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How can schools maximise commercial boiler installation?

Darren Finley, Chief Commercial Officer at Ideal Commercial Boilers, explains how to get the best out of school boilers

Posted by Lucinda Reid | March 05, 2018 | Facilities management

As we approach peak refurbishment season for the education sector, boiler replacements should feature high on the agenda. While there are many brand new school developments in progress across the country, many schools are still in older premises and 5,000 occupying historic buildings. A modern commercial boiler is extremely efficient and there are many savings to be had once installed, if managed correctly and regularly maintained. However,  many are still not being used to their full potential. Here I will highlight some common issues facilities managers should consider in order to extract the best out of their commercial boiler.

1. Old system, new boiler

In order to get the most out of your new condensing commercial boiler it’s vital to think in terms of the whole system. For example, it is counterproductive to install a new boiler into an existing system that contains debris and dirt. Dirty water is an inevitable consequence of an aging system, but if transferred into the new boiler it will affect its ability to run efficiently, and can lead to boiler breakdowns and even failure. To overcome this, we encourage building managers to consider the process of water treatment. This will ensure the longevity of the boiler by protecting internal parts from corrosion and the build-up of scale over time.

Soon schools will be implementing upgrades and because they may require heating across buildings spanning a variety of ages, layouts and uses, versatile solutions are needed. It sounds simple, but people rarely consider the building use. During the consultation stages it’s worth the school’s owner considering utilising or creating a different space for any new boilers, which would minimise downtime from the old system being shut down.

2. Consider cascade systems to eliminate downtime

Another consideration for schools is the appetite to install a heating system which can be backed up. While no one enjoys being without heat and hot water for any period of time, in many school applications, downtime – whether for routine maintenance or due to mechanical breakdown – can be disruptive, expensive, and even damaging to reputation or health. A cascade set up can therefore offer the best of both worlds. So, for example, rather than two 300kW units making a total output of 600kW, six 100kW boilers arranged in a cascade will provide the same output and – in this scenario – an even greater modulation rate of 30:1.

3. Make use of building controls

As schools are multi-use buildings, it’s also important to remember they can be heated by one system but may need a control system intelligent enough to manage the different areas at the same time. Contemporary controls can do far more than switch a boiler on and off according to time or temperature. They give the flexibility to manage when and where the heating system is used, avoiding heating circuits or zones which aren’t required at a given time or under certain circumstances, and allow the boiler to modulate effectively. This all combines to lower emissions and minimise waste, saving money while benefiting the environment.

4. A well-managed system is an efficient one

Routine inspection and preventative maintenance is essential to keeping boiler efficiency up and fuel costs down, but I’d also encourage users not to overlook the simple stuff either. For example, it pays to monitor your gas bills as they are a good indicator of a boiler’s efficiency. A new boiler should result in a decrease in fuel consumption, so if this isn’t the case, you may need to look at the system to ensure everything is running as it should be. We also advise school building managers to regularly audit usage patterns in their building to ensure the system is configured to serve only those zones requiring heat.

None of the above steps are expensive or complex to administer yet it’s surprising how common it is to find comparatively new boilers that are not meeting their owner’s expectations, or suffering with issues as a result of poor commissioning or an inadequate management and maintenance strategy. Taking an informed and proactive approach will ensure your new boiler investment will stand the test of time, deliver the efficiencies desired, and will keep your building serviced long into the future.

For more information on Ideal Commercial’s range of boilers, visit their website.

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