Heat puts added demand on air-conditioner crews

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On a humid summerlike day, there's nothing quite so maddening as a malfunctioning air-conditioning system.

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Scott Petroff, of Doc Savage Heating & Air Conditioning, cleans an air-conditioning unit.   Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Scott Petroff, of Doc Savage Heating & Air Conditioning, cleans an air-conditioning unit.

"People will pay to be cool, no matter what," said Joe Savage, of Doc Savage Heating & Air Conditioning.

This year, high temperatures hit the Augusta area earlier than usual, and Savage said he and his workers started getting calls for repairs in April.

"This year started out better than average," he said. "The heat jumped up quickly in May and we got off to an early start."

Even though it's a semiseasonal business, Savage said, air conditioning is rarely something people try to go without.

"As long as people are miserable, I'm happy," he said. "That's fairly recession-proof."

Tony Duggan, the owner of Duggan Heating and Air, said this spring's early heat has helped keep business steady.

"We're always busy this time of year, but the workload started sooner this year, and that made it get more intense, quicker," he said.

The demand makes air-conditioning technicians valuable to people such as Duggan.

"We're always adding staff to meet the demand," he said.

Savage said that the most common problem in air-conditioning units is dirty coils or low refrigerant levels.

To prevent a system's breaking down right before a party or a record-high day, Savage recommended, get twice-yearly maintenance.

"Everybody hits the panic button when it gets past 90 degrees," he said.

Dale Lokey is a co-owner of Holliman's Air Service, and he agreed that maintenance is key.

Lokey preaches preventative maintenance, usually during the spring and fall. His technicians clean systems and check refrigerant levels, something that only licensed air-conditioning technicians can do.

"You want to make sure you get licensed, bonded and insured workers," Lokey said. "Not just anybody can fix your systems."

Savage said there's often a lot of urgency in the voices of customers who call about broken air units, mainly because there are few ways to make do without cool air during the summer.

"If your heater is broken, there are a lot of ways you can make yourself warm," he said. "With air conditioning, though, there's only so much you can do."


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