Peak time. An AC technician at a Sharjah workshop attends to one of several units that have been assigned to him for urgent repair Image Credit: ATIQ UR REHMAN/XPRESS

Dubai: Hot, humid weather in the UAE has kept air-conditioning or AC technicians on their toes over the past few days as they cater to a sharp increase in the number of calls for service and repair.

AC maintenance companies reported a 100 per cent jump in demand over the past week alone while residents grappled with stifling conditions in homes and offices. According to the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), temperatures hovered between 45 and 49 degrees Celsius, with humidity reaching 90 per cent in internal areas and 95 per cent along the coast during the week.

Busy period

Zafeer Sarwar, marketing manager of RST Technical Services in Dubai, said the demand for AC repair has doubled in recent days. “Our technicians have been very busy as they have been attending to many central and split AC breakdowns. Daytime temperatures are too high for the units and extensive use of glass isn’t helping matters as the sunlight is reflected inside.”

Sarwar said, “We advise people to run their air-conditioners at not more than 24-26 degree Celsius and set them in automatic mode as that will allow the compressor to rest and improve the unit’s performance.”

Mohammad, a salesman in a Sharjah company, said: “There has been a 100 per cent increase in demand for our services this last week for both window and split AC units. We are now repairing anywhere between 45-50 units a day, as against 20-25 units at other times.”

Colin Thomas, partner, Jim Will Fix It, said the common complaints included inadequate cooling, breakdowns, bad smell, water leaks and high bills.

“As the summer heat is currently at its worst, all ACs are working at their maximum level irrespective of the type (split/ window/ package or chilled water). As a result, they will not be able to cool effectively and hence this is the most common complaint. If an AC has not been maintained properly or is simply having to work very hard due to the weather conditions or incorrect specification for the area being cooled, it is much more likely to fail. Whilst all types of AC can fail, the causes of the failures can be very different.”

He said bad smell is another issue as not all air-conditioning repair companies in the UAE offer specialist coil cleaning or duct cleaning services.

“Over time coils and ducts get dirty from fine dust particles in the air which when combined with the condensation of the cooling process, can create mould and bacteria that can lead to illness for the occupants.”

Similarly, there are many water leaks usually caused by either blocked AC waste pipes or blocked evaporator coils.

“As part of a comprehensive service, the waste pipes should be cleaned and unblocked and coil conditions monitored.”

Thomas said complaints abot high bills were more common with chilled water ACs which are used in most apartment buildings and a few villas.

“This is often caused by failed actuators causing the chilled water supply to continue flowing into an apartment unregulated leading to very high consumption. As part of the standard servicing procedures a specialist chilled water AC technician will be able to spot this.”

 

High ambient temperature

AC breakdown due to high ambient temperature has its reasons.

Mashkoor Hasan, managing director of Dubai-based Rapid Cool Industries, which manufactures heating, ventilation and AC equipment, said there are two major reasons why the air-conditioning system fails in high ambient temperature.

“Due to high ambient temperature, the refrigerant which absorbs heat from conditioned space does not get proper cooling and hence it is not liquefied to be expanded to the cooling coils of the unit inside the conditioned space. This results in the malfunctioning of expansion valves which need to be replaced or repaired.”

He said various electrical components such as contactors and limit switches also get overheated and start malfunctioning.

The key to the efficient functioning of an air-conditioner lies in its maintenance.

Thomas said, “Get your ACs regularly serviced. If you live in a property with chilled water ACs, this can be twice a year or if your ACs are split type, then they may need to be serviced every 4 months to keep them operating efficiently. As the mechanical part of your ACs is hidden from sight, it is easy to have an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to your ACs, but in truth this causes unreliability when you need them most.

“The second piece of advice is ‘you get what you pay for’ when it comes to ACs,” he said, noting that one must take the service of competent and qualified technicians who are able to provide a warranty for all service or repair work that they undertake.

 

 

Maintenance is the Key

Get your AC checked and serviced before summer sets in

Get the air filter changed to ensure maximum air flow and cooling temperatures. Footfall and shedding pets tend to clog filters faster

Use programmable thermostat to control the air and save energy

Make sure the compressor outside is free as air flow must be smooth

Closing off too many vents can hamper circulation

 

Common complaints:

Inadequate cooling

Breakdown

Bad smell

Water leak

High bill

Power problem

Abnormal noise

 

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