Church News and Announcements

Update on the HVAC System

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

You are probably wondering what is going on with the new HVAC system that we’re getting in our old building, including the Sanctuary. The plan was to have heat from the new system before Christmas. That obviously hasn’t happened. We are still getting by with the temporary furnaces, one in the Sanctuary and the other in the Undercroft.

The answer is that we still need one really important piece of the system. The new HVAC system uses a set of heat pumps which need more electrical power than our current electrical service can provide. We have to upgrade from a 400 to an 800 amp system. This should have been completed some time ago, but this is what happened:

Our contractors worked with an engineer from Duquesne Light to get design approval for the new electrical service. Everything was going ok until that engineer experienced some major health problems. Duquesne Light then assigned another engineer to work with our contractors. Unfortunately, that personnel change resulted in essentially starting the design approval process all over again. We do not yet know what the new schedule is for the electrical service upgrade.

In the meantime it may be helpful to review the many components of the new HVAC system that HAVE been completed, and completed on time. The pieces include:

  1. The ground source, or geothermal, wells that were drilled in the lawn between the Sanctuary and Ellsworth. These were completed about 6 weeks ago. And as you have seen, the sidewalk has been re-installed, the landscaping has been restored and the Ellsworth entrance is open again.
  2. The piping from the outside well system has been extended inside the building, and a flow control system has been installed in the utility area next to the Young Adult room downstairs that routes the heating/cooling fluid to various parts of the building.
  3. A set of eight heat pumps has also been installed in various locations in the building. These units do two things: they augment the heating or cooling that is supplied naturally by the outside wells by either expanding or compressing the fluid; they also exchange heat between the circulating fluid and the air. It is this air, of course, that ultimately heats or cools our building depending on what is needed.
  4. And you have no doubt noticed that an extensive system of ducts has been installed to move the heated or cooled air to various parts of the building as needed. This is especially apparent in the Undercroft if you look up at the ceiling! There is still a bit of ductwork effort going on in the church office area, but that is unrelated to heating the Sanctuary.

All those key pieces have been installed and we are now waiting for the upgraded electrical service to be installed. When we find out more we will let everyone know.


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First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh
605 Morewood Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 621-8008     Map and directions
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10:30 AM
Office Hours
9:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Tuesday - Friday
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