The geothermal well system is leaking under the soccer field at Oak Ridge High School, requiring emergency repairs to prevent classroom heat pumps from shutting down, school officials said.
“Recently, we lost a section of the geothermal wellfield to leaks in the well system that would require extensive exploratory excavation to locate and repair the leaks,” said Allen Thacker, Oak Ridge Schools maintenance and operations supervisor. “This option is not possible due to the location of the wellfield under the soccer field and the extensive cost of excavation and replacement of field damage. The wellfield is now operating at below 80 percent capacity, and the need for the cooling tower to be the primary source of water cooling is imperative to prevent shutdown of the classroom heat pumps.”
Thacker said the heat pumps serve all of the Learning Center, most of Comprehensive Studies, part of the Wellness Center, Visual Arts, and administration areas.
The current design has the cooling tower piped in series with the wellfield. In order to properly provide the cooling capacity for Oak Ridge High School, the tower needs to operate independently, Thacker said in a July 17 memorandum to Bruce Lay, Oak Ridge Schools executive director of school leadership.
Correcting the piping design requires the system to be shut down and the loop drained. Two three-way valves, controls, and piping have to be installed, Thacker said.
The problem with the design of the system, referred to as the West End HVAC Hydronic Loop, was found during an energy service project by ESG.
“The inability to discover the design problems sooner was associated with the lack of proper controls and sensor information,” Thacker said.
The school system has a contract with Al Bedinger Consulting Engineers to review recommendations from a controls contractor and provide drawings to correct the piping design.
“I recommend that the piping and controls work start immediately as an emergency repair in order to prevent the HVAC system from shutting down or causing damage to the water source heat pumps that serve the individual classrooms,” Thacker said in the July memo.
The contractor was to start work on Friday, July 19, by installing a temporary piping bypass from the wellfield until the final three-way valves, piping, and controls could be installed.
“This action will have the building ready for students and prevent damage or shutdowns to the system,” Thacker said.
The contractor providing the repair and control services is HSC Building Automation and Controls, the current control vendor. The company has provided a maximum price of $58,900, Thacker said. Funding for the project will come from the city’s capital improvement project funding, Thacker said.
The Oak Ridge Board of Education is scheduled to approve the ORHS hydronic piping redesign during a meeting that starts at 6 p.m. Monday, August 5, in the Robert J. Smallridge School Administration Building at 304 New York Avenue.
You can see the agenda for Monday’s meeting and read Thacker’s memo here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
You can contact John Huotari, owner and publisher of Oak Ridge Today, at (865) 951-9692 or [email protected]
Most news stories on Oak Ridge Today are free, brought to you by Oak Ridge Today with help from our advertisers, sponsors, and subscribers. This is a free story. Thank you to our advertisers, sponsors, and subscribers. You can see what we cover here.
Do you appreciate this story or our work in general? If so, please consider a monthly subscription to Oak Ridge Today. See our Subscribe page here. Thank you for reading Oak Ridge Today.
Copyright 2019 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.