Aging schools springing leaksPublished 6:19pm Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Dowagiac Union Schools’ aging infrastructure is earning failing grades.
Maintenance Supervisor Dave Daniels provided the Board of Education with a rundown Monday night:
• Union High, original compressor started leaking oil.
• Union High, hot water coil cracked and had to be replaced.
• Union High gymnasium, leaking steam coil above the north basket. “It’s like a radiator, providing heat in the building,” Daniels said. “We had another leaking steam coil in the gym storage room and another leaking steam coil in the kitchen.”
• Kincheloe Elementary School, earlier this year, the well failed, canceling school for a day. “We also had an HV unit on the roof. Some parts went out that are obsolete that had to be found on eBay. We were without heat for at least three days in four different classrooms.”
• Patrick Hamilton Elementary School, ruptured steam coil in one of the classrooms and a ruptured steam line beneath the concrete floor. “We had to go into the tunnels and cap it,” Daniels said.
• Justus Gage, ruptured steam line in one of the heating units.
Daniels walked school board members through the process of fixing such failures.
“With the coil in the gymnasium, about 6:45 a.m. I got a call from the custodian that we had a roof leak. Except it hadn’t rained in four or five days and we had a relatively new roof. I knew right away it wasn’t a roof leak. We found it was coming out of this unit. We had to shut the boiler down and call a mechanical contractor in. I had my guys build scaffolding to the ceiling to get up and look at it. The contractor spent about 24 hours trying to repair the coil, but it wasn’t going to happen. We had to replace it. The scissor lift is still sitting out by APEX. We got a new coil. As old as (DUHS) is, we had to call an abate contractor for asbestos on seven or eight feet of pipe. The gymnasium had to be closed for a day. Another third party had to do air clearances. Today we had to shut the boiler down to replace three valves.
“The one thing common to these, except for Justus Gage, is the equipment’s very old,” Daniels said. “With these kinds of failures coming up this early in the heating season, I think we’re going to have more. Where, I don’t know because these things fail from the inside out — not the outside in.”
To avoid such occurrences, Daniels said the maintenance staff three times a year — summer, Christmas break and spring break — conducts preventive maintenance on equipment.
Filters will be changed over Christmas break, noting who serviced equipment and when.