We aren’t afraid to admit it – the outdoor AC unit isn’t the most attractive household appliance on the market. Luckily, there are ways to make your outdoor space more pleasing without compromising the integrity of your HVAC system, but don’t make these mistakes when landscaping your yard.

#1: Planting Shrubbery and Trees Too Close to the Unit

Putting a plant or a tree too close to an air conditioner may have long-term effects on the condition of your unit. Even if your plants are currently not large, in a few seasons they could be encroaching on the foundation of the appliance with root systems, dropping leaves into the fan, or disturbing the compressor. Leaves and moisture causes all types of problems with air conditioners in the long term. No matter what you do, make sure you leave a 2 foot clearance all the way around to allow both space for your unit to operate and a clear path for your technician to reach it.

#2 Leaving Your AC Too Exposed

There is a benefit to protecting your air conditioning unit with plant life and fencing. Rather than exposing it to the elements on the side of the house, a trellis or screen and some hedges can extend its lifetime. This serves as a windbreak from high winds and rainfall. In places like Georgia, try adding evergreens like cedar, spruce, or cypress that don’t lose their leaves. Also, shading your equipment can help protect it from the heat so it runs more efficiently and reduces your energy bills.

#3 Not Considering the Irrigation of the Land

The way your land is graded and naturally irrigated matters when it comes to the lifetime of your air conditioner. If you add gravel, boulders, rocks, and stones around the AC, the unit has drought-resistant landscaping protecting it. No plants around the unit means you won’t risk grass, weeds, sand, and dirt clogging your system.

#4 Starting Without a Plan

The right landscaping plan will complement your landscaping while also protecting your foundation, plumbing, decking, and AC unit. Start with a plan to extend the lifetime of your unit while also sprucing up your outdoor space.

Choose Your Outdoor Updates Carefully

As with all outdoor updates, you cannot make changes to landscaping without considering the structure and function of your home AC equipment. Don’t ignore the value of this essential system in the way your home functions! The right plants and landscaping can help you get the most life out of your system AND help you create a beautiful backyard.

100º temperatures will be back early next week. These crazy hot temperatures not only put stress on your family, your pets and anyone working outside, it stresses out your air conditioning system too.

It never fails, every year, as soon as we approach 100º, we are flooded with calls from homeowners that believe their systems are not working because they aren’t cooling like they are accustomed to or they are not cooling down in the heat of the day. This is very common especially for upstairs systems, homes with vaulted ceilings or a lot of windows.

The first thing you should know is that your system is typically not designed for 100º heat. HVAC systems are designed for an average temperature in your area. Your system is also designed to cool to a maximum of 20º below the temperature outside. So when we are having average temperatures, you should have no problem cooling to 70º or 71º if you like. However, when we approach 100º or above, you will likely be doing good to cool to 80º.

While it may seem as if your system is not working, it is probably doing all it can during extreme temperatures. Many people at this point will ask why systems are not designed for higher temperatures. The short answer is, you can’t design a system to operate efficiently in the extremes and also have it work well in the averages. So we have to sacrifice during a few days of extreme temperatures in order to be comfortable the rest of the year.

Some easy ways to tell if you are actually having a problem or if it is just the heat are:

  1. Does the system eventually start keeping up in the middle of the night or early morning when the outside temperatures have cooled down? If the answer is yes, the problem is more than likely just the extreme heat outside.
  2. Is the system cooling some? If it is close to 20º cooler than outside, it is probably doing all it can. If it is closer to the outside temperature, you probably have an issue that needs service.
  3. Are there any signs of a problem such as a water leak at the indoor unit, ice on the indoor or outdoor coils, or it is not catching up over night? If yes, you probably need a service call.

Things you can do to help keep your house cooler when the A/C just can’t keep up:

  1. Use your ceiling fans.
  2. Keep your blinds closed.
  3. Run your dishwasher and laundry at night.
  4. Set your thermostat higher than you normally would to give your system a break. Operating in extreme heat can cause breakdown of motors, capacitors and other parts.
  5. Make sure your filter is clean, this will ensure your system is operating at peak efficiency with no airflow restrictions.
  6. Cut back shrubbery and anything else that is around your outdoor unit, it needs room to “breathe.”
  7. Cook outside on your grill. Avoid heating up the house with the oven if possible.
  8. Keep doors and windows closed and try not to open and close the doors to outside too often.
  9. One of the best things you can do is have your system serviced seasonally to ensure weak parts are detected before they break down in the extreme heat. Check out our maintenance plans.

If at any time, you aren’t sure if it’s a problem or just the heat, give us a call at 770-995-7585. We can help you determine if you need a service call or if you may just have to wait it out.

All you need to do is step outside in the Georgia heat to remember how much you love your home’s air conditioning system. During the hottest time of the year, our team is often asked about turning off an HVAC system when leaving for the day or vacation. For a climate like Georgia, this is not advisable. While tempting to turn off the system to save money, the simple answer is do not turn it off when you are gone. There are several reasons for leaving the system running, in addition to a few steps you can take to remain energy efficient while you’re away.

