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Ductless AC for a Cool Garage Workshop

Ductless AC in Garage Workshop

Converting Non-traditional Spaces for Year-Round Comfort

A carpentry bench in your garage, a small gym in a backyard shed, a music practice space in an unfinished room above a garage. They go by different names: man caves, she-sheds, and garage workshops, but one thing is true: without air conditioning, they all become unbearably hot during our Myrtle Beach summers. Converted garages tend to be DIY affairs, practical solutions for homeowners to carve out a space for their hobbies or passion projects. 

A ductless cooling system like Carrier's Infinity High Wall ductless system can turn your hot garage or workspace into a cool and comfortable place to create.

Ductless Mini-Split Systems

A ductless system is a room-specific, wall-mounted unit for cooling a single space. It's easy to cool a 500 square foot garage with a small mini-split ductless system.

But how do they work? Ductless systems work just like your central air, but without the ducts. Mini-splits suck warm air from your home, absorb moisture and heat from that air, and then blow cool air directly from the wall-mounted unit. 

The indoor mounted system houses an evaporator and blower. A conduit connects your ductless system to the ductless condenser outside your home.

It's like adding an extra like HVAC unit for a specific room without having to rework your home's ductwork.

Pros and Cons of a Ductless Mini-Split AC

Ductless systems are easy ways to cool non-traditional living spaces like your garage. If you want a quick and easy way to transform your garage into a place you want to spend time in, a ductless system will have you up and running in no time.

Additionally, adding ductless system will not affect the performance of your home's regular HVAC system. Expanding your current system is always a possibility, but often homeowners find that their current unit won't handle the extra square-footage that comes with adding ducts to a new room. Overtaxing an HVAC unit in this way is never a good idea.

The the one con of a ductless system may be the cost. Though they have come down in price over the years, it requires an initial investment. Additionally, some homeowners don't like the appearance of an indoor wall-mounted unit. That said, the Carrier Infinity ductless system is small, sleek, and can be mounted above eye-level.

Make Your Garage Your Next Project

Cooper Mechanical Services can help you decide which options are best for your needs and budget. Whether you want to expand a duct system or go with a new ductless option, CMS offers fast, reliable, and professional heating and cooling services.

To learn more, Call Cooper.

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Energy Efficiency Acronyms 101: EER, SEER, HSPF, AFUE, and COP

Energy efficiency ratings like EER, SEER, HSPF, AFUE, and COP and how they affect your heating and cooling bill

More consumers are paying attention to energy efficiency ratings. Energy efficient materials, appliances, and home systems like heating and cooling aren't just good for the planet. They can also lower monthly utility bills. However, use of acronyms and industry jargon can make it confusing for average consumers looking to compare HVAC systems on their own. In this blog post, we'll explain the most common energy efficiency ratings to help you understand what the numbers on the sticker tag means for you.

EER: Energy Efficiency Ratio

Your EER, or energy efficiency ratio, is this: the BTU per hour of cooling at 95°F divided by the watts used at 95°F (BTUs/hr at 95° ÷ W at 95°). The higher the number, the more efficient the cooling system. While SEER numbers will be prominently featured on HVAC systems, you may find EER values on AC window units and heat pumps, especially water-based and geothermal appliances.

SEER and HSPF: The Most Common Ratings on HVAC Systems

Even for those with limited knowledge, the SEER acronym means something. There are even billboards in Myrtle Beach for a national HVAC chain touting "SEER" ratings on units. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. SEER is the ratio between the cooling system output (BTUs) and the amount of electric energy a unit consumes in a given period. The lower the number, the more electric energy a cooling system consumes. Conversely, the higher the number, the less energy a cooling system consumes. Since cooling is our primary focus for the Myrtle Beach area, SEER is a good indicator for comparing the efficiency of HVAC systems.

HSPF is the Heating Season Performance Measure. According to Energy.gov, the HSPF is the “total space heating required during the heating season, expressed in BTUs, divided by the total electrical energy consumed by the heat pump system during the same season, expressed in watt-hours.” Since Myrtle Beach has mild winters (and sometimes they are downright warm), this rating is much less relevant to consumers in this region. If you are living in Michigan and half the year is spent heating your home, HSPF is something you'd want to look at when shopping.

