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HVAC Thermostat Auto vs. On

Thermostat auto vs. on

On vs. Auto: What's the Difference?

Every thermostat has a button or feature allowing the user to cycle through different settings. While there may be options for custom cycles, every thermostat has auto, on, and off. If you've ever wondered what the difference between "auto" and "on" is, you're not alone. 

"Auto" and "on" are HVAC settings that control your system's fan. The fan is located inside your HVAC unit and its job is to help distribute air. The "V" in HVAC is for ventilation, and your fan is responsible for aiding air circulation. 

Auto: In the auto setting, the fan automatically moves air when the HVAC system is cooling or heating. Once the desired temperature setting has been reached, the fan will shut off.

On: In the on setting, the fan will run continuously, even after the set thermostat temperature has been reached.

Which Setting Should I Use?

The "auto setting" is more cost effective since fewer mechanical pieces are running when your home is at your set temperature. The auto setting also is quieter and in the long-term, it means less wear and tear on your unit's fan.

The "on setting" means your fan is always running, so it can clog filters more quickly, add to your electric bill, and make it feel a little chillier in winter with air blowing on you. 

However, there are some instances when the on setting is helpful. If some rooms tend to get stuffy, the on setting can help keep air moving and circulating. It can also help you feel more comfortable during Myrtle Beach's hot and sticky months. Some also state that running the fan more often helps the HVAC unit trap more particulates, which may be helpful for those with allergies or asthma.

Upgrade Your Thermostat for More Functionality

If you travel or are out of the home for long periods of the day, you may want to consider a smart thermostat. In addition to features that allow customized settings to save money and energy, smart thermostats also allow user to control their thermostat remotely via smartphone or device. 

With a smart thermostat, you could keep your thermostat set to a more economical temperature while at work, and then set the thermostat remotely to a more comfortable setting before you leave the office for home.

For more HVAC, electrical, and mechanical services, please Call Cooper!

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Do Your Lights Dim when the AC Comes On?

Lights dim when AC turns on

Lights Dimming When the AC or Another Large Appliance Turns On

If you've noticed your lighting dimming or flickering when the AC comes or when you turn on the vacuum cleaner, you're not alone. Although the quick dimming may cause concern, the good news is that it is most likely harmless.

Like starting a car from a cold crank, an HVAC unit takes a lot of power to start initially. The surge of power needed to turn on may temporarily drain electricity from other appliances like your lighting.

As long as the temporary drain is minimal (lights dim but don't go out) and short in duration (a second, for example) this is nothing to worry about. After the "cold crank," your unit requires less power to stay on, and lighting and appliances all receive an appropriate amount of power.

When Lights Dimming is a Sign of a Larger Problem

If your lights lose more than half of their brightness or go dark when an appliance like your HVAC comes on, it could be a sign of an electrical problem. Here are some potential electrical and HVAC problems that could cause your lights to significantly dim for longer than a split second:

Damaged Wiring: Loose or frayed wiring can cause current loss that is exacerbated when the HVAC turns on. This could definitely cause lights to significantly dim or flicker. 

Weak HVAC Capacitor: Your HVAC capacitor stores power to give your compressor motor a boost upon start up. Overtime, your capacitor's ability to store energy weakens, just as an old car battery does. A damaged, old, or weakened capacitor causes your HVAC to draw more power away from other appliances, causing light dimming.

HVAC Shares Circuit: If other major appliances share the same circuit with your HVAC system, your circuit may be overloaded. There may be light dimming, but if this is the case, you'd likely also deal with your circuit breaker tripping. An overloaded circuit can be a major hazard, so it's important to unplug high voltage appliances until they can be separated or a safe solution by an electrician is found.

An Electrical and HVAC Specialist

Cooper Mechanical Services is the Myrtle Beach area's solution for all things electrical, mechanical and HVAC. Often, HVAC and electrical issues are connected. Our professional electricians and technicians are highly skilled, honest, and dependable. If you are concerned about your home or workplace's HVAC or electrical system, call Cooper Mechanical Services today.


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DIY: How to Strap Down Your HVAC Unit Before a Hurricane

Hurricanes Can Blow Your HVAC Unit Over

Hurricane winds can easily knock your HVAC unit off its base, sometimes throwing it and damaging the housing and condenser components in the process. For this reason, there are many after-market HVAC "tie-down" kits. These tie-down kits anchor your unit with metal "straps" and bolts directly to a concrete slab. 

The problem for many residential customers is that it's common in Myrtle Beach neighborhoods for contractors to rest HVAC units on "concrete colored" foam bases. While the foam is certainly strong enough to support the weight of an HVAC condenser and keep it off the ground, it isn't possible to tie-down a unit by bolting it down into foam.

Using Tie-Out Stakes and Ratchet Straps to Secure Your HVAC

In the lead up to a major hurricane, many homeowners are looking to secure their HVAC units at the last minute. For these people, we recommend using long metal "tie out" stakes and nylon ratchet straps like the ones below. If you don't already have something similar in your garage, both can be easily obtained at any home improvement or hardware store. We recommend 4 stakes and 2 straps per unit.

Just like strapping something to the roof of your car, keep your anchors parallel on either side of the unit. It's best to use 4 stakes and 2 straps per unit.

While nothing is guaranteed to be hurricane-proof, the added straps should help secure your unit to its base and prevent damage that can come from it being knocked over or thrown.

Need HVAC or Electrical Repair?

After the hurricane is over, assess your HVAC unit and visually inspect for damage. If you notice anything wrong with your home's air conditioning, heating, or electrical, give us a call. Cooper Mechanical Services has been Myrtle Beach's family-owned and operated HVAC and electrical services company since 1989. We've seen what hurricanes can do, and we know how to fix it as you clean up in the aftermath. Don't wait. Call Cooper today.

