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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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Featured Product: Reme Halo In-Duct Air Purifier

Improve Indoor Air with REME HALO

Update 3/19/2020

RGF released a technical bulletin stating concerning the Reme Halo and the coronavirus.

Here’s a little known fact: The EPA ranks indoor air pollution as a Top 5 Environmental Danger. We often think about the pollution outside of our home, but that’s the same air circulating around our rooms, not to mention the pollution we add to it from inside the house. Indoor smoking, cooking, pets, and microscopic particles from organic materials compound the issue to sometimes make our indoor air worse than that outdoors. We’ve highlighted ways to get at the sources of poor indoor air quality before, but in this post, we’d like to highlight one of the technological advancements in the HVAC industry for cleaning your indoor air: the REME HALO In-Duct Air Purifier.

How the REME HALO Air Purifier Works

The REME HALO In-Duct Air Purifier targets 3 classes of pollutants: particulates, microbes, and gasses. The purifier is installed in your system’s duct near your home’s central air intake. As air enters the duct and passes by the REME HALO, it is hit with hydrogen peroxide plasma, a charged ionized gas that affects the pollutants in the air. 

This reaction between polluted air and ionized hydrogen peroxide causes particles to cling and clump, making microscopic pollutants easier to trap in your HVAC system’s filter. The REME HALO air purifier makes your filter more effective, though it may also mean that you need to change your filter more often.

REME HALO Air Purifier Myrtle Beach

Indoor Air Quality Can Improve Your Family’s Health

Poor indoor air quality can cause or exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma, COPD, bronchitis, and more. Bad IAQ can be especially dangerous for the very young and very old. Sadly, cases of pediatric asthma have been on the rise, so taking steps to improve the air in your home is crucial to the health of your family.

While technologies like the REME HALO In-Duct Air Purifier are helpful, you should also take steps to improve IAQ by doing the following:

  • Ensure your HVAC properly fits the size of your home and circulates air well
  • Dust and clean regularly
  • Don’t smoke indoors
  • Make sure vents are not obstructed by furniture or rugs

Call Cooper for an Indoor Air Quality Analysis.

If you are concerned about your home’s indoor air quality, Cooper Mechanical Services can help. We will conduct a full IAQ analysis and help you find the best ways to improve the quality of your indoor air. Cooper Mechanical Services has been providing the Myrtle Beach area with exceptional heating, cooling, ventilation, and indoor air quality service since 1989. Don’t live with poor indoor air. Call Cooper today.

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Can My Cooling System Be Converted to Zoned HVAC?

Zoned HVAC Systems for Balanced Comfort

When you set your thermostat, is one room significantly warmer or cooler than another? If it's hard to maintain a steady temp throughout your home, it may be because your HVAC system is not a zoned system. Instead of sensing air temperature at one point and cooling an entire structure based on a single sensor location, a zoned system uses multiple units and divides a house into zones to be regulated separately.

This is common in two story homes with each floor having its own "zone." However, there are other structural features that may need a zoned HVAC system. Heating and air conditioning can be tricky in unconventional spaces. Homes with lots of glass, vaulted ceilings, large wings or open floor plans can make maintaining a consistent temperature tricky.

Zoned HVAC system

Why You May Consider a Zoned HVAC System

Zoning your heating and air conditioning system can customize temperature control. This helps combat areas of your home that tend to stay cold or warm because of positioning to sunlight, amount of glass, etc. 

But what does this mean for monthly costs and comfort? When deciding if your home is a good candidate for zoning, there are a couple key factors to take into consideration.

The first has to do with your temperature experience. Many homeowners who choose to pursue retrofitting for zoning have noticed an imbalance in temperature distribution. If your system is struggling to evenly heat or cool a large area, it might a good idea to look into localized temperature control options.

Another issue that can influence the decision to use zoning methods is efficiency. Many homeowners prefer to heat and cool only the rooms they actively use on a daily basis. For larger homes, this can be a great way to cut costs without taking a hit in comfort. Why pay to keep a room warmed up or cooled down if you aren’t going to be sitting or sleeping in that area?

Zoning provides homeowners with the opportunity to specifically customize the temperature in different parts of the house. This can mean setting your thermostat on a timer during the day while you are at work so you save on heating and cooling costs when the house is empty, or zoning just the bedrooms during the night while residents are sleeping and other parts of the home are empty.

Call Cooper for an Assessment and Estimate

Cooper Mechanical Services is your Myrtle Beach area HVAC, electrical, and mechanical services solution. Our family-owned and operated business has been helping residential and commercial customer solves cooling and heating problems since 1989. 

