Situated on four acres in a wooded area of Kingsford, Mich., the Diamondhead Apartment complex consists of four buildings, each containing eight apartments. The buildings’ deteriorating heating system was installed when the complex was built in 1989. But with failing boilers and increasing tenant complaints for more heat, the 32-unit apartment complex required major upgrades to its heating system.

“Residents of the building were contacting us occasionally about cool conditions or uneven heat from room to room,” says Anne Young, area director for PK Housing and Management, the firm that manages the complex. “We were servicing the boilers at least three to four times every winter to maintain the proper heating conditions, but it was becoming difficult to keep up.”

Young turned to Mark Spencer, president and owner of Universal Plumbing in Kingsford, for a solution.

“Upon inspection, circulating pumps and zone valves were failing, temperature control was limited and the boilers were very old,” Spencer says.

According to Spencer, the aging units were piped as a hot loop system on outdoor reset and would run continuously to maintain 180˚ F water temperatures 24 hours per day.

“The units only shut off during the summer months when temperatures reached 75˚ or higher,” Spencer says. “It was time to replace the boilers with a more efficient system that would have the added benefit of reducing fuel expenses.”

Spencer recommended the installation of four Weil-McLain Eco 155 MBtu/h wall-mounted boilers. The units feature a durable stainless steel fire tube heat exchanger and 95% AFUE rating.


The install

The installation of the Weil-McLain Eco units required complete re-piping and removal of the old boiler systems. Instead of connecting the new units as zone valves, Spencer configured the units with a more reliable pump design.

Spencer installed one Eco unit in each building with every unit configured with its own thermostats and pumps for each apartment and common area. The Eco units also were set up to run on modulation with outdoor reset.

The new units were installed one at a time during milder weather conditions, and Universal Plumbing provided space heaters for tenants as needed.

“The installation progressed smoothly with limited interruption to building occupants,” Young says.


Many benefits

Diamondhead has realized several benefits from the installation of its new heating system. For one, ongoing boiler maintenance is no longer required — only annual servicing of the units.

“With all four boilers installed, we haven’t had any maintenance issues and no loss of heat thus far,” Young says.

Young also appreciates the smaller footprint of the new boilers.

“I was surprised at the small size of the boilers compared to the older systems that took up a lot of space,” Young says.

A major benefit of the new, higher efficiency Weil-McLain boiler installation was the energy savings realized. Fuel costs for the complex have been reduced by more than 40% from just two years earlier, representing significant savings for the building’s owner.

But, most importantly, tenants are happy.

“We have more consistent heat and more comfortable conditions for residents,” Young says. “All around, it’s a wonderful system.”

Young is so pleased with the results she had two additional Weil-McLain boilers installed in another nearby apartment building and plans to install additional units in other buildings, too.


This case study is courtesy of Weil-McLain.