Why AC Repairs Take Longer and Cost More in Texas

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Jerry Cline of Total Heating and Cooling works on an air conditioner in this file photo.

The Wichita Eagle

Searing heat is coming to Dallas-Fort Worth next week, with temperatures in the upper 90s in the triple digits. And there are signs that this summer could be much warmer than normal.

Better hope your air conditioner holds up.

Inflation, supply chain issues and labor shortages are hitting the air conditioning industry. You are likely to pay more than usual and wait longer for your air conditioner to be repaired or replaced.

Aaron Spears, HVAC Manager at DFW’s ABC Home and Commercial Services said the company began receiving an influx of air conditioning calls in mid-April. With the heat arriving so early this year, technicians are even busier and working later each day to keep up.

Spears says he visits seven to nine homes every day to fix air conditioners, when he would usually make about four or five house calls.

Prices for air conditioner parts have risen about 25% since 2020, Spears said. ABC primarily purchases equipment from Richardson-based Lennox Industries, which announced four price increases since 2021 “due to persistent cost inflation.”

This year alone, the company announced a 13% increase on commercial equipment and another 9% increase on residential and commercial equipment. This affected prices for indoor and outdoor air conditioning units, evaporator coils, thermostats and control boards, Spears said.

“We had to raise our prices, which upset a lot of customers,” Spears says. “We have increased our tickets for residential equipment by at least 20%, simply because we have to keep up with increases from builders. We are trying to cut costs in other areas to compensate, but we can only cut costs to a certain extent without cutting corners. So you have to raise prices, it’s the only way to stay in business.

Why are manufacturers raising prices in the first place?

The raw materials used to manufacture air conditioners such as aluminum, stainless steel and copper are rare. On top of that, some factories that make parts have been closed for over a year, so less equipment has been made. With these factories reopening, there are high costs to retrain workers and get everything back up and running.

“There are a myriad of different things that have been made scarce because the raw materials just weren’t there,” Spears said.

On average, AC parts orders take three to five business days to arrive, Spears says. Before the supply chain issues, it took one or two business days.

A shortage of workers, Spears said, means they have to work longer hours and customers sometimes have to wait longer for service. They are “pretty desperate” to fill about four positions, he says.

“There are a lot of guys who learn to do this job in school and work in the field for a few months, and they just don’t like it. It’s a very, very physically demanding job, you have to put yourself in environments that most people wouldn’t spend more than a few minutes in,” Spears says. “Anytime you’re in that type of environment the stress level goes up and your concentration level goes down, so it’s a tough job to do and I think that puts a lot of guys off.”

Tips for using/maintaining air conditioning during heat waves

Keeping your air conditioner in tip-top shape before it gets even hotter can ensure you’re prepared for late spring and summer temperatures. Here are ways to make sure you and your family stay cool in the heat.

  • Routine maintenance is the #1 way to avoid high prices and wait times, says Spears. Get a maintenance plan for your air conditioner, where a technician checks your air conditioning several times a year.
  • Look to see if the indoor temperature stays at what the thermostat is set to. If you set your thermostat to 72, but the house is at 76 and won’t go lower, it could mean a problem with the unit.
  • Capacitors tend to blow in extreme heat and prevent the air conditioner from working, Spears said, which accounts for the majority of calls they receive. To avoid this problem, be sure to clean the air conditioner coils which get dirty and can blow the capacitor. And make sure the capacitor is working at full capacity.
  • Be careful that the drain lines are not clogged, as this could interfere with the proper functioning of your air conditioner. Be sure to clean air conditioner filters and clear drains.
  • To make sure your electric bill doesn’t kill your bank account, try not to set your air conditioner below 75 degrees.

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Dalia Faheid is a reporter in Star-Telegram’s service journalism team. She is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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