Thirteen radiators in South House burst over Christmas vacation when temperatures in Bertram Hall dropped below freezing, causing flooding and extensive water damage to several suites.
The water originally froze, but when temperatures were brought up Sunday, it melted and further damaged rugs, furniture, walls, and ceilings.
Pipes and radiators burst in many Houses last year during Christmas break when the Department of Buildings and Grounds lowered temperatures to save fuel costs.
One plumber doing repair work in Bertram yesterday estimated that repair costs may be as high as $20,000. Rossario Scialabba, director of facilities for the Faculty, said yesterday no official estimate is available.
Students in the rooms involved this year left fireplace dampers open, letting cold air in through the chimney and bringing the temperature below freezing, Scialabba maintained.
Several students whose rooms were flooded said yesterday they do not believe that the open dampers could have caused the freezing.
Katherine Kleeman '76, senior advisor to freshmen at South House, said yesterday she does not think that the open dampers explain why the temperature dropped so low.
Kleeman and other students whose rooms were badly damaged will not be able to use their own rooms until repairs are completed.
Roy Tishler '79 said yesterday he came back from vacation Sunday night and found his bedroom covered with water and a stream of cold water shooting out of his roommate's radiator.
The South House office is trying to find temporary rooms at Harvard for the displaced students but so far they have had no luck, Susan Livingston, assistant to the South House Senior Tutor, said yesterday.
Yesterday afternoon the thirteen broken radiators were removed and new ones were brought in, but before heat can be restored, a new pipe to the radiators must be installed.
After radiators and pipes exploded last winter, a University insurance policy paid for repairs and lost property, but this year's damage may not be large enough to qualify for insurance coverage.
Harvard New Year
Tishler, who was unable to stay in his room Sunday night said he left a note for his roommate saying, "this is Harvard's way of saying Happy New Year.'"
His roommate and he said that they asked the House office if they would be able to stay in a hotel at the University's expense, but Livingston said that it was unlikely.
Tishler spent Sunday night sleeping on the floor in a friend's room.