Treading softly to avoid disturbing ancient fabric
Some of the most complex church heating installations are when the heating of a historic church needs to be replaced. In many instances the existing boiler is of the Grundy type of oil-fired boiler.
In these cases great care needs to be taken to avoid disturbing the fabric of the church, which is likely to be listed. An example of such an installation is the Church of St Helen Witton in Northwich, Cheshire. It is a Grade One-listed church dating from the 14th century, located in the centre of the town, and is often referred to as Northwich Parish Church.
The old Grundy boiler was replaced by a direct-fired gas heating system – that is, where the air to be circulated is heated directly by the gas burner. An indirect system is one where the air is heated by heat exchangers and often involves recirculating the air.
In some cases it is possible to minimise disruption by taking advantage of other restoration work to install a new heating system in a church. Such was the case at the Parish Church of St Mary in Colton, Staffordshire. Parts of the church date from the late 12th century and when it was rebuilt in the 1850s a set of 14th-century frescoes was discovered. The altar pieces from the rebuilding contain panels by William Morris.
The church took advantage of the lifting of the main floor during restoration to have a new heating system installed. It was a precision operation because the work could only penetrate to 300mm to avoid disturbing the unique archaeology.