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Cooper Mechanical Blog

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 brings millions of visitors a 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 or on vacation. The last thing 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 unit 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 end. 

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 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 waters 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 fix 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 homeowner's aren't regularly crawling in the attic and checking ducts, moisture and insulation problems are using 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: Unevaporated 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 and stuff, reduce indoor humidity and make sure 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 cool 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: 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: 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 your 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 and heating and cooling company to determine whether your existing HVAC can handle the additional space. Typically, HVAC units are rating 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 heat in the summer. Doing your research on building materials and working with a trusted builder will help you make sure 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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What's the HVAC Smell When I Turn on the Heat?

HVAC smells may mean trouble

Can't You Smell That Smell?

When we talk to customers, we mention that a full HVAC inspection involves all five senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Well, maybe not taste, but the point is that the paying attention to the senses can clue you in to potential issues before they snowball.

Many folks are familiar with a smell associated when the heat kicks on for the first time in a while. That burning, electric smell that lasts for a few moments and then dissipates reminds me of the baseboard heater of my childhood home. It was usually just the furnace burning off the dust that had accumulated during inactivity. It lasted for a moment and was gone. In this case, it was relatively harmless and normal. But when might a smell indicate a larger problem and warrant a professional inspection?

Burning Electrical Smells

If the electrical odor persists, you should call a professional immediately. One possibility is faulty wiring, which if left unchecked, could lead to an electrical fire. It's also possible that the smell is coming from an overheating mechanical component in your HVAC system. It's best to turn everything off and call a trusted HVAC professional before an electrical hazard occurs or a part of your system burns out.

Moldy, Musty Smells

South Carolina has no shortage of heat and humidity. And with recent hurricanes and flooding, all the moisture has created the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Mold growth in HVAC ductwork requires professional cleaning. The good news is that your unit isn't at fault. The bad news is that circulating mold spores can be harmful to your health.

Rotten Egg Smells

This is a serious one. A rotten egg smell usually means there is a natural gas leak. A gas leak could lead to an explosion, so get out of your house and call the fire department. An HVAC professional can identify the source of the leak and repair it, once cleared to do so by safety officials.

Dead Animal Smells

It's hard to describe this odor, but you'll notice it. HVAC ducts and vents can be cozy nesting areas for all types of rodents and birds. Animals can clog vents, which in turn makes your HVAC system work harder to maintain indoor room temperatures. If you have an animal decomposing in your HVAC system, you'll either need to remove it yourself or call a pest control company to handle it for you.

Cooper Mechanical Services

Don't ignore the strange smells coming from your HVAC system. They can be an early warning sign of bigger problems to come. Cooper Mechanical Services will inspect your system, diagnose the problem, and fix it quickly. Our family business has been serving the Myrtle Beach area's HVAC, refrigeration, and electrical needs since 1989. To speak with a member of our team, Call Cooper

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Stay Warmer with These Quick Fixes

Keep Your Myrtle Beach Home Warmer

Stay Warmer this Winter

Wintertime in South Carolina can be unpredictable, but you should definitely count on a handful of cold snaps and freezing temperatures. As you take heavier blankets and warmer clothes out of your closets, there are also a some other things you can do around the house to keep warmer while you wait for spring. Try out some of the suggestions below to make heating your home easier.

Tips for Improving Home Heating

Seal Leaks and Gaps: Use caulk and/or replace weather stripping to seal leaks around doors and windows. Don't let warm air escape or cold air in. By sealing things up, your HVAC system will work less and save you money.

Don't Heat Unused Spaces: If you have a guest room that is unoccupied most of the year, you can shut the vents and close the door. While the room will quickly become colder, you can be sure that most heat is distributed to spaces you actually use. 

Insulate Water Heater and Crawl Space Pipes: Insulation sleeves and insulation covers can wrap your hot water heater and crawl space water pipes to help prevent heat loss. 