No One Wants to Return to a Hot Home

Picture this: you’re back from a trip with your family, you are lugging in the heavy bags you have on your shoulders, you open your front door, and a wave of heat hits. An air conditioner that is turned off when you’re out of town or even at work for several hours leaves your home hot and sticky. You do not want to add to your discomfort waiting for your house to cool down.

This Ages Your HVAC System

In a place with 90-degree heat and no relief in the temperature overnight, an internal temperature in your home in the 90s would take hours to cool. This amount of stopping and restarting can cause strain, which ages this essential home appliance.

A Hot Home Encourages Mold and Mildew

Your air conditioner keeps your space cool but it also removes humidity and allergens from your air. In a high humidity state like Georgia, it doesn’t take long for fabrics in your home to grow mold. Don’t expose yourself, your family, or your pets to mold or mildew.

Solutions for When You’re Gone

The easiest way to keep your system on but under less strain is to keep it the temperature higher when you aren’t at your residence. A programmable thermostat is recommended so that you can set the temp up a few degrees while you’re away and then have it cool off before you return. For people that travel frequently, upgrading to a smart thermostat is even better. Many smart thermostats connect with your cell phone so you can control the temperature of your home remotely.

Mitchell Cooling + Heating is able to help with all of your HVAC maintenance, repair, and replacement needs. Reach out to our professionals if you want to get your system in top condition for the heat of the summer.

With heat waves hitting us across the country, the last thing you want to see when you walk outside is your HVAC lines covered in ice. Freezing within the coils is not normal and means something is wrong. There are a few reasons why your system could be frozen, so keep an eye out for these issues.

Your Air Filter Is Old

If you air filter is old, it might be the right time to replace it. In the summer you may find yourself replacing it more often, especially if you have an older system. Invest in good filters and this may keep your space the right temperature while also extending the life of your system. Once you’ve replaced, verify that air is running properly out of each individual vent.

Coils are Dirty

Your HVAC system is also removing dust, dirt, and pollen from the air while it functions. A dirty air conditioner can actually get frost and condensation to build up on the dust/dirt which exacerbates your issues. Cleaning out your ducts and vents can fix this problem but a professional cleaning can eliminate a lot of issues while boosting your system’s functionality.

Issues with the Blower Fan

A blower is a component of your HVAC system that brings your cold air inside and pushes your hot air outside. If the blower isn’t operating as it should, it tends to feel like your air conditioner isn’t doing anything. It is not uncommon for a blower to experience a slight issue, so calling in a professional to check can actually correct the problem while decreasing your power bill and freezing issues.

System Refrigerant is Low

Just like your car experiences different levels of pressure with oil in the winter versus the summer, so does your HVAC’s system refrigerant. If the refrigerant for your system goes through your coils at a certain temperature, it might actually cause condensation to form on the outside. Keeping your refrigerant at the right level keeps your system at the right temperature.

If you are not sure about your air conditioner’s health, reach out to the professionals at Mitchell Cooling + Heating for assistance. Our team can assess the system and let you know if it is a quick fix or something more serious.

Have you turned on your heater after several months of not using it? If you’re back to relying on your heater, especially in the evenings, you deserve to rest easy knowing the furnace is functioning well and safely. If you notice an odor coming from your furnace, do not ignore what your nose is telling you! The best furnace is one you don’t notice at all.

1. An Electrical Burning: The smell of singed metal and electrical wires is not a positive one. This may be an indicator that your furnace is undergoing excessive heat buildup and wires are being singed. There could be a rubber component adjacent to the burning metal and wires as well. Turn off the furnace until an expert can assess your system.

2. Rotten Eggs: The smell of rotten eggs is one that should never be ignored by a homeowner. If you discover a rotten egg smell or if it stings your nose, turn off the furnace and get professional assistance. Your furnaces’ heat exchanger may be malfunctioning and putting unsafe levels of carbon dioxide in your air. As an added precaution against this deadly gas, install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to keep your space safe.

3. Burning Dust: Without using it for more than half of the year, your furnace is sure to collect some dust! If you turn it on and catch a whiff of that particular odor, your furnace probably needs a new filter. Dust built up on the components inside will burn up especially once the new filter is in place. You should worry if the burning dust lingers for several hours.

4. Smoke: Every homeowner knows that the smell of smoke is rarely a positive sign. Turn the furnace off immediately if you smell (or see) smoke. You may have a blocked chimney which is forcing the smoke out of the ductwork rather than out of your home. Smoke won’t get trapped so if it is escaping into your home, it just might be time for a professional chimney cleaning.

5. Dirty Socks or Mustiness: Just like with the burning dust, you might catch a whiff of dirty socks upon turning on the furnace. When this happens, it could easily be a bit of moisture trapped in the system that created a small amount of mildew via condensation. Get rid of this odor with a cleaning of your system (especially the coils) and replacing your air filter. If it persists, you should call a professional.

