We wanted to send a quick update to let everyone know that we will be operating in pilot-light mode for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This will start at the end of the workday on Wednesday afternoon through Monday morning. We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Pilot-light mode seemed to have been a short-term solution a few weeks ago; however, we have received a few emails from the community and understand the noise is now being heard in the evenings in pilot-light mode. Based on the data from the noise monitoring, the only thing we can attribute this to is the change in weather since all other factors have remained the same. Again, we apologize. We are working as quickly as possible toward a more permanent solution for the community and our company and wanted to provide an update on where we are in the process.
We were looking at installing a second fan to run with the existing fan, both at lower RPMs. We have now been advised that will not solve the issue. We are working on three additional options:
1. The muffler did not meet the performance specifications provided to us. We have been in contact with the manufacturer of the muffler to request they fix the problem or replace the muffler.
2. We are in discussions with a manufacturer to have an alternate fan designed and installed. The existing fan is an Industrial Radial Blade Fan that incorporates a wheel with (8) heavy-gauge blades. The new fan would be a Backward Curve bladed fan, which produces much lower sound levels. This larger fan moves more slowly and has (20) blades.
3. A new fan would most likely result in the need for a larger smokestack. Currently, the stack is 21” in diameter. We would look at increasing it to 36”.
We are working with a team of manufacturers, engineers, sound experts, and other consultants. Unfortunately, these solutions all take time. In the meantime, we will continue to operate the boiler in pilot-light mode beginning at 5 pm each evening. This is the best we can do at this time, as running it in pilot-light mode keeps the decibels (dBA) within the county’s compliance levels, and it drops the frequency of the sound from 315Hz to around 200Hz, while maintaining the health of the boiler.
We thank everyone for emailing us with their noise reports and locations. We’re working as quickly as we can to find a solution and will continue to post updates to this site to keep everyone informed on the progress.
It has become apparent the muffler isn’t the complete solution we anticipated. We apologize for the disturbances caused during the 2-day test period. We are now working on a supplemental remedy, which includes purchasing an additional fan and running both fans at a lower RPM to reduce the frequency (pitch) and sound level, similar to pilot-light mode. The two fans will be used in conjunction with the muffler.
Noise measurements indicate the muffler has significantly lowered the sound level at the property line, while neighbors are reporting the hum is still bothersome. As a result, we will place the boiler fan back into pilot-light mode in the evenings starting tonight.
Thank you for your emails and continued patience as we work to solve the problem.
The sound muffler was installed yesterday afternoon, and the boiler fan was placed back in full operational mode. County officials were onsite last evening monitoring the noise levels and will continue to do so for the next several days. We would like to request that neighbors email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to report any noise disturbances. It would be helpful if you could describe the noise levels and provide your address or street name, as we are making site visits around the area in the next few days with the sound monitoring equipment (from street levels, not in homes).
Thank you for your continued patience and assistance as we work to remedy the situation.
The muffler arrived; however, not until late this afternoon. It was shipped from Canada and held up in customs. Due to this delay, the installation of the muffler will now take place on Thursday, Nov. 8. A team from Georgia traveled to Crozet to perform the installation. If all goes well with the installation, county officials will arrive tomorrow night to measure the noise. We will keep you updated on that timing, as the boiler fan will need to run at full speed for accurate measurement. We apologize for any inconveniences this has caused. Please know we are working as quickly as possible on the solution.
We received an update on the muffler. It shipped today and should arrive on Tuesday. It should be installed by the end of the day on Wednesday at the latest. We will continue to update everyone on the progress.
We understand the noise is noticeably louder today. We have not made any changes on our end. We will be running the fan in pilot-light mode now, and it will remain in pilot-light mode for the weekend. We apologize for any disturbances today.
Since last Wednesday, when it was determined the noise’s origin was the Yancey boiler’s exhaust stack, we have been working toward a solution. We immediately began the search for equipment that would help muffle or cancel the noise and have found a manufacturer who is willing to custom build a “silencer” on an expedited basis, which is estimated to take two weeks to manufacture and ship. We’ve also been making adjustments to the drive frequency of the boiler fan to reduce its speed; however, based on reports from the past several days, the reduction did not have the intended effect. Tonight, we made the decision to run the kiln in “pilot light mode,” allowing the boiler to maintain enough heat at night to power up and treat lumber during the day, but halting all lumber curing operations at night. We will continue to monitor sound levels at the mill and surrounding neighborhoods, but based on the positive reports we’ve seen tonight, the plan is to continue to run the kiln in the pilot light mode until the muffler is installed. Again, we sincerely apologize for the disturbances and are doing everything we can to keep them from happening again.
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We want to let our neighbors and the larger Crozet community know that we have confirmed that the noise that is disturbing some Crozet residents is coming from the exhaust stack of our wood drying operations that heat our kilns, which are part of the lumber mill business. We want to express to our neighbors our sincere apology for the disruption this has caused, and to let everyone know that we are working diligently to solve the problem.
In late March, we began refurbishing the sawdust-fired boiler for the kiln that we have been using at the mill since 1992, which required that it be shut down for several months. During that time, we worked with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to obtain a permit that allowed us to use a diesel boiler to power the kiln on a temporary basis. That boiler did not make much noise. Once the refurbishment of the original boiler was complete in August, we brought it back on line, and soon thereafter we began to hear about noise complaints.
At the time, we sincerely did not believe the mill was the source of the noise, for we had not installed any new equipment that we had not previously used. But given the community’s concerns and our desire to be a good neighbor, we hired an acoustical consultant to investigate and measure the sound levels both at the mill and from the properties of several neighbors who had contacted us.
Now that we know that the mill is the source of the noise, we are working with our acoustical consultant to invest in and install sound muffling equipment, which must be custom designed and manufactured. While we originally thought that equipment would take several months to install, we have been able to find a company that is able to have the equipment designed and constructed on a rush basis, and we hope to have the equipment in place within two weeks.
In the meantime, we are making adjustments to our equipment to try to reduce the noise as much as possible. Unfortunately, resuming use of the quiet diesel boiler is not an option, for the DEQ permit only allows it to be used for a limited number of days, which were all used during the refurbishment period. We have been dramatically reducing the drive frequency of the boiler fan to reduce its speed, which our consultant tells us should reduce the amount of sound being generated. While it appears, based on recent noise reports, that those methods are not working as well as hoped, we continue to work hard to find a solution to reduce the noise as much as possible until the muffling equipment can be installed. Our consultant is also working with several residents to measure the sound at their properties so we can determine how well these methods are working. Our consultant is putting together a report of his measurements, and we will release that report as soon as possible.
Our family-owned company has operated the mill in Crozet since 1949, and we are committed to being a good neighbor and community member. We are deeply sorry to realize that our operations have disturbed the community, and we pledge to continue to work to find a solution as soon as possible.
If you have questions, please email us at email@example.com.