Emergency Services

Cooper Mechanical Blog

Lighting Requirements for South Carolina Swimming Pools

Hotel pool at night with required underwater lighting

Pools Rule in South Carolina

It's been a scorcher of a week in Myrtle Beach, and Grand Strand hotels and rentals are packed with visitors. In 2016 our area had nearly 18 million visitors, a record high. While some predict less tourists this year due to recent violent incidents in the city, there is evidence that bookings in nearby Surfside Beach is increasing.

Given the extreme heat of our region, providing access to a recreational swimming pool is practically a necessity. Not only do hotels market their pools to help convert potential guests, but housing developments and local builders use neighborhood and community pools as desirable community amenities. From public swimming pools to indoor and outdoor waterparks, South Carolina requires you meet basic visibility and lighting standards

Pool Lighting for Safety

It is a South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control (DHEC) requirement that public pools open for dusk or night swimming have proper lighting. According to the document on pool regulations (Regulation 61-51), "Artificial lighting must be provided at all public swimming pools which are to be used at night or which do not have adequate natural lighting so that all portions of the pool, including the bottom, may be readily seen without glare."

This requirement is a safety feature. High visibility is important should a swimming hazard be present or recreational accident occur. The illumination requirement extends to both underwater and area lighting.

Underwater Lighting Requirements

SCDHEC provides some guidelines for the types of lighting to be used underwater. 

1. No less than 0.5 watts of incandescent or 8.35 lumens must be provided per square foot of pool.

2. Underwater lights must be positioned so all portions of the pool are clearly visible, including the bottom.

3. Fiber-optic lighting may be installed as a supplement to the lighting requirements above.

5. Colored lighting that does not meet the wattage or lumens minimum above cannot be used.

Area Lighting Requirements

Equally as important as underwater lighting is providing sufficient light to the area around the pool. There are many options in terms of lighting types and design, but again, SCDHEC has some basic guidelines for area lighting, including:

1. Uniform lighting for the deck area with at least 10 foot candles of intensity or not less than 0.6 watts of incandescence (or 10 lumens) per square foot.

2. Light fixtures within the pool area must be protected by a non-breakable lens.

Regulation 61-51 continues to provide rules for wiring, a topic best explored in another post.

Call Cooper for Lighting and Electrical Expertise

Cooper Mechanical Services has been working with hotels, condos, homeownership associations, and rental properties in the Myrtle Beach area for nearly 30 years. Our professional lighting and electrical team is well-equipped to make sure your swimming pool lighting is both attractive and up-to-code. Whether you are looking for replacement lighting, upgrades, or installing for the first time, we are ready to make your pool shine day and night.

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Backup Power for Data Centers

Data center with backup power

Cooper Mechanical Services Helps Data Centers Back It Up

Data centers are the back bone of modern business. Managing and supplying data from a dedicated location, they keep networks of information up and running. From small organizations with a single room for servers for a workplace network, to large facilities that manage information for a network of hospitals, search engines, or large cloud computing applications, data centers are the heart that keeps everything running. 

Because of the necessity for continuous operation, it is imperative that all data centers and IT operations are confident in their backup power solutions. If data centers are the heart, then backup power solutions are life support. Cooper Mechanical Services is pleased to offer sales and installation of commercial generators for continuous, on-site power.

Cummins Power Solutions for the Uptime Your Data Center Requires

Cooper Mechanical Services proudly supplies Cummins Power Generation products and solutions specifically designed for data centers. Cummins is an industry leader for commercial generators, and data centers require the Uptime Institute's Tier IV standard of "five nines" availability -- 99.999% uptime-- that Cummins generator systems are engineered to provide. 

Cooper Mechanical is your single point of contact for installation and design of your Cummins backup power system. Today's generator solutions, as we've mentioned early this month, use automatic transfer systems to immediately move power supply from conventional utility to backup power when the system senses power loss or weakened supply. 

Additionally, modern technology allows for users to monitor data center backup power from digital controls and adjust settings remotely.

Contact Cooper to Learn More

The Cooper team brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to backup and emergency power design, both in single and colocation centers. Contact us today to learn more.

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Commercial Generators 101: Frequently Asked Questions

Commercial generator for a business

Summer is officially here in Myrtle Beach (and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, in fact) and we've definitely noticed an increase in midday thunderstorms. In fact, as we mentioned previously, this is the start of Atlantic hurricane season and predictions are for another above average year due to the lack of an El Nino phase. 

