Parishioners at a Grade II listed church in north London have been saved from the prospect of a freezing cold congregation at Christmas, after a team of heating technicians replaced the system in double quick time without affecting the building's architectural beauty.
Potterton Commercial and specialist church contractors Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Limited took a creative approach to installing a modern heating system at St John's Church in Friern Barnet, hoisting new condensing boilers up through a hidden roof hatch days before the Christmas festivities.
The nineteenth century church encountered issues with its heating system after its old non-condensing section boiler - located in a basement plant room - failed just two months before its busiest time of the year.
With the basement suffering from regular flooding, a straight replacement would have been impractical if the new equipment was to last, and was likely to cost more money to repair in future due to the restricted access.
After carrying out an on-site survey, experts from Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Limited and Potterton Commercial identified an alternative location, looking up to the ceiling to discover a hatch originally installed in readiness for a bell tower which was never constructed.
The hatch would have provided a route to transport the bells up into the tower, but the plans drawn up by renowned architect John Loughborough Pearson were abandoned due to issues with damp.
The new plant location meant that two efficient Potterton Sirius Two WH 110kw condensing boilers could be installed using the Sirius Two cascade and pipework header kit, helping to ensure more cost effective heating well into the future.
The new system was installed in half the usual time so that the equipment was up and running in plenty of time for the Christmas Eve service.
Church warden Andy Beal says that other suppliers struggled to suggest a workable solution:
"I spoke to three other suppliers, none of which were able to find a viable, cost effective solution to the problem.
"The real difference was that Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Limited and Potterton Commercial offered to carry out a survey the very next day, which meant they were able to spend time with me to explore the options.
"It was only through conversation that the hatch was mentioned - which just shows what a difference going the extra mile can make.”
Mick Russell from Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Limited said: "I discounted the option of a replacement boiler in the old location straight away.
"While we would have had the option under the new ErP legislation of replacing the non-condensing boiler using the original burner, if that were to fail later down the line it would mean additional outlay for the church. The plant room was also liable to flooding, leaving the electrics exposed to water damage.
"The blower room upstairs (housing a blower used to operate the church organ) looked like an option, but access via the stairs was an issue. We spoke to Andy about the possibility, and that's when we discovered the roof hatch. The flues are fitted so that you can't see them outside at all, which helped us to get permission for the work from the diocese.
"The survey also gave us an opportunity to size the system properly. The new specification is much more appropriate for the church's heating demands, so will be cheaper to run going forwards.”
Mr Beal added: "When the team suggested housing the boilers in the blower room, I had to be sure that whatever we did wouldn't impact on the organ. However, the team assured me that the temperature in the room would only alter by two or three degrees at most - which meant it was a viable option.
"In essence, we would have been completely stuck without the professional advice and expertise from Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Limited and Potterton Commercial. When it came to getting the work done they were completely understanding of our needs, working around services and concerts, and keeping their work area clean and contained away from the congregation. I can't thank them enough.”
Neville Small, sales director at Potterton Commercial, commented: "With boiler technology having advanced so much since old sectional boilers were fitted, it's not unusual for building owners to experience difficulty when looking to replace end of life equipment.
"By working closely with the church and Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Limited, and taking a whole life costing approach, we were able to find a solution that would avoid unnecessary outlay now and in the future.” For further information on the range of Sirius Two wall hung boilers, please visit www.pottertoncommercial.co.uk