Hot showers are hot commodity for Jester residents

Nicole Stuessy

For a group of residents on the 12th floor of Jester West, getting a hot shower is dirty business. 

“There’s about 30 guys who are sharing one hot shower,” neuroscience freshman Madhav Singh said. “What you have to do is notice when the shower is occupied and when its not, and you just have to run to the shower as soon as you can when they get out.”

Of the four community showers in this hallway on the 12th floor, only one has consistently hot water, Singh said. This leads residents to alter their showering habits, such as going at certain hours or venturing onto different floors.

Business freshman Dilichi Ogbutor said he packs a bag and walks outside to the first floor of Jester East to shower in his friend’s room.

“I have my own private bath and it’s freezing cold,” Ogbutor said. “I think it’s just the upper floors. I have friends who live on the 4th and 5th floors and they get hot water.”

Nearly 1,800 Jester West residents shower on 14 floors. After receiving an increased number of cold water complaints in December, maintenance employees found water heaters in the basement were not flowing at full capacity, said Rick Early, director of residential facilities operations.

“During the holidays, when we could turn off all of the water, we literally went in there and repiped all of the water heaters and about 100 feet of the supply line,” Early said. “Since Christmas, I have had very few complaints. I have checked the water personally and we have had good flow everywhere.”

However, Early said even when everything is operating correctly, it’s difficult to ensure everyone, especially those on higher floors, has the amount of hot water they need.

“Every lavatory, every set of showers, every laundry room has a separate hot water line that runs from the basement all the way to the top of the building — that’s about 140 times in West alone,” Early said. “If you are on the 14th floor and the water is having to travel from the basement, it takes longer to get there.”

Because Austin water has a higher level of calcium, buildups in pipes can also cause issues with hot water, Early said.

“Over time, calcium will build up in the pipes, and it usually builds up the most at the water heater,” Early said. “Periodically we have to go in there and do some repairs on the pipes. It doesn’t matter which building it is.”

Despite these repairs, public health freshman Anney Vo said she has had consistent problems with hot water this semester.

“I usually shower either at really random times of the day, like 3 p.m. or 3 a.m., to get hot showers,” Vo said. “It’s still an issue.”

Singh said he also hasn’t noticed a difference in water temperature on his floor. 

“It’s definitely still a problem,” Singh said. “I would not recommend that anyone live in Jester West above the 6th floor.”

Early said for those students still dealing with hot water problems, they should file maintenance requests.

“I think we have got it to a point now where we can handle things on an individual basis,” Early said. “This summer we do plan on doing some additional work just to make sure we don’t have any issues in the future as well.”