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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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Cooper's Partner Generator Company is Now an Authorized Cummins Dealer

Authorized Cummins Dealer in Myrtle Beach

Cooper Electrical Services and Cummins Generators

Cooper Electrical Services is Cooper's "sister company," handling the Myrtle Beach region's commercial and residential backup power needs. The Cooper team is proud to announce that CES is now an authorized dealer and service provider of Cummins brand generators. Cummins has been a manufacturer of quality-made engines for nearly 100 years. The Cooper team stands behind their products, and we are pleased to become an authorized dealer.

Cooper Electrical Services offers residential and light commercial generators to keep homes and businesses supplied with full power in the event of an outage. Cummins' line of standby generators are clean, quiet, and efficient, tying to existing fuel sources like liquid propane, natural gas, and diesel. 

No-Fuss Backup Power for Hurricane Season

With a Cummins standby generator, your system will automatically detect power disruption and switch immediately to standby generated power. You don't need to do anything. For homeowners, this means full power to all aspects of your home including HVAC and all major appliances. 

For small businesses, even a short power outage can be costly. Given the hurricanes along the Grand Strand in recent years, an outage may knock out power for days or even weeks. Commercial and light commercial generators guarantee that business keep their doors open when their competitors are closed.

What CES Offers as an Authorized Cummins Dealer

Cooper Electrical Services provides free, onsite assessment to determine your power needs. We provide free estimates that include the cost of installation.

As a Cummins dealer, we are also authorized to perform start-up testing, regular service, and warranty repairs. Customers can take comfort in knowing that Cummins generators are designed and manufactured in North America, and OEM inventory for all generators is easily available.

Learn More About Cooper Electrical Services

To learn more about CES and our generator services, please visit our website



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Top 5 Commercial Refrigeration Failure and Repair Articles

Myrtle Beach Restaurant Commercial Refrigeration and a photo of Ice Cubes

Cooper Mechanical Services has been helping restaurants and food service companies keep their refrigeration appliances and systems up and running since 1989. As a family business in Horry county, we take pride in getting to know our customers, their businesses, and their needs. If your business wants trustworthy and dependable refrigeration service, give us a call.

In our last blog we talked a bit about how critical it is for restaurants to keep HVAC equipment working during the busy tourist season. Every hour closed for repair is money lost. In this post we'll look at some of our most popular blogs regarding commercial refrigeration. From walk-in freezers to ice machines, Cooper Mechanical Services' refrigeration experts handle all types of equipment you need to keep products safe and cool.

Tell-Tale Signs of Problems

We often hear customers tell us, "My businesses refrigerator is still running, but it doesn't seem to be as cold as it used to." If you've got a temperature log, either digital or with pen and paper, you may see changing average temps. Often it is seen anecdotally--the refrigerated butter is softer than usual, for example. Learn more about common signs of refrigeration failure and how Cooper Mechanical Services can help.

Avoid a Failing Score from SCDHEC

Every restaurant's fear is a sub-par inspection. SCDHEC can shut a business down if refrigeration units are holding proper temperatures. Over 41 degrees and you may be in the "danger zone," a prime temperature for bacteria growth. Check out this blog post to learn more about SCDHEC refrigeration regulations and how to avoid an inspection that could cost you a lot in lost revenue and damaged reputation.

Clean Refrigerator Coils Yourself

One of the easiest ways to keep a refrigeration unit working efficiently and extend its life is to clean the coils. As long as you can slide the unit out and get to the coils in back, you can clean them with common restaurant cleaning products. Read this popular blog to learn how to clean your refrigerator coils and why it is so important.

Investing in Scheduled Maintenance as a Preventative Measure

Learn about customizable Clean & Service agreements (including refrigeration) for your food service business with Cooper Mechanical Services. Regular cleaning, maintenance, inspection and testing often pays for itself by thwarting big problems before they happen. Service agreements also have the benefit of allowing our team to get to know you and your systems, making follow-up calls quicker and easier.

Getting Faster Service

Cooper Mechanical Services offers 24/7 emergency repair in our service region. We also wrote a blog post about the best strategies for getting quick refrigeration service. Some of these recommendations can even help you consolidate accounts payable and save money as well.


