COLUMBUS — The deep freeze in recent weeks took a toll on some of the pipes inside the vacant former middle school along 16th Street and 23rd Avenue.

That’s the message Columbus Public Schools board members got from Leonard Kwapnioski, executive director of technology and operations for the school district, earlier this week.

In late December, when the mercury sank below zero, an underground steam pipe burst just inside the front doors and down the stairs from the 16th Street entrance.

The break was discovered when maintenance workers inside the building saw steam billowing up from the main north-south hallway at the foot of the stairs, Kwapnioski told school board members.

The age of the pipe in the building’s boiler heating system, which was built more than 90 years ago, was to blame, he said.

Beard-Warren Heating and Air Conditioning, the district’s vendor for HVAC problems, was called to make the repairs.

“They did a fantastic job,” Kwapnioski said.

The price tag for the fix was $4,000.

Last week, again when temperatures took a dive, workers inside the building got a jolt when two water pipes in the north wall of the cafeteria burst. Water locked up a motor and air compressor, creating smoke that resulted in a call to the fire department.

The leaking water didn’t cause any damage because it drained into floor trench drains in the kitchen area, Kwapnioski said. The district's in-house plumber had the pipes repaired in about an hour, he said.

“We’re monitoring the building,” said Kwapnioski, adding that the old middle school is still maintained up to fire and safety codes.

The former middle school, which is for sale, is currently being used as a collection point for all the old furniture from the high school, middle school and elementary schools.

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Jim Osborn is a news reporter at The Columbus Telegram.

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