Fast-track snow-melt job slows down ramps track

BY BOB MIODONSKI Of CONTRACTORs staff EVANSTON, ILL. The prospect of a retirees car skidding down an icy ramp into a garage door was enough for the owners of The Presbyterian Home here to invest in a snow-melt system late last year. You could just imagine the trouble that ramp might have caused without a snow-melt system, said Marilee Backstrand, president of Controlled Systems, a Lake Bluff, Ill.-based

BY BOB MIODONSKI

Of CONTRACTOR’s staff

EVANSTON, ILL. – The prospect of a retiree’s car skidding down an icy ramp into a garage door was enough for the owners of The Presbyterian Home here to invest in a snow-melt system late last year.

“You could just imagine the trouble that ramp might have caused without a snow-melt system,” said Marilee Backstrand, president of Controlled Systems, a Lake Bluff, Ill.-based contracting firm.

“Fortunately, no incidents occurred before the system was installed. The snow melt was a precautionary measure.”

The Presbyterian Home is an upscale retirement community just north of Chicago. Controlled Systems was the HVAC contractor on a four-story, free-standing building that is connected to an existing facility through an underground walkway.

The new structure consists of residential units, each of which is owner occupied.

Steam and chilled water for the HVAC system are available from the community’s main plant. The contractor installed fan coil units in each of the residences. The contracting company ran 7,500 ft. of pipe for steam as well as chilled and hot water. The HVAC contract was $1 million.

The snow-melt system in the ramp cost an additional $30,000. The ramp serves parking garages under both the new and existing structures. It replaces an existing ramp, which was not as steep, Backstrand said. Access to the garages is through an automatic overhead garage door.

The heat source for the snow melt is steam from the main plant converted to hot water, said Paul Williams, superintendent at Controlled Systems. The fast-track snow-melt job was done within a month with a four-man crew, he said. It was completed in December.

The ramp contains about 1,900 sq. ft. of snow melt, said Bill Bailey of Lee Hydronics, the local manufacturers rep agency for Wirsbo and other companies. Lee Hydronics worked closely with Controlled Systems, general contractor W.B. Olson and owners The Presbyterian Homes on the system’s design and the job’s scheduling.

The system includes 2,400 ft. of 5/8-in. i.d. Wirsbo Hepex tubing, a custom snow-melt control panel, tekmar controls, Taco pumps, a Honeywell-Sparco air-elimination system, and an Axiom glycol anti-freeze station. On the steam side, the design incorporates Armstrong Machine Works traps, valves, gauges and controls, Bailey said.

“It wasn’t a big job but it was a very practical use for snow melt,” he said.