Reach out to Mitchell Cooling + Heating if your furnace is emitting a strange odor. It is better to err on the side of caution rather than risk your family’s safety!

What is R-22 (Freon)?

R-22 refrigerant, most recognizable by the brand name Freon®, has been used for decades as the primary refrigerant in residential HVAC applications. In recent years, it was determined that R-22 refrigerant was contributing to the depletion of the ozone lafyer. The United States EPA, as well as other organizations around the world, began a phaseout of the use and production of R-22 refrigerant. R-410a is the new recognized standard in residential HVAC applications. All equipment manufactured starting in the year 2010 was made to use R-410a refrigerant.

What is the timeline for the production phaseout of R-22?

The production of R-22 was dropped down in phases each year until the year 2020. As of 2020, production of new R-22 will be completely banned. After production ceases,R-22 can still be used until the existing supply is diminished. As the supply diminishes, the price and availability can become unpredictable.

How does this affect you?

If your system is a 2010 model or newer, you are probably not affected. You can check the data panel on your HVAC equipment to determine what kind of refrigerant your system uses. If you have a maintenance agreement with us, our technician can discuss with you on your next maintenance visit if you are affected or not. If your system is older than a 2010 model and/or uses R-22 refrigerant, you don’t need to be especially concerned unless your system is leaking refrigerant, develops a leak in the future, or needs a repair that would require evacuating or adding more refrigerant (like a compressor change).

My system uses R-410a… Do I need to do anything?

The phaseout of R-22 refrigerant will not have any affect on systems that operate on R-410a refrigerant.

My system uses R-22 but is running fine and I haven’t added any refrigerant, do I need to do anything?

You need to start budgeting for the eventual replacement of your system. The average life of a residential HVAC system is 10-12 years. It’s not really a matter of if your system will malfunction, it’s a matter of when. Not all repairs involve refrigerant, your system can easily be repaired when minor parts fail and remain in use for several more years. However, if you have already experienced a R-22 refrigerant leak or if your system develops a leak, or requires a repair that uses refrigerant, you will need to seriously consider replacement. The cost of obtaining R-22 is increasing and the availability is decreasing. There is no guarantee that when the time comes for you to need R-22 that it will be either available or affordable.

My system is older and/or is leaking refrigerant, what can I do?

  • You can have a leak search performed to pin-point exactly where your system is leaking and determine if it is repairable. If the leak can be repaired, you can have that done and refill the system with R-22 while it is still available. If your system develops a new leak, there is no guarantee that this will be an option if new leaks develop due to the decrease in availability and the increase in price of R-22 over the coming months/years.
  • You can purchase a more energy efficient and ozone friendly system that uses the new R-410a refrigerant. Not only would you not have to worry about the availability of the refrigerant for repairs, you would save in energy costs, as well as know that you are helping protect the environment. Our maintenance agreement customers can receive up to a 10 year FULL warranty on new HVAC systems! Talk about peace of mind! No worries about repairs on your new system for up to 10 years! (restrictions may apply, call for full details)
  • You can risk it and keep adding R-22 until it becomes unavailable or too expensive to obtain or justify the cost of repair.

If there is a leak in just one part of my system, do I need to replace the whole system?

Refrigerant flows through the outdoor coil and the indoor coil, as well as the copper line that connects the two. The entire system needs to use the same refrigerant. HVAC equipment manufactured before 2010 was designed to use R-22 refrigerant and equipment manufactured after 2010 uses R-410a. Since the two refrigerants are different and require different operation specifications, the two types of equipment are often not compatible. If you have a gas system, the furnace may not need to be replaced also, but it may be more cost effective to upgrade the entire system rather than waiting for the furnace to fail at a later date. In some cases, one component of your system can be replaced and if the other portion later fails, it may be made compatible with minor modifications.

What about the R-22 alternatives or “drop ins?”

There are alternatives to R-22 being sold. However, we do not recommend them for a few reasons. One, you can’t mix refrigerant, so if you needed just a couple of pounds of refrigerant to get you going again and R-22 is not an option, all the refrigerant in your system would have to be reclaimed and the new refrigerant installed. This would also require changing some parts in your system to accommodate the new refrigerant. This kind of repair could potentially damage your system and it would more than likely be a temporary fix. In some cases, using the alternate refrigerant and the cost of making the necessary component changes, can be comparable to the cost of purchasing new equipment. In addition, most manufacturers have not recommended or approved the use of these refrigerants due to concerns over compatibility, safety and reliability.

Can you just add R-410a to my current system?

Refrigerants can’t be mixed. Your system can only operate off one kind of refrigerant. R-410a is a completely different refrigerant than R-22 and the systems that are designed to use R-22 are not designed to use R-410a.

If you have any other questions regarding R-22 or R-410a refrigerant, give us a call or contact us! We are happy to assist you. As always, we give FREE quotes on equipment replacement.