Because of our coastal South Carolina location, storm damage and power outages are likely and something to prepare for. Cooper Mechanical Services helps many businesses along our coastline with water and storm damage to HVAC and electrical systems, and we are pleased to now offer commercial generator sales and installation service to help keep the power fully supplied on during blackouts and brownouts.

How a Commercial Generator Can Help Your Business

Save Perishables: Retain power to industrial refrigerators and coolers and save food (and money)

Stay Safe: Keep security systems online and your business protected

Secure Data: Keep IT networks, servers and important data safe and accessible

Stay Cool/Warm: Continue to power HVAC systems and ensure your business stays comfortable

Frequently Asked Questions About Commercial Generators

Q: What is a commercial generator?

A: A commercial generator keeps your business's power on during an outage. Larger than a portable generator for a home, a commercial generator is permanently installed outside of your business, similar to an HVAC unit.

Q: How do I fuel my generator?

A: Commercial generators are tied directly to a propane (liquified petroleum gas) or natural gas line or tank and to the main power supply to your business. There is no manual fueling, extension cords or hassle. 

Q: How do commercial generators turn on?

A: When power fails (blackout) or drops below an acceptable level (brownout), the automatic transfer switch (ATS) on the generator system senses the change and instantly moves from standby to power mode. When utility power is restored, the ATS reverts back to standby and powers is supplied by normal means.

Q: How do I learn more about commercial generators for my Myrtle Beach business?

A: Cooper Mechanical Services have generator specialists on-hand to answer questions and help find the best solution for your business.

Don't Let the Next Big Hurricane Take Your Business Down

Hurricanes Matthew and Joaquin were back-to-back storms of the century. Having power during a major outage can mean the difference between profit and debt. Call Cooper for honest and dependable HVAC, refrigeration, electrical and commercial generator sales, installation and service. 

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What's the Difference Between Single Phase and Three Phase Generators?

Last week we looked at some of the reasons why a commercial generator could be critical to keeping your South Carolina business functioning and profiting in the case of major power failure. Hurricane season is upon us and weather experts are forecasting an "above-normal" hurricane season due to the lack of an El Niño system in the Atlantic. 

If you've been looking at generators, you've probably noticed that some are "single phase" and others are "three phase." You've probably also noticed that a "three phase" generator usually comes with a significantly higher price tag. In this post we will offer simplified explanations of single and three phase power along with some things to consider when deciding which is best for you.

Speaking with our resident commercial generator specialist at Cooper Mechanical Services is highly advised. Our team is happy to educate, advise and assist all potential consumers. We will make sure you get the generator that fits your needs, not ours. 

Single Phase Power

In the United States, single phase voltage is 120 volts, and the standard for delivering it is alternating current, commonly referred to as AC power. Single phase systems power comes in through a two wire AC circuit, one wire is the 120 current and the other is neutral. The alternating current flows between the load wire and the neutral wire in a cyclical manner with the current flow changing in magnitude and direction.

This cyclical alternating current can be graphed as a single wave (see image below). The wave actually cycles so fast (about 60 times per second) that fluctuations in voltage is not observable to human senses. This form of power is what we all use in our home or non-industrial workplaces for lights, appliances, and even small motors.

single, split and three phase power wave

Three Phase Power

Three phase power uses a four wire AC circuit with three power wires and one neutral wire. Each of the three power lines are operating slightly "out of phase" with each other (precisely 120 degrees difference, if you are curious). Imagine an engine with three pistons, each pumping at the same capacity, but alternating between the three. 

Three phase power has the advantage of providing more power with the same current as well as guaranteeing that the wave never comes to "zero" (see image above). 

Most industrial workplaces use three phase systems because the power is denser. In a generator system, this is ideal for "power hunger" businesses: grocery stores, hospitals, manufacturing. Additionally, this is necessary for data centers.

Curious About Commercial Generators?

Cooper Mechanical Services is excited to help businesses of all sizes plan and prepare for the inevitable power outages that come with living and working in the Myrtle Beach and greater coastal Caroline region.

Please contact Cooper to learn more.

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Hurricane Season is Here. Does Your Business Have a Generator?

