New boilers = better heating

News | August 9, 2017

Their size rivaled two VW Beetles, steel gray and tucked away in the basement of St. Paul. Each fall, they roared to life, fueled by natural gas, to boil water. With a complicated twisting and turning series of pipes, valves, radiators, air handlers, they delivered steam heat to much of the St. Paul building.

One was 52 years old, the other 65 years old. Their efficiency? Forty percent (at the generous end).

For the past two years, St. Paul leaders and staff made plans to replace the boilers – a rather involved endeavor to avoid the increasing possibility that one of the boilers could fail at an inopportune time. The council approved the $225,000 project in the spring, paid for with money set aside in the Building Improvement Fund. Northwest Mechanical Inc. of Davenport is the contractor. A $21,800 rebate from MidAmerican Energy will help offset some of the cost.

The old boilers that served St. Paul well are now gone, chopped up and removed piece by piece this summer.

The 1952 Kewanee boiler heated Fellowship Hall, the Chapel and the Chapel Commons. The 1965 Kewanee served the Education Wing, Library, Church House, and Luther Loft. They required manual operation, and some areas of the building experienced significant temperature inconsistency.

In their place? Two units the size of a washing machine, with 82.6 percent efficiency (a conservative estimate). One will carry much of the load, while the other will serve as a backup. The new system, leaders say, will improve the climate of the areas served with improved controls, while reducing operating costs. The control and automation systems will integrate with the system that heats the Sanctuary, Gathering Area, and a portion of the staff offices.

It is anticipated that the new boilers will have a lifespan of approximately 30 years. Next up for mechanical attention, sometime in the next 5 to 10 years, will be the chiller system for air conditioning. A breakdown currently under repair has shut down cooling for much of the building in recent weeks.

About Kewanee Boilers

The old boilers were in fact made in Kewanee, Illinois. Kewanee began manufacturing boilers in 1868, according to the company’s history, when a man named Valerius Anderson started a company to make steam heating devices to heat animal feed. Three years later, the company began making steam boilers for homes and businesses. Over the next 133 years, until production ceased in 2002, tens of thousands of Kewanee boilers were sold to residential, commercial, and industrial customers in the U.S. and abroad. A boiler part company now ensures parts are available for the remaining boilers.

Leave a Comment