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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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Lots of HVAC Repairs During SC Extreme Heat

HVAC Repair in South Carolina's Extreme Heat

It's HVAC Repair Season

Summer 2018 has been sweltering so far, and we're not even halfway through it. At Cooper, our HVAC team has been very busy with emergency HVAC repair. Our team has been working everyday to get folks' AC back up and running so they can live in comfort.

In fact, having air conditioning in this extreme heat is much more than a luxury or comfort--it's a necessity for safety and health. According to the CDC, more than 600 people in the United States die from extreme heat each year. We understand that seriousness of a hot house in the middle of an extremely hot South Carolina summer. The Cooper Mechanical Services team prides itself on fast, reliable service, and our team members keep customers updated with accurate arrival times so homeowners aren't waiting around all day on a service technician.

Keep the AC Running

If you haven't called for repair service, well, be thankful for that. To keep your units working efficiently, here are some simple things you can do:

Change Filters: dirty filters reduce air flow, which makes your AC less effective and can make your HVAC system work harder than it needs to, which may cause components to overheat or burn out. Find out which filters are best for your HVAC and change them regularly.

Close Shades and Blinds: hot sunlight on glass is working against your AC. Pull the curtains to keep your room as cool as possible. 

Close Leaks: insulating leaks around windows or doors will improve AC effectiveness during the hot summer. Replace weather-stripping or add caulking to seal gaps that let cold air out.

Consider Investing in a Clean & Service Agreement

A Clean & Service Agreement is scheduled cleaning and inspection of all HVAC components on a bi-annual basis. One advantage of scheduled service is that you can get a heads up on the health of your unit before summer when it will likely be working overtime. The Clean & Service Agreement can increase the life expectancy of your HVAC and save you money in costly repairs. Learn more about our Clean & Service Agreement here.

Don't sweat it this summer. The Cooper team is hard at work to keep you comfortable. Just Call Cooper!


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Storm Ready Your Home Electrical and HVAC Systems

Home HVAC and Electrical Prep for Myrtle Beach Hurricane Season

Hurricane season in Myrtle Beach is June 1st through November 30th with most notable storms coming in late summer and early Fall. Around this time of year folks will start to see lots of information about hurricane preparedness. For us at Cooper, we get a lot of calls before and after big hurricanes about residential HVAC and electrical systems. It's a topic we've covered on our blog in the past, so check out some of the links below for detailed information about what you can do so your home electrical and HVAC systems weather this year's hurricane season.

Pre-Storm Cleanup and Preparation

In addition to cleaning outdoor HVAC of debris, you may want to also check that your unit is properly secured to its base. Hurricane winds can get above 150mph which can easily move something heavy like an outdoor condenser unit. Make sure the unit is anchored, and if not, consider hurricane tie-downs. You might also want to cover your unit with a tarp and bungee cord. 

Prepare for Going Out

Many readers are likely aware of the list of things to have on hand should you experience a power outage: flashlights, batteries, water, non-perishable food, first aid, etc. But fewer are prepared for how to handle potential power surges. Protect yourself and your home appliances from power surges after full utility power is restores but making sure they are in their off positions while the power is out. The link above also covers some simple strategies for keeping your home cool while you wait to restore power.

Post-Storm Cleanup and Repair

Hurricanes at the beach bring lots of flash flooding which is dangerous and damaging in its own right. If your home has standing water, you may have a flood-damaged electrical system, and it's important that you don't enter your home until a licensed electrician or safety official says it's safe to do so. 

In addition to electrical damage, you might also need to contend with water damage and mold. Mold and mildew after a hurricane pose serious health risks, so always contact a licensed mold removal and remediation professional such as MasterTech of Myrtle Beach to handle it. It's not something you can let "air out" or spray a little bleach on.

A flooded electrical system will likely need some replacing, but it's important to request a full electrical inspection beforehand. Structural damage to your home from flooding or high winds can be overwhelming, but Myrtle Beach custom builders like Odom Design can work with existing salvaged structures and materials to renovate, repair and remodel.

Call Cooper for HVAC, Electrical, Mechanical, and Now Generator Services

We've been doing business in the Myrtle Beach area since 1989. We've weathered all the major hurricanes here and proud to help families and business at the beach keep their homes and workplaces safe, secure, and comfortable. 

If you are looking for extra preparation, call our sister company Cooper Electrical Services. CES specializes in commercial and residential generators that provide automatic, whole-house power in the event of an outage. Keep your HVAC, lights, appliances and everything else in your home on immediately and without the noise and extension cords that come with portable generators.

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Cooper Partners with SC Ride and Decide Program to Address Industry Crisis

The Skilled Trades Need Workers

Maybe you've heard it before, but the skilled trades like electrical, HVAC, and construction are struggling to find workers. It's said that for every 4 skilled workers retiring or leaving the industry, only 1 is entering. With competitive wages and high employability, it's a reliable career path, but trade industries struggle to recruit the next generation.

SC Ride and Decide

Enter the South Carolina Ride and Decide Program. Currently in its pilot program, SC Ride and Decide works to pair students and high schools with industry contractors in their region. The program lets students experience the trade during summer break, assisting in paid work activities. The Ride and Decide Program is a project of the South Carolina Association of Heating and Air Conditioning.

Cooper Mechanical Services Welcomes NMB's Mark Phillips

Senior year of high school can be a stressful time. In addition to finishing important coursework, teenagers are tasked with figuring out plans for life after high school. For some, college is the next step, but many are still unsure of what to study or pursue for a career path.

