It’s hard to face up to a big repair, but a temporary fix only delays the inevitable. The problem won’t just go away, and when your temporary fix fails, you may be left in an even worse position.
That’s the scenario decision-makers at Ferris State University faced three years ago when one of two heat exchangers serving a block of eight dorms failed. And due to financial guidelines set forth by the university, they couldn’t fix the problem immediately.
The Macomb Group’s West Region Sales Manager Mike Boyd, a highly experienced heating professional, describes the temporary solution: “The units each served four dorms, so when one failed, the workaround was to run a pipe between the buildings and use the remaining unit to heat them all.”
This makeshift solution led to many sleepless nights for property managers. Then, The Macomb Group offered Ferris an efficient replacement: A compact EasiHeat heat exchange system from The Macomb Group’s longstanding manufacturing partner Spirax Sarco.
Teetering on the brink “We worked with Ferris for two years, warning them they were just teetering on the edge of disaster,” Mike says. “They didn’t have a backup.”
The old, over-burdened system supplied hot water for every requirement, from student use and laundry to cleaning and food preparation. State plumbing code stipulates that all dwellings must have water, so a failure of the second unit would mean a potential shutdown for the college.
Fortunately, before disaster could strike, Ferris was able to include the EasiHeat solution in this year’s budget. The Macomb Group worked with the local plumbing contractor to install the system during the summer vacation, switching it on just before school resumed.
The installation was far from a simple like-for-like replacement. The high-efficiency, low-maintenance Sarco system employs a special controller using software developed by Sarco to ensure temperature stability and optimum condensate drainage. Steam flow rate is modulated to exactly match system demand.
No more nightmares It’s a state-of-the-art, instantaneous heater that does not require a storage tank, so it can always keep up — or go down — with demand. Plus, it saves energy. Without a storage tank, much of the potential heat loss is eliminated.
Although the cost-saving aspect is valuable for Ferris, the key success of this installation is the peace of mind and reassurance it delivered to the college authorities.
Since that switch-on just before Labor Day, the units have worked flawlessly, without deviation from the specifications — much to the relief of Ferris plumbing overseer Kevin Myers.
“He told me he used to have recurring nightmares that he’d get a call in the middle of the night saying that old system had failed,” Mike says. “Now he can sleep at night. They have security and peace of mind, and although that’s a difficult thing to put a precise number on, everyone knows what it’s worth.”