Cold night at City Hall

Council hears report on failed boiler in heating system
by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff


WITH THE CITY HALL heating system not working after a boiler failure last week, the City Council was dressed for cold weather indoors for their meeting Tuesday. Director of Public Works Bill Immich and City Administrator Brian Yerges updated the council on the boiler issues. — Review photos by Emmitt B. Feldner WITH THE CITY HALL heating system not working after a boiler failure last week, the City Council was dressed for cold weather indoors for their meeting Tuesday. Director of Public Works Bill Immich and City Administrator Brian Yerges updated the council on the boiler issues. — Review photos by Emmitt B. Feldner PLYMOUTH – As Mayor Donald Pohlman noted, it was probably the first time a City Council agenda came with a printed admonition to “Dress appropriately – the Council Chambers may be chilly!”

The heating system for the original portion of City Hall failed late Monday, Feb. 16, and that portion of the building is still without heat.

For that reason, most council members and city offi cials at Tuesday’s meeting were dressed in sweaters or winter coats.

“We have a very cold City Hall,” Public Works Director Bill Immich told the council.

He explained that the boiler that creates steam heat for the 1938 building was damaged when the burner failed to shut off after water in the boiler dropped below safe levels.

“The boiler somehow quit getting water,” Immich told the council. But two switches in the unit that are supposed to shut the burner off if water is too low both failed.

“We’re trying to figure out exactly what happened and how to get it fixed,” Immich said.

New condensation pumps had been installed on the four-year-old boiler last November and the heating contractor hadinspectedtheunitaround3pm.thedayit failed, “and everything was working,” according to Immich.

Thecustodiancheckedtheunitat4pm.andfound nothing wrong. When Police Chief Jeff Tauscheck came throughthebuildingaround5pm.,aftereveryonehad left, “he smelled something and found the boiler was turning cherry red,” Immich related.

Tauscheck and several fire department members who were in the fire station next door managed to shut the unit down, but not before damage was done.

“The boiler is made of cast iron and that’s cracked,” Immich said. “Five or six of the units are cracked.”

“Somehow the backup failed,” City Administrator Brian Yerges said. “The primary float mechanism remained closed and water couldn’t get into the boiler.”

The additions to the building which were constructed subsequent to the 1938 building – the police department addition and the fire department addition – are heated by different units, including rooftop heaters, so those areas are not affected, Yerges noted.

Yerges said insurance officials have been to City Hall once already to inspect the damage and try to determine a cause, but want to visit again to conduct further investigation.

The boiler was replaced four years ago as part of a City Hall remodeling project, Yerges said.

Immich said the city could get a new boiler for the building in two to four weeks. “But we’re trying to determine if we should do something different.”

He noted that the current system is designed to heat all three floors of City Hall constantly, but the top and bottom floors are not used nearly as much as the main floor.

That was the discussion four years ago at the time of the remodeling, he added, but the ballpark figure to replace the entire system in the original building was around $400,000.

The initial estimates to replace the failed boiler now are around $55,000, Yerges said.

“From an insurance standpoint, does the cause determine what they will pay for?,” Alderman Shawn Marcom asked.

“No,” Yerges replied. “It’s going to be covered. But they still want to understand what caused it and there is going to be some cost we’re going to have, no matter what.”


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