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Restaurant HVAC/Mechanical Repair and Maintenance Services

Restaurant HVAC cleaning and repair

Cooper Mechanical Services Specializes in Restaurant Systems

We spend a lot of time on the blog writing about residential and business HVAC systems, but there's one sector that Cooper Mechanical Services knows well: the restaurant and food service industry. HVACR and ventilation systems in restaurants are more than just providers of comfort. Heating, cooling, refrigeration, and ventilation are needed for safe working conditions, DHEC permits, and safety. Cooper Mechanical Services recognizes the fact that the Myrtle Beach service industry depends on reliable, efficient HVAC, refrigeration, and ventilation system to keep their doors open. Our team provides fast and reliable service to Myrtle Beach restaurants.

Protect Investments with a Clean & Service Agreement

Commercial HVAC, make-up air, and refrigeration systems can get expensive. The best way to maximize the life of your equipment is through regular cleaning, inspection, and testing. Cooper Mechanical Services offers restaurants customizable Clean & Service agreements based on your needs. 

For restaurant HVAC systems, a full cleaning will:

Chemically treat and clean all evaporator and condenser coils

Clean drain pans and drain lines

Check thermostat operations

Inspect electrical components

Test all safety controls

Additionally, we will inspect your exhaust and make-up air systems. These components remove dirty air, typically with particulates of grease and organic matter, and replace it with make-up air from outside the building. 

Cooper Mechanical Services will inspect to see that both aspects (ventilation and make-up) are working in tandem so pressurization issues don't arise. Often our techs will repair small problems like loose belts, possibly avoiding costlier, more serious repairs.

Refrigeration and Ice Machine Service

Cooper can chemically treat and treat refrigeration coils for walk-ins, case displays, and other common commercial refrigeration units. We also can clean and repair ice machines

To learn more about how Cooper Mechanical Services can help you keep your restaurant in clean, working order, contact us today.


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Humidity, Heat, and Air Conditioning

Hot and Humid in Myrtle Beach. Fix your Air Conditioning

The thermometer reads 88 but it feels like the inner ring of Dante's infernal circles out there. There's no doubt the Myrtle Beach's summer get hot, but it's our high humidity that really exacerbates the situation. The "heat index" is the perceived temperature we feel, and the number is a calculation that takes both temperature and humidity into consideration.

It's been an incredibly hot and humid summer so far. Our HVAC team has been all over the Grand Strand, troubleshooting air conditioning problems and bringing our customers cool relief.

Humidity and HVAC Systems

High humidity will make things feel hotter. That leads people to rely more on cold air conditioning for comfort. Modern HVAC systems in homes and workplaces cycle air over cold coils while also removing moisture from the air. This moisture exits your HVAC system by a small drain pipe, usually on the side of your home near the condenser unit.

If your system is ineffective and not sufficiently reducing indoor humidity, you probably won't feel that cool, dry relief. There are clear signs that your HVAC system isn't handling humidity well: condensation on windows, warm indoor temps despite thermostat (remember, humidity makes it feel warmer than it indicates), and damp or musty smells.

These are all clear signs that you'll want an HVAC professional to take a look at your unit.

Fixing Indoor Humidity

There are some things you can do to address an indoor humidity problem before calling a Cooper Mechanical Services tech.

If you're a DIY homeowner and want to do some troubleshooting, look for leaks where excess moisture may be escaping, change your filters to increase airflow, or add fans to add air circulation (especially in big homes or ones not properly zoned). Also, check to see if your thermostat has a "dry" setting.

Of course if your problem is more serious than a clogged filter, you'll want to trust Cooper Mechanical Services to diagnose and fix your problem. 

You may also want to explore a dehumidifier system that integrates with your existing HVAC ductwork.

Don't Sweat; Call Cooper

Cooper Mechanical Services has been providing the Myrtle Beach area with stellar HVAC, electrical, and mechanical services since 1989. Our reputation as a quality, family-owned business is built around honest, dependable work and affordable rates. 

Don't sweat it out for the rest of the summer. Call Cooper for a timely response and an accurate estimate.



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