A/C units breaking in FoCo summer heat: Why and how to protect yours

Ben Lacina

(Forsyth County, GA) When a quick walk to your car has sweat beading on your forehead, you know it’s a Georgia summer. While air conditioners are a homeowner’s best defense against the sweltering temperatures, this is also the time when they are the most susceptible to breaking.

Data from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information confirms what every Georgian knows as soon as they open the front door: it’s been really hot.

According to the NOAA, last month was the 12th warmest June in Georgia since this climate data first began being tracked in 1895. Georgia is not alone, however, as the globe in its entirety just had its ninth warmest May in 143 years and is on pace for what would be the sixth warmest year ever recorded.

This is readily apparent in Forsyth County where the average temperature in June was just shy of 90 degrees. Eight days surpassed the 95 degrees mark with a couple reaching the 98 degree high for the month.

When our bubble bursts

Needless to say, the air conditioning in people’s homes is one of the main barriers to maintaining comfort despite the temperature. Once this barrier is broken, homeowners are largely at the mercy of the heat.

“It was brutal,” said Julie Hall, whose air conditioning unit was broken for two days in May. “My daughter and her cat had to go stay with my mom.”

Hall says her old A/C unit was sputtering toward its end and had to be serviced eight times in the year leading up to her replacing it. Just two days before it was scheduled to be replaced, the old unit broke for good. Temperatures in some places of her house reached the upper 80s.

Hall and her family are not alone. HVAC technicians say the hottest points of the year are when your AC units are most likely to break.

“The hotter it is outside, the more the A/C system must run without a break,” said Tabitha Weaver, the Director of Marketing & Business Development at Gainesville Mechanical, Inc. “If there are any issues or potential issues with the system, they are more likely to show themselves when under a heavy load.”

She emphasizes that while it’s not the extreme heat itself that is damaging the A/C units, the longer they have to work, the more often issues can arise. Although new problems can appear at any time, she says your best bet is fixing the issues that can be exacerbated by the extreme heat before the temperatures start to rise.

A/C technician working on an A/C unit(Photo/Gainesville Mechanical, Inc. Facebook Page)

How to beat the heat

“The best thing that people can do to prevent a system failure is to perform routine maintenance on [it],” said Weaver. She compares it to getting your car tuned up before a big road trip.

“You are about to put it to the test, and you don’t want to end up broken down on the side of the road. Your A/C is no different.”

One level of maintenance homeowners can do themselves is changing or cleaning their A/C unit’s air filter. If the air filter is dirty or clogged, the unit is having to work much harder to cool your home, increasing the risk of something within the unit going awry.

Reach out to your local HVAC experts to see what maintenance should be done to best ensure a cool house no matter the weather. Take it from Hall, the alternative is less than ideal.

Weaver says they do their best to provide year-round same day service, but supply chain issues have left many people waiting in the heat for parts to be shipped in from elsewhere that are typically available locally.

These parts are more expensive than they once were as well, so while Hall was fortunate enough to have a replacement A/C unit installed in just a couple of days, it ultimately was $11,000 out of her pocket.

If you are stuck with a broken A/C unit, maintain as much air flow in your home as possible with fans. Weaver recommends staying hydrated and avoiding indoor cooking. She says Gainesville Mechanical, Inc. even has a small supply of portable air conditioners to lend out on a case-by-case basis for extreme emergencies.

But all of these reactive measures amidst the heat can be swapped out for proactive ones beforehand.

“Most people don’t think about their air conditioner unless it stops working. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Weaver.

If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact Ben Lacina at benjaminclacina@gmail.com.

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Ben Lacina's writing experience allows him to tackle a myriad of subjects and stories. His background in science helps him use his writing experience to translate complicated topics into understandable content for a wide audience.

Athens, GA

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