KENDALL - A red tube spits out puffs of smoke that flow throughout the room. Thoren Rogers watches intently: Where the smoke goes means everything.
The tube, an airflow indicator used to test duct systems in buildings and houses, was just one tool used by Rogers and Barron Heating in an energy audit on the buildings at Kendall Creek Fish Hatchery.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife is preparing to update the hatchery to conserve energy and increase the safety of its old buildings.
The state Legislature provided $71,000 for the audit and upgrades in the 2013-2015 capital budget, department spokesman Craig Bartlett said.
Barron Heating, which has offices in Ferndale and Mount Vernon, performed the audit Jan. 8 and 10 on the four buildings of the hatchery. This included testing the heating devices, the air duct systems and the lighting equipment, said Rogers, who is the division leader for Barron Heating.
The hatchery includes the main hatchery building and three residential homes for seasonal and contracted staff members. These buildings date back to 1948, Rogers said. Buildings of that age often have antiquated electrical and heating systems, malfunctioning air ducts, moisture issues, and even rat and rodent infestations.
"All of the buildings need heating upgrades," Rogers said. "One of the buildings uses a diesel oil furnace, which is quite antiquated."
The other hatchery buildings use baseboard heating, an older, more expensive and less efficient form of heating, Rogers said.
Another concern is rats. The audit found evidence of damage from rodents, although there was nothing crawling around at the time, so it's possible they haven't been there in quite some time, Rogers said.
"Rodents are always a health hazard," Rogers said. "If they found a way in before, there's usually a way in again."
The rodents can damage the air duct systems, which already could be damaged over time, Rogers said. The adhesive used to hold the air ducts together can erode over time, especially in more than 50 years.
When the results of the audit are complete, the department will know exactly what needs to be done.
Reach James Kozanitis at 360-715-2249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.