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We’ve already sweated through some hot spring afternoons, but here in Georgia we know the sultry scorchers are still on the way.

When those sweltering days arrive in Atlanta and North Georgia, will your air conditioner be ready to keep you and your family cool? And will your AC keep you comfortable without barbecuing your bank account with searing hot energy bills?

Don’t let the dog days of summer catch you (and your pets) unprepared. Now’s the time to make sure your air conditioner is in tip-top condition. Here’s what you can do… 

A Measure of Maintenance Goes a Long Way

Some basic annual maintenance will go a long way toward helping your air conditioner cool effectively throughout its expected lifespan. And most of it is easy to do yourself.

Vacuum Vents. Run a vacuum over all your home’s vents, registers, and grilles to remove any accumulated dust and debris. While you’re at it, make sure that each vent has about a foot of unobstructed space around it. Relocate any furniture, artwork, and other life debris — we’re looking at you, winter boots dropped by the front door three months ago — to allow for easy air flow.

Clean the Condenser. As we suggested in last month’s post, clean up any branches and leaves on or around your outdoor condenser unit, then use a hose to spray dust and grime off the fan and condenser coils. You can also use a shop vac and soft-bristled brush to vacuum the condenser fins. (They’re delicate, so proceed with care.)

Douse the Drain. Your indoor evaporator unit has a drain pan under it to capture dripping condensation. A drain line then moves the water outside. Once a year, pour a cup of a 50/50 mix of bleach and water down that drain line, wait a few minutes, then flush it with lots of clean water. This will stop the growth of algae and help prevent clogs. If the water you pour in doesn’t drain, give your HVAC service provider a call right away. Pooling water in your drain pan can cause water damage and will keep your air conditioner from cooling as effectively.

More Maintenance for Fewer Problems. Professional preventative maintenance goes beyond the measures you can manage yourself, and it may lengthen the life of your equipment. Give us a call if you’d like to schedule an annual preventative maintenance appointment.

Lower Energy Bills are Cool Too

Some simple energy efficiency measures can help keep your energy bills cool without sacrificing your family’s comfort.

Be a Fan of Fans. Moving air moves heat off your skin, so make the most of fans. Ceiling fans, floor fans, desk fans, heck even hand fans will all keep you cooler, even with the thermostat set a few degrees higher. Just remember that fans don’t do you any good in an empty room, so turn them off when you leave.

Delete the Heat. With all the heat Mother Nature is making outside, don’t add to the problem by running stoves, ovens, dishwashers, and dryers during the hottest parts of the day. That’s just inviting in more heat that your air conditioner will then have to remove. Many modern dishwashers and dryers can be programmed to run at a set time, late at night or when you’re away from home. And outdoor grilling is a smart summertime substitute to running your oven and stove.

Savings Made with Your Shades. Some of your simplest cost-cutting cool tools are old school curtains and shades. Close them during the day, especially for windows that get direct sunlight, and you’ll send a lot of excess heat back outside to play.

More Ways to Beat the Heat

These are only a cool half dozen of the many ways you can keep your family comfortable this summer while saving on your energy bills. Want more? Give us a call anytime at 770-995-7585 or schedule a service appointment. We’ll be happy to help!

With the azaleas in bloom and warmer temperatures inviting us back outside, spring is our favorite season in Atlanta and North Georgia. (Pay no mind to the pollen coating our cars and sinuses.)

But with the winter chills mostly behind us and summer’s heat ahead, it’s a good time for some spring cleaning of your heating and cooling system.

Keep It Cool

You know when’s the worst time to find out your air conditioner isn’t cooling properly? During that first 95-degree day in early summer. Check out your AC now instead, when you can address any needed repairs before the heavy heat sets in.

As an easy test, simply turn on your air conditioner — in most cases, by adjusting your thermostat down below the current temperature. Wait a few minutes, then feel the air blowing out of your HVAC system’s exhaust vents. Is it cool? Good news! If not, then at least you have time to address it.

(Remember to turn your thermostat back up when you’re done with the test.)