Hurricane Season is Here; Prepare for Outages 

June 1 marks the beginning of "Hurricane Season" for the Atlantic region, and forecasters are predicting an "above-normal" year for hurricanes. According to the NOAA, "forecasters predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher)."

Last year Hurricane Matthew caused severe damage and days without power, and the year before Hurricane Jaoquin delivered catastrophic flooding. Whether hurricane or tropical storm, high winds along the Grand Strand can easily knock out power for an extended period of time. Can your business survive without power for that long?

Commercial generators are a sound investment for businesses in the Myrtle Beach area.

Effects of Power Outages Can Hurt Business

Interruptions in power to businesses have far-reaching effects. For example, if your business' network goes down with the power, can you still do business with customers? Will employees be able to be paid? 

In addition to profit loss and inability to manage day-to-day operations, loss of power can also be a safety hazard. Are your security systems, lighting and cameras backed up with generator power?

Manufacturing, financial, and technology businesses are at the top of the list of businesses most adversely affected during a power outage, but entertainment, food service, and hospitals are also in the top 10.For those in the hospitality and service sector in the Myrtle Beach area, a lengthy power outage may mean food and beverage spoilage and loss of business. During Hurricane Matthew, successful grocery businesses were able to serve the public and continue to do business because they were smart enough to use a commercial generator to supply 100% power over lesser standby power options.

It should be noted that many commercial insurance policies offer coverage for utility interruption. We always advise that businesses learn exactly what their policy covers and excludes in these types of situations.

How Do Commercial Generators Work?

Simply, commercial generators monitor the main power supply coming into your business. When power is interrupted from a storm or hurricane, for example, the generator's sensors detect it and disconnect the utility line while simultaneously switching from standby mode to resume power. When the normal current from the utility line is present and detected, the generator will automatically switch back into standby mode once again. 

Cooper Mechanical Services Sells and Installs Commercial Generators

Cooper Mechanical Services has been supplying Myrtle Beach area commercial properties will HVAC, refrigeration, electrical and generator solutions for decades. Our knowledgeable team deals with a variety of generator types and brands, and we offer free consultations to find the best generator for your needs and budget. We sell Cummins Atlantic products but also work with CAT, Generac, and Kohler.

Don't let the severe hurricane predictions catch your business unguarded. Call Cooper and let us help you keep the power on.

Related article: Why You Need Surge Protection Devices for Commercial Spaces

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One of the Biggest Drains on Refrigerator Efficiency is Also the Easiest to Fix

Did You Know...

One of the biggest drains to commercial refrigeration efficiency and effectiveness is also one of the easiest and most inexpensive to fix. 

According to Cooper Mechanical Services Mike Ruggieri, replacing bad gaskets and closures on freezers and refrigerators is one of the most common repairs the team does to improve cooling costs and temperature control. The gasket that creates the seal between the refrigerator door and unit is exposed to a lot of wear and tear, and overtime the seal can deteriorate and start leaking. 

Bad Seal

Bad Seal? credit: Flickr user fiverlocker

The Effects of a Bad Gasket on Your Refrigerator

A bad gasket that lets in air is not just bad for your energy bills; it also strains your refrigeration unit by making it work overtime to hold cool temperatures, which can lead to much more expensive problems.

A leaking gasket can also increase chances of food spoilage and a rotten score on your DHEC inspection--all expensive costs that business owners want to avoid. 

It is best to replace leaking or worn gaskets immediately. This repair doesn't involve any mechanical components, so a DIY fix is an option. Should you decide to repair it yourself, you will need to identify the appropriate part number on the seal itself or in the owner's manual. Be sure that that replacement seal is built for your exact model to ensure proper fit. Of course, Cooper Mechanical Services can quickly replace your gasket and bring back a tight seal on your refrigerator or freezer.

Do-It-Yourself Leak Tests

While Cooper Mechanical Services has equipment on our trucks to test the seal on your refrigerator, there are some simple ways to investigate and locate gasket leaks on your own.

Visual Inspection: Scrutinize the gasket with the door open and closed and look for tears or deterioration. 

Wipe it Down: Believe it or not, dirt and grime may be preventing the gasket from creating a tight seal. Use a web sponge or rag to clean off the gasket.

Paper Test: Sometimes called the "dollar bill test" (although a thin scrap of copy paper will work), this involves placing a thin piece of paper in the seal, closing the door and then trying to pull it out. Do you feel resistance as you pull, or does it slide out easily? 

