Don’t Lose Your Cool: Summer is the Peak Time for AC Breakdowns

AC and Refrigeration Failures

AC and Refrigeration Failures

Contributed by Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company

The hotter the weather, the harder air conditioning equipment must work, increasing the risk of equipment breakdowns. Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company (HSB) claim records show the highest number of residential air conditioning failures are reported in June and commercial losses in July. The average cost of repairs and related expenses is $5,145 for homeowners and $21,404 for business, industry and public institutions, according to HSB’s data.

“Don’t wait for a heat wave and an unexpected breakdown to focus on your equipment,” said Michael Bove, HSB senior vice president for engineering. “Keep up with air conditioning maintenance and contract with a repair company that will respond to your call.”

Residential AC Failures

Residential AC Failures

Air conditioning claims increase in the spring when air conditioning equipment is started up and spike in the hottest months. Most failures occur when equipment is started after a long layoff or cycles rapidly on and off in hot weather.

There are regional variations, however, in the pattern of breakdowns – and it might not be what you would expect. In the South, where air conditioning runs longer during the year, systems are designed for heavy loads and have fewer stops and starts to stress equipment. In the upper Midwest or Northeast, equipment may sit idle for months, begin to deteriorate, and then be started up several times over a season, such as an early spring or a hot spell in late autumn.

“Think of an automobile on cruise control, traveling long distances on a smooth, flat highway,” explained Bove. “Now, compare that with the stop and go of a rush-hour commute. Hotter days are like driving up hill in heavy traffic. It really takes a toll on equipment.”

The chart to the right is based on several years of HSB claims and shows residential air conditioning breakdowns by month and region. Home equipment is constantly cycling on and off, which strains the system.

Commercial AC Failures

Commercial AC Failures

The next chart shows commercial air conditioning and refrigeration claims follow a similar pattern. There are fewer regional differences since commercial cooling equipment may be operated year-round and systems are usually better maintained.

In the future, cooling equipment and the energy to operate it will become more important. Air conditioning and refrigeration claims can result in higher equipment repair and replacement costs, business interruption, spoilage claims and lost customers.

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