Roy Bowden,78th Civil Engineer Squadron HVAC shop supervisor, shows how shop employees can access a computer link to buildings to get readings in the Direct Digital Controls Room. (U. S. Air Force photo/Sue Sapp)
8/17/2012 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The next time you hear the soft humming of your workplace air conditioning system and see a local heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician emerging from a nearby maintenance room, go ahead and give him a big hug.
After all, it's the current team of 16 HVAC professionals from the 78th Civil Engineer Group who have been working nonstop since July to keep an estimated 2,000 pieces of space-comfort equipment operating in buildings across Robins. At the same time, the 78th CEG Industrial Mechanical Shop has been keeping an eye on the much larger equipment on the flight line industrial complex.
Roy Bowden, 78th CEG electronic industrial controls mechanic, keeps the daily lines of communication open among HVAC mechanics, whose daily routine is to multitask among different buildings in order to catch up on preventative maintenance, respond to emergencies or assist others when needed.
"We stay pretty busy. If one of us takes a day off, it can take two days to catch up," said Bowden. "But everyone has done a great job of keeping up."
Their day is typically determined by work orders that come in, ranked from routine to urgent to emergency. It's the emergency and urgent work orders that must be taken care of as soon as possible in order to ensure mission success.
While out and about across base - many times working in uncomfortable, constrained conditions in very humid, hot temperatures - technicians perform such duties as changing air filters, cleaning out coils and draining lines, fixing hot water and chill valves, changing bearings and motors, and other related duties from an ever-growing list of tasks.
"There is never a day when we don't have something going on," added Bowden.
They also routinely inspect and replace belts inside air handlers, an important part of the HVAC system which is responsible for supplying the cold air that conditions our work spaces during Middle Georgia's hot summer months.
Maintaining chillers and boilers is another critical component of a work day. The cold and hot water these systems produce in turn cools and heats the air that regulates temperatures inside buildings. This can also be challenging, since many times there are several HVAC systems that condition a single building. Finding a happy balance of the various systems where everyone is comfortable is just another part of the job description.
Although it's been a hot summer, some may think these technicians get a break when temperatures drop a bit and cooling demand tapers off. But that's not true. While fall provides a bit of catch-up time, work immediately picks up when cold season arrives. That's when these professionals begin focusing on the heating side of HVAC.