Save Money, Increase Efficiency

Cooper Mechanical Services knows Myrtle Beach runs on the service and hospitality industry. We know how important it is to have your food service equipment working properly and efficiently. Our team is dedicated to providing stellar refrigeration, HVAC and electrical service including 24/7 emergency service. Call Cooper to see if our refrigeration specialists can save you money and increase the efficiency of your freezers and refrigerators. 

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How to Clean Refrigerator Coils and Improve Efficiency

Are You Cleaning Your Refrigerator Coils?

In our last post we discussed the importance of a Clean & Service plan for commercial refrigeration units. Scheduled cleaning and service is important for making certain that all refrigeration units are holding at South Carolina DHEC required temperatures effectively, and that food is being properly refrigerated to protect consumer safety. 

There is also some basic cleaning that equipment owners can do themselves between scheduled service to keep refrigeration equipment operating at peak performance.

Dust and Debris Can Hurt Refrigeration Performance

Dust, dirt, and other large debris finds its way into the nooks and crannies of all refrigeration units--reach-in, walk-in, deli cases and other types. It's important that dust and dirt is not only cleaned around the refrigeration unit, but that the same dusting, vacuuming and cleaning is done behind the grill where the refrigeration coils live.

When dirt clogs the refrigeration coils, you may notice your unit working harder to maintain cold temperatures. Units may be running louder and longer and not getting cold enough. Additionally, you may notice increased electric bills as a result. Cleaning off the coils is a great first step to addressing your performance problems.

How to Clean the Coils of Your Refrigerator

Before you begin, be sure to unplug your unit for your own safety. Once safely shut down, clean you coils by doing the following:

1. Remove the Grill: The grill is a vented cover that protects the refrigerator's coils. It may be located at the top, bottom, front or back of the unit, and is held in place with screws. Use a screwdriver to remove the grill, wipe off any debris on the grill surfaces, and set it aside.

2. Brush the Coils: Using a soft coil brush, dust the coils, freeing dirt and debris that may be stuck or lodged in tight spaces.

3. Vacuum the Coils: Remove the loosened dirt and debris using a vacuum cleaner with a crevice attachment. Be gentle with the attachment as the thin metal "fins" can bend easily.

4. Attach the Grill: Replace the grill and tighten all screws.

Once your coils have been cleaned, plug your unit back it and monitor it to determine if cooling power and efficiency has improved.

Call Cooper for Deep Cleaning and Service

While brushed and vacuuming the coils is a great way to keep your refrigeration unit clean, it doesn't replace the deep cleaning and service testing done by a Cooper Mechanical Services professional. Cooper has been serving the Myrtle Beach area since 1989. We specialize in commercial refrigeration and provide 24/7 emergency service. Call Cooper to speak with our refrigeration specialists.

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How to Avoid Refrigeration Issues and a Failing DHEC Inspection

Commercial refrigerator

Refrigeration? Yes, We Do That Too.

Most are probably familiar with the acronym HVAC: heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. However, sometimes you'll see the less common HVACR, where the 'R' stands for refrigeration. Cooper Mechanical Services is a refrigeration specialist, offering sales and service of commercial refrigeration equipment. 

Cooper's trained and professional specialists work with all brands of the following equipment:

  • Industrial Refrigerators
  • Walk-in and Reach-in Refrigeration Units
  • Coolers
  • Freezers
  • Ice Machines
  • Display Cases
  • Deli Counter Units

Cooper Mechanical Services has experience working Beverage Air, Hoshisaki, Scotsman, Manitowoc, and other brands of refrigeration equipment. 

Neglected Refrigeration Issues = Money Loss and Bad Publicity

The refrigerator is the most important piece of equipment in a commercial business for keeping food safe. Food service businesses know the importance of properly functioning refrigeration. A visit from SCDHEC inspectors can shut down a business if refrigeration temperatures are not holding at 40°F or below. Once temperatures rise above 41°F, they enter the "danger zone," the prime temperature for the growth of pathogenic bacteria. A failing inspection is not only an interruption in business and profits, it is also a public record that sends a bad message to your customers.

