The five-month long project to replace North Shore Towers’ key chimney was recently completed.
The smokestack — in operation for close to 40 years — had become heavily corroded over time, said Board member Herb Cooper, who is also chair of the Capital Improvements Committee.
“We knew for many years that there was a problem with corrosion,” he said, adding that there had been several short-term fixes along the years to delay the time needed to get a new one.
The chimney — which contains three flues — is connected to the co-op’s generator. Its major function is to emit the generator’s exhaust gasses, Cooper said.
“It’s the most important chimney and the most dangerous one in the sense that if something happens, we don’t just lose a little heat… we lose electricity throughout the entire co-op,” said Cooper.
But he said the project was successful and the total cost came out to be substantially below the budget, even including problems and additional corrosion the team encountered along the way. Although $1.5 million was allotted for the capital improvement, only $1.2 million was used, Cooper said.
Because of extremely high temperatures inside the chimney, Cooper said “it’s very difficult — near impossible” for any human being to get inside to check whether or not there is corrosion inside the chimney.
He said the only way corrosion could be checked was to first shut down the generators — also a near impossible task since the generators produce electricity for the entire complex.
That’s why co-op officials arranged several years ago for a portable generator to come in and connect to the entire complex. During that time, Cooper said, the generators connected to the chimney could be shut down for a day or two to allow for the chimney to cool down.
Then, the committee — and key worker Sal Castro, the co-op’s chief engineer — was able to observe the “substantial corrosion” found, by taking photos and x-rays from inside.
Now, the chimney enclosure — located on the back edge of Building Two — is back in action.
“We’re back in operation 100 percent, and we’re very happy with the way this came out,” Cooper said. “We feel great. The chimney worked out very well even though everybody worried.”
Cooper also said the chimney completion encouraged the committee to take on even bigger jobs — specifically the approaching project of replacing the co-op’s generator, which is also over 30 years old.