Contractor Solves Efficiency Problem With Boiler-Based System

October 6, 2008
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Crews from K.E. Seifert rip out the old mechanical equipment from the boiler room of Modern Handling Equipment.

LANGHORNE, Pa. - How do you replace an aging 1.8 million Btu boiler with a more efficient system, capable of reducing natural gas consumption by up to 60 percent? Not a problem if you have the expertise and know-how of someone like Bob Pietrangelo and his staff at K. E. Seifert Inc., Langhorne, Pa.

K.E. Seifert was tasked to design a new HVAC system as part of a retrofit project for its client, Modern Handling Equipment. The client, a 40-year-old business that sells, rents, and repairs forklifts and commercial generators, is located in a 15,000-square-foot combination office and warehouse facility. Modern’s facility manager Joe Dutco had complained of high operating costs, lost revenues, and maintenance problems.

“Dutco was faced with an energy cost dilemma,” said Pietrangelo.

“He had a 40-year-old, 1.8 million Btu converted oil to gas boiler. They had a constant on boiler with a 1,000-foot, 3-inch constant loop of heated water. Heat was provided by a combination of hydro coils, unregulated baseboard, and electric heaters. There was little individual control of zones, equipment was failing, and the warehouse area was never efficient, conditioning wise.

“We were approached to bid on a pre-engineered boiler replacement and transfer of hydro to forced air heat for the warehouse.”

Pietrangelo said the existing equipment was drastically oversized, and the only thought into the project was replacing equipment. He noted that his company performed a proper load calculation, which resulted in recommending a 30 percent reduction in equipment sizing. In addition, he recommended individual area controls to allow for even comfort throughout the building and unoccupied settings to be utilized to conserve even more energy.

A 1.2 million Btu Cambridge unit replaced 24 hydronic unit heaters on the roof at Modern Handling Equipment.


Pietrangelo said it was necessary to redesign the existing engineering specs that his company bid on because of Modern’s own comfort issues. “They originally wanted to just replace equipment for energy efficiency,” he said.

“Upon closer examination of the design of the system, they requested and listening to their wish list of comfort requirements, we changed the entire scope of the job. We discarded all of the provided design and load criteria to come up with the true load requirements. The load was actually 400,000 Btus less than what we were told. So we were able to reduce the size of the boilers.”

K.E. Siefert’s design included installation of a new baseboard circuit with 14 separate zones with individual controls on each area to replace a single baseboard zone for 11 offices and three other areas. All bathroom areas were separated into one control circuit. The first and second floor air-handler circuits were split up, as well as the circuit for the atrium/lobby area.

“We eliminated the continuous perimeter 3-inch supply and returns and brought each zone back to a central area in the boiler room,” said Pietrangelo. “In the warehouse, a 1.2 million Btu Cambridge unit heater was installed. The remaining hydronics are now limited to the office areas.”

He noted that K.E. Siefert switched from the boilers that were part of the original specs to Lochinvar Knight boilers, which he said, “provide the customer with a superior product and great efficiency. We converted the boiler room from a dirty dungeon-like room to a showroom quality room that showcases the quality of the equipment and installation.

“The installation is impeccable and fairly intricate.”

The system, installed by K.E. Seifert, included B&G Control boards and B&G NRF36 and 22 pumps.

Thanks to the success of this job, Pietrangelo said his company has started work on converting another system from an “ancient boiler” to more energy-efficient Lochinvar products, and he said other projects are in the works, too.

“Due to the efficiency, appearance, ease of operation, ease of troubleshooting and repair, and technical support and training provided by Lochinvar, we are recommending and pushing these products to a multitude of commercial and residential customers,” said Pietrangelo.

And it isn’t just the product that impresses customers; it’s the company experience, too.

K.E. Seifert has been in business since 1981, starting as a “one-man show.” It has grown into a business with over $10 million in annual revenues. What started as a drain cleaning business is now residential and commercial plumbing, site development and utilities, and HVAC.

“We specialize in energy-saving systems and comfort solutions,” said Pietrangelo. “I am NATE certified. We install many different equipment brands, perform load calculations using Wrightsoft software, and install all system following ACCA QI standards.

“Our hydronics designs are assisted by Steve Weiland from AVCO Supply, who is also on the board of the Radiant Panel Association [RPA].”

Publication date: 10/06/2008

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