Broken HVAC Wreaks Havoc

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Broken HVAC Wreaks Havoc

A lone HVAC unit in the second floor stairwell.

A lone HVAC unit in the second floor stairwell.

Photo by Ashley Veazey

A lone HVAC unit in the second floor stairwell.

Photo by Ashley Veazey

Photo by Ashley Veazey

A lone HVAC unit in the second floor stairwell.

Catherine Cossaboom, Staff writer

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Over the past few weeks, Chamblee Charter High School has dealt with a massive air conditioning problem. With a malfunctioning motor on Chamblee’s cooling tower and an HVAC system struggling to keep up, temperatures have soared into the eighties in many parts of the school, especially in the left wing of the main building. Students have described the heat as “miserable,” “draining,” and “sweltering,” and many teachers have complained about the impact it has had on their teaching. 

“It’s been really hard for me to teach [in the heat],” said English teacher Brooke Arrington late last week. “It’s frustrating for me because we’ve been told lots of things about it being fixed and it isn’t [being fixed].”

Fortunately, things have improved. Earlier this week, portable AC units have been installed around the school by plant engineer Kenny Lyons to resolve the problem. The building is beginning to cool down, but the temperatures are still fluctuating throughout the school. 

“The HVAC system in the building doesn’t seem to be capable of cooling the building when we have many 90 degree days in a row,” said chemistry teacher Dr. Kathryn Zuehlke. 

The system’s management has also been causing problems. 

“They turn off the AC at night and on the weekends,” said Zuehlke. “When it comes back on, it stresses the system and parts fail.”

Overall, the persistence of the problem has caused much frustration. 

“Students base what they’re going to dress like that day based on the previous day, thinking that that’s what the temperature inside the room is going to be,” said junior Ayushi Mukund. “It’s just a really big inconvenience.”

Junior Nicole Vacarro even suggested an alternative solution. 

“I think that making students come to school in a heat they can’t focus in is really unfair,” said Vacarro. “You can’t expect us to do our work [and not make any mistakes] in this heat. We do have the chromebooks now, and I think it’s not worth it to come to school and sit in the heat and have it affect our grades, rather than just using the chromebooks at home and doing our first online weather inclement day.”

In an attempt to evade the heat, some teachers moved their classes from the main building to the cooler fine arts building. On Thursday, September 5, half a dozen classes were held in the auditorium at once, including Arrington’s.

“Yesterday, we fought through it first period, and then by the time it really heated up, […] fourth, sixth, seventh, we had to relocate,” said Arrington. “We had to go somewhere else.”

Principal Gail Barnes released a statement on Monday, explaining both the causes of and solution to the problem. 

“Concerning the HVAC at Chamblee HS, we have had issues with the motor on the cooling tower.  It is back up and running until we get a new motor installed,” said Barnes. “The new motor is due here later today or tomorrow and it will be replaced at that time.  We have 60 portable HVAC units onsite in to assist with the cooling of the building.”

As a result of both the new motor and the portable units, those in charge are beginning to remedy the situation.

“[The AC was basically] nonexistent until today, but [it’s] a lot better today,” said social studies teacher Theresa Abernathy. “We have one of these portable units in my room, so we’re okay. We’re doing fine.”