District to patch leaking boiler at Eastwood Elementary

November 23, 2018

The hot water boiler heating system at Eastwood Elementary has been leaking since mid-October, forcing the school to use an older backup system to heat classrooms as the weather gets colder.

The leaking boiler was installed in the 60s and the original boiler was installed in the 50s, according to Tracy Grauf, physical plant manager with Roseburg Public Schools. The older boiler has been able to heat classrooms to 60 degrees, but some classrooms far away from the boiler system brought in space heaters to stay warm.

At a Building and Sites Committee meeting Wednesday, committee members decided to patch the leak instead of beginning the process of installing a new boiler system. Leaking boilers are a common issue throughout the district because schools are using the original systems from the 50s and 60s when the schools were constructed. As the boilers continue to operate past their typical 40-year lifespan, the committee said it plans to seek grant funding to replace boilers throughout the district.

“It’s just steel and it will obviously rust,” Grauf said. “With the steam pressure it will get little cuts and eventually it eats out the seals and starts to leak.”

Grauf said the boiler at Roseburg High School is starting to leak too.

“We have old systems in every school,” said Committee Chairman Steve Patterson after the committee decided to fix the Eastwood boiler temporarily while it looks for funding for a permanent solution.

Grauf said maintenance staff check the electronic preventative maintenance system to make sure the boilers are functioning optimally every week.

The routine maintenance patchwork on the boiler at Eastwood will cost between $3,000 and $5,000, according to Grauf.

“If we wanted to scrap that and go to a new modern system, we’re probably somewhere between $170,000 to $200,000,” he said.

The district is hoping to receive grant funding to construct seismic upgrades at Eastwood Elementary like those still underway at Green Elementary School. Grauf said it’s possible the upgrades would require the temporary removal of the boiler at Eastwood. If the boiler has to be deconstructed and removed, the district may want to install a new boiler system instead of paying for the labor to reinstall an old system.

The district will continue to provide temporary fixes to leaking boilers as issues arise in the meantime, Grauf said.

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