To keep things running smoothly and efficiently, take a quick trip to your outdoor unit with a hose and a broom. Clean up any branches, leaves or other debris that are on your condenser unit, and clear a buffer area of a couple feet around its base. Then use the hose to spray excess grime off the condenser coils and fan. (Spraying water on the unit is safe, as long it’s properly installed. It is, after all, designed to run in the rain.)

For a more thorough test and tune-up of your air conditioner or heat pump, consider scheduling an inspection and maintenance call. It’ll give you peace of mind to know you’re all set for the heat.

Avoid the Allergens

But about that pollen… along with winter’s dust and your pet’s endless supply of dander and shed hair.

We say it every season, but that’s because you should do it at minimum once every three months: Change your air filter, replacing it with a high-efficiency filter that’s appropriate for your HVAC system. (We can advise you on that if you’re not sure.)

According to the Department of Energy, “Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.”

Spring is also a good time to vacuum or dust off your intake vents. If your allergies are worse than usual, you might also investigate having your ductwork cleaned. (It’s not something we or the EPA recommend for everyone, but in some cases it may help.)

Save on Spring Energy Bills

Spring is also a good time to get ahead on controlling your summer cooling costs while keeping you and your family comfortable at home. The tips we’ve already covered also help your HVAC system’s efficiency, but we’ve got more!

Remember to reverse the direction on your ceiling fans (assuming you did so for winter). In warm weather, you want the fans to push the air down, so the moving air cools your skin. For most fans, that means it’s spinning counterclockwise from your perspective looking up.

According to the Department of Energy, “A ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.”

Spring is also a good time to search for any cracks or leaks that are letting the outside air sneak in. Close them up with caulk and weatherstripping.

As is true year-round, a programmable or smart thermostat can help you optimize your cooling, keeping you comfortable at home while conserving energy while you’re away. (We’ll be happy to install one for you.)

And if you’re looking for an excuse to upgrade your outdoor grill, we’re here to help: Cooking outdoors during the warm months saves your air conditioning system from having to remove all that extra heat. Those flame-grilled burgers are saving you money!

Need some help getting ready for warmer weather? We’re here for you and ready to help, any time. Give us a call at 770-995-7585 or schedule a service appointment. (Inviting us to your barbecue is optional.)

For 25 years, Assistant Service Manager April Johnston has been one of the most familiar friendly voices answering the phone when Mitchell Cooling and Heating customers call in asking for help.

Johnston joined the Mitchell team during her senior year at Dacula High School, back in 1996. As part of a work-based learning program, she would spend half her day at school, then half in the Mitchell “office.” At the time, the whole operation was run from a single, long desk with one computer and two phones, all of which she shared with Kathy Mitchell and Lindy Strickland

“We were literally elbow to elbow,” says Johnston. “We worked hard and we laughed, and we just had fun.”

In the early days, Johnston did a lot of filling out paperwork, filing, and making copies. “Everything was on paper, so everything took longer,” she says. “The copier was my best friend.”

As the company grew, so did Johnston’s responsibilities. In time, she took charge of answering customer calls, dispatching technicians, and coordinating the daily service schedule. While additional team members now take some of the customer calls, you’ll still often hear her voice when you call in. Some long-time customers even ask for her by name.

People You Know

Though raised in Lawrenceville, Georgia, Johnston went to Dacula for school, church, and softball practice. “It was a very small town when we were younger,” she says. “Everybody knew everybody. Until a few years ago, just about everybody who worked here, we knew them or knew their family.” (Mitchell is now headquartered in neighboring Auburn, Georgia.)

It’s part of why she has stayed so long at Mitchell. “I get along with everyone,” she says, “I’m paid well, and they treat me well. And when it comes down to it, they know me. We’ve been through the good, the bad, and the ugly together. There’s a lot of benefit to really knowing the people you work with.”

She says that many of Mitchell’s customers feel the same way.

“They like that it’s the same people when they call, no matter how long it’s been,” she says. “They know they’re not just another customer to us.”

Rearranging the World to Make It Work

“I do the best I can for every customer, every time,” Johnston says. “Not just because they’re someone special. Not because they’re so-and-so’s mother. Every customer who needs help is someone who needs help, and I do everything possible for them. I will rearrange the world to make it work.”

