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HVAC Repair or Replace?

Repair or Replace your HVAC unit? Photo of tools.

Repair or Replace? A Common Situation

It's a question you've likely considered with cars, computers, and other household appliances: is it better to repair or replace? And like others, it can be difficult to determine which option is best and most economical in the short-term and long-term. Many homeowners face this very dilemma when their aging HVAC unit requires a major repair. 

Cooper Mechanical Services is a Myrtle Beach area family-owned and operated HVACR company. Our philosophy is that a strong business relies upon trust and honesty, and that the hard-sell doesn't help us achieve this. In this post we'll give you our honest and reliable perspective on when it may be more advantageous to repair or replace. 

Consider HVAC Lifespans

New HVAC units experiencing issues tend to be repaired, especially since they are often under warranty. If your unit is relatively young, repairing is often those most cost-efficient in the short and long-term.

That said, it's important to recognize that an HVAC system's lifespan can vary, especially if it is in close proximity to the beach and ocean. Outdoor units that are oceanfront or near it average 6-8 years. If you are further inland in Myrtle Beach or the Conway area, the average lifespan increases to 10-15 years. 

Why do HVAC units near the beach have a short life? It's simply the environmental factors: increased salt water and air, wind and debris, and exposure to more severe weather. 

The best way to extend the life of your HVAC unit is with regular maintenance. Cooper Mechanical Services offers homeowners Clean & Service agreements that can help you put off the high cost of replacement for a little longer.

Old HVAC Units Are Inefficient

When considering repair or replacement cost, you should also consider that older HVAC systems will be less efficient and effective at heating and cooling. This can lead to higher electric bills over your units remaining years, and while this difference may seem small per month, it can easily add to hundreds of dollars over a couple years.

The Repair or Replace Formula

If your HVAC unit is in the middle or toward the end of its lifespan, there is an easy formula that may help you decide which avenue is best.

Repair your unit if:

Cost of Repair x Age of Unit in Years < Cost of New Unit

Replace your unit if: 

Cost of Repair x Age of Unit in Years > Cost of New Unit

Call Cooper for an Honest Opinion

In the end, if you are unsure whether to repair or replace, ask one of our knowledgeable technicians for advice. We will consider the age and health of your unit, the estimated life remaining, and the difference in cost between repair and replacement. Rather than simply push you toward the most expensive option, we want the solution that is best for your family and budget.

Give us a call or fill out the contact form on our website to speak with a Cooper representative today.

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Get Ready for the Summer with DIY HVAC Maintenance

Prep Your HVAC for Spring and Summer

Hot weather can start early in Myrtle Beach. As you perform spring cleaning around the house and yard, it's helpful to do some brief inspection of your HVAC system. Taking a close look at your heating and air conditioning unit and vents can help you get ready for summer where your AC will be put to the test with high use. 

Additionally, making an HVAC check in early spring can also alert you to problems earlier. This means you won't be sweltering if you do need to call a technician for a repair.

4-Step DIY HVAC Inspection

While Cooper Mechanical Services provides a comprehensive Clean & Service agreement for businesses and homeowners, we understand that some prefer the cost-saving, do-it-yourself method. Cooper Mechanical Services provides an extensive chemical cleaning and inspection, but for your safety, we present 4 simple inspection tips that do not require advanced knowledge.

1. Check & Replace Filters: This is the easy one. Inspect filters to make sure they fit properly (no gaps) and are not clogged with debris. For most, an inexpensive fiberglass is sufficient. However, some systems may require other types of filters. To learn more, check out our post on how to choose the correct HVAC air filter.

2. Check Exterior Unit: Your HVAC condenser unit is located outside your home or business. Some businesses may have them mounted on the roof. Trim weeds, grass, and other plants that are growing around your unit. Be sure to wash clippings and debris away with a hose (the water will not hurt your unit). Aim to have at least two feet of clear area around your unit. It's also a good idea to run your HVAC and listen to your unit. Make note of any unusual or unfamiliar sounds, and consider calling Cooper Mechanical Services if you are concerned.

