Energy-Efficient Boilers Revitalize Apartment Complex

A reliable pump design enhances tenant comfort.

Four Weil-McLain Eco 155 MBH wall-mounted boilers heat a Michigan apartment complex. The units have a stainless-steel fire tube heat exchanger and 95% AFUE efficiency rating.

With failing boilers and increasing tenant complaints for more heat, a 32-unit apartment complex in Kingsford, MI, required major upgrades to its heating system. High-efficiency boilers from Weil-McLain, Burr Ridge, IL, ( provided the remedy along with significant fuel savings.

Situated on four acres in a wooded area, the Diamondhead Apartment complex consists of four buildings each with eight apartments. The building’s heating system was installed when the complex was built in 1989.

“Residents of the building were contacting us occasionally about cool conditions or uneven heat from room to room,” said Anne Young, area director for the firm that manages the complex. “We were servicing the boilers at least three to four times every winter to maintain the proper heating conditions, but it was becoming difficult to keep up.”

Young turned to Mark Spencer, president and owner of Universal Plumbing, based in Kingsford, for a solution.

“Upon inspection, circulating pumps and zone valves were failing, temperature control was limited, and the boilers were very old,” said Spencer.

According to Spencer, the aging units were piped as a hot-loop system on outdoor reset and would run continuously to maintain 180-deg. water temperatures 24 hr./day.

“The units only shut off during the summer months when temperatures reached 75 F or higher,” said Spencer. “It was time to replace the boilers with a more-efficient system that would have the added benefit of reducing fuel expenses.”

Diamondhead Apartment complex management upgraded its aging heating system.

Spencer recommended the installation of four Weil-McLain Eco 155 MBH wall-mounted boilers. The units have a durable stainless-steel fire tube heat exchanger and 95% AFUE efficiency rating.

The installation of the units required complete re-piping and removal of the old boiler systems. Instead of connecting the new units as zone valves, the units were configured with a more reliable pump design.

One Eco unit was installed in each building with every unit configured with its own thermostats and pumps for each apartment and common area. The units also were set up to run on modulation with outdoor reset.

“The installation progressed smoothly with limited interruption to building occupants,” said Young.

The apartment complex has realized several benefits from the installation of the boilers. Ongoing boiler maintenance is no longer required—just annual servicing of the units.

“With all four boilers installed, we haven’t had any maintenance issues and no loss of heat thus far,” said Young. He also appreciates the smaller footprint of the Eco units. “I was surprised at the small size of the boilers compared to the older systems that took up a lot of space,” he explained.

A major benefit of the new higher-efficiency boiler installation was the energy savings realized. Fuel costs for the complex have been reduced by more than 40% from just two years earlier.

“We have more consistent heat and more comfortable conditions for residents,” said Young. She was so pleased, two additional boilers were installed in another nearby apartment building.

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