By Col. Raymond Lacey, Commander, USAG Fort SillMay 13, 2010
FORT SILL, Okla.--Did you know, the passing of another winter season signals that it is time to proceed with the transition from heating to air conditioning'
With the first 90-degree day hitting us the last week of March, the installation is preparing for summer. As the annual cycle starts, equipment maintenance will begin in preparation for next year\'s heating season.
Transition to cooling
The initial stages of this year's cooling season started in late October when heating, ventilation and air conditioning units were turned off. Since shutdown, antifreeze was placed in systems requiring freeze protection, preventive maintenance was performed and pre-inspections are coming to an end. Based on an evaluation of the 15-day forecast, the Directorate of Public Works recommended beginning the seasonal changeover April 19. T
he first step of the change-over process is to turn off the heating systems. The goal is to have all air-conditioning systems started by now. Priority was given to living quarters, followed by administration and classroom facilities, then warehouses, motor pools, etc. The turn-on cycle normally takes three weeks. Once the turn-on is completed, the focus will shift to equipment efficiency and 100-percent availability of systems.
Why three weeks'
A typical residential system has the capability to control temperature during summer or winter with the simple flip of the switch at the thermostat. In contrast, a typical administration building with a commercial HVAC system comprised of a boiler to provide heat, a chiller that produces air conditioning and in most cases multiple indoor air units to distribute the conditioned air. The two systems consisting of heating boilers and AC chillers, when placed at a military installation, run independently of each other requiring an additional step during startup.
Why commercial HVAC'
With the additional maintenance requirements and time required to change from heating to cooling, the military does not use residential systems. The equipment selection is based purely on design capability and economics at the time of construction. The commercial systems historically provided higher efficiency and a lower operating cost over the life of the system.
Those residents or employees with special needs should contact DPW. While circumstances of life and safety should be reported without further consideration, such cases will be handled with priority.
Other categories of request for special considerations will be handled on a case-by-case basis and should be directed to the DPW, operations and maintenance division. Ultimately, decisions will be based on minimizing the impact to mission productivity. Further considerations will be given to the HVAC workforce, their level of productivity and the overall success of the change-over operation.
Make a smooth transition'
Upon official notification of change-over cycle, allow 10 working days prior to issuing a service order. Generally, the HVAC staff is aware if a problem exists and the response times dedicated to untimely service orders requires staffing. Minimize requests for special consideration if at all possible. If conditioned space is warming as the day progresses and if possible, open a window, prop open a door, turn on a fan, turn off any unused office equipment, coffee pots or lighting because all electrical equipment generates heat adding to the temperature in the condition space. The goal of the garrison is to provide comfort to all on an installation level while minimizing impact to productivity. The transition from heating to cooling is not as simple as flipping a switch. While we all share the potential of slight discomforts through the transition to air-conditioning season, we can rest assured the DPW and HVAC technicians will execute the goal as expeditiously as possible.