Improving Insulation at Old Dominion University

With insufficient insulation, chilled-water pipes at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., were suffering from high temperatures and high relative humidity. Water from condensation was dripping from the pipes, forming rust, staining the floors and ceilings and causing mold and mildew growth. To resolve the situation, a retrofit was in order.

12/01/2002


With insufficient insulation, chilled-water pipes at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., were suffering from high temperatures and high relative humidity. Water from condensation was dripping from the pipes, forming rust, staining the floors and ceilings and causing mold and mildew growth.

To resolve the situation, a retrofit was in order. In this case, insulation—designed specifically for chilled-water pipe applications—was installed in several of the mechanical rooms at one of the university's housing facilities—Powhatan Apartments, home to 384 upperclassmen.

The project has been a true test of the product's capabilities, as the insulation had to endure very harsh conditions: 90°F temperatures and 80% humidity, with little to no airflow to the area, and chilled water coming in at 39°F to 40°F, and returning at 54°F.

About 15 months later, reports Carol Ballard, assistant director of housing services for the university's facilities management department, "The insulation is working fine. I don't see any indication of leaks. Everything looks good."

More than just insulation

Also of note is the fact that the insulation was installed when the chilled water was running and the pipes were wet, thereby minimizing interference with normal operations.

What's also unique about the product is that it does more than just insulate, according to Phil Davenport, manager of insulation contracting at C.E. Thurston & Sons, the firm that installed the piping insulation.

"Most insulation doesn't do anything but insulate. With this insulation, if moisture gets in, it has a way to come out through gravity and evaporation. There is kind of a cycle to it," says Davenport.

The contractor also notes that the product has a nice appearance. "It has a unique polymer jacket and has a good 'memory' where it bounces back if you bump up against it. Also, if you get it dirty, you can clean it very easily."





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