AFUE and COP: Energy Efficiency Values for Heat Pumps

COP stands for Coefficient of Performance. Similar to EER, the COP value is the BTU of Heat at 47°F divided by BTU of electricity used at 47°. This value measures heat pump efficiency, so the higher the COP number, the more efficient the heat pump.

Another performance measurement for heat pumps is AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. While most Myrtle Beach residents won't be too concerned with the AFUE rating, it's helpful to understand what it is and why it matters. Should South Carolina ever become a place where we turn on our heat for long parts of the year, AFUE would be helpful to know when looking to replace a furnace. AFUE measures the efficiency over an entire heating season. For example, if a furnace has an AFUE value of 85%, that means that for every BTU of fuel, the furnace will produce .85 BTU of heat. In other words, an 85% AFUE rating means that 15% of energy is lost on average over an entire year of heating.

Educated Consumers are Smart Consumers

There are plenty of companies that will try to dazzle you with industry-speak, acronyms, and efficiency numbers. Cooper Mechanical Services is not one of those companies. Our HVAC professionals explain HVAC ratings in terms that average homeowners and business owners can understand. We also realize that not ever energy efficiency rating is relevant in South Carolina. 

For honest and dependable heating, cooling, ventilation, and indoor air quality services, call Cooper.

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How to Fix Water Stains Around HVAC Vents

Call Cooper to get rid of water stains around your HVAC

I remember the first time I looked up at an HVAC vent in my living room and noticed a light brown stain. At first glance it looked like maybe it was a shadow or even some dust stuck to the ceiling. However, upon inspection it was a stain. More specifically, it was a water stain caused by poor insulation around the air ducts. 

In this post, we'll look at some of the main causes of water stains around your HVAC vents along with what you can do to fix the problem and remove the stain.

Main Causes of Water Stains Around HVAC Vents

As mentioned above, a water stain around your vent is an indication of escaped moisture. This is a direct result of a problem with insulation. The most common causes are air leaks and lack of insulation.

Condensation is a byproduct of all HVAC systems. Condensation is the result of the warm air in your home's attic mixing with the cool air traveling through your HVAC system's ducts. When properly insulated and maintained, excess water is removed from the air and exits your house through a drain line. 

Myrtle Beach summers are very hot and humid, so there is often a lot of condensation during months with high AC use. When there are gaps or leaks in duct insulation, water droplets drip from your attic to your ceiling. Over time, these drops will create stains and ruin drywall.

Stains that are around HVAC vents indicate an insulation problem around the part of the duct that attaches to the vent. This is commonly known as the "boot." Poor insulation and boot fitting create opportunities for condensation to escape. When water drips around the vent, you'll notice the dark stain on the ceiling near your AC vents. 

Fixing Water Stains Around HVAC Vents

Since the stain is a symptom of an insulation or vent fitting problem, it's wise to call an HVAC professional to fix the root issue. Adding insulation and refitting the duct boot is a relatively common service call. Once fixed, it's time to take care of the stain.

Get rid of water stains by applying a coat of Kilz primer and then a coat or two of paint to match your ceiling. 

For professional and affordable HVAC service, call Cooper Mechanical Services today. Our team is knowledgeable, courteous, and quick to solve problems with the latest technology include thermal imaging for hard-to-find leaks. To schedule a service call, simply Call Cooper.

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Common AC Problems: Clogged Drain Line

AC cleaning unit with clogged drain line

HVAC Problems: Clogged Drain Line and Overflowing Drain Pan

HVAC drain lines remove excess moisture and water that your air conditioner pulls from the air. Condensation runs through your drain line and exits your house. Condensation also accumulates when warm air passes over the evaporator coils. When everything works as it should, moisture is dispersed and evaporates. However, if water is building up and overflowing from the drain pain, this is a sign that something is wrong. The most common issue is a clogged drain line that causes water to backup into the drain pan. Clogged drain lines are common problems and can be fixed with regular maintenance and professional cleaning.

