It breaks ? Industry experts say you could be stuck in the heat for a while

As temperatures soar and the United States enters what is considered the summer dog dayssome people find that getting their air conditioning repaired isn’t as simple as getting a repair appointment.

Industry experts say several factors are causing installations and repairs to slow down across the country.

A combination of a lack of parts and technicians to do the job are two of the main obstacles that could prevent some from beating the heat.

“We have supply chain issues, and it continues across the industry. It could be the system or just a component that failed, and some components come from the Asia-Pacific region. If there are transportation issues, it delays the production of the unit,” said David Kesterton, general manager of Mingledorff’s Inc., an Atlanta-based HVAC distributor.

When parts are in stock, finding a technician can be another part of the battle.

Kesterton said fewer technicians are entering the industry, which means the voids created by retiring workers are not being filled at a rate that keeps pace with demand.

“Companies are probably booked 2-3 weeks because of all the heat we’ve had,” Kesterton said.

Gregg D’Attile, president and general manager of Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric in South Florida, said his business hasn’t been hit as hard by summer demand, but expects running on crucial parts could get worse.

“We expect a huge shortage of equipment over the next three months,” D’Attile said.

The vice president of the South Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association said his company has been working with homeowners to provide temporary solutions until replacement parts arrive to keep homes bearable during the heat.

In some cases, technicians are able to slow leaks and install window units until replacement parts arrive and the AC units are humming again.

After the parts are installed, consumers might be shocked by the stickers after looking at the repair bill.

The two industry experts warn that the cost of refrigerant has skyrocketed, thanks to government restrictions on production and a move towards what are seen as more environmentally friendly alternatives.

D’Attile said refrigerants can sell for between $90 and $150 a pound, and many residential units require several pounds to keep the air cool.

Many potential problems with air conditioning units can be discovered by technicians during maintenance before busy cooling and heating seasons.

“Maintenance makes equipment work better. Units need at least two visits a year to keep the system clean,” D’attile said.

According to the US Department of Energy proper maintenance will help keep your home cooler and save you up to 15% on energy consumption.

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