NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Residents of South Carolina are no strangers to the summer heat and humidity, and there are few things that can ruin your day more than having your air conditioning break at one of the hottest times of the year.
TNT Heating and Air has been busy all season long fixing broken capacitors on A/C units throughout the Myrtle Beach area. Over June and July they have replaced about 200 capacitors on different air conditioning units.
Units like that of Paula Caruso, who came home from out of town to a very warm house.
"He [the repairman] knew exactly what it was when my husband called," Caruso said. "He said they have been going out like crazy this summer."
"This summer we have seen a lot more than usual. And we think just because of that extreme heat, that's what's causing it," Garrett Teed, sales manager at TNT Heating and Air, said. "It's one of the most common parts on an air conditioning system to go bad."
The capacitor functions similarly to your car's spark plug: it kick starts the compressor in an air conditioning unit. The problem is, high levels of heat lower the available voltage in an A/C's capacitor, preventing it from reaching the necessary charge to start your air conditioner from cooling your home.
Sometimes, it doesn't matter how new your unit is. In Caruso's case, her A/C unit was only a few years old.
"My house is brand new, it's only two years old, so it's not old at all," she said.
"Typically they can last up to four or five years," Teed said, but that isn't always the case. "I've seen them go bad in as little as six months, depending on how long it's been in the box or in the warehouse."
According to Teed, the heat is "typically how [capacitors] go. You can check them by doing preventative maintenance."
Teed recommends scheduling preventative maintenance in the spring and fall - before you will need to use your A/C or heating units - so that they can last through the entire season.
"When we do preventative maintenance … we can tell if [the capacitor] is weak. Which you always want to do before season hits," he said.
According to the Weather Channel, the average temperature for the Myrtle Beach area for the months of June and July are 84.5 and 87.6 degrees respectively. This year has been about five degrees warmer on average, but according to Teed it is the humidity that has been a bigger factor to the longevity to air conditioners.
""Humidity is a huge factor. This year we've had extreme humidity, you can almost cut it with a knife. It's been pretty bad. It puts more of a stress on the system," said Teed.
In addition to scheduling preventative maintenance, Teed recommended that people - especially those that live close to the ocean - rinse the outside of their A/C units with a garden hose once a week when they do regular lawn maintenance.
The salt from the ocean can line the cooling coils that transfer the heat from your home to outside. If salt collects on those coils it can insulate them, making them less effective and making your air conditioning work harder. This can not only decrease your air conditioning unit's lifespan, but increase your electric bill as well.
For more information or to schedule maintenance for your heating or cooling units you can call TNT Heating and Air or any of your local HVAC services.