Use Alternative Heat Sources: You can warm your home and save money by using a traditional fireplace, a gas fireplace with a blower, or a pellet stove to help heat your living room. Keeping the fan setting on your HVAC thermostat can help circulate warm air you generate from your fireplace or stove.

Change Air Filters: Keep your heat blowing freely by changing your air filters regularly. Clogged filters not only make heating more difficult, but they also make your HVAC system work harder to maintain a set temperature, which costs you more on your monthly power bill.

Check Vents: Make sure air returns are clear of obstructions. If you have floor vents, make sure furniture or curtains aren't blocking the warm air from reaching the room.

Consider a Maintenance Agreement: Scheduled service and cleaning is the best way to increase the life of your HVAC system. Cooper's Clean & Service agreements occur every six months, and they let you know the health of your system before the hottest and coldest days of the year.

Stay Warm with Cooper Mechanical Services

While we talk a lot about the AC part of HVAC, Myrtle Beach does receive winter weather, and having a working heating system is critical for this time of the year. Cooper Mechanical Services has been serving the Grand Strand since 1989. To schedule a service call or to speak with a Cooper team member, contact us today

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4 Easy Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Improve Indoor Air Quality in Myrtle Beach

Indoor Air Quality Affects Comfort and Health

With colder weather, there’s an increased chance that your windows and doors are closed, and your HVAC unit is cycling air to heat and ventilate your home. Since the winter months include flu and cold season, it’s important that the air in your home is free of major pollutants and allergens that could make health problems worse. Good indoor air requires homeowners to eliminate sources of allergens or pollutants, maintain HVAC systems with scheduled maintenance, and keep indoor spaces clean.

Change Your HVAC Filters Regularly

HVAC filters trap particulates as indoor air cycles from indoor intakes and out vents. Filters should be checked and replaced regularly. When an air filter is clogged with dust, debris, and and other dirt, your HVAC system works harder to push air through to maintain the temperature set on your thermostat. This is not only bad for your HVAC system (it could overheat or worse), but it also does a poorer job of ventilating your home. All of these things can lead to a stuffy house and possibly make you more prone to existing allergies or illness. We’ve reviewed air filters before, and for most, an inexpensive, 1" fiberglass filter changed regularly will suffice. For those with allergies, you may consider a HEPA-rated filter capable of trapping smaller particles. 

Avoid Smoking Indoors

It’s obvious and pretty much goes without saying, but smoking inside is the leading cause of poor indoor air quality. More importantly, indoor smoking may affect the health of those you love the most, leading to everything from asthma and respiratory infection to cancer from second-hand smoke. In fact, clean air supply is one of the most important factors of human health and wellbeing.
While vaping and e-cigarettes seem to be odorless, the long-term health affects of them are still pretty unknown. Play it safe and smoke or vape outside. Indoor smoking also increases chances of home fire, so do you and your family a favor and take it outdoors. 

Keep Your Home Clean

The more dust, dander, and debris in your home, the worse the air quality and the more your HVAC has to work to compensate for clogged vents and overly dirty filters. Keep floors swept and vacuums, and be sure to dust frequently. Using microfiber cloth or even a damp paper towel can help gather dust so you can remove from your home. This is better than simply pushing it around and into the air with a wand. Keep pet hair under control by brushing your pets to remove loose fur, or by using a vacuum cleaner designed to handle pet fur. 
Keep counter tops, sinks, and bathrooms clean and dry to combat the growth of household mold. Cleaning your home will make you and your HVAC happier. 

