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A/C services in high demand as heat wave hits Utah

Posted at 4:43 PM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 19:51:51-04

SALT LAKE CITY — With the record-breaking heat wave sweeping across Utah, businesses like Black Diamond Experts, an electric, plumbing and HVAC service company, are also breaking records. Their CEO, Dan James, tells FOX 13 they are booked out for a week and are taking a record number of calls as people scramble to get their A/C units repaired.

"This has been a really interesting year," James said. "I mean, to get this hot this early in the year isn't super common."

TODAY'S FORECAST: Utah experiencing a heat wave, record high temperatures continue

Like many across northern Utah, North Salt Lake resident Carol Jaynes has been waiting weeks for her system to get fixed.

"Last year we had it, it was working really good," Jaynes said. "We even had a part replaced on it. It was doing really good, and we went to turn it on this year and nothing."

She and her fiancé have had to get creative to beat the heat.

"We have fans going, we have slept with towels on our neck, over our face," she added. "My dogs are even having a hard time with the heat."

READ: Here's how Utahns can keep themselves and others safe during heat wave

James said current jobs range from simple maintenance and repairs to full A/C replacements.

"We see a lot of the capacitors that get the motors to start to go out, or sometimes the blower motor on the top that kind of filters the air through there," he added.

To make matters worse, global supply chain disruptions are causing the price of HVAC materials to skyrocket.

"Pricing has gone way up and the supply has been limited. HVAC is included in that," James said. "That actually started during COVID, and now that everybody is getting out of COVID, the demand has gotten so high, and the supply chain just can't keep up with it."

According to James, a spool of copper wire needed for A/C systems cost him $60 in June of last year. Today that same spool is more than $200.

The Commodities Exchange Index (COMEX) priced copper at $2.80 per pound in June of 2020, and now the price is up more than 160% to $4.66 per pound. James said he does not anticipate prices falling anytime soon.

"Getting something done today is going to be less expensive than at the end of summer or next year, and it doesn't look like it's going to change for the next couple of years the way it's going right now," he said.

READ: Rocky Mountain Power prepared for outages during Utah heat wave

When the pandemic hit economies and supply chains hard last year, James pre-purchased a large amount of HVAC supplies, anticipating the shortage -- a move that has kept Black Diamond Experts competitive during this surge in demand.

"We've been strategically purchasing a lot of different A/Cs and furnaces and coils to make sure we're ready when the time comes, and our customer needs it," James added.

He said keeping up on simple repairs throughout the year can help prevent a complete breakdown when temperatures are as high as they are now.

"I look at it like a car," James said. "I mean, if you don't get your oil changed and get those tune ups done on it, it's just a matter of time before something's going to go wrong. Same thing with HVAC equipment."

For those still stuck without A/C, Salt Lake County has set up more than 50 "Cool Zones" around the Salt Lake Valley to help residents escape the heat. They can be found at county libraries, senior centers and recreational facilities.