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Emergency boiler replacement at RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE Ensures doors remain open

15 Apr 2019
Case study
Ronald McDonald House at Birmingham Children’s Hospital was facing the prospect of having to temporarily reduce its services when its water heater suddenly went down. With hot water a critical resource for the families staying at the House, a solution needed to be found quickly and Andrews Water Heaters was only too happy to help.

Ronald McDonald House looks after the families of children being treated at Birmingham Children's Hospital - one of the top four specialist children’s hospitals in the UK. With 66 bedrooms, it is one the charity’s largest purpose-built accommodation facilities.

Since opening its doors in 2010, the facility helps over 1200 families a year by providing a place to stay just minutes away from their child's bedside. As well as offering bedrooms, the House provides families with the opportunity to cook and eat together and share their experiences, with the reassurance that they will always have a shoulder to cry on.

Two water heaters served the House for over eight years and the system had been running smoothly in that time. However, the maintenance team was alerted when one of its water heaters suddenly started to underperform. Further investigation found that sacrificial anode degradation meant that the water heater would need to be quickly replaced.

Libby Aston, House Manager at Ronald McDonald House Birmingham commented: “The critical factor was time – we had to ensure that the hot water kept running because without it we would have to restrict our service. You can’t underestimate the importance of our guests being able to take a hot bath at the end of a long day on the hospital ward. It can be a great comfort at a time of incredible worry and stress.”

With a range of hot water needs – from kitchens to baths and showers – the House depends on its water heaters around the clock. For example, there are three full kitchens on each of its six floors, with 18 in total. The average length of stay for families is 15 nights, but the charity has supported people with children in hospital for as long as a year.

Ronald McDonald House consulted Pete McGinty at IH Maintenance & Repair, who is the approved contractor for the charity. Pete said: “From the outset, it was decided that no major water system changes were needed. The current system worked perfectly for the needs of the facility because it had originally hired expert consultancy to assess capacity requirements and these had not changed in the eight years it had been running.  The main consideration was the water heater replacement, and all other elements of the system such as pipework, could remain the same.”

The contractor recommended that the best option was like-for-like replacement and it was decided that the Andrews Water Heaters HIflo ticked all the boxes. “These units offer a regular, reliable supply of economical hot water for a variety of applications, with a recovery rate of 1745 litres per hour – perfect for where the demand for hot water peaks at certain times, which tend to be the mornings and evenings at Ronald McDonald House,” Pete McGinty said. “The installation process was straight-forward and there was very little disruption for guests.”

Dan Martindale, sales director at Andrews Water Heaters, explains, “When Ronald McDonald House first contacted us, we were adamant we wanted to support this fantastic charity in every way possible. Heating and hot water is essential to creating a warm and welcome environment and we wanted to make sure this was taken care of as quickly and easily as possible so that the charity could continue to focus on supporting families in need.”

The donated water heater was installed in the summer of 2017, only weeks after the initial plea was put out. Furthermore, IH Maintenance & Repair provided free installation, which meant that it would be up and running in days.

With both water heaters working together at full performance levels, Ronald McDonald House now benefits from higher levels of energy efficiency compared to the old system, saving money on its energy bills. Improvements to the maintenance regime were suggested which would help with the issue of sacrificial anodes degradation that affected the original water heaters, along with annual servicing and water treatment.

Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Libby Aston commented: “The support we’ve received from Andrews Water Heaters has been phenomenal. Our House becomes home to 66 families at any one time and without the donation of a water heater we ran the risk of having to temporarily close rooms which would have meant families having to travel hundreds of miles each day or sleep next to their child’s bed. With a brand new water heating system in place, we have complete peace of mind that our guests can depend on us during their stay with us.”