3. Check Vents: Back inside, check all the vents or air returns. Make sure they are open and free of debris. If you have floor vents, ensure they are not blocked by furniture or rugs, and that air is free to distribute. This will make sure you have good ventilation, and will make your HVAC more effective and efficient.

4. Check the HVAC Drip Pan: Outside, check the drain pan below your HVAC unit. Make sure it's not backed up or clogged. Cooper Mechanical Services includes drain line and pan cleaning in our schedule service, but if you'd like to do it DIY, be sure to shut off power to your HVAC before wiping blockage away with a towel or wet/dry vacuum.

Call Cooper for Honest HVAC Service

Want a professional to service and inspect your HVAC before the hot summer weather arrives? Cooper's Clean & Service agreements provide comprehensive scheduled maintenance twice a year. We'll visit your home or business before the summer and winter to clean and inspect all major components and functions. 

A Clean & Service agreement is the best way to extend the life of your HVAC unit. To learn more, Call Cooper today.

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3 Reasons to Upgrade to a Smart Thermostat in Your Home or Office

Smart Thermostat made by Nest

Considering a Smart Thermostat?

The thermostat is your primary interface when it comes to controlling the temperature and comfort of your workplace or home. For most of us, it's a "set it and forget it" affair. We set our ideal temperature and rely upon the system to maintain that temperature. 

You might not see any need to upgrade your thermostat as long as it is doing this job. However, if you need to replace a broken thermostat, or if you are questioning upgrading, here are 3 reasons why you should consider a smart thermostat.

Advantages of Smart Thermostats

Smart Thermostats Are Easy to Program: Compared to older digital display thermostats, modern smart thermostats are built with user experience in mind. Borrowing from digital UX in other devices, smart thermostats are infinitely easier to program. Choose between a variety of pre-configured settings or create a custom schedule.

Advanced programming allows users to set thermostat adjustments for efficiency and cost savings. Why heat or cool a space when people are from home or work? Use a program to adjust your thermostat while spaces are unoccupied to be more energy efficient. 

Smart Thermostats Are WiFi Capable: One of the best features of a smart thermostat is the ability to control it remotely. Once you've connect your thermostat to your home or office network, you can easily make adjustments from a smartphone, tablet or other device. This can be helpful when you need to make adjustments from your programmed schedule.

Smart Thermostats Are More Accurate: Smart thermostats use digital displays, allowing users to set a temperature precisely. This is a big advantage over old thermostats that use a dial that can be a challenge to set accurately to a specific degree. A digital thermostat is also easy to read, which is an important feature for those with poorer vision. With a smart thermostat, there will be no question as to the thermostat settings.

How Do I Choose a Smart Thermostat

There are a variety of manufacturers of smart thermostats, and chances are the maker of your existing thermostat likely makes a smart model as well. For honest recommendations for smart thermostats are a variety of price points, give Cooper Mechanical Services a call.

The Cooper HVAC team has been helping Myrtle Beach area businesses and homeowners with heating and cooling since 1989. Whether it's a single-family home with a single HVAC unit or a large business with a more complex system, we're ready to help you with HVAC sales, installation, maintenance, and repair.

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Poor Kitchen Ventilation: Common Causes and Fixes

Kitchen ventilation with a hood

Kitchen Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality

A poorly ventilated kitchen is a nightmare. It gets steamy, greasy, and hot. All of the steam and oil is putting particulates in the air, but where are they going? If you're constantly feeling like there's a film over your stovetop and counters, then they are staying right where they are. Kitchen ventilation is an important component of having good indoor air quality (IAQ).

Poor indoor air quality in your kitchen means more than just a greasy backsplash and appliance. Indoor air quality is an important metric for your health and comfort. So what affects kitchen ventilation? Let's look at the two biggest causes.

Causes of Poor Kitchen Ventilation

There are two big causes of poor kitchen ventilation and air quality:

Infrequent Use of Kitchen Exhaust Fan: Believe it or not, most of us are not using the exhaust fan as much as we should be. In fact, according to a California IAQ study in 2016, only 13% of homeowners frequently use the exhaust fan when cooking. The study found that the majority of us don't turn on the fan because we either don't think it's necessary (48%), or we find it to be too noisy (21%).

