The boiler problems plaguing the Sierra Grande K-12 school in Fort Garland, CO were well known to more than a few people in the area, Matt Husmann included. He’s co-owner of Husmann Plumbing and Heating, in nearby Alamosa, CO, but one of his children also attended the school.
The units were using a great deal of energy, but worse, they required constant maintenance. The district had weighed the need to replace the system with the cost to replace them for some time, but eventually, the problem came to a head.
As the existing boilers began failing during the winter, the district needed new, higher efficiency units in a hurry. The retrofit needed to happen in six days, from start to finish.
Husmann Plumbing was hired to remove three, 1.8 Million BTU gas boilers from the school and replace them with six, 800 MBH Alpine Commercial condensing boilers during the district’s March spring break week. The stainless steel boiler offers 95 percent thermal efficiency and is available in 10 sizes from 80 to 800 MBH. Because Alpine boilers can be easily daisy-chained together in a multiple-boiler application, the units now provide a 30-to-1 turndown while operating in a lead, lag and rotate configuration. The boilers were stacked two-high in the mechanical room. New near-boiler piping was installed, along with new variable-speed circulators and a large indirect water heater.
The retrofit was completed a full day ahead of schedule. In the year following the retrofit, the school’s propane use fell by more than 50 percent, and boiler maintenance now occurs once a year, as scheduled, instead of once a week because of a break-down.
Above (L-R): Matt and Mike Husmann, with Mike Merryman.
Above (L): To provide more critical manpower for the fast-paced project, an electrical subcontractor was hired to wire the Alpine boilers. (R): Matt Husmann begins piping one of the Alpine condensing boilers at the school.
Above: Mike Husmann cuts holes for boiler vents. In the background, Mt. Blanca – the highest point in the San Louis Valley – can be seen from the Sierra Grande school.
Above (L): A Taco 4900 Series air and dirt separator was used on the large secondary loop. (R): Husmann technicians remove the old boiler stacks.
Above: Sierra Grande K-12 school in Fort Garland, CO.