Notes on collections and events at the RIHS
On September 5, the boiler at the RIHS Library was officially pronounced dead, having suffered a fatal crack in two sections. At first, we were all very sorry to see it go, but as it has turned out, the loss of the boiler may in fact be a good thing.
You may recall that we are planning a new geothermal-based HVAC system for the RIHS Library, similar in design to the one we love so well at the John Brown House Museum. For a geothermal system, we would still need an “uninterruptible” heat source, which means a boiler. We could argue about whether or not the earth is “interruptible” compared to cracked boiler sections, but instead, let’s take a look at what’s happening in the Library basement today.
The old boiler has been dismantled and the cracked sections removed. What’s left behind, to be recycled, are the supply and return pipes, along with a rusty mess on the floor.
In the pipe that connected the boiler to the heat exchanger, we see evidence of the sludge that the Buildings and Grounds super and I drained weekly—sometimes twice weekly—from the boiler. When you see the density of the sludge of rusty metal, you get a sense of why we were boiler-draining fanatics.
While we have had no boiler for 5 weeks, our mechanical contractors have adjusted our AC to maintain a warmer temperature and a lower relative humidity. This has actually resulted in a relatively stable climate, and so far, we have been warm enough. Working with the engineer for the HVAC project, we found a solution that will install two new condensing boilers and a heating coil, providing forced-air heat to the first floor, which includes the Reading Room. We’re delighted to be working with a creative team of problem-solvers who were able to develop a temporary solution that meshes with our long-term plans.
Work will continue for the next several weeks, and we expect to be back in boiler business by the end of the month. I’m told the new boilers are compact, over 90% efficient, and extremely quiet. They sound perfect for a Library.
~ Kirsten Hammerstrom, Director of Collections