New boiler system approved for Red Oak’s STEAM center
The Red Oak School Board has agreed to the purchase of a new boiler system.
On July 15, the board held a special meeting and approved replacing the boiler system at the Red Oak Jr./Sr. High School STEAM Center, at a cost of $291,000. Red Oak superintendent Ron Lorenz said he was informed by engineers that the existing boiler system failed on July 8 due to improper installation.
“According to the engineers, the boilers were not installed per the design either in 2001 or 2012. We had been hoping to do a one-to-one replacement, but we’re unable because the boiler system that was used is not consistent with the configuration of the piping that exists,” Lorenz explained. “That may explain why two boilers have both failed in the past 20 years, as again, they were replaced in 2001 and in 2012, and explain why, 10 years later, here we are again. A boiler is supposed to last 20 years, so the fact that we’ve replaced two boilers in the last two decades and this is the third, is very troubling.”
Lorenz credited Camblin Mechanical and lead maintenance director Adam Wenberg for finding the fault.
“Credit to Adam Wenberg because he was the one who pointed out that when you have an aluminum heat exchanger within steel pipes, there’s some type of chemical process that speeds the deterioration of the components, and between Wenberg and Camblin Mechanical, they spoke to the engineers and determined the piping was incorrect after reviewing the specs. We don’t know for sure if the improper installation occurred in 2012 or 2001, but in either case, one of those times, it wasn’t installed right,” advised Lorenz.
Lorenz added the engineers recommended the district go with a larger, more robust boiler that will accommodate the current piping.
“By installing a larger boiler, we’ll be able to accommodate the heat exchanger that will lend itself to the water quality issues that we have,” said Lorenz.
Unfortunately, Lorenz said due to the issues discovered, it resulted in a much higher price tag than the $175,000 the school was planning to pay through ESSER funds because of the air quality issues.
“With the changes to the project, the costs were estimated at around $400,000 in ESSER funds, and we don’t have that many ESSER funds remaining, so we had to trim out all the indoor air quality components, and that trimmed the cost down to $291,000. This is still an estimate from the engineers, and I’m hoping that was a conservative estimate, but that’s the number I was given,” stated Lorenz.
The costs include the boiler, heat exchanger, controls, and plumbing. Installation of the new boiler will be in around five to seven weeks, which means installation will have to take place while school is in session. Lorenz said he didn’t see that being an issue.