Open Windows, But Be Aware of Outdoor Allergens

Every now and then Myrtle Beach will be blessed with a winter day in the mid 70s. Opening windows and creating some cross-ventilation is a great way to bring some fresh air into the house. Pollen is usually not bad during the winter, but be mindful out outdoor allergens that may come in as well as a change in indoor humidity.
Indoor air quality is important for comfort and health. If the above steps don’t help to improve indoor air quality, call Cooper Mechanical Services for a professional inspection of your HVAC system.
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Your HVAC Thermostat and Myrtle Beach Weather

Thermostats and Drastic Changes in Myrtle Beach Weather

Fall and winter in Myrtle Beach can be unpredictable. In the 50s one day and the 80s the next. Two days later and neighbors are reminding you to keep the sinks dripping because a deep freeze in on the way. Keeping the inside of your home or workplace comfortable is important. But using your thermostat wisely can also save you a lot of money in energy costs. 

In order to maximize savings and keep your HVAC working effectively, it's important to take advantage of the various settings and features on your thermostat.

Set It and Forget It

As we've mentioned before, using your thermostat's settings can lead to considerable savings. The reality is, many homeowner's see a digital display and don't want to bother messing with it. In actuality, most thermostats are simple to use and come with some pre-set modes that fit most people's needs. 

Use the custom settings to select a mode that changes the temperature to a more economical setting for the hours that you and your family are out of the house. 

The U.S. Dept. of Energy finds that setting your thermostat to adjust the temperature by 7-10 degrees during the hours your are out of the house leads to savings of up to 10% on power bills.

Take the time to click through the settings on your thermostat, and start seeing savings next month.

Use Natural Heating and Cooling

Keeping an eye on the forecast and making simple adjustments can also lead to energy savings. On colds days, open blinds and shades to take advantage of natural solar heating, and use heavy curtains or blackout shades on particularly warm days. Obvious adjustments like this can improve HVAC efficiency and save energy.

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Caring for Your HVAC System After a Flood

HVAC Systems and Flood Water

The Carolinas saw unprecedented flooding in the wake of Hurricane Florence. In many cases, areas that have never seen flood waters found themselves surround by river water. For homeowners and businesses in Brunswick, Horry, and Georgetown counties, HVAC systems may have been submerged in flood water, and it's important to have a thorough cleaning, remediation, and if needed, repair of the system before resuming normal operations.  In this blog post we will review the necessary steps to take with your HVAC after a flood. These best practices come from the CDC's "Recommendations for the Cleaning and Remediation of Flood-Contaminated HVAC Systems: A Guide for Building Owners and Managers."

Safety Precautions Before Assessing HVAC Damage or Cleaning

The first step before entering a flooded building is to get clearance that electrical is cut off at the main power box. Once waters have receded, an electrical inspection is a wise starting point.  More than the debris that may be clogging your HVAC system, the flood water in your HVAC unit and your building's filters and ductwork pose the most serious danger to your health. The water and excessive moisture after waters have receding create prime conditions for the growth of bacteria and microorganisms. These bacteria and fungi may show up as "black mold" and may pose serious health risks.  As a result, it's important to wear recommended respiratory protection before beginning work. If the building will be partially occupied during remediation, the CDC recommends using plastic sheeting or temporary walls to reduce the risk of exposure. 

HVAC Cleaning and Remediation Steps

The following steps are adapted from recommendations from the CDC:
  • Remove all flood-contaminated insulation within HVAC system components, including all filters and porous insulating material.
  • After removing any insulation and filters, clean all flood-contaminated HVAC system component surfaces with a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner to remove dirt and microorganisms. Pay special attention to filter racks, drain pans, bends and horizontal sections of air ducts where debris can collect.
  • Chemically clean all HVAC system surfaces with either a bleach/water mix, or an approved chemical cleaner.
  • Follow the disinfection procedure with a clean water rinse. Depending on the amount of debris present, it may be necessary to mechanically clean the HVAC system component surfaces with a steam or a high-pressure washer before using the disinfectant. 

It's important to note while many commercial HVAC systems use metal ductwork that can be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed, most residential HVAC systems use ductboard. In many cases, if ductboard is affected by floodwaters, the porous material easily absorbs water and becomes a hotbed of mold growth. In these instances, the only option is to remove all the ductboard and replace it.

