A flooded electrical vault, coming on the heels of several days of unusually heavy rain, temporarily knocked out power to four buildings at Shoreline Community College.
A well-used sump pump from the 1300 Building electrical vault.
The problem was discovered mid-morning on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, when steam was seen coming from the vault under the 1300 Building. College facilities personnel think the steam may have resulted when water inundated heaters that are integral to the transformer and designed to keep electrical connections dry.
To assess the situation, facilities staff needed to turn off electrical transformer breakers and pump out the vault, resulting in the temporary outage. Those breakers control power to the 1000, 1100, 1200 and 1300 buildings. Once the vault was pumped out by about 12:30 p.m., it was determined that power could be restored to all but the 1300 building.
Director of Facilities Bob Roehl said that a sump pump either could not keep up with the flow or wasn’t pumping normally, resulting in about 18-inches of water in the vault. Roehl said the pump will be inspected and cleaned, repaired or replaced.
The 1100 and 1300 buildings are primarily classrooms and the power outage resulted in some class meetings being cancelled. In such cases, instructors have contingency plans already in place so that student learning continues, even if students and the instructor don’t meet as scheduled in a classroom. Since 2009, in anticipation of the swine-flu outbreak, every class at Shoreline Community College has an online component so learning may go on despite on-campus disruptions such as snow, power outages and other events.
The outage also impacted some employees. Early it was not clear what the cause was or how long repairs might take and in some cases, employees in affected buildings were sent home. Power is expected to be restored to the 1300 building over the coming weekend with normal operations by Monday, Nov. 26.