OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Rocky Florez feels like he’s the one overheating this summer.
The owner of Elite Heating and Air in Kansas City, Kansas, has been servicing air conditioners all across the metro. This summer, fixing those units is taking longer than normal because of a production delay on parts.
“When we’re waiting, the customer is waiting and the customer is hot,” Florez explained. “It’s a vicious cycle.”
He said anything made from copper or aluminum is back-ordered. Control panels that contain semiconductor chips are delayed. Condenser coils are all hard to come by, and even air filters take months to receive.
“I have never seen it this bad,” explained Sue Burke, the owner of Kansas City Air Filter Company, who’s worked in the industry for nearly 40 years.
It’s so bad manufacturers are sending letters to wholesalers like Burke explaining why production is behind and how it leads to a price increase.
First, many filters are made of the same material as surgical face masks, which took priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. Residential and commercial customers wanted highly rated MERV13 filters which capture droplets of the coronavirus out of the air. That demand caused production delays for that particular model and others.
Now that raw materials are more available, other reasons are impacting both the supply of filters and AC parts, including shipping bottlenecks and delays at ports and worker shortages.
KC Air Filter Company has a current job opening.
“People suddenly became aware of indoor air quality and wanted better filters,” Burke said.
Her advice for customers today is to order filters months in advance and focus on ventilation instead of filtration if you can’t get your hands on a filter immediately.
Florez suggests customers give their air conditioning units a break whenever possible and keep them clean by running a hose over the outdoor unit. Hardest of all, he asks customers to be patient.