What Causes a Clogged Drain Line?

Drain lines become clogged when there is sediment or debris that gets stuck and prevents water from easily moving through. Dirt and debris can accumulate if your HVAC filters are missing or very, very dirty. Dirt and dust is small, but it can build up enough over time that it starts to restrict water flow. If left unchecked, a clogged drain line can do more than make a mess. It can also overly tax your HVAC system, making it harder to cool your home or office.

How Will I Know a Drain Line is Clogged?

Your average homeowner is probably not thinking about drain lines until they notice a change in HVAC performance. Here are signs that you may have an AC problem related to a clogged line:

  • HVAC has stopped working
  • Rooms won't cool; Feels humid
  • Water leaks and stains on ceiling

If you suspect that you have a clogged drain line, call Cooper Mechanical Services for an inspection and cleaning. To keep your unit running in optimal condition, sign up for a Clean & Service agreement that provides scheduled cleaning twice a year.

Clean & Service with Cooper Mechanical Services

A Clean & Service agreement offers homeowners twice-a-year service. A Cooper professional will schedule a visit before high-use seasons and give your entire HVAC unit a chemical-grade cleaning and inspection.

Our Clean & Service plans include chemical cleaning of condenser and evaporator coils,  drain lines and drain pan. It's a smart way to take care of your HVAC so it lives a long life. To learn more about our service plans, give us a call or contact us through our website.

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R-22 is Done. What Does This Mean for Older HVAC Units?

R-22 Has Been Phased Out

Chlorodifluoromethane, commonly known as R-22, is a colorless gas and a popular refrigerant used in older HVAC systems. It's use has been steadily decreased over the last couple of decades because of its adverse environmental effects. R-22 is a greenhouse gas and a big ozone depleter. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made it illegal to produce R-22 after January 1, 2020. So that's it for R-22. What is out there now can be used, but once it is unavailable, it will no longer be produced. So what does this mean for people with HVAC systems that run on R-22?

Goodbye R-22: Adapt Now or Upgrade Later

Essentially, the disappearance of R-22 leaves you with two choices: adapt now or upgrade when your current HVAC system breaks or R-22 becomes too scarce or too expensive. It is possible to retrofit your current HVAC system so it will run on R-410A, the refrigerant that has replaced R-22. The skyrocketing price of R-22 is expected as the remaining amounts dwindle. However, most systems still using R-22 are probably nearing then end of their normal lifespan, so replacement is a much more economical decision. 

R-22 Users Should Plan Ahead

We completely understand that a full HVAC system replacement is a large cost. If you are currently using R-22, consider budgeting some each month to plan ahead for your eventual upgrade to a R-410A system.

There may even be tax credits that you can take advantage of to help offset some of the costs. Federal tax credits for HVAC upgrades can be found on the EnergyStar.gov website

Additionally, Cooper Mechanical Services may be able to help you take advantage of South Carolina rebates like the Santee Cooper Energy Efficiency Rebates for home and businesses. 

Finally, if you plan ahead, you can schedule your retrofit or system upgrade between seasons. Summer in Myrtle Beach is a very busy time for all HVAC companies, and if your old R-22 unit fails, you may need to wait before a new unit can be installed. Planning ahead allows us to schedule an installation during a more temperate time of year.

 R-22 is no longer produced. Time to upgrade.

Call Cooper for HVAC Upgrades in Myrtle Beach

If your R-22 HVAC unit is leaking refrigerant or not cooling like it once was, it might be time to replace it. Cooper Mechanical Services can help you find a properly-sized unit as well as take advantage of any rebates and tax credits that might help offset the cost.

For commercial and residential HVAC sales, installation, maintenance, and repair, Call Cooper!

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Simple Ways to Reduce Indoor Humidity

Is your home beginning to feel like a jungle? 

Looking out the window on a muggy day in late June, I can see the stickiness in the air. The humidity in Conway and Myrtle Beach can be visible, especially in summer months with extreme heat, where humidity levels can make being outdoors downright miserable. 