Keeping a log of temperatures is important because it allows you to monitor the ability of your equipment to hold a cold temperature over an extended period of time. If you notice issues with refrigeration equipment--inability to hold at 40° or below, strange sounds, smells, or improper functions--now is the time to call and have the equipment inspected by a Cooper professional.

Cooper Can Help You Find the Right Equipment

In addition to service and repair, Cooper Mechanical Services also does sales. One of the primary benefits of purchasing refrigeration equipment through Cooper is that our team is concerned with finding you the piece of equipment that fits your needs and budget. 

We will talk with you about your business, your current and future needs, and the best options that work within your budget. 

Emergency Repair Around the Clock

Another benefit of working with the Cooper team is knowing we are on call 24/7 for emergency repair. We know that functioning refrigeration units are the backbone of your business, so our team of reliable professionals are on call day or night.

Don't let old or problematic refrigeration equipment interrupt your profits. Scheduled clean and service plans and calling Cooper at early signs of refrigeration issues is the best way to keep your business up and running. Our team has been helping Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand restaurants and businesses for over 30 years. Call Cooper Mechanical Services for your refrigeration sales and service needs.

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Team Cooper with Strong Showing at 2017 Dragon Boat Race

The Cooper Mechanical Services team recently took a break from HVAC, electrical and refrigeration work in order to compete in the 9th annual Ground Zero Dragon Boat Festival.

The race, which placed 21-member teams in long, human-powered boats, was held at Market Common in Myrtle Beach, and provided a chance for Team Cooper to come together, have some fun, and support a teen outreach organization in the community.

We claimed 2nd place in a very close race, losing by just .05 seconds in a "photo finish." After the race we celebrated with co-workers, family members, and new and old friends at our Tiki-themed site.

Although this is the 9th year of the festival in Myrtle Beach, the tradition of dragon boat racing is not new. The dragon boat festival comes from China's Pearl River Delta region, where dragon boat races have been a celebratory tradition for over 2,000 years. The long boats are typically decorated with Chinese dragon heads and tails, and a drummer at the head of the boat thumps a rhythm to keep the paddlers in sync.

But the competition is second to the community-building it allows. As our own James Cooper puts it: "It was great to see the Cooper Mechanical team bonding over something outside of work with family and friends all coming together for a good cause."

Team Cooper in a 21-person Dragon Boat

HVAC and Electrical team at Dragon Boat race

Cooper Mechanical HVAC team ready for Tiki Party

Tiki Party sign

Cooper Mechanical team members ready to race

Team Cooper having fun with friends and family

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GFCI Outlets and Breakers for Commercial Kitchens

Converting a Space to a Commercial Kitchen? Check for GFCIs

If you have plans to open a restaurant or small business with a commercial kitchen, you better make sure that kitchen is outfitted with GFCI outlets and circuit breakers. It's code.

According to the National Electric Code Article 210.8, there must be GFCI protection on 15 amp, 20 amp, and 125 volt receptacles located in bathrooms and kitchens as a safety feature for personnel. GFCI is required in mostly in kitchens, bathrooms and outdoors, where contact with water is most likely. 

For more information about Article 210, the IAEA's overview is both detailed and accessible.

GFCI Breaker

What is GFCI Anyway?

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or GFCI is a device that uses sensors to measure the amount of current flowing to and from an outlet or appliance. If the GFCI device senses that current is going down a stray path, like through a puddle or, God forbid, a human body, it "trips the breaker" as a safety feature. 

For example, if you are working with a toaster oven placed next to a leaking sink that has flooded the counter top, there's a dangerous possibility that this could result in electrocution should the toaster have a frayed cord or if water were to splash upon the receptacle. The GFCI is sensitive enough to determine if some of the current flowing from hot to neutral (from breaker box to appliance) is actually flowing through something else, like water or your stunned hand. As soon as it detects an anomaly, it cuts the electricity, hopefully saving the life of our toast maker. This is a fairly simplistic breakdown of the process, but if you'd like to learn more, check out this overview on HowStuffWorks or, better yet, ask one of our expert electricians at Cooper Mechanical Services.

What Can Cooper Do For You?

Cooper Mechanical Services knows code. We are NATE certified and follow IAEA standards. We have been servicing the HVAC, electrical and refrigeration needs of restaurants and businesses with commercial kitchens in the Myrtle Beach area for nearly 30 years. We want your business to thrive, and that starts with smart planning and design that is up-to-code. 

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