In Hot Water (Lack of) Hot Water: Digital Mixing to the Rescue

Most hotel managers have learned through experience that their toughest, crankiest customer is an unhappy guest at midnight or 5:00am.

They’ve either just woken up and have to move out posthaste or, after a long day of travel, they need to turn in immediately. But the “hatchet’s in hand” if there’s insufficient pressure — or hot water — for a shower.

Angry hotel guests, at the oddest hours, are known to make quite a ruckus if a hotel’s worst-case scenario coincides with a stressed-out business traveler. “It’s a situation we work very hard to avoid,” admitted Greg Brinkerhoff, director of engineering at the Marriott Kansas City Airport hotel.

According to Brinkerhoff, late arrivers and early risers can push the limits of a hotel’s water heaters and plumbing systems. At his 384-room hotel, adjacent to a busy airport, there’s a steady flow of guests at all hours.

“The highest demand for hot water comes between 5:00 and 6:00am and again between 10:00pm and midnight,” added Brinkerhoff. It wasn’t uncommon for hotel managers to get several calls a week from guests, displeased about the lack of hot water.

“Unfortunately,” said Brinkerhoff, “The best we could tell them at the time was that hot water ‘was on its way.’”

Hot Water Woes

For more than two years, the hotel battled domestic hot water issues. As it turns out, a large hydronic valve was used for the original system. The misapplied valve had a 120-second response time and couldn’t actuate quickly to keep up with the changing water pressures present within the hotel.

Because of the valve’s sluggish response time, every time something would go wrong with the pumps, heat exchangers or storage tanks, the entire domestic hot water system would require a time-consuming recalibration. Maintenance was required routinely — a constant source of disruption for the engineering staff.

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Posted by on May 1st, 2017 and filed under Feature Story. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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