For Mark Phillips of North Myrtle Beach High School, the Ride and Decide program allowed him to work with Myrtle Beach's Cooper Mechanical Services, an unlimited license electrical and HVAC contractor. Phillips works part-time with the Cooper team in a variety of areas including business growth. For Phillips, the program provides him a well-paying part-time job and the ability to learn about specific jobs he may decide to pursue in the future. 

For Cooper Mechanical Services and many businesses like them, Phillips represents the future of the skilled tradesmen and women. "Having Mark on board is a wonderful," said Glenn Cooper, founder and president of CMS. "The relationships we are building with students and high school administrators is a great thing for our community and the industry."

Another Cooper employee is also praising the new program. "Finding quality HVAC people has been a challenge," remarks Mike Ruggieri, Cooper's HVAC Clean & Service Manager. "We hope that this program will let young people see that there are good jobs in HVAC here that pay well and let you work with new challenges everyday."

SC Ride and Decide Student Requirements

The Ride and Decide program is open to any South Carolina high school junior or senior meeting the following requirements:

To participate, student must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age before starting the program.

  • Have completed their sophomore year of high school.

  • Have at least a C average and excellent school attendance.

  • Have reliable transportation to and from work location.

  • Be recommended to the program by an educator, school administrator, or SCAHACC member.

  • Obtain parental permission with a Release for the SCAHACC and educational institution.

  • Adhere strictly to the attendance and employment regulations required by the employer and adhere strictly to the SC Child Labor Laws.

To learn more about the program, visit the SC Ride and Decide website or contact Cooper Mechanical Services.


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Is Adding an Air Cleaner or Air Purifier to My HVAC Worth It?

What is an Air Cleaner or Air Purifier?

Air cleaner and air purifier manufacturers make many claims about the benefits of their products. Some will claim that their product will kill cold and flu viruses or help minimize the effects of allergies. Installed in the ductwork of a home’s central HVAC system, air cleaning devices are intended to provide a more sophisticated way of trapping and eliminating indoor air pollutants as compared to your standard box or pleated air filter that you are probably used to buying and replacing for a couple dollars. Air cleaning devices may use high efficiency mechanical filters, UV light, and even electrostatic force to rid indoor air of microscopic particulates, allergens, and even unhealthy gaseous pollutants.

Who Benefits from an Air Cleaner or Air Purifier?

Air pollutants can cause some serious health issues. According to the EPA, indoor air pollution is a top 5 health risk. Those with serious allergies or asthma can face life-threatening situations as a result of unwanted indoor air pollutants. For these populations, the very young and elderly are the most at risk. If your child or loved one has severe reactions to an indoor allergen or particulate, it makes sense that you’d want to seek out whatever means to eliminate the pollutant from your home.

Some air cleaners and purifiers also claim to come with “germicide” and special “germ killing” technology. If you are prone to bacterial viruses that are spread through the air, an air cleaner could be an additional line of defense. 

Air cleaners primarily trap small particulates that easily pass through a standard filter. Particulate matter includes the following:

  • dust mites
  • molds
  • bacteria
  • viruses

Some systems may also eliminate gaseous pollutants like tobacco smoke, but also

  • building materials
  • furnishings
  • the use of products such as
  •     adhesives
  •     paints
  •     varnishes
  •     cleaning products
  •     pesticides

What are the Types of Air Cleaners and Air Purifiers?

Air cleaners fall into two broad categories: filtration-based systems and other systems. Other systems include UV-light, and UV-light enhanced systems including ozone generators. The research on these other systems is very inconclusive about their effectiveness, and the EPA website is a recommended research for an impartial perspective. Below is a chart from the Indoor Air Quality EPA site looking at some of the differences and limitations to device category: 

Air cleaning devices chart

What is a MERV Rating?

If you are researching air cleaning and air purifying devices, you’ve likely seen the MERV rating number. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, and this number corresponds to the effectiveness of the filter in trapping particles. Generally, the higher the MERV number, the smaller the particle the filter will catch.

Fiberglass Air Filters: 1-4 MERV rating. These are the cheap $1-2 filters you’ve likely seen before. They remove less than 10% of the air pollutants in your home. 

Pleated Air Filters: 10-13 MERV rating and can remove up to 45% of air pollutants.

High Efficiency Air Filters: 14-16 MERV rating and remove up to 85% of pollutants.

HEPA Filters: 17-20 MERV rating and removes up to 98% of air pollutants.

Mechanical air filter-based air cleaners, a common choice, typically combine high MERV rating filter cartridges with additional germicide for bacteria and virus particulates.

Is an Air Cleaner or Air Purifier Worth it?

Air cleaning devices, especially those that integrate to the duct of your HVAC system can be expensive. Your best option is to try to eliminate the source of the pollutant or allergen. Using your resources to get at the source of the problem is the most effective way to improve health and decrease the probability of adverse health effects from indoor air pollutant. Whether this is removing mold, doing deep cleaning, or removing other sources, the EPA recommends doing first, and then trying an air cleaner if removing pollutants is ineffective or not possible.

Of course, the EPA also concludes that, “While air cleaning devices may help to control the levels of airborne allergens, particles, or, in some cases, gaseous pollutants in a home, they may not decrease adverse health effects from indoor air pollutants.”

To learn more about air cleaners and indoor air purifiers, just Call Cooper.
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