Koegel has knowledge, experience to tackle any size boiler job

Does your current boiler have you steamed? Wish it was quieter? More efficient? Safer? Looking for someone who is clean, courteous and professional to fix your current system or give you options in purchasing a new one? Koegel Plumbing and Heating Solutions has the experience and knowledge to tackle any size boiler job and can guarantee that the system will work properly.

Kurt and Dana Koegel own and operate Koegel Plumbing and Heating Solutions. Kurt specializes in hydronic heating (boilers) with more than 30 years experience in the field. Photo by Jim Palmer

Koegels recently updated the boiler system in a house in which the owners were putting in a big master bedroom addition.

“The boiler was 30 years old so we updated the boiler system to a high efficiency one with radiant heat, so it probably cut their gas bill by about a third,” said Kurt. “But the neat thing about this new boiler… not only was it much more efficient, but it didn’t need a chimney. And it also heated the domestic hot water, so it heated the house plus heated the domestic water. And they saved a lot of room in their mechanical room by replacing the old system.”

In addition, the family is now able to zone their home so only the rooms they use are heated, which saves them more money.

“Zoning a home is really nice,” said Dana. “Say you have a four-bedroom home and your kids gone are off to college. You don’t want to turn the heat off all together for those bedrooms and kill the loops, but you don’t need to heat them, either. You can zone it so the heat is turned down in those bedrooms. That way you are not heating space that is not being used on a regular basis.”

Radiant heat and forced air heat both work well to heat a home or business, but it is how they heat an area that makes them different.

“They are completely different in how they work,” said Kurt. “With radiant/infloor heat, you don’t heat the air, you heat objects in the room. Your whole entire floor acts like a heat source and it doesn’t heat the air. It heats the objects in the room…  the furniture, the people and so on.”

Radiant heat is a consistent heat, from the floor to ceiling. “If someone has a cold house and turns up the thermostat, they will feel that blast of hot air from a forced hot air system quicker. But a radiant heat system will slowly heat it to a constant heat,” said Dana.

“With a hot air system, the floor may be 60 degrees and the ceiling could be 80 degrees because hot air rises. And by the way… heat doesn’t rise, hot air rises,” said Kurt. “For exampole, all the big airline hangars for 747s are about 100 feet high. If you had hot air heating in those places, the people working on the tailsection of a 747, they would be passing out from the heat, and the guys on the ground would be freezing to death. That’s why all those big airline hangers use radiant heat because it is constant temperature from foot one to foot 100.”

Kurt said he understands the function of forced air heat systems, but believes a hydronic system has some real nice benefits.

“The initial installation of a hydronic system is more expensive, but you can’t beat it for long-term comfort and savings.”

Kurt Koegel stands next to part of a 100+ year boiler he took out near Rose City. The boiler was installed before electricity came to the area. Koegel put in an efficient system that was compact and safe. Contributed photo

Boilers have been around for a long time, and Kurt has seen just about everything when it comes to boilers.

“The oldest boiler we have replaced was about 100 years old,” he said. “It was an old farmhouse in Rose City. The system was so old it was installed before there was electricity, so there were no electric pumps to it. It all worked on gravity.”

The old system was inefficient, bulky and was a safety hazard. Koegels put in a safe and efficient system that saved both energy and room.

  Fixing really old boiler systems is nothing new for Kurt. He started learning about boilers when he was just a boy. He was living in New Jersey, helping his uncle, a professional plumber. The more Kurt learned, the more interested he became.

“We were working with boilers that were over 100 years old, and that was 30 years ago,” said Koegel. “So I was able to learn from old timers on how boilers ran and how you could keep them running.”

Boilers systems were very simple in their design, but also very effective. “It was amazing the ingenuity they used. They didn’t have technology so they had to use physics to make sure things worked properly. Since that time, I have always had a passion for hydronics, or hot water heat.”

And that passion is still strong today.

“What is interesting now is that technology has come in and so now we are heating homes with the smallest amount of energy needed and the highest comfort level. And the devices that are used are tiny and have more brain power in them than the Saturn 5 rocket that went to the moon. It is just amazing,” he said. “It is all about efficiency and safety now.”

Kurt’s knowledge and passion for old boilers has naturally drawn him to churches, which often have the largest and oldest systems.

  One of his biggest success stories has been Calvary Lutheran Church in Alexandria.

“Calvary had a very old system in there,” he said. “The church started as a small house and then they did an addition and then another addition and then a really big addition. And then they have added on since then. So the church saw many additions and changes over the years. Along the way, the kept plugging in new things and tried to keep the old things going. It got to a point that there were so many additions that it got to be a mess.”

Part of the church custodian’s daily routine was to get up early and check to see if the church had heat. They had to bleed air out of the system regularly, and there were parts of the church that were often unheated. “It wasn’t heating correctly in all parts of the church. The pipes were getting full of air and not getting heat. The energy bills were really high. The winter before we came in, the church was without heat something like 12 times and had to get emergency services,” said Koegel. “It was taxing on the staff, and they decided it was time to fix this thing once and for all.”

Calvary called on several contractors in an attempt to fix their boiler. Some looked at the system and walked out right away, saying the job was too big or too difficult. Others proposed a big down payment with no guarantee that the problem would be fixed.  Koegel Plumbing and Heating was the 17th contractor they contacted to try to solve their problem.

“No one could guarantee or come up with a comprehensive plan,” said Kurt. “I went out there and spent a full day with a flashlight, a note pad and a ladder and went through the entire building. I checked out all the systems and pipes. Once I finally got my head wrapped around it, then I was able to redesign the whole heating system. Then I came to the church with the hard truth — everything in the mechanical room needed to come out. The boilers they had were fine, but all the pipes and valves and all the components after the boiler were just not made to work together.”

Kurt Koegel (right) was awarded the Contractor Excellence Award in 2014 from Caleffi for his work on Calvary Lutheran Church in Alexandria. Contributed photo

Koegel guaranteed that the new system would work, and he completed the project in a couple of weeks, just in time for cooler weather.

“We were able to go in and figure out what was there, and figure out a way to make it work properly,” he said. “And now the people at Calvary are some of our biggest advocates.”

For his work at Calvary, Koegel received the Contractor Excellence Award in 2014 from Caleffi, a hydronic component manufacturer, and was featured in Contractor Magazine and other trade magazines.

Koegel can do the big jobs (like churches) and they also enjoy the small jobs… and anything in between. They offer full-service plumbing and hydronic heating services throughout west central Minnesota.

“If you are looking to switch out an old system to a new high-efficient system, now is a great time to do that,” said Kurt. “There are a lot of rebates out there to help with the cost, plus energy savings and the enhanced comfort levels, all of which benefits the home owner.”

To get a low-cost review of your system, including diagnostics and options, call 320-766-6767 or email kurt@koegelsolutions.com. To learn more about Koegel Plumbing and Heating Solutions, visit ww.koegelsolutions.com.