Air conditioning units shut down in heat wave

FRESNO, Calif.

The rooftop is one place most of us do not want to be when the temperature tops 108 degrees. But for Alfredo Ramirez it is essentially his office.

Carolyn Cunningham noticed an issue with one of her two rooftop units when she returned from a weekend away from the heat. "We slept in the great room last night," she said. "Yes, we did, it was very, very hot."

Ramirez is a technician with Allbritten, an a/c repair company that's been in the valley for decades, he found the problem to be a broken motor. An issue he says can often be prevented with regular maintenance.

"One of the major factors is keeping the filter replaced," Ramirez said. "You've gotta change the filter. A lot of people don't and they wait until it's plugged. Once it's plugged you start creating a lot of issues within that unit."

Ramirez also says don't let companies play a pricing game, especially during a desperate time like a heat wave. "They want to upsell you," he said. "You've gotta be careful sometimes."

His company uses a book of standard prices, which include a flat-rate for labor. Other companies say do your homework before hiring. "Go out there, look them up," said Tom Howard, president of Lee's Air. "See if they have some reviews, see what those reviews are. Check the Better Business Bureau."

That advice might make you wait a bit longer to get someone working on your heat relief. But, it could save you. And remember, these crews are working hard under difficult circumstances.

"They wear long sleeves, which seems counterintuitive, but it actually helps them a lot," Howard said. "They're wearing wide brimmed hats. We provide them with ice, Gatorade and water.

"It gets to the point where it's a matter of stopping the technician at some point just so they can rest," he added. "So they don't get heat exhaustion."

Another thing to watch for, technician's say, if you have a ground-level a/c and a dog regular maintenance is extra important. They say fur along with dirt and other debris can get inside the unit and clog it up over time.

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