In working order
Maintenance staff keeps campus functional
The facilities staff at Grand Valley State University does a lot to keep the Allendale campus
buildings looking nice and functioning well, but they also deal with emergency issues when
problems arise, such as the water main break that occurred in the Commons on Sept. 4.
Jeff Marcinkowski, GVSU maintenance supervisor, said the staff consulted with a contractor and
discussed its options for repairing the pipe. He determined that the pipe probably burst because it
was old and needed to be replaced. The exact cause for the break in the line is still unknown, but
Marcinkowski said lax safety regulations were not a factor.
“Leaks like this one happen in any city, town or university where utilities are placed underground,”
Marcinkowski said. “They are installed according to established codes and best construction
practices, which include safety regulations.”
Marcinkowski said Facilities Services received a call from customer service on the morning of Sept.
4 regarding the leak. Maintenance staff members were sent to the site, where they found the water
pipe had burst and was leaking. A shut-off valve was used to “isolate the leak” and turn off the
water for the whole building.
More maintenance staff was then sent to clean up the water that was coming in through the
southwest entrance of FUEL, a dining area located in the Commons. The Commons was closed
temporarily while the pipe was repaired.
“Maintenance staff, with the help of a contractor, established a temporary water supply from
Manitou through our tunnel system and, within three hours, we had water back to the Commons,”
GVSU maintenance staff also helps with regular upkeep of and repairs to campus buildings.
Lawrence Meredith, assistant maintenance supervisor, gave credit to the maintenance staff and the
student workers for cleaning and maintaining the water pipes that are located in the two-mile-long
tunnel, which stretches from one end of campus to the other. Maintenance personnel are required
to walk through these tunnels to make sure everything is working properly and to check the water
and gas lines in campus buildings, daily. The tunnel was recently extended to include the new
Meredith said the central utilities building controls the heating and cooling systems for campus
dining, classrooms and the Fieldhouse. Most of the housing buildings generate their own heat, and
maintenance works to keep the heat and air balanced in these buildings by running the boilers all
day and all year long.
Marcinkowski said maintenance staff is also responsible for checking other equipment, like pumps,
boilers, coils and valves.
“They are looking to see if anything has changed with the equipment,” he said. “They use all of
their senses plus some sensitive equipment to detect problems.”
There are four main ways the maintenance staff is notified of work to be completed, Marcinkowski
said. They can repair any issues they see while making rounds, complete work-order requests, take
on capital projects or receive more specific work from either of the two supervisors.
Work orders are the most common maintenance process, Marcinkowski said, and are controlled by
customer service located in the facilities building. Anyone on campus can call in a work order, but
Marcinkowski said submitting requests online is the preferred method.
For more information about facilities services and work-order requests, visit