In this case, the fix is easy. Turn on the exhaust fan above the stove range before you start cooking. It's important to turn it on early, and not after grease, steam, or smoke is billowing up. This fan works to circulate and/or move air to the outdoors. 

Which brings us to our second cause of poor kitchen ventilation:

Insufficient Kitchen Exhaust System: What good is a kitchen exhaust hood and fan if it doesn't work effectively? The most common issue with kitchen exhaust fans is that they don't vent to the outdoors. While this is a common home design feature, some kitchen exhaust fans simply recirculate air through a filter system in the hood above your oven, hopefully trapping particulates from the air. In this case, there may be an issue or blockage in the hood or filter leading to a poor capture efficiency.

Fix Kitchen Ventilation and Improve IAQ

The easiest way for most of us to improve kitchen ventilation is simply to use the exhaust fan more frequently. If your current exhaust fan is ineffective, use the rear burners to minimize particulates that escape the range of the hood.

Most importantly, if you are building or remodeling, consider a kitchen hood that vents to the outdoors.

Cooper Mechanical Services for Kitchen Ventilation

Cooper Mechanical Services is Myrtle Beach's ventilation expert for residential and commercial kitchens. The Cooper HVAC team offers expertise in kitchen HVAC, refrigeration, and ice machine systems. If you have a question about the ventilation in your home or workplace, call Cooper

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What Is the Best HVAC Company in Myrtle Beach?

Hire the Best HVAC Company in Myrtle Beach with a phone call

Is There a Best HVAC Company in Myrtle Beach?

The easier answer is simply, "Yes, and it's Cooper Mechanical Services." But would you take our word for it? Probably not. You need evidence and a third-party opinion.

When someone asks who "the best" HVAC company is, they are looking to find a heating and cooling specialist that is honest, affordable, quick, and reliable. Given the size of the Grand Strand and the heat and humidity of our region, there are a lot of HVAC companies out there to choose from. 

While many will claim to offer excellent service and prices, it's sometimes difficult to see through the advertising copy.  So where do businesses and homeowners go to find the best HVAC contractor? Usually the web. With an abundance of review sites and web resources to consult, consumers can now make informed decisions when selecting an HVAC company for service, installation or repairs. 

Tips for Finding the Best HVAC Company in Myrtle Beach

1. Visit the Company Website: Learn how long they have been in business, whether or not they are locally-owned, and if they are invested in the community. You can infer a lot about a business by how they present themselves to potential customers. If it looks like someone you think you can trust, dive a little deeper.

2. Check Online Reviews: Look for feedback on Google Reviews and Facebook Reviews, the two most popular platforms for consumers to rate and review companies. Look for patterns across multiple reviews as this is a better indicator than a single exceptional or horrible review. The best reviews are specific about why the service was good or lacking, which is much more helpful to consumers than a simple star rating.

3. Solicit Recommendations from Your Network: Use social media to ask for a recommendation. Like the reviews, encourage people to explain why they liked a company more than another. Again, if you see one name and feedback being repeated, this is generally a good sign. 

4. Ask About Certifications: Make sure the HVAC company you hire invests in its employees. Ask about their certifications and look for certifying symbols on their website. The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification is a common benchmark in the HVAC industry.

5. Ask About Labor Rates, But Be Wary of Telephone Quotes: You can certainly ask an HVAC company about standard labor rates or if they have a minimum service call fee, but be cautious. Reputable HVAC companies don't give quotes sight unseen, so if a company gives you a dollar amount before diagnosing the issue, keep looking.

Work with the Best HVAC Company in Myrtle Beach

Cooper Mechanical Services is a family-owned and operated business that's been helping Myrtle Beach area businesses and residents since 1989. Our certified HVAC team is smart, fast, and honest. We understand that you'll need an unbiased opinion, so look at what past customers have said and decide for yourself. Call Cooper--we'll be here. 

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HVAC Systems, Leaks, and Mold Growth

HVAC leaks in ducts, drain lines can cause mold growth in or near your home.

