07/08/10 — Hot enough for you?

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Hot enough for you?

By Staff And Wire Reports
Published in News on July 8, 2010 1:46 PM

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George King, of Jackson and Sons Heating and Air, has been working hard for the past several weeks as the temperature climbs into the upper 90s. His house calls have increased considerably, he says, since the near-100-degree days as air conditioning units struggle to keep area homes cool.

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Linda Neal does her best to keep cool in her apartment complex pool as the temperatures climb over 100 degrees. "It feels like I am lying on a grill," Miss Neal said as she paddled her floating chair in the clean blue water.

The heat gripping the Northeast has spread into North Carolina, with temperatures reaching triple digits Wednesday for the second straight day. In Goldsboro, the National Weather Service recorded a high temperature of 103 degrees -- one degree higher than the record set in Raleigh.

And as the heat wave continues to press down on Wayne County today, those residents with air conditioning are counting their blessings.

For some, though, the heat's caused a struggle as units fail and people are left to fight off the heat the best they can.

Ron Carter, service manager at Jackson and Sons Heating and Air, said his company has been getting anywhere from 80-90 calls a day to repair faulty air conditioners since the heat wave struck.

Fortunately, he said, their staffing is such that they've been "pretty much able to take care of problems," many of which have been caused by a lack of regular maintenance.

"The main tip is to get it maintenanced or serviced," Carter said. "Mainly we've seen the air conditioners that are failing are the ones that haven't been maintenanced, so they're weaker. This extreme heat makes them break down."

Kevin Herring, president of Herring Heating and Air Conditioning, said his company's calls also are up, with 10 to 15 repair calls coming per day, compared to the usual two or three they get on a normal 80-degree day.

The most common problem they are finding, Herring said, is dirty coils that cause air conditioners' motors to overheat when the temperature gets up in the 90s.

When the coils are dirty, he said, the motor can't cool as well, and eventually it just fails.

This latest heat wave follows a June that was one of the hottest ever across most of North Carolina. Meteorologist Brandon Vincent said Raleigh has made it to 100 degrees or hotter three times this summer.

One big difference in the latest heat wave is the humidity. It hasn't been quite as high this week, so forecasters haven't needed to issue any heat advisories, Vincent said.

And Vincent said while triple-digit heat is an attention-getter, it isn't exactly an unusual event in the South.

"You would be hard pressed to find a year where we don't reach 100 at some point in the summer," he said.

Still, that doesn't make it any easier to take.

"You never get used to it. We're from Florida, but you never get used to this heat," said 53-year-old Mike Mull, who had to be outdoors with his two brothers, digging holes for a fence for an apartment complex in Raleigh.

The men started working at 8 a.m., planning to quit for the day as the heat reached its peak, said Mike's 48-year-old brother Steve.

"You can only work until 2 or 3 o'clock because it will be too hot," he said.

The brothers kept a cooler full of ice and water nearby and took breaks every thirty minutes.

The high heat also sent people streaming to North Carolina beaches. Sharon Delano, on vacation from Lancaster County, Va., spent Wednesday morning in the Carolina Beach arcade to escape the heat. Sitting at a picnic table near a massive fan, she watched her kids play video games with her mother, Carol Davis.

Mrs. Davis said the breeze kept temperatures low near the coast and the frequent dips in the water helped, but after a few days in the heat the family needed a break.

"With that breeze blowing, you don't know how bad you're getting burned," said Mrs. Davis, 63.

Mrs. Delano and her family have been at Carolina Beach since Monday. Her fair skin was bright red, evidence of a few days braving the scorching sand and sun on the oceanfront. Her burned legs and arms looked more lobster than human and her eyes had white rings from her sunglasses.

"This is with sunscreen," joked Mrs. Delano, a 37-year-old bartender.

Both Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Delano said being at the beach beat the heat at home where they couldn't escape into the waves.

"It's hotter up there that it is here," Mrs. Delano said.

Near the arcade, Annie Galizio opened up New Orleans Snowballs. The 18-year-old Kure Beach, N.C. native said the heat wave has been good for business.

"We've been selling like crazy," she said.