Air-conditioning equipment shortage leads to long wait times

Alex Gladden
Fort Smith Times Record
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on a shortage of air-conditioning equipment. It could take over six weeks to get parts for some repairs.

Factories being shut down during the pandemic caused a shortage of air-conditioning equipment.

“If we have a real hot summer, we could get desperate," said Chuck Hooks, the service manager at Blaylock Heating & Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Drain Cleaning in Fort Smith.

The factory shutdown has led to a dearth of air-conditioning equipment not just in Arkansas but throughout the United States, Hooks said.

“There’s a big demand and a big shortage for pretty much everything to do with our field right now," said Michael Lytle, the commercial project manager for Wilson's Heating & Air Conditioning in Van Buren.

Lytle said there is also a shortage of metals for ductwork and air-conditioning equipment, which has caused prices to steadily increase.

Michael Roberts, the owner of Roberts Heat and Air in Booneville, said that he has had trouble getting parts for the last year.

Equipment that was taking two to four weeks to come in is now taking six to 24 weeks to arrive, Hooks said.

Equipment that was taking two to four weeks to come in is now taking six to 24 weeks to arrive. When minor clatters and buzzes start up, an A/C can often be repaired, but louder sounds like screeching, groaning, rattling, knocking or scraping may mean you need a replacement.

“It will get worse before it gets better is my understanding," Hooks said.

Hooks has his equipment delivered from factories in the United States but said that the situation is even worse for people who receive equipment from overseas.

Because of the coronavirus, the United States would not let ships dock and unload their supplies.

Hooks recommends that people have a technician examine their air conditioning units before it gets too hot.

“If it was just kind of limping along at the end of last summer, they need to be looking ahead," Hooks said.

Lytle said that people should always get their air-conditioning units checked in the spring and their heaters checked in the fall.

“If it’s on its last leg, I would recommend looking at replacement before it quits on July 4 and it’s 98 degrees," Hooks said.

If people wait until their air-conditioning units go out, they could be waiting weeks for them to get fixed in the hot Arkansas summer.

Roberts said that people need to take better care of their air-conditioning units this summer.

A lot of the actions people can take are simple fixes, such as changing their air filters. Roberts recommended that people change their air filters each month when they pay their electric bills.

Not only is there a shortage of air-conditioning equipment, but there is also a shortage of people working in heat and air, Roberts said. He has had trouble finding help for the past three or four years.

Chuck Hooks, a service manager at Blaylock Heating & Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Drain Cleaning, said there is a shortage of air-conditioning unit parts.