HVAC Systems, Leaks, and Mold Growth

A recent mold outbreak and poor handling of the cleaning at St. James Elementary School has lead to multiple public meetings with Horry County Schools’ board. After finding mold in over 20 locations in the school, the news raises questions and concerns about where the mold originated.

For indoor mold to thrive, it needs 3 conditions: moisture, warmth, and food. A small leak that drips onto an organic material like wood in a temperate place is all it takes for spores to grow. The water source is ultimately a critical piece of the equation, and fixing the leak or source of moisture is key in preventing future mold growth.

One possible cause of mold growth could be a leak from one or more components of your HVAC system. So what would cause your HVAC system to leak? 

Common Causes of HVAC System Leaks

The following issues frequently cause leaks and/or excess water buildup:

Clogged Drain Line: Drain lines can can easily become clogged with dirt and debris. When lines are clogged, water will overflow the HVAC drain pan. This is a common HVAC service call and easily fixed.

Disconnected Drain Line: Overtime drain pipe fittings may loosen and even disconnect. Water and condensation in the line may drip and pool. Once the loose connection is found, reconnecting the line is straightforward

Condensation and Cracked Ductwork: Sometimes moisture can get trapped in ductwork. Cracked or broken ducts without insulation can lead to leakage, affecting ceiling or wall areas near the duct.

Frozen Evaporator Coil: A frozen evaporator coil or ice buildup signals possible problems associated with clogged filters or bad blower fans. Secondary problems from a frozen evaporator coil include excess water buildup, so taking care of one issue will usually solve the other.

Address Leaks and Mold at the Source

If you see water leaking near an HVAC vent or near ductwork, call an HVAC professional to fix it. Mold growth, especially on porous surfaces like walls and ceilings requires a mold remediation specialist as well.

Since mold spores are microscopic, surface cleaning by yourself usually results in mold coming back. A professional mold removal will check and remediate the interior of walls and remove the porous surfaces that mold spores have permeated.

If you suspect you have an HVAC leak, call Cooper Mechanical Services. Our family-owned and operated business has been serving Myrtle Beach’s HVAC needs since 1989. Call a company you can trust--call Cooper.

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Do I Really Need to Clean My HVAC Ducts?

HVAC Duct Cleaning

The Truth About HVAC Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning is a service provided by many HVAC companies. You'll often see persuasive marketing that cleaning your HVAC ducts will improve your family's health. In fact, some companies target parents of children with asthma and allergies, arguing that HVAC duct cleaning can help alleviate symptoms from both, as well as make your HVAC system more efficient, saving you money. 

The truth is that there is little evidence to prove these claims. A 2019 Washington Post article reporting recent EPA study finds there is no evidence to back up promises of improved health or measurable HVAC efficiency.

Why Would You Need a Duct Cleaning in the First Place?

It's true that dust and particulate debris settles inside the ducts of your HVAC system. Commonsense says that dust and debris can affect one's respiratory health, so cleaning the debris inside the ducts would result in cleaner air coming through the vents. While most probably aren't concerned, those with asthma may be persuaded by this common sense argument.

However, as the EPA study finds, the dust that settles in your ducts typically just sits there undisturbed. The study concluded that: 

“Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g. dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. This is because much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. . . . Moreover, there is no evidence that a light amount of household dust or other particulate matter in air ducts poses any risk to your health.”

The real surprise of the finding is that a duct cleaning may actually make matters worse. Duct cleaning equipment stirs up that dust and debris, creating a bigger problem than the one it attempts to solve. The consensus from two separate, independent studies is that unless disturbed, duct dust is harmless to most and just simply sits there.

When is a Duct Cleaning Necessary?

There are some cases where duct cleaning is important. Any type of water damage to HVAC ducts makes mold growth a dangerous possibility. 

Additionally, birds, rodents and other animals often make homes in HVAC ducts, which can create larger problems. Removal and cleaning in these cases may be warranted.

What Really Matters for Air Quality?

As we've written about before, using the proper air filter for your needs and changing it regularly is the best way to keep your air quality high. For families with a member with asthma or a severe allergy, HEPA-filters that catch much smaller microscopic particulates are available.

