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Spending More Time at Home? Weatherization Can Save You Money

Rising Energy Costs During COVID-19

The COVID-19 second wave surge is coinciding with a drop in temperatures and winter's approach. Many folks around the country have moved back to working and going to school from home. Even in Horry County where schools are open, students typically only attend 2 days a week, spending the remaining 5 at home in front of a computer. With more time spent indoors and dwindling daylight, you may begin to become more aware of your energy consumption, especially as South Carolina moves into "heating season."

Cooper Mechanical Services can help you rein in heating costs this winter with a home energy audit and weatherization recommendations. Weatherization, or weatherproofing, is the practice of protecting indoor environments from the outdoor elements like wind, rain, cold air, etc. Typically weatherization activities include finding and sealing gaps, holes, and poor insulation so your home can remain comfortable and efficient. 

Conducting an Energy Audit and Blower Test

Sometimes, you can identify places to weatherize from your own senses and observations. You may see missing weather stripping from a door jamb or a gap in a window that needs to be fixed. But if you want a better picture of the energy and heat you are losing to these leaks, you'll want to conduct a full energy audit using the right tools and technology.

A couple of the most common energy audit tests are a blower test and a thermal imaging test. The blower door test measures the amount air leaking out of your doors. Similar tests can be conducted on windows. Thermal imaging helps technicians locate cold spots in your home and determine their causes, whether a lack of insulation or leaking ductwork. It's possible you are losing warm air through leaks in your attic and a thermal camera can help find the problem area quickly.

A comprehensive energy audit will address all areas of potential energy loss and calculate an estimate of energy and money lost to inefficiency.

Sealing Leaks and Addressing Problems

A lot of weatherization tasks can be a DIY job with minimal tools and items easily found at a home improvement store. Weather stripper, caulk, and plastic are all materials to help you weatherize your home and keep warm air in.

For areas requiring duct repair and insulation, you'll most likely want to work with a professional. Cooper offers a variety of heating, cooling, ventilation, and mechanical and electrical services. To learn more about energy audits and weatherization, give us a call or send us a message via our website

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Sounding the Alarm on Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide detector

Carbon Monoxide Detectors Save Lives

Do you have a carbon monoxide (CO) detector in your home? If you don't have a CO detector, or if yours is more than seven years old, consider upgrading to a new carbon monoxide alarm today. Adding a detector to each floor and every bedroom is an easy way to protect you and your family from this odorless killer.

As an authorized Myrtle Beach Carrier dealer, Cooper Mechanical Services can help you save lives with Carrier's latest electronic carbon monoxide alarms.

Sounding the Alarm on Carbon Monoxide

While smoke detectors entered the residential market in the mid-20th century, CO detectors and alarms didn't become commonplace until the mid-1990s. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is the product of incompletely burned fossil fuels. Common causes of carbon monoxide in the home are natural gas leaks related to heating and cooking appliances. However, carbon monoxide can also enter the house from a car or portable generator running in a poorly ventilated garage.

When there is too much CO in the air, the red blood cells carrying oxygen in your body will be replaced with carbon monoxide. Symptoms include loss of breath, dizziness, weakness, and loss of consciousness. CO poisoning can be fatal, especially if people in the home have lost consciousness or are asleep.

CO alarms like those from Carrier use electronic sensors to monitor carbon monoxide levels. Like smoke detectors, CO detectors sound an alarm when dangerous levels are detected. Carrier CO alarms use lithium ion batteries for detection during power outages, and units are equipped with a diagnostic testing button so you are confident your alarm is working properly.

Other Ways to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

  • In addition to installing CO alarms in your home, take these precautions to prevent your family from carbon monoxide poisoning:
  • Open garage doors before starting your car.
  • Don't run a generator in an enclosed space.
  • Use gas-fueled appliances as intended (i.e. don't use outdoor camping stoves indoors).
  • Keep fuel-burning appliances properly ventilated.
  • Keep chimneys and flues clear for ventilation.

If you suspect you've been exposed to CO or feel symptoms of CO poisoning, go outside or seek fresh air and contact a medical professional immediately.

Will carbon monoxide detectors, you can feel confident that you and your family have taken a necessary step to protect you from carbon monoxide.

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What is a VRF HVAC System?

What is a VRF HVAC System?

Variable refrigerant flow, or VRF, is a type of heating and cooling system for residential or commercial applications. In order to understand how VRF is unique, it’s helpful to understand the basics of common HVAC systems. Most heating and cooling systems fall within two broad categories: ducted split systems or ductless, mini-split systems (like the packaged terminal air conditioning found in many hotel rooms). 