Our technicians are dependable, professional, and honest. If you are curious about whether a zoned system will improve comfort and savings, give us a call and we'll help you assess the situation and explore options.

Call 843-626-3689 or get in touch with our team of experts at Cooper to learn if your house is right for zoning your heating and air conditioning.

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Space Heater Safety

Space Heaters Are Great, But Be Careful

Winter is almost here, and even Myrtle Beach can experience some cold weather from time to time. If you have an open floor plan or some drafty parts of your home, you might consider a space heater. Space heaters can be great when you need temporary, location-specific heat (a cold room or office, for example). That said, safety heaters can pose a fire hazard if not used properly. 

While there are fuel-burning space heaters, the overwhelming majority of people use electric space heaters for supplemental home and office heating. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates 25,000 residential fires and 300 deaths are caused by space heaters. The top causes of space heater fires are using them too close to flammable items and leaving them unattended.

In this post we'll cover some space heater safety tips so you stay warm and out of harm's way.

Space Heater Safety Tips

Portable electric space heaters are must meet consumer safety standards, but to reduce the risk of fire, follow these safety tips:

  • Keep the area around the space heater clear. A 3-foot radius around your heater should be clear of flammable items including rugs, furniture, curtains, toys, and anything else that could catch fire.
  • Never leave a space heater on unattended. Do not leave the house or go to sleep while a space heater is on.
  • Keep small children away from the space heater. Electric heaters get hot enough to burn, so place your heater in a child-free zone.
  • Place the space heater on a flat surface. Uneven surfaces may cause the heater to tip and pose a fire hazard to nearby flammable items.
  • Use your space heater as intended. Do not use extension cords or use in places that product documents caution against.
  • Choose a space heater with safety features. Some models have auto-shut-off features to reduce risks and fire hazards.
Space heater safety tips

Call Cooper for Residential and Commercial Heating

Cooper Mechanical Services is the Grand Strand's source for quick, honest, and dependable HVAC service. We specialize in residential and commercial heating, cooling, ventilation, and indoor air quality. Additionally, we also offer a variety of electrical and mechanical services to our clients. To learn more about HVAC or to schedule an inspection, visit our website and Call Cooper today.

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What Does SEER Mean?

What Do SEER and HSPF Mean?

What is a SEER Number? What is an HSPF Number?

If you are shopping for a new HVAC system, you’ll encounter two acronyms and associated numbers that you may not be familiar with: SEER and HSPF. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is a value that ranks a system’s efficiency in cooling. HSPF stands for Heating Season Performance Factor, and it’s commonly understood as a comparable score for a unit’s efficiency in heating during cold weather months.

What is a SEER Number?

The SEER number is the ratio between the cooling system output in 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. 

Older HVAC units may have a SEER number between 8-10. Currently, the minimum SEER value is 13, which means replacing your unit will instantly improve efficiency and lower energy consumption costs (consider usage remains constant). 

The SEER number listed with an HVAC system is always the maximum efficiency, which means the unit is capable of reaching that efficiency, but that it may not always operate at that ratio. 

What is an HSPF Number?

The Heating Season Performance Factor, commonly referred to as HSPF, is a heat pump’s efficiency rating. 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.” In essence, it’s a SEER rating for your heating in winter.

Like older AC systems, heat pumps older than 10 years likely have an HSPF number lower than 7.7, which is the current minimum. A system with an HSPF number over 9 can drastically improve efficiency and lower monthly heating costs. 

SEER Matters Most in Myrtle Beach

Since we have more hot weather than cold in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, we tend to work our cooling systems more than our heating systems. As a result, consumers should be more concerned with the cooling efficiency of a unit than the heating efficiency, since the system will spend a majority of its time cooling.

SEER numbers on new HVAC systems range from 13 to 20+. The higher the SEER number, the more efficient the unit will be. While high-efficiency systems with large SEER numbers cost a premium, they can offset their costs with lower monthly cooling costs. Considering how much we rely on air-conditioning in Myrtle Beach from Spring-Fall, a high SEER rating can be worth it in the long run.

Call Cooper for Honest HVAC Service

SEER and HSPF numbers are not the only thing to consider. It’s important that your unit is properly sized for your home or business. In many ways, this is a more important consideration as a unit that is too small for your square footage often leads to mechanical problems from the strain of trying to cool too large a space.

Cooper Mechanical Services is Myrtle Beach’s highly-rated residential and commercial HVAC company that’s been family-owned and operated since 1989. For all things heating, cooling, mechanical and electrical, Call Cooper.

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