Was God Watching?

A church wanted to build an atrium from its parking lot to its sanctuary, administration, and classroom complex. The original facility had coal-fired boilers. Coal was delivered and stored in a basement coal-storage room. The new entrance was to be built over this coal room. Over time, the original boilers were replaced and fired with gas/oil dual-fuel burners. The duel-fuel burners allowed the client to reduce gas costs because of an interruptible fuel source. The standby oil-fuel tanks were located in the old coal-storage area. The tanks had developed leaks from corrosion, and our mechanical-design team had to decide whether to repair or replace them. The tanks were replaced with a single buried exterior tank.

Time was important, and the pouring of the addition's slab was approaching fast. The tank's delivery time was after the slab pour. However, the design/construction team located sleeves for the oil piping to run from the buried exterior tank to a new day tank in the oil/coal-bin room. The day-tank vent was in place for the slab pour. Everything was ready for construction to proceed on schedule.

I attended a seminar on energy savings for gas customers. A contractor who attended the meeting said I should contact a local independent gas contract supplier for a source of “standby gas fuel.” I questioned the gas utility's representative about another source of gas. I was informed that this was an option. The independent gas supplier was contacted immediately. The proposed gas contract was acceptable to the church's board. The contract was signed, the buried-tank order was cancelled, the day tank was returned to the supplier, the duel-fuel piping and controls were revised to use only gas, and the slab-pour schedule was met.

The client gained a simpler duel-fuel system because the entire changeover to duel-fuel supplies was handled by the gas utility. The church's maintenance staff does not receive any phone calls from the gas utility to change to oil fuel, and the burner maintenance and the remodel project cost less.
John A. Clark, PE
St. Paul, Minn.

Send “war stories” of 400 or fewer words to the attention of Scott Arnold, executive editor, at [email protected] Authors are paid $50 per published war story.

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