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A hot job? A/C repair during a heat wave

The heat continues to bear down on the Southwest United States. One business that is booming: air conditioner repair.

Record-breaking heat across the West has continues today. For residents of Las Vegas, the temperature dropped a bit... to a cool 115 degrees. On Sunday, the 117 degree heat tied the previous record, helping to make it the hottest June that Las Vegas has ever felt.

All that heat means a whole lot of air conditioners going at full blast on the Las Vegas Strip, and in desert homes.

"We're earning a lot of business," said Joe Johnson, owner of Rebel Refrigeration and Air Conditioning in Las Vegas. "But it's also a spooky time, because if we don't get out to our existing clientele quick enough, they won't call us the rest of the year."

To help service all of their customers, Johnson's employees are working 10-12 hour days currently. At times, they get so backed up they even refer their customers to other local businesses.

"It's like the doctor," Johnson joked, about the reception when the A/C repairman shows up at the door. "They're happy to see us because they know they'll get cool air, but they don't like the bill -- that's for sure."

Johnson said it cost anywhere from $5,000-$7,000 to replace older units.

"Because of this heat wave, this causes all the breakdowns. And over the next few weeks we'll tend to get the bulk of them repaired," Johnson said. "But every year about the first week of September, the heat breaks and gosh, for us A/C guys, it feels like we can breathe again."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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