Hebron school boiler cracked; propane unit considered

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PARIS — SAD 17 officials say one of two boilers at the Hebron Station School has cracked because of cold water entering warm sections.

“The boiler is running right now and the leak is minimal. However, when leaks like this occur, it inevitably gets worse over time,” Superintendent Rick Colpitts said.

This is the second time the vintage Burnham boilers have had cracked sections because of thermal shock, Colpitts said. The brand has a reputation for it, he said.

Facilities Director Nelson Baillargeon said Thursday that the unit will most likely be replaced rather than repaired.

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“We’re told the newer sections won’t fit,” Baillargeon said. “There’s no sense in tearing into it.”

School officials are looking at replacing the cracked boiler with a condensing propane gas boiler and converting the second boiler to propane.

The district has received one estimate for that job at $160,000. School officials believe the switch to propane from oil would save the district an estimated $11,830 per year, according to an informational letter from Colpitts to the SAD 17 board of directors. It would also negate the need to retrofit the oil storage vault in the basement of the school. That vault failed late last year when thousands of gallons of oil seeped into the nearby wetlands.

Baillargeon said requests for proposals have been put out for additional quotes.

Baillargeon said the Hebron and Harrison school buildings are too small to see any savings by switching to pellet burners. Rowe Elementary School in Norway and Oxford Elementary School have switched to pellet burners to save money. Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School uses a wood chip furnace.

Paris Elementary School is changing from oil to propane and adding a pellet furnace that goes online in January.

The Oxford Middle School in Paris has replaced its oil boilers with two propane ones.

“It’s cheaper to use and more efficient,” Baillargeon said. In January, a pellet stove will be in place to use as the main heating system during the coldest months.

The propane boilers are used as a cheaper way to heat the buildings during the fall and spring.

A recommendation on how to proceed is expected to be presented to SAD 17 directors in November, after the proposals are reviewed by the Operations Committee. The Finance Committee will also have a recommendation.

Funding for the unbudgeted project will most likely be through a lease-purchase over 10 years, according to information from Colpitts.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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