The important thing is to remember to check and change your filter regularly. All homes are different, so some may clog a filter much more quickly than another. When debris blocks airflow, you'll a drop in HVAC efficiency and air circulation. Use a reminder on your smartphone, or sign up for an air filter subscription service to make sure that they are changed on a regular basis.

Need an Honest and Professional Opinion? Call Cooper

Cooper Mechanical Services is a family owned and operated business that's been serving the Myrtle Beach area since 1989. Our reputation is built on providing honest work. Before spending money on a duct cleaning, determine if it's necessary. 

For honest solutions to your HVAC questions and issues, call Cooper Mechanical Services.

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The Most Expensive HVAC Repairs for Hotels and Commercial Properties
HVAC Repair for Myrtle Beach hotels

The Myrtle Beach area thrives on our tourism and service industry. Our miles of wide, sandy beaches bring millions of visitors each year, and as a result, Horry and Georgetown counties are home to hundreds of hotels, motels, condos, and rental properties. One important aspect of keeping visitors happy is to ensure that each room or unit’s HVAC works properly. After all, guests expect comfortable living arrangements while visiting. The last thing that any property manager wants is an emergency HVAC repair interrupting a guest’s stay. 

Be Proactive and Know the State of Your HVAC

While all commercial HVAC systems have the potential to fail at a bad time, most of these units needing emergency HVAC repair break down because of neglect or poor maintenance. That said, property managers are often curious about which types of problems lead to the highest bills, and rightfully so. Here’s a list of the commercial HVAC repairs for hotels and condos that cost the most. But remember: preventative service and maintenance for your hotel HVAC is the number one way to extend the life of your commercial HVAC system. Early detection of issues through scheduled service usually saves you money in the long run.

Cooling Tower Systems Needing Chiller or Condenser Pump Repair

Chilled water systems are popular in commercial properties like hotels and motels because of their relatively low cost. A chilled water system uses either air or water as an agent to cool the condenser. When these systems fail, it’s because they are mechanically complex (and they usually haven’t been serviced). Mechanical repair or replacement of these components can be pricey. The easiest way to avoid this is to simply to have an HVAC professional inspect and service your commercial HVAC on a regular basis. 

Commercial Boiler Needing Repair

The boiler room of a commercial property ensures that the HVAC system delivers heat and hot water on demand. A broken boiler makes business hard, if not impossible. Fixing a commercial boiler can also be costly. Expensive boiler problems usually involve a condenser failure too. A broken boiler prevents you from keeping guests, and the profit loss on top of the costs of repair can be devastating. As a result, we include boiler inspection and service as part of a customizable service and maintenance plan. When you know the state and health of your boiler and HVAC systems, you can address problems before they take an entire HVAC system down. Knowing the health of your system also allows owners and managers to plan and be proactive, which usually saves money in the long-run.

Commercial Clean and Service Agreement

As a family-owned and operated business in Myrtle Beach, we want the businesses in our area to thrive. For hotels, motels and condos taking care of millions of visitors a year, we know that a clean and comfortable environment is required. Cooper Mechanical Services works with Myrtle Beach businesses to create custom HVAC service agreements. The scope and frequency of maintenance is dependent upon your needs and the age of your HVAC system. 
To learn more about our service agreements, or to talk with us about a quote for HVAC repair, contact us via our web form, or simply Call Cooper. 
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Water, Water, Everywhere: Condensation Around HVAC Ducts

HVAC Ductwork and Condensation

Excessive Moisture and HVAC Ductwork

Condensation (water droplets) around the ductwork of your HVAC system is a sign that excessive moisture in your home is not being properly evacuated. In South Carolina, ducts can be found in the the attics and walls of homes on slabs, and even underneath homes that are raised for a crawl space. You may see some of the ductwork near your air handler in a place like a garage, but for the most part, ducts are hidden. Since most homeowners aren't regularly crawling in the attic and checking ducts, moisture and insulation problems are usually manifested in other ways.

Signs of Condensation and Moisture on HVAC Ducts

There are a number of ways you may come to learn that condensation is collecting around your HVAC ductwork. 

