Hopefully the work to repair the heating is now complete. As you will see in the church the new pipe is clearly visible. Although we would have liked to be able to hide the pipe behind the woodwork again, the cost of removing the old pipe would have been prohibitively expensive and disruptive.
The new pipe. Any volunteers to polish it every week?
The system was running in time for Mass on Saturday and Sunday 28/29th April and it made a noticeable difference to the temperature. The final part of the work was a complete system flush and that was finished on Friday May 4th, just as the sun came out and the temperature started rising!
Just to recap on what went wrong:
Last year we found that a part of the heating system which keeps the water at a constant pressure had stopped working. It dated back to the building of the church in 1975 and could not be repaired. Various alternatives were considered but eventually the company which service and maintain the boilers advised us that it would have to be replaced.
A new unit was ordered and, after some delays, was installed at the start of December. However once it was fitted and the system was refilled, water began pouring down from the roof space in one corner of the church.
Everything was shut off and we discovered that the church had two heating circuits. One just above floor level and the other in the roof, just below the windows. Unfortunately there are no plans of the heating system in the church files so no-one on the premises committee or at the maintenance company was aware of the pipework.
The heating engineers discovered that part of the high level pipework was corroded. Although they might have been able to replace the section they advised us that other parts of the pipe might be similarly affected. They also pointed out that there was no automatic system for getting rid of air from the pipework, a fact which may have contributed to the corrosion and which dates back to the original installation.
With Christmas rapidly approaching we decided the quickest solution would be to shut down the top heating circuit and rely on the lower system to warm-up the church. It should have been relatively easy but after 42 years the two-cut off valves refused to shut down.
It was another week before our heating engineers were able to organise scaffolding so they could work on the pipes and install two new valves. The scaffolding went up first thing in the morning on the Friday before our Christmas carol service. By midday, Mike from K&.T Heating had finished the job and tested it while we waited for the scaffolders to return and by 1.30 everything had been cleared away.
Since then we have continued to heat the church using only the lower circuit.
Is the top circuit necessary?
Something we wondered at first but the whole point of the top level is to create a cushion of warm air in the roof and so prevent the heat from the lower level rising up behind the wood panelling and going straight out the windows. It also helps to stop condensation on the windows and frames and so prevent corrosion. The recent very cold snap demonstrated that the lower circuit on it’s own was not enough.
Having consulted with two companies that specialise in church heating it became clear that the easiest and cheapest solution would be to install a new pipe. We accepted a quote from K&T heating who have maintained our boilers for a number of years. They offered the cheapest solution and a much shorter time scale to complete the work. As well as the new pipe they are also arranging for the system to be flushed through and to check on a couple of valves that are showing signs of leaks.
Peter Murphy (Premises Committee)
A more cheerful picture taken from the top of the scaffolding!