Pace of progress really heating up

July 3 was one of those days when everything happens at once at Kump Education Center. When the large van arrived from Valley Supply with two new gas boilers, the “Plaster Master” was giving AmeriCorps members a lesson on how to repair the dining room ceiling. I was preparing to make final payments for the total rewiring of the building and not really expecting to start the heating project on one of the hottest days of the year.

The old radiator system at Kump has not been functioning since H.G. Kump died in 1962. His daughter, Mary Gamble Kump, lived in the house in the summer and taught school in military dependent schools all over the world during the winter. She did not need heat until she retired from teaching in the 1990s. Then she would visit family and friends in Florida in the winter when possible. If she was home, she would heat only a few rooms with space heaters.

After Miss Kump died and left the house to the city of Elkins to be used for educational purposes, we brought many heating contractors to look at the heating system and suggest what might be done to restore heat.

The historic house had been heated with coal when it was built in 1925, but in the 1950s the old furnace was refitted with natural gas burners.

The system was very inefficient because gas jets had to heat the whole furnace area then heat water that flowed through a maze of pipes to warm the radiators. Modern gas boilers are much more efficient.

Most of the contractors seemed overwhelmed by the enormity of the Kump Center project.

All were intimidated except Elkins contractor Malcolm Long, who really likes to work with metal pipes made back in the day when America had steel mills.

Now most pipes are plastic of one type or another, and contractors expect metal pipes to rust inside and leak.

In order to check for leaks, Mr. Long has tested the full radiator system with 30 lbs. of pressure for the last two months. He will work with the David Davis construction crew to install two new boilers and connect them with the old radiator system.

After 56 years with no heat, Kump Education Center will be warm next winter.

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