WINCHESTER - When it rains, it pours. The town needs to replace three 10-year old boilers at the Muraco Elementary School. According to DPW Director Jay Gill, the problems involve heating failures and carbon monoxide alarms.
“We purchased the boilers from a company in Canada,” he noted, “so it takes forever to get parts.”
Gill added the school can survive if one boiler goes down, but he said they’ve lost two at one point. However, there may be some recourse, as Capital Planning Committee Chair Jim Johnson sent in a memo asking for town counsel to investigate any legal measures the town might have to recover some of the cost.
Pete Lawson, from the DPW, said he invites town counsel to review the situation, but suggested it might not get very far. He said the boilers have a five-year parts and equipment warranty.
He also noted that back in 2010 the town researched high efficiency total heat replacement for the school and found what they have now. Lawson said there wasn’t any track record on the boilers, but they worked great for five years.
“We had success with a local rep. for the boilers,” he added.
One major issue concerns the lack of early warning, meaning the town doesn’t know when one boiler might break down. Lawson said he keeps some parts on hand for routine maintenance issues, but things get complicated when the boilers need more specific parts.
Then, of course, there’s the problem with the lack of carbon monoxide alarms, an issue Lawson referred to as “scary.”
Should the town attempt to recover some of the cost through legal action, it has the support of the Select Board. Member Amy Shapiro called it a “good idea,” noting that Lemon Laws exist to protect car owners while member Mariano Goluboff suggested the town do whatever it can to recover the money.
Member Susan Verdicchio also said she supported investigating any legal resources, calling replacing the boilers a “huge expense.”
Goluboff also pushed for fixing the issue while the town explores its legal avenues.
According to chair Michael Bettencourt, the town identified the issue with the boilers last January. He said the only solution involved replacing all three. It’s expected to cost $350,000.
Goluboff asked about the possibility of using ground source heat pumps that don’t use fossil fuels. Lawson called that a bigger project than just replacing the boilers. He also said those types of pumps aren’t warm enough when the main source is air over the coils.
Bettencourt said the board would reach out to town counsel to review their options.