boucke with a geothermal heating system.


A radiant heater in Boucke building.

Fins increase surface area for faster heat dispersion.