OCEAN CITY – With this week’s spike in the summer heat and the increased need for air-conditioning, local HVAC companies reported a rise in business.
Arctic Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Service and 1st Service Company, two of the larger companies in the area, are two businesses who have literally been feeling the heat this week.
According to Russell Queen, owner of Arctic, the sudden rise in temperatures meant a sudden rise in the demand for AC unit repairs.
“It definitely puts a strain on us,” he said.
Queen explained that the increase in temperature makes it difficult on the employees as business increases and as the conditions that they work in worsen.
According to Queen, the heat can be extremely difficult on employees as they work in the heat on roofs and in attics and other confined areas. Although air conditioning is in all of the work trucks, employees still face intense heat all day long. To avoid overheating, Queen provides his employees with plenty of water bottles. He also added that ice packs are provided but they become cumbersome while working.
“You can only go so far on a hot roof,” Queen said.
Jim Hinds, co-owner of 1st Service, agreed that the heat takes a toll on employees.
“It’s hard because a lot of the indoor units are in attics, which can reach temperatures of 150 to 160 degrees,” Hinds said.
With temperatures that severe, it’s no wonder dehydration is a concern for Hinds. He explained that sometimes drinking plenty of fluids isn’t enough to prevent dehydration.
“Employers have got to look out for their employees,” Hinds emphasized as he explained the measures they take to keep workers cool.
Hinds said his company provides plenty of ice, coolers of water and bottled drinks to keep the employees cool and hydrated. They also provide fans for employees to set up on the job site. Hinds added that being offered a cool drink while on a service call could also be helpful to the employees.
The rise in heat not only affects the employees, but the number of service calls as well.
“We’re keeping all 30 employees busy,” Queen said.
Although Queen feels that the overtime has not been as high as last year, they are still receiving a steady flow of service calls.
According to Queen, with construction falling aside there have been more contractors available for service calls. Although this means a slight decrease in business, Queen feels it makes things easier on the employees and allows the workers to provide better service on each individual call.
Hinds explained that the majority of service calls are in reference to leaks within the systems. Hinds attributed that to older systems that have not been properly maintained. Hinds suggested that people have a maintenance agreement with their air conditioning contractor that requires the units to be checked twice a year. This will prevent unit failures when the heat waves hit.
Hinds also explained that changing filters in AC units could prevent the problems that are seen during the heat waves.
Another problem that is common during the heat wave is overbooking. Hinds explained that people become impatient with the heat, calling two to three HVAC contractors at one time. The result is three contractors arriving for one job. Although Hinds noted that it had not been a major problem so far, he said it was one issue that only adds to the stress of the heat.
Business has increased the past few days, Hinds explained, adding that the number of service calls doubles from a normal day to a hot day.