Heat wave puts strain on air conditioners

Keep the area around your central air unit clear of dirt, weeds, and debris.

CLIO, Mich. - The late June and early July extended heat wave has put air conditioners to the test.

Cooling companies say they're overwhelmed with calls from people whose homes are a little too toasty.

"We are off the hook with calls, I think that goes for every heating and cooling company around," said Jeff Lee from Holland Heating and Cooling.

He says there's a few reasons why your air might not work in peak heat.

"The air conditioner not working at all, which sometimes comes down to low refrigerant levels, there's a way to check that just by looking at the unit. Sometimes it's something as simple as a capacitor. Other times it's just a dead AC unit," explained Lee.

Lee says you should remove weeds and dirt from around your outside unit to keep it working well.

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You can also check the pipes for signs of a problem.

"If for some reason you start out with having cool air and then it seems to stop, go outside and take a peek at your unit especially the pipes that run into your house. If you noticed that those pipes are frosted, they are not supposed to be frosted that's usually an indication of bad air flow or low refrigerant so you need to have the unit repaired," said Lee.

Don’t forget about changing the furnace filter, even during the summer.

"We tend not to think about the furnace because we're dealing with central air. But it's the furnace duct work and the furnace that propels the central air through the house, so having a clean filter is imperative," described Lee.

"We have seen quite a bit of a jump in sales, and the air conditioners and everything else a lot of places have been running out," said Bill Rickley, assistant manager at Gill-Roy’s Hardware in Clio.

He says sales of portable AC units are sizzling just like the temperatures outside.

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"We've seen an increase to where we have to order a lot more, we order them twice a week now,” said Rickley.

Lee says portable AC is a good alternative if you don't have central air, but make sure it's the right size.

"The key is sizing them properly so that they cycle on and off rather than getting one too small that runs forever and drives your utility bills just crazy," said Lee.

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