Not Enough Heat

My co-workers and I were hired to provide boilers for a cluster of buildings at a state facility. The original heating system was using high-pressure steam lines from a neighboring facility. This underground system was old, wasteful, and in need of frequent repair. The local utility company offered some funding for the replacement and wanted each building to have a boiler room and separate boiler.

We surveyed each building included in the project and determined what space could be utilized for boilers and accompanying stacks. The utility company was scheduled to run gas lines to the buildings, and the contractor was to pick them up inside and carry them to the boiler areas. As the boiler spaces were designed, space, power, electrical needs, and clearances for stacks were concerns. We also had to arrange for the new boilers' tie-ins to the buildings' steam-heating systems and heat exchangers for domestic hot water.

The problem occurred near the end of the project. Winter had set in, and one building was not heating properly. We went over the calculations with a fine-tooth comb. Although there were minor piping changes caused by field conditions, they had no effect on the actual gas needed. We had specified the boiler, and the gas meter was rated properly. One of the maintenance people even had someone else calculate the building. We were on target.

Finally, we called the boiler company. The manufacturer's representative showed up carrying pressure-gauging equipment. First, he checked the meter output. The meter had two input feeds. At the required rate, the outgoing gas pressure was about half of what was needed. The utility company had locked the meter's other feed. After a call to the utility company, the feed was opened. It was great to read the proper pressure on the steam gauges in the building.

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