Air conditioning part shortage making heat more unbearable across Kansas City metro

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MERRIAM, Kan. — People without air conditioning are hurting in weather like Kansas City’s current heat snap.

HVAC professionals are suffering through a worldwide shortage in replacement parts for air conditioners, the result of manufacturers’ failure to keep up with post-pandemic demand. One air conditioning tech told FOX4 he’s seeing hikes of 30% for those parts.

“This is the first time in my life I’ve hoped it’s not a very hot summer,” Keith Ford, APW Heating and Cooling owner, said. “We’ll try to order a board. It will be 30 days — 90 days out.”

The shortage affects companies everywhere, including Ford’s family business.

Economists report the scarcity of parts stemmed from slow restarts at the manufacturer’s level as COVID restrictions lifted. When parts are hard to find, costs go up, and customers wait longer for repairs.

Many modern AC units also depend on computer chips, which are also in high demand.

Dr. Joe Walden, who teaches coursework in supply chain management at the University of Kansas School of Business, said when the world’s workforce worked from home during the pandemic, the demand for residential air conditioning went sky-high.

Walden said he believes corporations that make parts for these units failed to prepare for this trouble.

“It sounds like what happened a year ago with the toilet paper supply, and we ran our of that. Everyone stocking up, and trying to hedge their bets, has made the shortage even bigger,” Walden said.

Ford said companies like his are forced to raise payroll to retain experienced service technicians, since a significant percentage of the American workforce is still staying home. Those are also costs that are passed along to customers.

Ford recommends strong maintenance of air conditioning units — such as replacing filters and keeping machines clean — will help keep your home’s AC working. 

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