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FAQ Annual High Temperature Hot Water Shutdowns

The 2020 shutdown will take place from Sunday, May 17 through Thursday, May 21. The buildings and services affected are listed below.

The following buildings and services are affected:
  • Academic Complex (A&B)- no heat, no hot water
  • Administration Building- no heat, no hot water
  • Anderson Center- no heat no hot water
  • Central Heating Plant- no heat, no hot water
  • East Gym- no heat, no hot water
  • Events Center- no heat, no hot water
  • Fine Arts- no heat, no hot water, limited dehumidification for the Art Gallery
  • Garage- no heat, no hot water
  • Lecture Hall and Student Wing- no heat, no hot water
  • Physical Facilities- no heat, no hot water
  • Science 1- no heat, no hot water
  • Science 2- no heat, no hot water
  • Science 3 & Greenhouse- no heat, no hot water
  • Science 4- no heat, no hot water
  • Science 5- no cage washer steam
  • Science Library and classroom addition- no heat, no hot water
  • West Gym- no heat, no hot water


Binghamton University's High Temperature Hot Water System provides heat and domestic hot water to 63% of the campus buildings. The system has an excellent reliability history and is efficient and safe. It is run 360 days a year operating at 385 degrees.

There is a lot of equipment associated with the HTHW system including hundreds of valves both in the Central Heating Plant and in campus buildings, piping that ranges in size from 1/2" to 24" in diameter and a 30,000 gallon distribution expansion tank. All of this equipment must be serviced on an annual basis, following Commencement, to ensure the reliable operation of a system that is vital to campus operations.

Frequently Asked Questions About Annual High Temperature Hot Water (HTHW) Shutdowns

Q: Why is the system shut down for a whole week?

A: The idea is to be proactive rather than reactive. The week after Commencement is typically the week with fewest events scheduled and therefore has least impact on campus. The shutdown is critical to avoid emergency breakdowns that could compromise building operations and equipment. If the system failed during the winter for example, building piping could freeze and break jeopardizing safety, comfort and critical research. Because water in the system reaches 385 degrees and operates at high pressure, the system must be shutdown so it can be cooled and depressurized and workers can safely perform maintenance. 

In addition to the preventive maintenance work done on the system, there have also been a number of capital projects that have replaced large sections of older piping throughout campus over the last ten years. 

Q: Why does the shutdown happen right after Commencement?

A: This time frame is chosen so that there is minimal disruption to the campus. The week following Commencement is typically the week when there are fewest people and events on campus. Also, this is a time of year when there is no chance of buildings freezing up due to a lack of heat in pipes. While it may inconvenience some, it is prudent and safe to be proactive and have a planned event rather than be in an emergency situation. In addition, having a consistent schedule allows campus operations affected by the shutdown to prepare and plan ahead. The shutdown is announced several weeks in advance with regular reminders up to the week before the event.

Q: What are the risks to the campus community if this annual preventive maintenance is not performed?"

A: A major disruption of campus life is the greatest risk that would be created by not accomplishing the important work that takes place during the annual HTHW shutdown. If the system suffered an emergency breakdown due to equipment failure almost every aspect of normal operations would be affected. Critical central campus buildings would be without heat and hot water until repairs could be made. Cancellation of classes and events would be likely. Many of the buildings that would be impacted are science buildings so  important research could be jeopardized. If the emergency occurred  during colder months, damage to pipes and other related building infrastructure would be likely thus compounding the initial emergency.  Of course all of this would come with a large expense.

Q: What happens during the shutdown?

A: More than twenty HTHW employees working more than 1,460 hours perform many tasks such as repairing and replacing valves, interior inspection of the 30,000 gallon distribution expansion tank, weld repairs and pipe replacements. Valves and pipes range in size from 1/2" to 24" in diameter. Larger valves and pipes can weigh more that 1,000 pounds. This work takes place both in the Central Heating Plant and in more than 20 buildings on campus.

Every high temperature valve is serviced during this preventive maintenance. Work includes cleaning, tightening of the packing gland, lubricating and exercising each valve if it does not require repacking. If it requires repacking, old packing is removed and new packing is cut and reinstalled. If a valve requires replacement, a welding contractor is brought in. The list below will give some sense of the scope of work involved.

1. Physical Facilities – 36 HTHW valves
2. West Gym – 78 HTHW valves, Events Center – 66 HTHW valves
3.Science I – 92 HTHW valves, Science II- 108 HTHW valves, Science III, Science IV, Science V --total HTHW valves is 208, Science Library – 44 HTHW valves
4. Fine Arts – 132 HTHW valves, Anderson Center – 82 HTHW valves
5. Administration Bldg – 68 HTHW valves
6. East Gym – 82 HTHW valves
7. Bingham Dorm – 58 HTHW valves, C4 Building - 66 HTHW valves
8. Library – 62 HTHW valves
9. Lecture Hall – 33 HTHW valves
10. Academic A – 39 HTHW valves, Academic B - 31 HTHW valves
11. Central Heating Plant – 10 HTHW valves,11 HTHW Manholes – 212 HTHW valves

During the shutdown there will be periods where manholes are barricaded at various sites around campus so that they can be inspected.


Last Updated: 4/30/20