The Cooling Saga of 665 Main Street
Oxford Languages defines the word saga as “a long, involved story, account, or series of incidents.” This word is applicable at our project at 665 Main Street thanks to lead times, building landscape, equipment size, and project time frame. Buckle up – let me take you back to the beginning.
Back in 2019, an issue was identified in the existing aged York cooling tower during one of our quarterly maintenance visits; specifically, a leak was identified in the tower’s tube bundle. This was not an issue with a repairable solution, due to the age of the existing unit and the cost of repairing it. It was time to start preparing our customer to replace this large piece of equipment. Knowing that this is a rather large undertaking, Allied worked with the property manager at McGuire Development to prepare a plan and a timeline.
Replacing a 10,000+ pound cooling tower in the middle of a busy city without disruption to the building tenants – seems easy right?
This replacement plan was months long. The issue was discovered during the spring season, where cooling is not only preferred, but often required. Taking out the cooling tower immediately was not an option – we needed to wait until the fall/winter, when additional cooling could be done without. That meant we were first coming up with a plan to keep the existing unit cooling until the replacement tower could be installed. We devised a solution that would allow the system to self regulate to maintain 0 lbs of pressure in the cooling tower while keeping the pump suction pressure at 5 psi or above. This kept the existing tower operating, and kept the building heating and cooling, until the replacement.
Ordering the replacement unit should’ve been the easy part! But as we all know, in this post-pandemic world, many things that used to be stocked are now showing lead times. Equipment like this cooling tower, which already would have been a non-stocked item, had even longer lead times than before! Once the unit was ordered, we were told a 16 week lead time. No amount of rush shipping or expediting fees would get the new tower here any faster. 4 months became another aspect of our replacement plan. Needless to say, we were all very happy to see the 18-wheeler pull in with the new tower!
Did I mention that this cooling tower is located on the roof of a 65′ building in the heart of Buffalo?
Another aspect of our replacement plan was the crane. We coordinated with Clark Rigging to secure a 110 ton crane that had the lift and span necessary to remove the existing tower and lift the new tower to the roof. The old tower was drained and removed in pieces for safety reasons – the smaller sections were safer to bring down in a landscape like ours with buildings that are less than 50′ apart. The new tower was also received in pieces, and they went up in a specific order to allow for proper assembly of the cooling tower. This crane lift took place on a two lane street in Buffalo on a Saturday morning. Luckily, the city inhabitants are mostly Monday through Friday commuters, and any city residents are likely still in bed on Saturday morning, sleeping after the 4:00 AM bar closure the night before. We shut down the section of Washington Street between St. Michael Place and the Town Ballroom. The crane operators did their magic, bringing the old unit down first, then hoisting the new cooling tower up.
Once the stage was set with the new Baltimore Air Coil cooling tower, the performance could begin. Five of our best field installers and technicians were on site, in addition to our project manager, project estimator, and service manager. This was a full cast of talent, with decades and decades of extensive mechanical experience between them all. This team worked tirelessly, starting Friday night disconnecting the existing unit, through Monday starting up the new cooling tower. This is such a specialized set of skills, I couldn’t even begin to explain the process. Just know that our guys are experts and they eat cooling tower installations for breakfast. A very accomplished, cold, 36 hour breakfast.
3 days to completely replace a 113 ton cooling tower – even if you don’t know the industry, reader, you must be impressed. Let me continue to wow you by throwing in the detail that we were also able to keep the building’s 3 server rooms functioning during this 3 day replacement. Server rooms house specialized computer equipment that are usually integral to business’s operations. They usually house computers, servers, and other electrical equipment that put out quite a bit of heat. These server rooms need to be cooled and monitored, and definitely can not be shut down without shutting down the business’s computer systems, security systems, and more. A spike in temperature could cause an essential system to go down, or damage a piece of equipment.
Don’t worry – we have a solution for that in our replacement plan as well! During the replacement, our service manager was manually controlling the temperature of the loop using other heat pumps in the building to either add or remove heat from the loop to maintain the server rooms. This technician was also able to remotely monitor these systems during the evening and early morning hours via remote thermostats and VPN that Allied had previously installed in this building.
To us, this was so much more than just a simple equipment replacement project. This project was an amazing opportunity to work with one of our best customers to creatively come up with a in-depth replacement plan that met the needs of not only our customer, but our customer’s tenants. Our amazing team of experts really came together to show up BIG – and that’s why Allied can say with pride that we do WHATEVER IT TAKES!