Over-Worked Air Conditioners and Repairmen

July 22, 2009 6:32:05 PM PDT
Air conditioning can make you forget we're in the middle of this heat wave, but persistent highs in the 100s have knocked a lot of units out of service. The worst-case scenario during a Valley heat wave is an air conditioner on the fritz."It was just too hot," said Diana Diaz, whose air conditioning unit went down on Friday, the fourth day in a row with a high temperature above 100. "It was unbearable. I don't know how anyone lives with no A-C." Diaz checked her family into the Best Budget Inn on Blackstone after her air conditioner broke and the temperature in her house got up to 92 degrees. Five days later, she's in a hurry to get home. She said, "To sleep in your own bed," she said. "To just walk into your own kitchen, have a cup of coffee."

That's Eric Marturana's job: getting people back into the air-conditioned comfort of their homes. "You feel like a doctor that just saved their buddy's life, you know, when you fix their air when it's that hot," he said.

The average air conditioner lasts 20 years. We found one that lasted 21, but on Sunday -- when the temperature reached 112 degrees -- it went out for the last time. But that northeast Fresno home was not one of the worst. With fans running in two rooms, the thermostat only reached the low 80s inside. But repair guys spend hours every day dripping with sweat. "Some attics are worse than others, but attics get hot," said Marturana. "I did a remodel the other day, put my thermometer up and it was 150 degrees in the attic. I had to be up there for an hour."

Hiding from the heat isn't always as easy as going to a hotel. Playland's splash park is an easy place to cool off, but while a few kids got soaked Wednesday afternoon, many of the rides ran empty because of the heat, and the park closed 2 1/2 hours early. Park employees went home early, but Marturana worked into the night. He was on another 13-hour shift, his sweat keeping the rest of us from overheating.

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