MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The equipment that keeps Moody AFB comfortable indoors is designed for a climate that is typically warm year round, but when temperatures fall below 40 degrees, the equipment starts to malfunction.
Airmen who work in Moody’s Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) are experiencing an unusually high workload for this time of year because of unusually low temperatures.
“The temperature outside basically determines the kind of day we’re going to have,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Pigg, 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) HVAC journeyman. “If it’s too hot we’ll be working hard and if it’s too cold we’ll be working hard. The systems we have on base are designed to switch from heating to air conditioning but with the recent weather they went haywire because they’re not really used to performing when it’s that cold.”
South Georgia is known for its humidity and hot weather, but temperatures have recently been dipping into the low teens leading to snowfall for the first time since 2010.
“I never expected to see snow in South Georgia,” said Airman 1st Class Jonathan Marian, 23rd CES HVAC apprentice. “We were off that day for the snow, but the following workday came with a lot of work orders for things that needed repairs.”
Most buildings on base are heated and cooled by heat pumps that must maintain a certain level of pressure to work. When the pump gets too hot, the pressure can become too great, causing it to shut down.
Likewise, if the pump gets too cold there’s a heating system in place to keep it from freezing but because the climate at Moody is typically hot, HVAC technicians won’t know they don’t work until it’s too late.
“I like that HVAC always changes,” Marian said. “I got here and have seen things I’ve never seen before so I learn something new every day.”
Boilers, chillers and air conditioning units are all systems used in various buildings on base depending on what the needs of the buildings are. While one building may just need comfort cooling and a regular air conditioner, another may house servers and need a chiller to keep the room cool.
“HVAC is not just comfort cooling for buildings, it’s also critical for maintaining important equipment,” Pigg said. “The air traffic control tower or even server rooms have to be kept cool or [equipment] goes down. If the tower goes down people can’t fly and the mission can’t be completed.”
Similarly, the A-10C Thunderbolt II flight simulator has equipment that is temperature sensitive and the building that houses it must be kept cool.
“The air conditioning has to be kept at a certain level to make sure the systems operate and to control the moisture level so we don’t get mold on the computer cards,” and said Ronald Boothby, 23rd Operation Support Squadron project officer. “Without that we can’t operate the simulator because we run the risk of damaging it. Without the simulator we don’t have aircrew training and to us not having a simulator is like not having a runway.”
Each unit on base helps accomplish Moody’s mission, and while the weather can affect all jobs in various ways, the HVAC flight’s workload is always affected by temperature.
“I love taking care of everyone on base,” Pigg said. “You wouldn’t believe how good it feels to have someone say thank you for helping, when they’re dealing with the heat or if they’re cold. Our top priority is making sure we’re taking care of people and their equipment.”