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Poor Kitchen Ventilation: Common Causes and Fixes

Kitchen ventilation with a hood

Kitchen Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality

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

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

Causes of Poor Kitchen Ventilation

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

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

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

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

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

Fix Kitchen Ventilation and Improve IAQ

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

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

Cooper Mechanical Services for Kitchen Ventilation

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

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What Is the Best HVAC Company in Myrtle Beach?

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

Is There a Best HVAC Company in Myrtle Beach?

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

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

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

Tips for Finding the Best HVAC Company in Myrtle Beach

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

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

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

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

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

Work with the Best HVAC Company in Myrtle Beach

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

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HVAC Systems, Leaks, and Mold Growth

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

HVAC Systems, Leaks, and Mold Growth

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

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

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

Common Causes of HVAC System Leaks

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

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

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

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

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

Address Leaks and Mold at the Source

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

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

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

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Do I Really Need to Clean My HVAC Ducts?

HVAC Duct Cleaning

The Truth About HVAC Duct Cleaning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When is a Duct Cleaning Necessary?

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

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

What Really Matters for Air Quality?

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

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

Need an Honest and Professional Opinion? Call Cooper

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

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

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

The Myrtle Beach area thrives on our tourism and service industry. Our miles of wide, sandy beaches 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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