In the Pipeline

The leaking pipe that closed NASH late last week resulted in the relocation of eight classrooms this week.


photo by Jess Daninhirsch

Ongoing cleaning from the pipe burst continues throughout the building, including in the library.

Andrew McLaughlin, Staff Writer

In the early morning of September 2, NASH families awoke to the message that school was canceled for the day. This was no typical school closure, however, as it was due to leaks caused by a broken pipe. The damaged pipe allowed water and glycol to leak into classrooms, requiring extensive clean-up efforts before classes could resume at NASH.

The pipe burst was connected to a rooftop hot water tank, causing leaks onto the third floor of the building. The resulting damage — in addition to the need for a new pipe — meant that NASH staff and students were not able to come to the building last Thursday and Friday.

“I was called and made aware of the leak and flood at 12:12am on Thursday.  The problem was isolated before 1:00am,” said Jason Schwoebel, Manager of Custodial Services at North Allegheny.

The hour at which the leak was first discovered caused the surprise day off. Though no instruction was carried out on Thursday, remote learning was conducted on Friday. This allowed district custodial staff time to replace the pipe, which was actually not a complex task in itself.

“The cause of the problem was the strainer on the pipe,” Mr. Schwoebel informed The Uproar. “The fact that the pipes were empty made the repair fairly simple. “

On the other hand, cleaning the affected areas of the building was a much larger undertaking.

“Removal of the liquid from the pipe took six hours with a crew of 13 people and nine pieces of machinery,” Schwoebel elaborated.

Thanks to the efforts of the custodial staff, NASH was able to reopen this week. However, several third-floor rooms continue to require cleaning and inspection.

“Areas above ceilings and behind walls were accessed and cleaned,” Schwoebel advised. “Replacing the building components is an ongoing process.

I finally have the chance to teach in a classroom with a window!”

— Mr. Pirring, Social Studies teacher

This week, teachers in the affected rooms have had their classes temporarily relocated to open rooms around the building, including the Auditorium and Library.  

Social studies teacher Mr. Pirring says that moving instruction to another room has been a smooth transition due to today’s technology, which has “certainly made disturbances like this easier to handle.” 

Pirring also mentioned a simple pleasure associated with his temporary room location.

“I finally have the chance to teach in a classroom with a window!” he pointed out.

Similarly, math teacher Mr. Grater has found the switch to be a straightforward process.

“When I first started teaching at NASH, I moved to six different rooms throughout the day,” he says.

According to math teacher Mr. Bell, the classroom switch has been a more difficult transition for students than teachers.

“Students are in need of structure, especially with juniors being in the building for the first time ever,” Bell told The Uproar.

Despite other challenges this early in the year — such as air conditioning issues following a weekend storm — Bell thinks attitudes have been positive overall, saying that his students are “working through it together.”

Above all, the reaction to this unexpected difficulty reflects North Allegheny’s emphasis on safety — in the case of the glycol cleanup, the return to school required changes, but they were necessary to keep staff and students safe. 

As Schwoebel said, NA is “committed to keeping a clean and safe environment for its students, staff, and community.”

The extra measures taken to properly clean rooms is a perfect reflection of this commitment.