If you live in a residential home in the Myrtle Beach area, chances are you have a split system with a compressor unit outside and an evaporator in the garage or attic. These systems use refrigerant (older units used R-22, newer ones R-410A) and a water-based system to cool air. The coolant is used to change the temperature of the coils, which cycling air passes over. 

Ductless systems like PTACs are similar, except they don’t use ducts. Instead they blow cold or warm air directly to the space they are housed in. For this reason, they are more popular in commercial applications like hotels or apartments where heating and cooling is focused on a smaller part of a larger structure. PTAC and ductless systems are also convenient for homeowners wishing to bring HVAC to a garage or add-on space without ducts and vents.

So what makes a VRF system unique?

How is a VRF System Different?

Variable refrigerant flow systems operate a little differently than a split system. 

The VRF system relies on refrigerant alone instead of a water-based cooling system. Without chillers or coils, a VRF system is quick, responsive, and adaptive to outdoor conditions. 

VRF systems use inverter compressors. This allows the compressor motor to run at variable speeds to save energy. Like your car in “eco mode,” your HVAC system adjusts energy usage based on heating and cooling needs.

A VRF system allows for multiple air handlers within the same system. Since the VRF system doesn’t use ducts, different rooms or spaces are equipped with a wall or ceiling mounted indoor unit to distribute air. This lets users make more specific heating and cooling decisions based on the room or space.

VRF HVAC system diagram

Who Should Get a VRF HVAC System?

Variable refrigerant flow systems are high-efficiency heating and cooling solutions for residential or commercial buildings. VRF is ideal for customers looking to trade a higher up-front cost for increased energy savings (up to 55%) and room-to-room HVAC customization. 

If you’d like to learn more about heating and cooling options, call Cooper for reliable, expert advice.

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Check Your HVAC Heating Before Fall

Clean & Service in Myrtle Beach before heating season

As Winter Approaches, Take Stock of Your Home's Heating System

There are always a handful of days between seasons that are wonderful in South Carolina. Neither too hot nor too cold, they are days we open the windows and relish the fresh air. These between season days are also a good time to inspect your HVAC system to identify issues that may need attention. Now that Fall and Winter are in sight, take a few minutes to inspect your thermostat, vents, and HVAC unit to see if you are prepared for days when home heating is required.

Check Air Filters Around the House

If you haven't run your HVAC in a while, take a moment to check and replace HVAC air filters around your house. As long as no one suffers from severe allergies, most homes are fine with a standard 1" pleated or non-pleated air filter. As long as they are changed when they are dirty, the standard air filter does a good job of separating impurities and particulates from the air you breeze. 

It is important to stress that filters should be changed regularly. The frequency really depends on your home, its occupants, and your lifestyle (whether you have pets, kids, etc). 

Check Heat Pump and Thermostat

Now that your air filters are checked, take a look at your thermostat. Test your heat by turning the setting from Auto to Heat. See if your outdoor unit turns on and then if you notice warm air from the vents. If nothing happens within 30 minutes or an hour, you may need to call a professional to take a look at your system. 

Around this time of year we get calls of a faint "burning smell." This can be a common experience when your heat is turned on after being unused for most of the year. Typically, this smell is just dust heating up after it has accumulated during the warmer months. The burning smell should go away. If it persists, or more importantly, if it smells like gas or oil, call a professional.

Take a Look At Your Condenser Unit

In Myrtle Beach, most residential HVAC condensers are located outside your home. Remove debris and dirt from around your HVAC unit. It's perfectly fine to use a hose to spray out anything lodged around the fan or housing. 

As your HVAC runs, inspect it with all of your senses. Listen for unusual sounds and rattlings, observe the fan and visible parts, and take note of any sensory details that just don't seem right.  These can provide clues to an HVAC professional and help them troubleshoot before they even arrive at your home.

Schedule Regular Clean and Service

Cooper Mechanical Services encourages homeowners to invest in their HVAC system with regular service and cleaning. Our Clean and Service agreements help homeowners avoid some of the large repair costs that can surprise homeowners in the middle of winter or summer. Regular maintenance also extends the life of your unit. 

To learn more about our Clean and Service agreements, or to schedule a residential visit, Call Cooper.

