Ringgold: AC units not holding stagnant water
Maintenance workers found no sitting water inside air conditioning units Friday at Ringgold Elementary South in Carroll Township, according to the district superintendent and several school board members.
The non-existence of water, they said, hopefully will eradicate any lingering health concerns about the building.
Superintendent Dr. Karen Polkabla confirmed that Bill Hoffman, the district's supervisor of facilities, and Scott Spahr, supervisor of maintenance and grounds, checked the units in seven rooms: 103, 232, 304, 311, 312, 315, and 316.
That action was spurred during Thursday's school board meeting, when members Chuck Smith and Larry Mauro demanded the units be tested for bacteria that could spawn Legionnaires' disease if water had accumulated in the draining pans.
The board voted Thursday to conduct such tests if water was found in the units.
“Two units had a little bit of moisture on the drain side, but we expected that because of the normal condensation that occurs during operation,” Polkabla said. “There wasn't standing water as they thought there might be.”
The district had already conducted testing for mold and spores after teachers in the building filed a grievance citing health concerns. The testing, performed Sept. 13 by an outside company, found the spore counts to be much heavier outside the building than indoors, Hoffman said.
Polkabla said Smith was unable to meet Spahr at the building during Friday's inspection.
During Thursday's meeting, Smith had asked Spahr and Hoffman take him to check the units for water afterward.
Smith and Mauro did not return phone messages left early Sunday evening.
Board member Chris Carroll, who chairs the facilities, planning and transportation committee – while acknowledging high humidity in the building this year – said he hopes the results quash any further controversy.
Carroll and Maureen Ott cast opposing votes on Smith's motion Thursday.
Carroll reiterated Sunday that the idea of having water collect in pans he said stand 3⁄8 of an inch high was “absolutely ridiculous.”
“The pan is not deep enough to have standing water … and that's exactly what they found. They were all draining properly and, if they weren't, the water would be overflowing, not sitting,” Carroll said.
“That's why I voted no, we've had our own people telling us there's nothing there and there was nothing there. Why can't somebody believe the facts? … If you have sitting water, the pans would have to be 2 to 3 inches high.”
Carroll repeated his accusation from Thursday's meeting claiming Smith was “grandstanding”.
“Water can get stagnant and bacteria can grow, that is correct. But the whole component, unless you see the operation which I've seen up and down, you're not going to find that in these types of units,” said Carroll, who works as a HVAC mechanical designing engineer.
“I'm just glad we didn't have to spend any of the district's money to test for something that wasn't there, and this was not going to cost (only) a couple hundred bucks.”
Two of the units did flood over in summer of 2012 because the collection pans were level instead of tilted, Carroll said, and those units subsequently were fixed.
Fellow board and committee member, Bill Stein, called the bacteria concerns “a lot of fuss about nothing.”
“They found everything to be in proper order. Also, the mold counts were well within reason, so there's really not much else to say,” Stein said.
“We tried to respond to people's concerns. They're tweaking the system one way or another to make it comfortable for teachers and students and we want to do so, but it was never a condition for danger.”
Carroll said eliminating high humidity in RESS is a simple matter of adjusting controls and training maintenance workers to prepare the units when weather conditions necessitate the action.
“This was caused by a small controls issue within the units which will be fixed to deal with more humid days and making sure it operates on the correct schedule,” Carroll said.
“At night time all it was doing was ventilating and not cooling it off and cooling is what dries air.”
Carroll added he hopes there will be no more talk of Legionnaires' disease – a potentially fatal pneumonia caused most commonly by aerobic bacteria that thrive in stagnant water.
“The whole thing was absurd … there would've been so many tell-tale signs to have occurred to even think you'd have something like that,” Carroll said.
“There were no tell-tale signs, but I'm glad they found no standing water.
“Now, we can hopefully continue to monitor the situation and move on.”
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-684-2635.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ringgold goal to foster excellence
- Top students named at California Area High School
- Lawmaker eyes Charleroi street woes
- Alleged Bunola shooter out of hospital
- Charleroi man charged in fatal crash to stand trial
- Holiday weekend memories abound for 1965 enthusiast
- ‘Misfits’ shoot video for tour in Monessen
- Former Ringgold guidance counselor facing sex charges
- Siblings linked to missing Rostraver man jailed in unrelated cases
- Crawford carried skills, zest for life to the West Coast
- Monessen man faces trial in shooting