From rooftops to foundations, UNL maintenance employees are helping campus buildings weather a very wet spring.
Jim Jackson, executive director of facilities management and planning, said Lincoln’s record May rainfall and continued showers in June have led to a number of building leaks and unique challenges to be handled by UNL’s blue shirt-wearing building systems maintenance employees.
“Because we have gotten such heavy rains this spring, we are experiencing problems we haven’t seen before,” Jackson said. “But, with support from custodial services, building systems maintenance employees have been able to mitigate the impact of leaks and flooding.”
On UNL’s rooftop peaks and gutters, a strategic plan developed in the fall is helping mitigate leak reports and hasten repairs.
The plan, created by UNL’s roof repair team, compiled all City and East Campus roof leak/repair reports from spring to fall 2014. Scott Hunt, roofing lead for building systems maintenance, said the team divided the reports into areas of concern and used the information to guide roof assessments and needed fixes.
“It helped us get a lot of repairs completed quickly, which has resulted in fewer problems this year — even though it has been extremely wet,” Hunt said. “Now, when leaks do happen, we’re better prepared to react and focus on the problem quickly and efficiently.”
Jackson said the number of roof problems this year is behind those reported in 2014.
On the ground, UNL building maintenance crews are experiencing some unique challenges alongside regular flooding issues.
“Higher than normal groundwater levels have brought a new set of problems,” Jackson said. “Most were unforeseen as a possibility when the buildings were built, but we are working with structural contractors to solve the more unique problems.”
Those include water seeping into the organ room at Westbrook Hall and the elevator pit in Kimball Recital Hall.
Other major issues have included overloaded drain lines allowing water to back up into the basement of Nebraska Hall and site grading causing some flooding in the Stanley and Alexander buildings.
From minor roof leaks to major floods, water issues are a top concern for UNL maintenance crews.
“Any time we get a report of water coming into a building, it is considered an emergency,” Jackson said. “Staff immediately call zone leaders who will marshal staff and respond immediately to the building.
“Due to the rains, we’ve had a fairly busy spring. Our crews have done an excellent job responding quick and efficiently, allowing campus spaces to return to normal as quickly as possible.”