Las Vegas air-conditioning crews encounter lions, tigers, snakes

When temperatures rise in the Las Vegas Valley, tourists turn red, ice cream oozes, outdoor workers sweat — and air conditioners break.

Owners and managers of air conditioning companies agree summer, when machines are overworking to keep the desert heat at bay, is the busiest time of the year. With all of the emergency calls and routine breakdowns of air conditioners, Southern Nevada companies have collected some unusual stories.

Residents can be desperate to get their houses cool when air conditioners break down, said Brad Dworkin, the owner of A-Tech Air Conditioning and Heating.

“There was one where they wanted (the air conditioner) worked on immediately, but they didn’t have enough money,” Dworkin said. “They wanted to know if they could pay me in what they had— but the rest in apricots.”

Another complained of the heat turning furniture into cooking appliances.

“Can you please come out immediately,” Dworkin recalled the customer saying. “You can fry an egg on my kitchen table.”

He suggests that if your air conditioner does start malfunctioning, turn it off immediately.

“People try to get what they can out of it. They’re actually doing more damage that way,” Dworkin said. “If you’re forcing it to (run), other components can fail in the process of trying to get it to work.”

Missing pieces

Angel Martinez, a service manager with Hawthorne Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, said his technicians occasionally go to repair an air conditioning unit and find nothing inside.

“The inside components are copper, and you find that people steal them,” Martinez said. “We went to some people’s houses where the condensers were gone completely.”

Once all of the parts inside an air conditioner are stolen, the entire unit has to be replaced. Even units in hard-to-reach places aren’t safe, Martinez said.

“Somehow they got on the roof and were able to steal all the parts,” referring to an incident with a rooftop unit.

Besides being wary of thieves, Martinez said people should deal with air conditioner problems when they arise in the fall or spring, to avoid total breakdowns during brutal weather.

“You did try to warn them prior,” he said.

Protesting pets

Ashley Moore, office manager for The Cooling Company, said an air conditioner’s biggest enemy can be the angry family dog during the summer.

Moore said dogs left outside are known to relieve themselves on units or chew on wires.

“They are protesting,” she said. “They need to get back inside, where the AC is working.”

In these instances, the animals have to take the blame instead of record-high temperatures.

“It’s a little frustrating, because it didn’t even stop working because it’s hot outside. It stopped working because my dog is upset,” Moore said.

She said The Cooling Company will fix problems regardless of what — or who — caused them.

“It’s a company that will have your back, whether your dog eats your air conditioning or not,” she said.

Lions, tigers and snakes

A technician from Goettl Air Conditioning Las Vegas learned that, when a house gets too hot, snakes will search for the coolest areas.

But one worker wasn’t happy when the missing snake was a 12-foot python, said Ken Goodrich, the owner of the company.

“At that point, the technician had to go up in the attic,” Goodrich said. “As soon as the customer told him the python could be up in the attic, the technician called in and said, ‘I’m out.’”

Goodrich went through his list of employees until he found one who had experience with snakes. It turns out the python was hiding under the homeowner’s couch.

“Just as the guy wraps up, (the snake) kind of pokes his head out and looked at him,” Goodrich said.

He said other technicians were pursued by animals, with an aggressive dog chasing a technician up a tree. Another encounter included lions, tigers and panthers owned by magicians Siegfried and Roy.

“These animals would stalk you like prey,” Goodrich said, describing how technicians would walk along a second-floor balcony over the animals to work on the air conditioning. “They would get low on their bellies and kind of walk along with you.”

Technicians were assured the animals couldn’t jump high enough to reach them. One worker quit after going there the first time, Goodrich said.

“He had broken English,” Goodrich said. “He said ‘I go to Siegfried and Roy and I piece of chicken.’ He felt like he was going to be dinner.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.