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Roof work extra hot for air conditioning repair guys

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Roof work extra hot for air conditioning repair guys

Air conditioners will get their first major workout of the year today through Sunday.


POSTED June 7, 2013 12:52 a.m.

It’s not the dark roofs that bother Ed Kramer.

Even the pitch black ones – the ones that seem to pull in all of the available sunlight like a whirlpool does water – are something that he and fellow HVAC technicians have gotten used to when working on residential air conditioning units.

It’s the white ones – the ones that reflect the sun – that pose the biggest risk when exposed to the elements. Because it’s with those that you’re susceptible to light that’s both coming and going, and it’s easy to burn when the closest shade is 15 feet below you.

And right now, with the heat wave that’s rolling through Northern California, Kramer and his crew of four technicians at Virginia Mechanical are at their busiest – taking care of the minor tweaks and major repairs that people need to make sure that they don’t bake.

But much like a car, Kramer says that he sees too many customers that take routine maintenance for granted.

The Bulletin chatted with Kramer to find out what people need to know about keeping their air conditioning units operable in the extreme heat:

Do you see a lot of people that never check their systems?

“All the time. It’s like people that buy new cars and don’t check their systems for five or six years and think that it’s going to just keep running on its own. Sometimes it does, but it’s designed to have regular maintenance. Getting that performed will end up saving people money in the long run.”

How do you personally beat the heat when you’re up on the roof?

“That’s the most challenging thing about the job. You’ve got to make sure that you’ve got the right protection when you’re up on a white roof because of the reflection that comes back into your face, and I always tell our guys that when they feel like they’re getting too hot to come down, grab some shade and take a drink. Then get back up there and go at it again. Sometimes that cycle repeats itself a couple of times.”

What do people need to know in order to avoid the costly repairs?

“Take advantage of the early season maintenance plans that nearly every shop offers. People don’t think about it and then they turn on their air conditioner and find that it’s blowing warm air, and by then there are too many other people in front of them. We get really booked up in the hot months, so taking advantage of those early deals is important.”

What’s the most complicated aspect of the job?

“Sometimes it’s just trying to figure out what it is that the customer is describing. The systems can be very complicated – especially the older ones since the new ones have self-diagnostic capabilities – and sometimes you have to search for what the problem is. Our new guys will open up an older unit sometimes and just see a bunch of wires that all look the same color and a bunch of relays. That’s kind of my specialty.”

What kind of maintenance do you need to do regularly?

“Changed the filter regularly. It’ll improve the efficiency of the unit and prevent us having to come out and tell you that you need to replace your unit. You don’t want that.”

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