Be forewarned.  This post is going to sound a lot like an excuse.

But I assure you it’s not and I hope to bring attention to some very common misconceptions about HVAC and how it works.  Believe me, I understand your viewpoint.  It’s hot, your customers and employees are complaining, the health department is diligent about improper temperatures, and every time you call your service provider it feels like you’re calling in the same issue over, and over, and over again.

You’re not alone.

HVAC is an Infant Science

Let’s start with the basics; Air Conditioning went mainstream about 60 years ago.  I promise you that it hasn’t been perfected yet.  Not even close.  Look at it like this; the telescope was invented about 410 years ago and there is still a better model every year. My point is that we are at the mercy of the limitations bound by science and technology.  Right now HVAC is designed to work in a very specific way.

That way isn’t tested above 110 degree ambient temperature.

HVAC in Extreme Heat

Running an AC unit in 110 degree outside temp is the equivalent of driving a car 90 mph in 2nd gear.

A new car driving at 90 mph in second gear can probably go further than a one year-old car.  And that car can go further than a two year-old car.

Remind me, how old is your HVAC unit?

Two days ago, my service manager recorded a rooftop temp here in Phoenix at 167 degrees.  To be fair, the rooftop units sit 1-2 ft above the roof surface so the ambient temp was probably only about 145.

Do you understand my point?

Ok, that’s pretty obvious.  Let’s move on.

HVAC in the Elements

Take a look at these pictures and tell me what you see.

HVAC Haboob


Chances are, you have a Preventative Maintenance plan in place and you have screamed at your service provider once or twice because the filters were clogged and the coils were dirty.  Well, please reference the pictures above.  See the sand storm one?  Recently, three of those struck Phoenix in one week.  130 PM’s were done in the preceding month.  We lost 2 accounts and had 3 more screaming at us that the coils on their equipment were dirty “a month after your PM.”  Listen, I understand and sympathize with the frustration.  But if you think that dust didn’t do the same thing to your rooftop as it did to your car, sadly, you’re mistaken.  We are all at the mercy of mother nature.  And that will never change.

Same goes for monsoons, hurricanes, thunderstorms, etc.  Please try to understand that.

Humans are Fatally Flawed

Lastly, humans are fatally flawed.  According to the CDC, our cells begin to die at temps around 106 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remember when I said my service manager recorded 167 degree temps on the rooftop?  These guys spend 6-12 hours per day on that roof.  Now, don’t get me wrong, they are equipped and take all safety precautions, but that is detrimental to the human body.  Nobody’s brain can function at an optimal level in that environment.  Literally, no human, ever.  And Arizona techs are the Navy Seals of the HVAC industry.  The desert is the big leagues.  Although, I’d take 120 degrees and dry over 90 degrees and humid any day.  But the fact remains, human people are not designed to function in those temps.

Doesn’t matter the company, doesn’t matter the technology.  You will make the rounds every summer if you succumb to the perception that a quality service tech is incompetent in this heat.

So the next time you pick up the phone to make sure your service vendor knows that the customer is always right, remember the points I just made.  It won’t always absolve the company from blame, but it might help you realize that it’s not always the service company you’re battling. It’s physics, nature, and biology

Good luck.


Josh Zolin, CEO