Deferred Maintenance

This is what happens when repair is neglected

Awaiting a complete system failure is the nightmare scenario at the Arizona State Museum, where much of the electrical equipment has been in the basement, unchanged since the 1930s.

The museum commemorating state history lies on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson. In its basement are a majority of the electrical systems that control HVAC/R systems and electricity throughout the entire U of A campus. Losing air handling systems in the desert climate would be catastrophic, with students, faculty and staff always populating the campus to some degree year-round. Much of the worry in 2017 actually stems from years of well-practiced maintenance and repair. Unfortunately, with equipment this old serving such a wide net at such an important institution such as a college, longevity eventually yields potential disaster.

Across the university’s main campus, the list of deferred maintenance includes more than $155 million worth of heating, ventilation and air conditioning repairs and replacement, $37 million in plumbing repair and $8 million in electrical repairs.

There are seven buildings which were labeled “high-risk” during a November 2016 presentation to the Board of Regents. Specific issues include ductwork that is no longer up to code, which is now beginning to fail and create indoor air quality issues, reported Julianne Stanford of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting July 4.

The Animal and Comparative Medical Sciences building, which houses the Department of Veterinary Sciences, is one building that will finally be getting refurbishment in the coming year to address its aging systems.

The building needs $9.5 million in maintenance, $5.9 million of which is needed for heating, ventilation and air conditioning repairs, $1.3 million for repairs to external walls, almost $250,000 for electrical systems and $790,000 for plumbing work, Stanford reported. Maintenance employees at the university and museum are calling for immediate assistance to prevent any desperate situation during the summer.

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