The present forecast is calling for a string of below freezing overnight temperatures the week of November 7th. Because of that, our maintenance team is already gearing up to shut the cooling plant down for the season. After that time, annual repair and maintenance efforts for both the chillers and tower will be scheduled, and cooling will no longer be available until sometime in the Spring.
At present, we expect to start this process on Tuesday November 8th, and will continue to monitor the weather up to that point. However, the expectation for sustained freezing conditions really dictates our course of action.
If there are any changes in our expectations or scheduling we will update this post.
We do realize after that time there may be days where some residents will not be 100% comfortable, particularly on warmer days in sun facing units. However, even in the absence of winter conditions the cooling plant does need to be scheduled for it’s annual maintenance.
At the October 10th Board of Directors Meeting, Board President Michael Parrie made the following statement:
“There has been concern about providing air conditioning during some of the days this past month. The Board sympathizes with residents’ discomfort. Management provided great detail on the conversion from heat to air conditioning. With lows at the nighttime requiring heat, it is almost impossible to switch to air conditioning and back to heat within a day span. It takes about 6 hours to switch from one system to the next, and then back again. In fact, our HVAC system is not capable of switching from heat to air conditioning with the flip of a switch like other newer buildings. In addition, the city requires heat in the evening, and that is the building’s priority. The Board recommends residents open the windows, pull down the shades, and wear light clothes. Management has also shared info on how you may purchase stand-alone air conditioning units.”
Very recent and upcoming forecasted colder than average weather means we will likely not be switching to AC for sometime. If we do get sustained freezing temperatures, we may have to drain the Cooling Tower, and that will be a wrap for cooling until the Spring.
Below, is the most recent communication we sent residents on our e-mail list. Also, we address the interest in stand-alone AC units. It is smart that anyone considering one consult our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I myself live in a high rise with a two pipe system like Park Tower. Like here, that building can only run heat or air conditioning, and it takes 6 to 8 hours to transition. It can be uncomfortable when it is sunny, even at times during the winter. So we understand the calls and messages our team are getting. Here are some facts to help everyone understand better, based on the most recent questions:
This is probably not what many residents want to hear, but this is the reality we are working with right now. Sunny days this time of year, will likely not be comfortable at times during the day in sun facing units.
There are some options Owners and/or residents could more directly control:
I know these are not ideal solutions for everyone, but they are at least something that can be controlled. In the meantime, no one here is sitting on their hands, forgetting to flip a switch or purposefully making anyone bake in their unit. This system is not like a light switch.
If you want to consider a stand-alone AC unit, our maintenance team has suggestions for the unit itself and a supplemental drain pan to go under it:
Too answer the bulk of the questions we’ve had this week, there have been times particularly during the day when neither Heat or AC was available. Yes. That is because of a number of competing variables making either just not possible or even unreasonable to consider. If it is in the mid-70s in the hallways, we can not turn on the heat. Not only will that create discomfort for most of the building, it could cause the risers and pipes to overheat and deform. This has happened in the past and has actually done damage causing leaking.
Likewise for folks wanting AC – we can’t flip a switch. Please remember, we have to be cognizant of the City of Chicago Heating Ordinance which requires a particular temperature to be maintained within residential units. While we know the sun can make the southward facing units very hot, it takes 6 to 8 hours to transition to cooling in the morning and 6 to 8 hours to transition back to heat in the evening with only 24 hours in a whole day……I assume you see the dilemma.
However, very frankly, we have been seeing highs in the mid to upper 50s here at the building several days. We will not turn on the AC at those temperatures. Like the pipes overheating, we do have fixtures and mechanical equipment even more vulnerable to over cooling. We can’t keep circulating the water and cooling it and cooling it to the point pipes and coils start freezing.
OUR TEAM WANTS TO ASSURE YOU:
Please be patient while we are in this very difficult seasonal transition and thank you for understanding.
This time of year, particularly when it is sunny during the day but cool, we have this type of tug of war. Thankfully, we have sensors all over the building giving us temperatures, and usually we can find a balance that maximizes comfort for the majority of residents. Sensors which give us both outdoor and indoor temperatures. From the lobby, hallways, exterior glass, roof and more. For example, on Thursday when it was sunny but the high here at the building was about 60, the hallway sensors consistently read 71 degrees on average. The hallways are what provide air to the units. This and the overnight low flirting with the heating range, dictated that the AC service remain off.
This was in fact so cool, had our team run cooling, we would have been risking the chillers “surging” and some lines freezing up. Without getting into a complicated explanation of what that means, it can cause costly damage to our mechanicals, so we must avoid such conditions.
A few things to keep in mind:
Finally, there is no way we are going to get this perfectly every single day. So please be patient. We appreciate knowing when you sense a problem or are uncomfortable. Let me assure you, no one is sitting on their hands and purposefully not doing their job to turn the heat or AC on. This is monitored pretty much non-stop. Some of our team can even make adjustments via an app on our cell phones. But, it is still not going to make 100% of everyone happy 100% of the time. Especially this time of year when that sun is blasting.
Please have patience – this is not as simple as flipping a switch. When we need to switch from heating to cooling, the temperature of the water has to cool off enough before it can run through the chillers. Likewise, when going from cooling to heating, the water needs to warm up enough before it can run through the boiler. Otherwise we risk damaging the pipes and mechanicals. This can take up to 6 to 8 hours.
Given the time of year, heating will be our priority, consistent with the Chicago Heating Ordinance. Typically we need to default to heating service and only switch to cooling if conditions are expected to result in discomfort. At present, conditions call for cooling.
Once winter weather truly sets in, and we start to expect freezing temps, the cooling tower will be drained and annual maintenance will get underway. After that, cooling will not be available until Spring. As it stands with the present weather outlook, we will be only be on the edge of conditions calling for heat, though cooling may go off on warmer days. Typically we expect the need for heating when outdoor temps are in the mid to low 50s or colder. AC will typically remain available for now, when the sun is out at around 60 degrees or higher.
This range of outdoor temps is typically where we see the need to make adjustments for comfort. We have sensors throughout the interior and exterior of the building, which helps our staff understand condition. They monitor the temps very closely should we need to switch manually or make adjustments. Also, feedback from residents can help trigger manual adjustments which can improve comfort.
When the weather changes quickly, switchovers can be challenging. On those days when it is 40 degrees in the morning, and climbs into the 70s in the early afternoon, it may take quite a while for cooling to be available (if at all). Our staff also has to consider, whether heating will be needed again that night, and the timing to switch back over has to be taken into account.
We realize full sun during the day heats up some units very quickly, but it is conceivable there will be times we may not switchover. We have no control over that so we appreciate your patience in such conditions.
While it will not be 100% comfortable for 100% of our residents, 100% of the time, resident comments and observations can help us make adjustments and improve conditions as much as possible. Contact us at email@example.com, or call the office 773-769-3250.