In the coastal South Carolina region, relative humidity typically ranges from 46% (comfortable) to 92% (very humid) over the course of the year, rarely dropping below 25% (dry) and reaching as high as 100% (very humid). With high humidity outside, it is possible that some of that excessive moisture is finding its way into your home. 

What are the effects of high indoor humidity? 

When humidity levels start to get above the comfortable 30%-50% range and up toward 60% and higher, you’ll notice it. Things indoors will feel moist and sticky, and you’ll probably see the effects of this excess moisture as well. 

Here’s what you’ll notice: 

  • Condensation on windows, walls or around bathroom plumbing 
  • Mildew and mold may form
  • Uncomfortability may lead to sleep problems 
  • Hair may be frizzy (okay, this isn’t as important as others, but some may disagree) 

Overall, indoor humidity will be noticeable, but there are some things you can do to fix it. 

Here are some low and no-cost solutions to try before you think about moving from Myrtle Beach: 

Airflow: To help evaporate the water in the air, keep it moving.

Turn on ceiling fans and position plug-in fans to move air between rooms in your home. 

Circulating air is less likely to result in condensation.  

Air-Conditioning: Turn your AC thermostat to a “dry” setting, which runs the system’s fans at low speed and your unit’s compressor in intervals to remove excessive moisture from the air. This cycle can help evaporate the moisture without significantly lowering the temperature in your home.   

Replace Filters: Dirty and clogged filters may restrict airflow and ventilation and contribute to excessive indoor humidity.  

Check for Leaks: Check water pipes for condensation and leaks as well as things like your washing machine and dryer vent. Make sure water and moisture that is supposed to leave your home is not leaking in. 

Showers: Try taking shorter or cooler showers to cut down on steam. Although this may not help significantly, long, hot showers aren’t helping anything. 

Still too humid? Call Cooper! 

Nothing’s worked. Now what? If all else fails, you can try a standalone dehumidifier to help reduce the indoor humidity. You can also call a Cooper Mechanical Services professional to come inspect your home. Cooper Mechanical Services provides fast, reliable service at competitive prices. Don’t be sticky and miserable; call Cooper!

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Outdoor Lighting for Safety, Security and Beauty

Photo: Flickr user Media Director

What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. 

It could be love, Romeo. Or maybe just some strategically placed landscape lighting. Outdoor lighting can be more than just a porch light. Modern lighting solutions add safety, security and beauty to your home, and new LED technology make them energy efficient and long-lasting

Outdoor Lighting for Safety

From a purely functional standpoint, a well-lit walkway and front door minimizes chances of injury from tripping or falling. If the path of entry includes stairs or uneven walkways, proper lighting is critical for the safety of you and your family. 

Small landscape garden lights can line a walkway, and bullet lamps can highlight door and stairways. Flood and well lights are also helpful in brightening the path from the road to your door. 

Outdoor Lighting for Security

Last week we discussed indoor lighting solutions and the security that comes from a well-lit home. Outdoor lighting, especially when used with timers or automation systems, can help deter intruders from selecting you or your home as a target. Lighting foliage, landscaping and shrubbery can easily turn a great hiding spot into a well-lit stage. 

Outdoor Lighting for Beautification

Does your home have curb appeal? One way to enhance the attractiveness of your home is to use outdoor lighting to highlight architectural features and landscaping. A beautifully lit exterior creates ambiance and warmth in addition to providing safety and security. Looking at home, garden and architectural websites and magazines is a great way to get ideas for creating the perfect outdoor atmosphere with well-placed outdoor lighting.

Modern Outdoor Lighting Solutions Are Smart

One of the great advances of modern lighting solutions are that many manufacturers' products can be connected to your home network and controlled wirelessly via a mobile device. The benefits of automated lighting systems, or smart light, are many. Create custom settings for different seasons, or rely upon sensor controls to adjust the amount of light emitted. Modern technology allows for an unprecedented amount of customization and control, all while maximizing efficiency and cost-savings. 

