Originally created 08/04/06

Air conditioners groan



Air conditioners were straining and motorists complaining this week as hot weather wilted the Garden City.

It was a busy time for car repairmen. High temperatures can cause car engines to overheat and auto air conditioners to fail, two common problems cited to the AAA auto club's emergency assistance center. Judy Reville, division manager of the Augusta office, said that motorists can head off problems by getting vehicles checked out before the weather gets sticky.

"I took mine this morning for a checkup across the street. ... I asked them to check my hoses and everything. This is a time you don't want your air conditioning to go out," she said.

Local mechanics say customers are calling about their air conditioners.

"It seems like they've gone all summer without it, and now they say, 'Well I just can't take it anymore,'" said Rick Keller, owner of Peach Orchard Tire & Auto Care in Augusta.

Residential air conditioners are needing help, too.

"If there is a marginal weakness - if (the system's) slightly undercharged - it exposes it under a bigger load like this," said Greg Connell, owner of A. Connell's Appliance Heating and Air in Martinez, which also serves Augusta, North Augusta and Aiken. This week's rising heat index has meant air-conditioning systems are operating longer and are therefore more prone to malfunction, he said.

The cost of running air conditioning during the hot months is a strain for some, but they can find relief in a program called Project Share.

Last year, the joint effort between Georgia Power and the Salvation Army helped 50,000 of the utility's customers make payments toward electric bills by using $2.3 million donated by other customers, according to Tiffany Gilstrap, Georgia Power spokeswoman.

Project Share funds remain in the county of the donor, she said. Information about the program is available at (800) 25 SHARE.

Most people seemed to be following advice to avoid heat stress.

"There (hasn't been) an increase in the incidence of people with heat-related conditions coming into our emergency department," said Deborah Humphrey, spokeswoman for the Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

Animal companions faced a different challenge.

The Columbia County Humane Society has decided to suspend pet adoptions for the month, said chapter president Donna Evans.

Mrs. Evans cited the stress an animal experiences when relocated to a new home, the heat and a measure of uncertainty about whether a pet will be kept indoors out of the sun, as factors in the decision.

Scott Trubey of the Columbia County Bureau contributed to this report.

Reach Nathan Dickinson at (706) 828-3904 or nathan.dickinson@augustachronicle.com.

WEEKEND FORECAST


Today: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain; high in upper 90s with heat index of 105 to 108


Saturday: Cooler with partly cloudy skies and a 40 percent chance of rain; high in low 90s


Sunday: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain; high in low 90s.

Source: National Weather Service