A south Houston Airport replaces an existing mechanical pipeline as part of scheduled routine upgrades.
The project required the installation of 550-lf of new 24″ pre-insulated CHWS/CHWR pipes inside an existing central utility plant. A central utility plant (CUP) is a centralized facility that houses mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems that serve and support a building. Some of the most common types of equipment found in a CUP include main pumps, chillers, boilers, centralized air compressors, and generators.
Kilgore Industries was tasked to install the CHWS/CHWR pipes for this project. Kilgore’s crew members had to adhere to a background check and a strict daily security clearance protocol that involved communicating with airport security when certain site areas needed to be accessed.
The project site presented a few challenges with the ingress to the tunnel and designated work areas. A hatch with limited space was the main entrance to the tunnel, where pipes and equipment would be lowered and transported. As a safety measure, a guardrail was placed around the hatch to protect any crew members from falling, and a hoist was employed that lowered the pipes into the tunnel.
Since the installation and welding of the chilled water pipes were performed on an existing underground tunnel, safety measures were taken to carefully address any confined space concerns that could potentially arise during the length of the project.
Air quality was tested to assure proper oxygen levels. Ventilators were added to provide adequate oxygen exchange while crew members performed the work. In addition, a vacuum was employed to extract the fumes caused by the welding. A firewatch was assigned to monitor the crew performing the welds and remained on watch while the joints remained hot. As another safety measure, fire extinguishers were placed near the weld areas.
Once all pipes were lowered in the tunnel, crew workers began laying out the pipes to their predetermined pipeline route. Next, the pipes were prepped for welding. Workers performed a total of 52 welds along the tunnel; then, the 24-inch schedule 40 chilled water pipes were tied to an existing 24-inch chilled water riser. Since the completion of the project, the CUP has efficiently supplied air conditioning to various buildings. Staying on top of maintenance and infrastructure upgrades helps to mitigate the risk of dealing with unforeseen emergency repairs and can help extend the reliability and performance of the CUP.