Air conditioning repair a cool business to be in now
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com July 28, 2012 11:06PM
Jim Loomis of J & L Mechanical Service cleans the coils on one of the four air conditioning units at Member Source Credit Union in Merrillville Friday afternoon during a routine maintenance call. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 30, 2012 6:02AM
Staying cool was paramount during the recent heat wave, so local heating and cooling businesses had to work overtime to repair or replace units that couldn’t handle the triple-digit temperatures.
Pat Popa, owner of Popa Heating and Cooling in Highland, compared the fury of activity to running away from someone swinging a baseball bat.
“We’re just catching up now,” Popa said. “We’ve been very busy since we had that first heat wave in March,” Popa said. “One day it was like, ‘the doctor is not taking any new patients,’ so we couldn’t respond to people who aren’t regular service customers.”
Ken Dzunda, president of Parkway Mechanical Inc., laughed when asked about the uptick in business.
“We got a lot of business, and it’s because people do not maintain their equipment,” Dzunda said. “When temperatures get up to 95 or 100, the equipment says, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ and it shuts down. We do what we can to get it to the point where it can breathe, but we have a lot of follow-up visits.”
Jim Loomis, president of J&L Mechanical Heating and Air Conditioning, said routine maintenance calls came in early spring, but recently his business has been bombarded.
“I think our calls have been up 200 percent,” Loomis said. “When it’s already into the heat of the day, the air conditioner just can’t handle it if it hasn’t been maintained.”
Popa said air conditioners need an annual checkup, where the outside of the unit is cleaned, the filter is changed, coils are cleaned, and electrical connections are tested.
“We always recommend have regular maintenance,” Popa said. “You can’t put it off and expect the air conditioner to run well.”
Dzunda said that the economic downturn caused some businesses to cancel their service contracts, but the hot weather can make small problems worse.
“In the preseason, we clean the equipment, make sure it’s working properly, and we don’t hear from them,” Dzunda said. “Some companies didn’t continue their contracts in the downturn, and now they’re paying overtime, and new compressors cost thousands of dollars. So who’s better off?”
Beyond annual maintenance visits, homeowners and business owners can keep their air conditioning units running smoothly by changing the filter regularly and clearing off debris from the outside of the unit.
“The biggest thing is change the filter,” Popa said. “If you put a flashlight on it and you can’t see through it, it’s time for a change. The inexpensive filters are the best; the pleated ones can restrict air flow.”