Water drops and puddles around vents: Un-evaporated moisture condenses to water droplets that may collect around vents or drip to form puddles below ceiling vents. 

Wet Walls or Ceilings: Excessive moisture may also drip off ducts and collect in drywall. Your first sign of an HVAC moisture problem could be a water mark on a wall or ceiling.

Mold: In the right conditions, excessive condensation can prompt mold growth that you may see on walls, ceilings, and areas near ducts or vents.

Any of these signs should prompt you to either do a self-inspection of the ducts, or to call an HVAC professional.

Causes of Condensation on HVAC Ducts

Why is water collecting around my HVAC ducts in the first place? In order to solve the problem, you'll need to find the source of the excess moisture. Here are some common causes of condensation around ductwork:

Attic Ventilation: Condensation forms when there's a difference in temperature between the duct and the air around it. This is common in poorly ventilated areas like attics and crawl spaces. To keep these spaces from getting too hot, reduce indoor humidity and make sure that there is proper venting to the outdoors.

Bad Duct Seals: Bad seals or leaks in ducts causes the warmer temperature around the duct to mix with the cooler air in the duct. Not only will this result in less efficiency from your HVAC as it works harder to maintain a cooler indoor temperature, but it can also lead to condensation, which can drip from the bad seal.

Poor Duct Insulation: If your ductwork insulation is old and worn, exposed ductwork can be prone to condensation for the same reasons above, such as warm temperatures around the ducts meeting the cold ductwork. Duct insulation can be easily replaced. 

Don't Let Excessive Moisture and Condensation Go Unchecked

If you see signs of water around your HVAC ducts, ignoring it may just compound what is generally an easy fix. In most cases, repairs are routine and fairly easy. They typically begin with repairing bad seals to replacing insulation. If left unchecked, dripping condensation can damage wood and drywall. It also creates an opportunity for indoor mold to grow, which can be bad for your family's health.

Have a question about your HVAC system's ducts? Call Cooper today.

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HVAC for a Sunroom or Small Addition

HVAC needs for Sunroom or Addition

Adding a Sunroom for Natural Light and More Year-Round Living Space

Whether you're converting a screened porch or 3-season room, or extending an existing living space, you'll need to integrate heating and cooling for comfortable living. In South Carolina, sunrooms are popular additions and a great way to bring in more natural lighting to your home. If your roof extends over a screened-in porch, as is the case in many Myrtle Beach neighborhoods, you're just a few walls away from increased year-round living space.

Work with an HVAC Company to Extend Ductwork or Upgrade System

You'll need to consult a heating and cooling company to determine whether your existing HVAC can handle the additional space. Typically, HVAC units are rated for an ideal square footage. For example, if your unit is rated for 1800-2000 square feet, and the addition still keeps you in that range, you're in luck. 

An HVAC professional can extend your existing ductwork and add new vents in your sunroom. Ductwork is easily brought in from above or below, but floor, ceiling, or even wall vents can easily be added in places that help with the natural circulation of air in your home. 

If the additional space puts you over your HVAC system's recommended square footage, you'll need to consider upgrading your condenser or adding an additional unit for zoned heating and cooling. Trying to heat and cool a space too large for your unit is costly, inefficient, and can easily damage your unit. You wouldn't put a 4 cylinder engine in an F-350, would you?

Choose Energy Efficient Building Materials

Spending a little extra for insulated and energy efficient building materials can save you money in the long run. It can also make heating and cooling your sunroom or addition easier, and as a result, make the space more comfortable. 

Things like insulated windows and skylights, or even UV-resistant blinds and shades, can help you keep the heat in during winter, and the cool air in during summer. Sunrooms tend to have a lot of glass, which can make a room hot and difficult to cool in the summer. Doing your research on building materials and working with a trusted builder will help you make sure that you invest in a room that is comfortable year-round. Believe it or not, glass technology has come a long way

Cooper Mechanical Services

Cooper has been helping residential and commercial customers with HVAC services since 1989. Let us help you with your next home improvement project so you and your HVAC unit will be comfortable. Call Cooper!

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