Janesville46.6°

Air conditioners at Craig, Parker high schools are malfunctioning

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
May 26, 2010
— Engineers are trying to figure out what's wrong with the new air conditioning systems at Janesville's public high schools.

Craig High School Principal Mike Kuehne said some rooms are getting cooled, while others are not.


Plus, some rooms have gotten cooled just some of the time over the past two days, Kuehne said.


Air conditioning was part of the recent referendum-funded expansions of Craig and Parker high schools. The systems make ice at night, when electric rates are lower. They use the ice to cool the air during the day.


The ice-storage systems, as they are called, have malfunctioned two nights in a row in advance of the two hottest days of the spring.


The systems shut themselves down for some unknown reason during the night, said Keith Pennington, district chief financial officer.


The shutdowns came before enough ice was produced, Pennington said. Staff restarted the chillers, which make the ice, when they arrived in the morning, but by then the ice production struggled to keep up with steadily rising temperatures.


The systems are under warranty, so there's no cost for any repair or adjustments, Pennington said.


Engineers from the manufacturer are at the schools, trying to figure things out, Pennington said. North American Mechanical Inc., which installed the systems, is on hand, as well.


Excessively high temperatures have made the problem more apparent, especially on the sunny sides of the buildings, Pennington said.


One problem may be how the airflow is regulated in the computer-controlled system, Kuehne said.


"They told us to expect it. It takes time to regulate the airflow in a large building such as Craig High School," Kuehne said.


Pennington said Tuesday that someone will stay overnight at the schools to monitor the ice making and reset the system if it shuts itself down again.


Kuehne said it would take time to work out the kinks.


"They fully expected this to be an issue for a year or two," Kuehne said.



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