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Mississippi heat ongoing challenge for building managers

The calendar may say September, but there are still weeks of hot weather left in Mississippi. Battling the intense hot weather is one of many things property managers and mechanical services companies do to keep tenants comfortable. Some have worked overtime in this year’s brutal heat.

The Service Company of Mississippi, headquartered in Meridian, has been busy with air-conditioning, plumbing and electrical calls. It has 55 employees at 40 locations in Meridian, Philadelphia and Hattiesburg, and this is its 25th year in business.

“There tends to be trouble with central units not maintained properly; they have more breakdowns,” says company spokeswoman Christy Bennett. “We do precision tune-up agreements and go out as often as needed, depending on the number of units in a building.”

She says heat like we’ve had this year places a toll on the business. “We’re finding that people don’t see the importance of maintenance work,” she said. “A lot of people don’t see the need for paying for something that’s not broken down. With this many consecutive days of excessive heat, they will have break downs. It’s hard on units.”

Bennett says a lot of people don’t even realize they need to change the filters in air-conditioning units, and that forces the units to work twice as hard.

Mike Barham, owner of Barham Electrical and Mechanical in Hattiesburg, agrees.

“Changing a filter is a cheap thing to do. For a buck and a half, you can cut your power bill,” he says. “Even if you’re renting a building, it pays you to buy the filters yourself and put them in to make yourself and others more comfortable and to save on your power bill. The unit can’t refrigerate across the coils properly when the filter is dirty.”

Keeping pace

“I don’t believe in turning off systems at night when the temperature is still in the 80s at night,” he says. “The unit has to work hard to cool during the day when it gets into triple digits.”

Barham owns a laundry and recently installed a larger central unit to keep pace with the heat outside and inside the building.

Bennett says the Service Company stresses maintenance to keep equipment working smoothly. It works with residential, commercial and industrial customers, including quite a few apartment complexes and schools. An energy management system allows technicians to maintain units from computers in Meridian.

“Proper maintenance extends the life of equipment and saves money on energy bills,” she adds. “Also, places such as doctors’ and lawyers’ offices that have a lot of people coming in and out are conscious of having healthy air. We help provide that.”

Who’s responsible?

Andy Stetelman’s family has been managing property in the Hattiesburg area for many years. He says lease agreements typically spell out who takes care of maintenance issues.

“There will always be a need to service these properties; they don’t just sit there,” he says. “Properties must be maintained to keep tenants happy. We have a list of people to call for different things.”

He stresses that those on that list must be willing to make service calls at all hours. “Tenants may not know the air-conditioning is out until they get home from work after 5 o’clock,” he says.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.


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