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Product Spotlight: iWave Air - Delivering the Latest in Home Health and Air Purification Technology

iWave for Premium Indoor Air Quality

If you suffer from allergies, respiratory conditions, or an autoimmune disease, then you know the importance of high indoor air quality. While a high efficiency HVAC system coupled with a quality filter can help reduce particulates in the air, there may be some instances when an air purifying system may be needed. 

Air purifying systems are installed within the duct of your HVAC system. The iWave is one such purification system that is able to eliminate particulates, pathogens, and allergens so you can breathe cleaner, fresher air.

Who is the iWave For?

If you are reading this post, you probably care about your indoor air quality. People that are susceptible to severe allergies, asthma, and virus-causing bacteria are those who benefit the most from an air purification system.

The iWave air system has made some headlines for what they claim is its ability to kill SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19. Independent testing lab ALG conducted the tests with COVID-19 and Human Coronavirus. In both simulations, the virus was exposed to an ionization process mimicking the iWave air purifier. In the tests, the iWave ionization process killed up to 99.4% of COVID-19 pathogens.

Though the tests have not been verified by the EPA or other governmental agency, the ALG survey appears promising.

How Does the iWave Work?

The iWave system attaches to your HVAC ductwork so all air must pass over it and a blast of positive and negatively-charged ions. When charged ions come in contact with pathogens, allergens and other particulates, they latch on and strip pollutants of the hydrogen the need to survive.

Lacking hydrogen, pathogens die, fall, and become trapped in your HVAC's filter.

Breath the Cleanest Air in Myrtle Beach

If you are interested in the iWave or an in-duct air purification system like it, let's chat. Cooper Mechanical Services provides the Myrtle Beach area with the best heating, cooling, and ventilation services.

If you are susceptible to airborne contaminants and pathogens, take this step to make your home a healthy and safe place.

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Stay Ice Cold with Ice Machine Sales, Installation, and Repair Services

Hot Temperatures and Cold Ice

Whether you like your tea sweetened or unsweetened, one thing is certain: South Carolinians want it ice cold and with plenty of ice in it. Ice machines, cold display cases, and other refrigeration appliances need to be able to beat the heat. For food service businesses in Myrtle Beach, this means standing up to some heavy use during a long and hot summer season. When your ice machine and refrigeration appliances need repair or replacement, Cooper Mechanical Services has your back.

Ice Machines for Customer Satisfaction and Safety

How about a warm beer? A glass of lemonade without ice? Some foods and beverages need to be served cold or they lose all enjoyment. Sure, you may be able to "get by" with an ice machine that isn't working at maximum effectiveness, but are your guest happy? You don't want lackluster service to be a point on your next Yelp review.

Additionally, a bad ice machine or cold display case can be a health and safety hazard. SCDHEC requires all businesses serving food and beverages to meet very specific holding temperature requirements. An old and broken display case may not be keeping foods at required temperatures. Not only do you risk a bad grade from the health department, but more importantly, you risk the health and safety of the public consuming your products.

One of the most common repair issues with refrigeration appliances like ice machines: leaks. Puddling and pooling water around your ice machine quickly turns your business into a liability. Taking care of refrigeration and cooling leaks is important to the health and safety of your customers and employees.

Lastly, a dirty ice machine can be a dangerous ice machine. Moist and damp places are breeding grounds for bacteria and mold, which can pose significant health threats to workers and customers. A professional ice machine cleaning from Cooper Mechanical Services is one way to get your ice machine back in safe, working order.

Ice Machine and Refrigeration Services

Cooper Mechanical Services is Myrtle Beach's one-stop solution for HVAC, Refrigeration, Ice Machine, Electrical, and Power Generator sales, service, and repair.

The Cooper team has worked closely with Myrtle Beach restaurant, hotel, and service businesses since 1989. If you need ice machine, cold case, or refrigeration service, Call Cooper today.

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Replacing Your Electrical Panel

Electrical panel

Your Electrical Panel Won't Last Forever

Like everything else in your home, appliances and systems will experience wear and tear and will eventually need to be replaced. Your electrical panel, sometimes called a circuit or breaker box, is no different. Your electrical panel is the primary hub for receiving and distributing utility power throughout your home, so its health is vital. Moreover, an old or faulty electrical panel is dangerous. It can cause an electrical fire and electrocution. It's important to pay attention to the signs of wear and tear and call a licensed electrician for an inspection.

When to Call an Electrician to Inspect Your Electrical Panel

Unless you are an electrician or have real experience working with your electrical system, this is not something you want to do DIY. If you do decide to inspect on your own, please turn off your main breaker to shut off all power before you start inspecting. 

