News: HVAC: Keeping the mission comfortable
Story by Tech. Sgt. Joselito Aribuabo
SOUTHWEST ASIA – The oldest method of home climate control is living underground. Early cave-dwelling ancestors enjoyed temperatures in the 50s during both summer and winter. Nowadays airmen have the luxury of being able to control the temperature they live and work in thanks to the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning shop.
The shop follows a strict recurring work program developed to extend the life of air conditioning units. The units are maintained weekly by performing pressure washing, and parts are repaired or replaced immediately if broken.
“When we spray window air conditioning units with high pressure water, it cleans out the dirt and sand accumulated in the coils due to weather-especially in a desert environment,” explains Senior Airman Jacob Lagodzinski, a 379th ECES HVAC technician deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and hails from Altoona, Iowa. “An air conditioning unit that works efficiently provides everyone a comfortable atmosphere to work and rest in.”
The year-round program is important because the air conditioning units must work properly throughout the hot summer months and serve as heating and ventilation during cooler temperatures.
“The program is just part of the equation, everyone can help cut cost and extend the life of the air conditioning units by doing simple maintenance themselves,”Loagodzinski said. “By cleaning the air filters at least once a week and turning the unit off when out of the room for a long time you prevent the coils from getting dirty and the unit overheating.”
In addition to up keeping more than 500 window air conditioning units, the HVAC shop, with 22 personnel, is also responsible for maintaining and servicing 30 chillers and 150 split units in larger facilities requiring central air climate control throughout the whole base.
“Larger complexes with chillers and air handlers, like the dining facilities, server rooms for communications and specialized avionic shops need efficient and reliable climate control,” said Master Sgt. John Geissbuhler, the 379th ECES HVAC shop NCO in charge deployed from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., and native of Darlington, Wis. “Without these facilities, there would be less food to eat, communication would be limited and aircraft would remain grounded.”
When the temperature is cooler, HVAC shop has less air conditioning service calls. This provides them an opportunity to focus on larger projects and to continue performing routine and preventive maintenance on chillers and air handlers.
“Now that the temperature is cooling and people are not using their air conditioning as often, our shop receives less calls for service work, but we still remain busy,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Bellona, a 379th ECES HVAC technician deployed from Vanderburg Air Force Base, Calif., and hails from Oswego, N.Y. “Fewer service calls gives us the opportunity to perform operations checks on all our larger units, ensuring the condenser coils are clean, belts and filters are replaced if needed, and the air pressure runs normal.”
The HVAC shop also performs special services such as hose fabrication, reclaiming and recovery of
refrigerants, and electrical troubleshooting.
“We all have a mission every day, whether it’s here or at home station,” said Bellona. “My mission here
to make sure everyone is comfortable so they can get the rest needed to perform their job.”