Swannanoa, NC – SWANNANOA – A faulty boiler might be the cause of high carbon monoxide levels that have forced three evacuations at Warren Wilson College.
The college first evacuated about 100 people during breakfast at the Gladfelter Student Center on Oct. 26 after a carbon monoxide buildup in the boiler room, spokesman Ben Anderson said.
The center building houses a cafeteria, small cafe, the student mailroom, bookstore and some offices for student groups.
Two more evacuations took place during dinner Tuesday and again Wednesday.
About 250 to 300 people were cleared from the building. No one needed medical treatment, Anderson said.
“There have been some reports of headaches during this period. Probably the people in dining services had experienced it the most,” Anderson said.
Facilities Services Director Paul Braese said he thought a boiler unit used to heat water inside the building caused the problems.
“It appears the (carbon monoxide) levels were elevated at the unit,” he said.
Contractors arrived Thursday and gave the boiler a tune- up, Braese said. A new exhaust system was ordered Wednesday. It should be installed today or Saturday, Braese said.
Workers shut the 10-year-old boiler down Thursday afternoon, but it was turned back on later in the evening after repairs, Braese said. Workers were monitoring the unit Thursday night and had an alarm in place.
While the boiler was off Thursday, students in the cafeteria used paper plates so workers didn’t have to use hot water.
Braese said the initial problem surfaced Oct. 26 after workers installed a louver, which allows outside air into the room with the boiler. The college brought in a contractor after carbon monoxide levels spiked in that evacuation.
Levels Tuesday and Wednesday were much lower, he said.