When the summer heats up, HVAC/R keeps it cool
By Staff Sgt. Schelli Jones, 23rd Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 12, 2010
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Do you ever find yourself complaining about how hot it is inside your office?
Ironically, the individuals of the 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron's heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration shop work all day in the blistering heat and harsh conditions while others enjoy the fruits of their labor.
"These Airmen are always behind the scene and never get the praise they deserve," said Master Sgt. Tiffany Berard, Jason D. Cunningham Airman Leadership School commandant. "You don't realize how much being comfortable impacts your learning or work environment until the air conditioning stops working. It becomes impossible for the instructors to teach because students are focused on staying cool instead of learning."
During the summer months, South Georgia temperatures average 92 degrees, with record highs of 105 degrees. Due to these extreme summer temperatures, air conditioning systems work overtime, so the HVAC team has to work long hours to sustain maintenance and equipment repair.
"Eighty-five percent of our workday is spent outdoors," said Jose Hernandez, 23rd CES HVAC supervisor. "Our shop motto is 'we work on air conditioning, not in air conditioning.'"
The HVAC/R shop consists of 15 Airmen and seven civilians who handle all air conditioning and heating, as well as most of the ventilation, for Moody, Grand Bay, Grassy Pond and the Stockton radar site. In total that capacity equates to 7,100 tons of air conditioning. Figuring the average home uses up to three and a half tons, that's more than 2,000 homes.
"In the summer it is not uncommon for us to receive 10 to 15 service calls daily to repair inoperative air conditioning," said Mr. Hernandez. "In addition, we average 8 to 10 hours of overtime weekly."
When the temperatures rise, AC units are prone to failure since they have to work so much harder to keep an area cool. The basic law of AC is that air conditioning and refrigeration are provided through the removal or absence of heat. So when outdoor temperatures are extremely high, the AC unit has to remove more heat than normal, causing it to overwork and possibly overheat.
"I once responded to 18 stand-by calls over one weekend," said Senior Airman Steven Kindle, 23rd CES HVAC/R journeyman. "Most stand-by calls range from major failures on AC units to simple condensation leaks.
"The facilities that normally call are buildings that store a lot of server equipment, computers, etc.," he added. "That weekend I responded to 14 server/computer rooms where the equipment overheated and the servers began to shut down because of AC failure."
According to the Air Combat Command Energy and Facility management policy, most facilities temperatures are regulated to be no lower than 76 degrees in the summer and no higher than 68 degrees in the winter. This policy was established to promote energy conservation and cost control.
"With the ever-increasing technology and deployments down range, today's Airmen and equipment depend on a comfortable atmosphere to either rest or operate in," said Mr. Hernandez. "That's where we come in. We understand our role and how vital it is to completing the mission."