Working with Local, Trusted Professionals

Cooper Mechanical Services have been providing dependable electrical and HVAC service to Horry County South Carolina since 1989. We've helped businesses and homeowners recover from every major natural disaster since Hurricane Hugo. The Cooper HVAC and electrical teams work in tandem with water damage restoration professionals to bring your home or business back to its pre-flood state.

Whether you need commercial HVAC repair after a flood, or a licensed electrical inspection, the Cooper team is always ready to help. Just Call Cooper.

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Recovery Resources for Myrtle Beach Businesses and Individuals After Hurricane Florence

South Carolina Recovery Funds and Assistance After a Hurricane

Beginning the Recovery Process After a Major Disaster

Hurricane Florence has left many individuals and businesses in South Carolina without shelter, electricity, or the ability to do business. At Cooper, we've worked tirelessly around-the-clock these last couple weeks to aid residential and commercial customers in need of HVAC, electrical, and generator services. 

However, it seems the worst of Florence will be felt long after the storm has left. Record-setting flood waters threaten many areas outside of normal-risk flood zones. The unfortunate result will be a record number of Horry and Georgetown county residents and companies with flooded homes and businesses. 

In this post we will highlight the process for recovery.

Thankfully, the federal response to Hurricane Florence has been swift. Within days, the White House authorized a Federal Major Disaster Declaration for South Carolina that brought resources to our region and commits federal funds through FEMA toward relief and recovery.

Working with Insurance and SCEMD

If you are a home or business owner, your first call should be to your insurance provider. Small business insurance policies vary, but you'll want to review our policy carefully to see what coverage is provided for natural disasters. 

FEMA and other federal relief may still be available to you even if you have insurance, but it is important that all insurance benefits are exhausted before federal financial assistance to avoid duplication of benefits. Keep a record of your exchanges with your insurance agents and keep copies of claims to avoid potential problems.

Types of Federal Assistance Available 

  • There are many, many different types of recovery aid available, and for the uninitiated, simply finding what is available and differentiating the different applications and agencies can be a challenge. Whether an individual or a business, your first stop should be the South Carolina Emergency Management Division website. Here are the types of assistance that may be most valuable to our residential and commercial customers:
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency: FEMA's Individual Assistance Program directs funds through the Individual and Household Program (IHP). The maximum assistance for households through the IHP in 2018 is $34,000.
  • Home Physical Disaster Loans: Homeowners and renters may apply for this loan to repair or replace real estate and/or personal property damaged by a disaster.
  • Business Physical Disaster Loans: Businesses of any size may apply for this loan to repair or replace property owned by the business that was damaged by a disaster.
  • Housing Assistance: For the many who are (or will soon be) displaced from their homes, housing assistance is available for home repair or temporary housing. Qualified applicants must be uninsured or under-insured.
  • Medical and Other Needs Assistance: Federal recovery funds may also be available for medical, dental, or funeral expenses caused by the disaster. You can also recoup expenses for moving, storage and transportation resulting from the disaster. For these, you'll need to submit an application with the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Top Resources for Getting Information and Filing Claims

South Carolina Emergency Management Division "Recovery Programs" page: This should be the first page you visit to explore what's available to you.

Disaster Assistance Application Site: DisasterAssistance.gov is where you can find, apply, and check the status of your assistance. 

Disaster Assistance Documentation: Damage forms, instructions, fact sheets and more for both individuals and businesses.

FEMA Helpline: Contact FEMA by toll-free phone, internet help desk, or through a local disaster recovery center located through their website. If you are struggling with the recovery process, this is what this help center is for.

Cooper Mechanical Services is South Carolina Strong

Cooper Mechanical Services and Cooper Electrical Services have been serving coastal South Carolina since 1989. We are proud to be South Carolinians, and we are committed to providing the best service possible to our communities. 

For HVAC, electrical, generator, and mechanical services, Call Cooper

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