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The Antrim Review of Bellaire, Michigan

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Radiant heat panels now being installed at Meadow Brook

BELLAIRE — Another winter is on the way, and Antrim County's Meadow Brook Medical Care Facility wants to ensure, despite a new, $900,000 heat pump system installed during the recent renovations of the facility, that all of the residents and employees of the nursing home stay nice and warm.

So yet another new heating system is currently being installed.

Problems began with the new, state-of-the-art Trane heat pump/Daikin system during the winter of 2013/2014, not long after it was installed, said Peter Garwood, Antrim County Administrator.

"The system was designed to handle a range of temperatures determined from an average of the annual high temperatures and low temperatures at the Antrim County Airport," said Garwood. "The average low temperature was determined to be minus-10 degrees, which is also what the building code called for. And then we had more than a week with lows of minus-29."

When that occurred, the pumps continued to operate, but were "frosting up," according to Garwood, which forced the system to focus on thawing out, instead of warming air.

"Instead of putting out air that was 70 degrees, the air-solirced Daikin units air handlers and heat exchangers in each area were delivering air that was in the 50-and 60-degree range, and it got cold in that building," the administrator said.

Fortunately, contractors working on the renovation project were able to override the settings of the system manually and reduce the amount of cold air coming into the system by closing some of the fresh air vents to force temperatures back up.

"Which was enough, or so the contractors thought, at the time," said Garwood. "Since all of the experts said that those really cold temperatures were a freak occurrence, and something that wasn't likely to happen again, nothing more was done."

Once temperatures warmed a bit, the new heat system operated up to expectations, serving to cool the facility during the heat of the summer as well.

And then, last winter, the temperatures dropped to historic lows once again.

"That's when we all knew that something had to be done," Garwood said.

After several discussions with Meadow Brook's Administrator Marna Robertson, administrative services director David Schulz and Frank Bednarek, vice president of Hooker DeJong — the architectural firm hired for the renovations — it was decided to accept a bid of $165,000 for the installation of radiant heat panels in each residential room at Meadow Brook, which, will be paid for by Meadow Brook, since Antrim County has signed off on the project originally funded with a $15 million bond approved by voters in August 2010.

Work has begun on that project, with Bellaire's Arndt Electrical Service, in conjunction with Northern Power Electrical Service, expected to have the entire project complete by Dec. 15 of this year.

"We shouldn't have any more problems," said Garwood earlier this week. "At least, let's hope not."

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Original Publication Date: October 8, 2015

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