Heat wave slams A/C biz

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 23, 2014

It’s not news to anyone in Alabama that there’s a heat wave on. And if you don’t believe it, ask the folks at Walker Electric.

“We’re slammed,” Cara Beste Russell said. “We don’t get much walk-in traffic here, but we had six people waiting for parts.”

Mike Beste said there are a few steps Southerners can take to avoid over taxing an air conditioning unit in extreme weather.

“First, check your filters,” he said. “The air conditioning cannot work very efficiently with dirty filters.”

To keep a home cooler, Beste recommends keeping windows covered.

“You may not realize that the majority of the heat that comes into your home comes in through your windows,” he said. “It’s called solar heat gain.

“To reduce that, close your blinds, drapes, curtains, whatever you have on your windows, and it will help.”

When the temperatures reach their highest in the middle of the day, it’s more difficult to reduce the temperature inside the house, he said.

“In the morning time of the day, say before 9, go ahead and cut your temperature down a little bit,” he said. “Normally, that will pull the temperature down a little bit.”

Most units can’t reduce the inside temperature much when it’s 100 degrees, he said. Cooling the home earlier in the day means the temperature swing in the hottest part of the day is not as drastic, he said.

Finally, keeping an air conditioning system serviced is important.

“There are coils that need cleaning, and a refrigerant charge that needs checking,” he said. “These things, if your system is off a little bit, can cause problems, and extremely hot weather exacerbates it.

Normally, it takes a couple of days of really hot weather before people start seeing the effects of it, he said. They might think it’s a little warm the first day, but the next day, they’ll now for sure.

Extreme heat also limits the work that technicians can do, he said.

“The only time we can go into attics is early in the morning, sometimes until lunchtime,” he said. “You can’t stay in the heat of the day, it’s too brutal.”