Residents at West Knoxville apartment complex left in heat as AC units are broken

Investigations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An apartment complex in West Knoxville is having a hard time repairing air conditioning units, and some of the blame is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A shortage of parts is making it difficult to replace worn-out air-conditioner units, but that’s no consolation for renters whose apartments reach temperatures of 80 degrees and higher.

Work orders to repair broken air-conditioner units have been sent by residents at Briarcliff at West Hills. Where, according to emails and memos sent to renters, there’s been an influx of air-conditioning issues.

Kate Moran and her roommate Karina Sola have fans directing air throughout their apartment. It’s been as warm as 85 degrees, even 90 degrees inside their unit because their air conditioning doesn’t work.

“It just blows hot air,” Sola says of their air-conditioner unit. “They told us that we need a new compressor, but we heard this back in May.”

Kate said they’ve contacted the complex multiple times, and they keep telling them they’re going to fix it. They’ll send people, but it never gets fixed. The complex has 377 apartment units. An email from management suggests many renters are without air conditioning.

Portable air-conditioner units were given out, but they don’t cool the entire apartment.

“Not even close,” Moran said. “We leave the door open all the time, but it doesn’t even reach the living room. They gave it to us in May. They were like, we only have seven of these, and we only got this one.”

Sola has become creative to keep her bedroom cool,

“So, this is my boudoir and I have a vortex of fans going on if you will. I’ve got the fan in the window that is then being pushed by the other fan – air this way. Then it circulates with this fan over here. That’s ‘MacGyvering’ on my part, I think.”

We visited the apartment manager’s office and were referred to the memo sent to residents 10 days ago about repairing the faulty air-conditioner units.

“Once we are provided a date, we will notify all tenants,” the memo reads. “Your requests are not being ignored, we appreciate you patience in regards to this matter.”

We checked with area air-conditioning suppliers and were told there are key disruptions in the supply chain across the country. There is a shortage of semiconductors – air-conditioner units require semiconductors in their temperature sensors. There’s a shortage of raw materials like steel, aluminum, copper and plastics all created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For now, the portable air-conditioner unit and a whole bunch of fans are all that’s keeping their apartment around 82 degrees until the air-conditioner unit in this wall is fixed.

A constant 82-85 degrees inside any apartment or home is hot. We reached out to the corporate office of Briarcliff at West Hills trying to find out when the air-conditioner issues may be resolved at the complex, we have not heard back from them.

Kate and Karina say they trust the repairs will be made as soon as the apartment complex’s maintenance division gets new parts to make the fixes.

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