After 25 years at Mitchell, she and Lindy Strickland can even troubleshoot some problems over the phone, saving customers a service call by talking them through something simple like flipping a breaker switch back on.

“We don’t try to charge them for things they don’t need,” she says. “We’re not constantly pushing something new on them. We’re honest, and we do what we say we’re going to do.”

Family and Fun Adventures

Johnston and her husband have three children, two now grown, married, and out of the house. Because of the pandemic, it has been over a year since she last saw her son, who is in the Army and currently based in Alaska. She hopes she’ll be able to visit him soon. Her daughter lives close by, so they’re able to visit her more often. Johnston’s youngest is still at home and is enjoying time as the only child in the house. 

Johnston and her husband are nevertheless content making the most of their time with family. “We enjoy being together, doing whatever comes up or just hanging out,” she says. “We may wake up Saturday morning and decide to go for a mountain hike, head to the lake, visit an antique store, or just take off for the day.” Sundays and some weeknights are taken up by church.

After years of marriage, they know each other well and have been through a lot together. Loving someone, trusting them, and knowing them well for so many years… What else could anyone want?

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Is it time for your spring HVAC maintenance? Give April a call to schedule it or talk with anyone else in the office by calling 770-995-7585. You can also schedule service online.

A member of the Mitchell Cooling and Heating team since 1994, Lindy Strickland wears many hats: human resources, office manager, customer service, and dispatch. In her first year with the company, she was also our lead childcare provider.

Back then, owners Chris and Kathy Mitchell ran the two-year-old company out of their home. While Chris was out installing heating and cooling systems in new construction, Kathy and Strickland took turns answering the phones, scheduling calls, and taking care of the Mitchells’ young daughter.

As the company grew, they soon moved into a proper office space, and Strickland focused entirely on company operations. She was later promoted to office manager and now oversees the office team. She still answers the phones and schedules service calls as needed. (If you’re already a Mitchell customer, you’ve undoubtedly spoken with her from time to time.) But as the business and team have grown, Strickland has taken on accounts receivable, paying bills, human resources, and office management.

“When I first started, everything was done on paper,” says Lindy, “paper service tickets, and each customer had an actual paper file. When calls came in we had to pull the files and give past customer information to the techs.”

Technology has since greatly streamlined that process. “Over the years, the computers and iPads have made things much simpler,” she says. “The techs now have the ability to see all the past information, the history, for each of the calls they have. That frees us up to help more customers.”

Good People Who Work Well Together

Strickland is not alone in her long tenure with the company. Assistant Service Manager April Johnston has been with the company 24 years. New Construction Manager Gus Loaiza has been with us for 25 years. General Manager Bill Lord is the new kid with only 20 years at the company (though he has 30 years experience in the HVAC industry).

“That gives people confidence in our staff,” says Strickland. “They know who we are when we pick up the phone. They’ll get to know a particular tech and always request them by name. They’ve had them in their homes and know them on a personal level.”

For Strickland, the people of Mitchell are like a second family.

“We have a good, honest, dependable group who are here to do their best at what they do,” says Strickland, “whether it’s in the office or working out in the field. We all pitch in wherever we’re needed to take care of our customers to the best of our ability.”

Family, Faith, and Mountain Hikes

Outside of work, Strickland is very active in her church, although the present COVID-19 restrictions have limited that somewhat. “We can’t be as involved as usual,” she says.

“Our family spends a lot of time together,” Strickland says. She and her husband have adult children now living in Savannah and Athens, so they frequently road-trip on the weekends to visit one or the other. Her son, currently in school to become a physical therapist, is getting married soon, so they’ve been helping to prepare for that important day.

Strickland and her husband also like to go hiking in the mountains. “We’ve taken a couple of trips out to Colorado,” she says, “and this year we went to Montana and Wyoming. We go up to the Smokies often and hike all over North Georgia.”

These hikes are all day hikes, she says. “At night, I want to take a shower and sleep in a hotel.”

Sleeping in a tent, with no heating or air conditioning? It’s just not for her.

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Is it time for your regular HVAC maintenance? Give Lindy a call to schedule it or talk with anyone else in the office by calling 770-995-7585. You can also schedule service online.