Finken Plumbing, Heating and Cooling had the honor of being part of a unique barn-raising of sorts this summer at our neighbors down the road, Rolling Ridge Wedding and Event Center. Also the home of Scenic Specialties landscaping, the Rolling Ridge Wedding and Event Center is situated on a picturesque 14-acre woodland in St. Joseph, MN and is comprised of three major structures, one of which is the historic 119-year-old barn.
“We were involved from the planning phase,” said Mike Blaskowski, Finken Plumbing and HVAC Manager. “Our actual hands-on work got underway at the end of June and we wrapped up the project on September 28.” The biggest challenge the team faced was in the timber framed barn where they needed to incorporate all the plumbing amenities and climate comfort of a modern structure, but maintain the rustic integrity and appearance of the 1896 building. “We were careful to conceal as much of our systems as possible,” Mike said. All of the plumbing and ductwork was run through the basement, and there are both interior and secondary exterior walls in the barn so the air returns could be run inside the cavity. “I’ve never seen that before,” said Jesse Moulzolf, one of Finken’s HVAC techs on the project, “The runs are all boxed in so you can’t even tell they are there from the inside or the outside.” Even the thermostats are tucked behind logs so they can’t be seen.
In addition to the overall plumbing and ventilation of the fully-renovated buildings, Finken installed seven commercial-grade, 2-stage, 95-percent efficient variable speed gas Frigidaire furnaces and seven 13-SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) commercial-grade Frigidaire air conditioners to completely climate control the two main buildings on site. Finken also installed fixtures for the catering kitchen, bridal suite and roosters roost wedding party prep rooms, multiple pressurized power flush toilets, urinals and stainless steel faucets, a twin alternating water softener and two water heaters; a 96-percent efficient commercial-grade gas water heater plus an on-demand water heater unit.
Jesse, who has been an HVAC technician at Finken for almost 11 years said, “This is one of the most interesting projects I’ve ever done. For one thing, there is a 1½-inch inch main gas line supplying the site. That’s one of the largest gas line we’ve ever installed.” That hefty line is necessary to power the 1.3 million BTUs generated by the seven furnaces. Finken also ran the gas line for the outdoor grill and fireplace. Another challenge the crew ran into was keeping the ductwork level in the barn. “Because it is an older structure made with rough-cut lumber, there were not very many square corners to work with,” Jesse said, “So we had to work a little creatively to suspend and balance the ductwork properly.”
Finken also had a hand in the structure’s new fire prevention measures. “We installed 6 fire dampeners, which are essentially mechanisms that prevent fire and smoke from spreading through the ductwork and penetrating the walls in the event that there would be a fire,” Jesse said.
When Jesse was doing a compressed air test to make sure the gas lines were safe and tight, he discovered a previously installed gas line that had become corroded and could have potentially caused a major malfunction in the gas system. “Randy was pretty happy that we found and fixed that!” he said.
Randy Schmitz, owner of Rolling Ridge, is very happy with his choice to use Finken on the project. “We chose Finken because we wanted to work with a local contractor that was willing and capable of designing and installing an efficient system that blended with the unique architectural value of our historic building,” he said, “It was important to have someone local so we could get quick service if we found ourselves in a pinch. Jesse, Aaron, Steve, Mike & Tom did an excellent job achieving our goals on our exciting yet complicated project. The work was neat and orderly and I’m very happy.”
“We worked hard to meet his deadlines and specifications,” Jesse said, “We wanted it to be perfect.”