Highlands residents hoping they won’t be left out in cold this winter | AspenTimes.com

Highlands residents hoping they won’t be left out in cold this winter

Thirteen homes in a building at Aspen Highlands Village are still without a functioning heating system after a major leak was discovered last December.

And although it may be August and heating homes isn’t much of a concern, some residents of the Wille Residence are wondering what the state of their heating system will be when the nights begin to get colder.

Attempts at partially repairing the leak were made last winter, but when a sealant was used and the pressure in the system was reduced, the leak only sped up, prompting a plumbing subcontractor to shut off the heat completely. Building residents used space heaters to make it through the rest of the winter without their baseboard heat.

The Wille Residence is heated by a boiler located in the Maroon Creek Station building in the village. The two buildings are connected by a main line, which is actually two pipes – one carrying a heated mixture of water and propylene glycol to the Wille building and another that returns it to the boiler.

When the weather warmed in the spring, the general contractors who built the Wille Residence about a year and a half ago found the leak beneath the building, where two pieces of pipe come together. The contractors, Colorado First Construction, repaired the pipe in early May.

“We had to use a saw to cut out a block of concrete, expose the pipe, make a repair and backfill it,” said Gordon Streich, chief financial officer for Colorado First Construction. “Then we repoured the slab and put in new tile for the homeowner.”

Streich said the repair work was expensive, but wouldn’t specify how much the work cost. He said the company absorbed the entire cost of the repair work, but property manager Steve Elliot said that’s not entirely true.

The problem, according to Elliot, is that there are some costs that haven’t yet been taken care of. Since the boiler itself resides in the Maroon Creek Station, that homeowners association would like to be assured that the repair is sufficient and won’t affect their building’s heat when the system is turned back on.

But those kinds of assurances cost money, Elliot said, and the Maroon Creek Station homeowners association doesn’t want to incur such a cost. Southland Industries was initially involved to determine where the leak was, and Colorado First Construction agreed to pay half of the $7,800 bill for that service.

Maroon Creek Station officials also wants their own specialist to be present when the heating is started up, in case of a problem, but Colorado First Construction hasn’t yet agreed, Elliot said. But, as far as he’s concerned, the construction company has already accepted most of the responsibility for the leak.

“They’ve repaired the leak; they say they’ve repaid expenses,” Elliot said. “It would seem that the other expenses they’ve not seen fit to pay might be their responsibility, because they appeared to have accepted responsibility for the leak.”

Elliot said he believes the Maroon Creek Station homeowners are exercising a legitimate right to feel safe before the system is reactivated.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Elliot said, when asked what has to happen to get the heating system operable for the Wille Residence. “I manage both buildings, and I’m not empowered by [Maroon Creek Station] to turn on [Wille Residences’] heat system until the outstanding economic conditions are addressed.”

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com

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