Below are some signs that there may be trouble with your electrical panel. If you experience any of the sign below, call a reputable electrical company like Cooper Mechanical Services in Myrtle Beach.

Burn Marks or Burn Smells: This is a clear warning that your electrical panel needs to be replaced or repaired. An electrician will examine your panel for frayed wiring or faulty connections. This sign shows that a home electrical fire is a real possibility, so don't delay.

Frequently Tripped Breakers: If one or more breakers is repeatedly tripping, it's a sign that your electricity needs are more than your box was designed to handle. An electrician will replace your electrical panel with one fit for your consumption needs.

Home Additions and Renovations: Any project that changes the size of functions of your home has the possibility of changing your home's electrical needs. An addition will most likely require a larger electrical panel capable of distributing more power to more space. Whether you need an entire new panel or a sub-panel, you'll want to call a licensed electrician for the job.

Flickering Lights: This sign means your lighting is either not receiving enough power or your panel is not equipped to handle the lights on top of large appliances in the room.

Call Cooper for Commercial and Residential Electrical Services

Many along the Grand Strand are familiar with our HVAC services, but Cooper Mechanical is a fully licensed electrical contractor providing complete commercial and residential electrical services. If you are concerned about the state of your electrical panel, Call Cooper.

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Feeling Sticky? Causes and Solutions for Indoor Humidity Problems

Humidity Makes Warm Weather Feel Hotter (and Stickier)

Humidity can definitely make a hot day feel more miserable. And Myrtle Beach is no stranger to heat and humidity. Even the humidity charts label half of the year in coastal South Carolina as "oppressive" and "miserable." Those "muggy" conditions happen when excess moisture remains in the air. Thankfully we live in an age where adequate cooling is the norm. It's not uncommon in Myrtle Beach to hang inside on the hottest, most humid days, and venture outside for some beach fun or exercise in the late afternoon and evening. 

Modern HVAC systems regulate indoor humidity, removing excess water from the air. This water leaves the house via a drain pipe. If your system is doing a good job removing moisture, cool air with feel drier inside, and you'll have that sweet relief from Myrtle Beach's muggy summer weather. If your AC isn't removing moisture well, it will first seem as though your HVAC system isn't cooling as well. You might also notice that it feels "stickier" and more humid in parts of your home. 

Indoor humidity problems in Myrtle Beach

Why Your HVAC May Not Be Removing Moisture and Lowering Humidity

There are a few reasons why your HVAC system may not be handling humidity control well. We'll break it down so you'll see the cause of the issue as well as the solution that your professional HVAC company will recommend.

Dirty, Clogged Coils: Your evaporator coil is responsible for for removing heat and humidity from the air. If your HVAC system isn't filtering particulates, dust, and debris, you'll end up with coils that are covered in grime. Dirty coils are less efficient in cooling and dehumidifying the air. The solution is a professional coil cleaning as well as regular change of all air filters. Keeping coils clean doesn't take a lot of work. A scheduled clean and service twice a year is more than enough to keep your system in shape for the heavy workout a South Carolina summer calls for.

Low Refrigerant Charge: Your AC system needs coolant, or refrigerant, to cool your air. The amount of refrigerant, or charge, is dependent upon HVAC system type, size, and ambient temperature. Too low a charge and your evaporator coil will be starved for coolant on those hot and humid days. Too much charge and you could find yourself with a flooded condenser should there be a sudden cold snap heading into fall. Chances are that an HVAC professional will check your refrigerant charge if there are complaints of indoor humidity. Adjusting the charge is a quick solution.

Incorrect Fan Speed: Higher fan speed is better, right? Not necessarily. If you move cool air into your home too quickly, you may not being getting your evaporator coil to remove enough moisture. Airflow at 400cfm (cubic feet per minute) may lower temperature indoors but not sufficiently tackle the humidity. Lowering the fan speed means airflow is slightly slower, giving the condenser adequate time to remove moisture.

Call Cooper for All Your HVAC Needs

Indoor humidity is no fun. Myrtle Beach is hot and sticky enough outside. You should be comfortable in your home. In addition to the causes of indoor humidity listed above, you might also experience poor humidity control if your system is improperly sized. While dehumidifying systems and other solutions exist, it's best to investigate first to see if the problem has a simpler solution.

If you think your HVAC isn't working as it should, give us a call. Cooper Mechanical Services has been helping Grand Strand homeowners and businesses since 1989. Let our family help keep your family comfortable. Call Cooper!

