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Don't push your A/C unit to the max; repair prices are skyrocketing, replacement parts in short supply

"Some equipment is taking as long as three or four weeks."

HOUSTON — As we sweat our way toward the official start of summer, here's a warning to not push your air conditioning unit to its breaking point. Between supply shortages and skyrocketing prices, it could take weeks to get it fixed.

“We’re seeing shortages just like many other industries are,” Brian Jackson said.

Jackson is the HVAC Manager for Village Plumbing and Air.

On Monday afternoon, the West University business received a couple of boxes of air conditioning unit compressors. The local business is ordering as many parts and supplies as it braces for a second summer in the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Like other industries, the heating and cooling industry is dealing with a run on raw materials like steel, copper and aluminum.

The pandemic has forced factories overseas to close, which sparked a shortage of microchips and circuit boards.

“We’re all used to having everything on the shelf and readily available. Now it’s slowing down,” Jackson said about of the supplies needed to repair and build air conditioning units. “There is some equipment that we can get within a day or two. Some equipment is taking as long as three or four weeks.”

Air conditioning service companies are also dealing with a seasonal shortage of trained and licensed technicians. So it could take days before a technician is even able to respond to a call. Then there are the skyrocketing prices from suppliers, an issue also related to the pandemic.

“Their prices are going up. Freight prices are going up. Everything is going up,” Jackson said while warning consumers to brace for sticker shock this summer. “We’re just doing the best we can.”

Air conditioning service companies are preparing for a scorcher of a summer. They’re hoping homeowners are, too.

“Good maintenance is the best thing you can do to prevent breakdowns. Now that we’ve got this heat, we’re almost past maintenance season and we just hope everybody can get through this,” Jackson said.

How to extend the life of your air conditioning unit:

So get your air conditioning unit checked out by a licensed professional as soon as possible. Jackson also recommends you manage expectations when it comes to setting your thermostat. During the summer months, your unit will only be able to cool air to about 20 degrees cooler than outdoor temperatures. So if it’s 95 degrees, your unit will able to continuously cool air to 75 degrees. Setting your thermostat to a temperature beyond that 20-degree difference will waste electricity and make your equipment run for no reason.

Closing your blinds and curtains will help keep your home cooler for longer.

Only keep your ceiling fan on when you’re in the room. All a fan does is move air. It doesn’t cool your home.

If you have an older air conditioning unit, you might consider purchasing a portable window unit as a sort of insurance. Just in case your outdoor unit goes out, you can use the window unit until a technician can get to your home.