Cooper Mechanical Services has nearly 30 years of HVAC, electrical and refrigeration service in the greater Myrtle Beach area. Let our professionals find the lighting solutions that help keep you safe and secure while also showcasing your home in its best light.

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March Maintenance: Signs Your HVAC Needs a Tune Up

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning Should Include HVAC Inspection

Spring is here, and with it comes an annual spring cleaning list. Driving through my neighborhood in Myrtle Beach, one can see bags of mulch strategically piled around lawns. In addition to landscape sprucing, garage cleaning, and pressure washing, springtime is also a great time to take stock of your HVAC system and give it a good inspection. High temperatures can come early in South Carolina, and you don't want to be learning of an air conditioning issue at the last minute.

Inspect Your HVAC with All the Senses

The only way to find out if your unit is working properly is to run it. Adjust your thermostat and wait for the system to cool your home. While you wait, try to observe the effectiveness of your heating or air conditioning with all your senses. Do you feel air blowing steadily from returns? Is it sufficiently warm or cool? Do you hear any unfamiliar clunking or rattling noises? Is there visible debris around the outside unit or built up around the ducts? The signs that your HVAC needs a tune up and inspection are varied and can mean different things. 

Below is a list of the most common signs that maintenance and/or repair are needed:

Water or Ice Build Up: If you notice ice build up around the coils on your air conditioner, it is likely caused by insufficient airflow. Maintenance for this problem could involve anything from replacing restrictive filters with less restrictive ones, to clearing ducts of blockage or cleaning a dirty coil.

Ice buildup could also be the result of low refrigerant and the sign of a leak somewhere. The ice is a product of air passing over your evaporator coil. Condensation forms and removes the moisture from the air that will return into your home. When working properly, water will collect in your HVAC unit's drain pan. If you are low on refrigerant in the coils, ice will form instead. Finding and sealing the leak and refilling the refrigerant will often solve the buildup problem.

Unit Constantly Running or Not Cooling/Heating Sufficiently: This is a tell-tale sign that you need repair, but what's wrong may need some troubleshooting. A constantly running unit could be a thermostat or wiring problem, but it could also be the cause of duct leakage, which would strain your unit as it tries to cool or warm a space while the conditioned air is escaping. 

Unusual Noises or Rattling: It could be as small as a loose cover screw or an unleveled pad, or as big as a motor issue. Listening for unusual sounds and calling a professional is the best way to address the situation before it turns into something bigger. It's best not to wait for small issues to compound into larger ones. It's often more affordable in the long term, too.

Cooper Mechanical Services Clean & Service Contracts

As we've previously mentioned, a clean and service contract is the best and most affordable solution for extending the life of your HVAC system. As you clean up the rest of your home and lawn this spring, don't forget about your valuable HVAC system

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How to Fix a GFCI Outlet that Keeps Tripping

GFCI outlet keeps tripping

The GFCI Outlet that Keeps Tripping

First you hear a pop. Now the coffee maker isn't working. It could be your outlet. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters are safety tools that quickly shuts off power to an outlet to prevent an electrical ground fault. GFCI outlets are usually found in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas prone to moisture that pose electrical hazards. The outlet that keeps "tripping," is a safety feature to prevent electrical shock.

GFCI receptacles have centrally located "test" and reset" buttons (and sometimes a notifying light) to let you know when an outlet has been tripped and to manually reset it so its operable again. 

Why Do GFCI Outlets Trip?

As we mentioned before, GFCI outlets trip to prevent electrical shock and fire hazards. There are 5 reasons why your GFCI is tripping:

  • Moisture or Water in the Receptacle
  • Conductive Dust or Debris
  • Wire Deterioration
  • Ground Fault in the Circuit
  • Faulty or Old Outlet

If your outlet trips occasionally, it could be from moisture or water that splashed from a nearby sink, or from some dust bunnies carrying an electrical charge. You can usually reset the receptacle by pushing the reset button, and you're good to go. But if your GFCI outlet keeps tripping, you'll want to investigate.