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AC Blowing Warm Air? Try This First

Myrtle Beach extreme heat

Summer in Myrtle Beach Without AC? No Way!

Myrtle Beach vacation companies love to market Myrtle Beach as a summer beach destination, but one thing that doesn't always translate in those photos of happy families outdoors: the oppressive heat and humidity. For us lucky to call the Grand Strand home, summer sometimes feels like we just shuffle from one air-conditioned space to another until the sun has set and temperatures drop. Even if you do venture outdoors for a bit, there's solace that you'll soon be back indoors, a little reprieve from the sun until the next adventure. 

Sometimes the AC isn't as refreshing as it should be though. You adjust the thermostat and stand close to a vent, but all you feel is warm air blowing on you. 

If your HVAC system is on and blowing warm air, it's a signal that something needs attention. A little troubleshooting can help homeowners better communicate their problem to HVAC professionals so you can get your AC back up and running.

Basic AC Troubleshooting Before You Call

1. Check Your Expectations: Okay, this one isn't a troubleshooting task, per se, but sometimes we have unrealistic expectations for how quickly an HVAC system should cool a room. Have you given your system enough time to warm up and lower temperatures? Do you have a lot of uncovered windows? Keeping shades and blinds shut can help expedite the cooling time, so just be mindful of elements that may make cooling your space more difficult for your system.

2. Check Your Filters: Clogged filters limit airflow and cause your AC system to work twice as hard to cool your home. If airflow is weak out of vents, change your filters and test it again. 

3. Check Your Thermostat: One simple solution to the warm air problem is checking the thermostat to make sure it is set to "Cool" or "Auto." If your thermostat is in "Fan" mode, it is just circulating air without cooling it. Additionally, it's possible that your thermostat could have slipped into a programmable pre-set that doesn't reach your comfort level or the times when you want AC.

4. Check Your Outdoor Condenser Unit: Do a visual and auditory inspection of your HVAC unit beside your home. Is it free of grass, leaves and debris? Clogged or dirty coils can impact performance. Does running unit sound normal? Note strange sounds and noises that are out of the ordinary.

Call Cooper for Emergency AC Services

If you've performed the tasks above and your HVAC system still isn't cooling, give us a call. You'll have done some basic troubleshooting, and your answers will help us with diagnosing the issue before we even get to your door.

Summer in Myrtle Beach without air-conditioning can be miserable. Cooper Mechanical Services provides 24/7 emergency HVAC service so you won't have to wait. Need help? Call Cooper!

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What Is Recovery Mode on My Thermostat?

recovery mode on smart thermostat

Increased Functionality with Smart Thermostats

A "smart thermostat" is a relatively new term to describe programmable thermostats in the internet age. These products gain their "smart" modifier through wifi capability and app-based controls. Wifi-enabled programmable thermostats offer increased functionality, simplified design, and energy saving controls. One setting that is new to these thermostats is "Recovery Mode." Recovery mode is an energy-saving preset that slowly transitions your HVAC unit from a standby mode to full-power heating or cooling.

Thermostat Recovery Mode Saves Energy and Money

Imagine being woken from sleep, jumping out of bed, and running to work at full-speed. This type of 0-to-60 is energy draining and taxing. The healthier option is a slower start and a gradual build-up to heavy exertion. This is what recovery mode does for your HVAC system. 

Recovery mode is best used for programmed settings when immediate cooling or heating isn't as important. If you walk into a hot and humid home, your impulse is to get the indoor air to a comfortable setting quickly. However, if you program your thermostat to keep your home at a more economical setting while you are at work or school and to resume your normal comfort level for your return, recovery mode is quite helpful.

Let's use air conditioning during our hot and humid Myrtle Beach summers. Using the app on a smartphone, you can raise the temperature from your cool 70° to 75° during the hours of 8AM to 4PM while all are out of the house. In order to cool your home by 5° for your return at 4PM, your smart thermostat will shift to recovery mode. It may take an hour to slowly drop your home's temperature, but it will use much less energy. If no one is there demanding immediate comfort, it makes sense to save energy and money.

Now if you see "Recovery Mode" on your thermostat or app, you'll know why!

Cooper Mechanical Services for Smart Savings

Advancements in HVAC technologies is better for the environment and your wallet. Cooper Mechanical Services is Myrtle Beach's solution for the latest in energy saving comfort. We can also help you take advantage of energy efficiency tax credits! If you are looking to upgrade or replace your home or businesses HVAC system, call Cooper today.

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