Fixing a GFCI Outlet that Keeps Tripping

First, if you are not a licensed electrician, you should probably call one. Cooper Mechanical Services and Cooper Electrical Services can cover nearly all home and commercial electrical issues. If you feel comfortable investigating further, here's what to look for:

Worn or Missing Insulation: Gaps or missing insulation in the wall allows moisture, dust, and debris to leak in and trip the outlet. Make sure housing is sealed tightly against the wall.

Power Overload: If there are too many appliances plugged in, you may be overloading the outlet and causing it to trip. Disconnect some and see if this helps. If so, look at having a professional install additional GFCI outlets nearby. A leakage current clamp meter is a handy tool to measure leakage.

Faulty Receptacle or Deteriorated Wiring: GFCIs won't last forever. The average lifespan is 15-20 years, so if it is an older receptacle, simply replacing it may fix the problem. However, if the issue stems from bad electrical wiring, the solution is a bit more complex and a professional electrician is required.

Call Cooper for Myrtle Beach Electrical Services

Cooper Mechanical Services has been serving the electrical and mechanical needs of the Grand Strand since 1989. Our professional electricians are knowledgable, dependable, and qualified to do electrical design, installation, and repair that meets all building code standards. If you have an issue with a GFCI outlet, or even something larger, call a family-owned and operated company you can trust. Call Cooper.

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Understanding HVAC Installation Costs

HVAC Installation Costs in Myrtle Beach

HVAC Installation Cost Estimate

Your home or business’s HVAC system is essential to your comfort. It’s also one of the more expensive systems to replace. The average HVAC system lasts 10-15 years (longer with proper care and maintenance), making it an eventual replacement if you stay in one place long enough.

If your unit is nearing the end of its lifespan, you may be considering the cost differential between repairing and replacing. There are many companies that will push you toward a more expensive replacement. Cooper Mechanical Services aims to educate customers with facts so they can make an informed decision. Though older HVAC systems can be less efficient, there are times when opting for a repair makes sense. 

If the “cost of repair” multiplied by the “age of unit in years” is less than a new unit, it’s wise to repair. If it’s more, consider replacing it. If you’ve decided that replacement makes sense, talk with multiple HVAC companies and choose one you can trust. We’re confident that Cooper Mechanical Services’ honesty and professionalism will be your top choice.

Factors that Affect HVAC Installation Costs

If you receive multiple HVAC replacement and installation estimates, understand how different factors can make an estimate higher or lower. 

Unit Size and Brand: It’s vital that your unit is proportionate to the size of your home or business. Cost is often associated with size, but opting for a smaller unit to save money is a bad idea. All HVAC units are optimized for a specific square footage range. Units should neither be too large or too small for a space. If improperly sized, units may be overtaxed or experience excessive wear from frequent starting and stopping. Additionally, materials and features differ across brands, which may affect pricing.

SEER and HSPF Number: SEER and HSPF values are efficiency ratings that quantify your HVAC units ability to cool and heat during the hot and cold seasons, respectively. The higher the SEER number, the more energy efficient and effective the cooling. The same is true for HSPF. Highly rated units can also carry a hefty price tag, though some costs will be offset by energy savings.

Installation Challenges: A side-of-the-house installation on level ground is relatively easy. Add landscape challenges or the need for an elevated platform and installation costs and time may fluctuate. Because no two installation jobs are the same, reliable companies will provide an on-site estimate. Labor and materials vary, so additional installation challenges can inflate costs. Be wary of flat fees from companies that haven’t seen the installation site.

HVAC Installation in Myrtle Beach

The final factor that can affect HVAC installation cost is the contractor and the timing. Highly-reviewed, and long-standing companies may have a higher labor rate than the company new to the market and trying to gain clients. There’s usually a good reason for this difference, and we believe that honesty and dependability is worth more than the cheapest price. 

If you are looking to replace your HVAC system and want an honest breakdown of the cost, give Cooper Mechanical Services a call. Our dedicated team of professional heating and cooling technicians have been helping Myrtle Beach businesses and homeowners since 1989. 
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