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We Fix It: Commercial Refrigerator Repair in Myrtle Beach

Commercial Refrigerator Repair in Myrtle Beach

Commercial Refrigerator Repair in Myrtle Beach

If you're looking for refrigerator repair for your Myrtle Beach restaurant or business, Cooper Mechanical Services is your answer. Working refrigeration is necessary for food safety and customer satisfaction. If refrigerator units cannot keep required holding temperatures, you may receive a low health score from DHEC or even be forced to close until it is fixed. In the end, refrigeration problems negatively affect your business, employees, and customers. 

Cooper Mechanical Services can inspect, diagnose, and repair your commercial refrigerator problem so you can get back to making profits and doing what you do best. We work all types of reach-in, walk-in, and display case refrigeration units.

Here are some common refrigerator repairs that we see in Myrtle Beach.

Common Refrigeration Problems

Temperature Issues: Temperature issues are our most common call. When your refrigerator isn't cooling, it's the symptom. This issue can result from a number of causes, anything from a bad seal or temperature control gauge to a blocked vent. 

Power Problems: Bad wiring, frayed cords, or even tripped GFCIs can lead to no power. Whether simple or complex, our team includes refrigeration and electrical experts to find the cause and repair your unit, the cord, or your outlet.

Compressor Failures: Dirt, dust, and debris can clog your compressor and affect performance. Your refrigerator's compressor is what allows it to cool, and since all kinds of grime and dirt can be found on kitchen floors, it's important to keep your compressor coils clean. Cooper specializes in compressor coil cleaning and repair.

Evaporator Problems: Just like HVAC units, refrigerators use evaporator coils and fan in the cooling process. Evaporator-related problems include ice build-up and clogged drain lines, both easily identified and fixed.

Lighting Issues: Functional lighting is important for worker safety as employees must be able to see refrigerator contents and where to walk in walk-in units. In display cases, lighting helps sell food and beverages when items are lit and cast in an attractive light. Lights not working? We fix that, too.

Myrtle Beach Refrigeration Experts You Can Trust

Cooper Mechanical Services has been serving the greater Grand Strand since 1989. A large part of our business is serving the many hotels, restaurants, and service/hospitality businesses in our area. Cooper Mechanical is an unlimited-license electrical contractor specializing in HVAC, Refrigeration, Electrical, and Lighting services. We provide accurate lead-time estimates on commercial projects, and we offer 24/7 emergency services so your business doesn't lose profit with down time. Need help? Call Cooper!

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Wipe Out Dust and Improve Indoor Air Quality

Dust and indoor air quality

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is directly tied to the health and comfort of a home or building's occupants. Dust can exacerbate allergies, respiratory issues, and other health issues. 

But what exactly is dust and where does it come from? It's kind of gross to think about, but dust is the accumulation of dead skin, pet fur, decomposing insects, organic fibers from clothes, particulate matter from cooking, tracked in soil and more. Dust is a hodgepodge of all types of particulates, and removing dust from your home or building can make you healthier and happier.

In addition to dusting and sweeping regularly, here are some tips to minimize dust in the home or workplace.

Change Your HVAC Filter

The average HVAC filter lasts 1-2 months, depending on the number of occupants in your home, pets, lifestyle, etc. Filters trap particulates, removing them from the air you breathe. As dust, debris, and microscopic particles build up in your filter, it starts to restrict air flow, which can lead to poor ventilation, HVAC efficiency, and even higher utility bills. 

We've written a lot in previous posts about how to choose an air filter, air filter subscription services, and HEPA filters for those with severe allergies or asthma. 

Wipe Down Ceiling Fans

When ceiling fan blades aren't spinning, they are collecting dust. Turn it back on and you sling all kinds of particulates into the air and around the room. To remove the dust, use a damp microfiber cloth and wipe them down. If your fans are high, use an extension pole with an attachment. Be sure to vacuum the area below the fan afterward to pick up any dust that's fallen to the floor.

Consider Wood or Laminate Over Carpet

Okay, not many people are going to tear out carpeting to cut down on dust, but if you are building or considering switching, wood or laminates are better in the dust category. Dust clings to woven fabrics, making it harder to see and remove with carpeting. You won't eliminate dust with hardwood or laminate, but it can't cling, so it's easily seen and swept up.

Have Indoor Air Quality or Ventilation Issues?

Cooper Mechanical Services is the Myrtle Beach area's solution to HVAC problems. Let our team visit your home or workplace to diagnose and solve your ventilation or indoor air quality problems. Don't let poor indoor air quality affect your health, especially if you are prone to respiratory issues and allergies. Call Cooper or use our online contact form to speak with a ventilation and IAQ professional today.

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Hotel Air Conditioning Experts Plus A Lot More

We're More Than Commercial HVAC for Hotels and Restaurants

It's summertime, so when people see our service trucks and vans around Myrtle Beach, they tend to think about air-conditioning. HVAC is a big part of what we do for commercial clients. In hotels and restaurants, we provide installation, maintenance and repair services for air conditioning, heating, ventilation. But as the Grand Strand's premier mechanical and electrical services provider, we also do a whole lot more. Myrtle Beach hotels and restaurants rely on many mechanical systems to keep guests cool, comfortable, and safe. 

Additional Services for Hotels and Restaurants

Here are some of our other big commercial services in addition to hotel and restaurant HVAC:

Commercial Lighting

We handle installation and repair for inside and outside lighting solutions. As an unlimited-license electrical contractor, we cover everything from parking lot and pole lighting to room or pool lighting. Our electricians are highly knowledgable and can assist you in finding conventional and smart lighting solutions that conserve energy, save money, and keep people and facilities safe and secure. 

Commercial Refrigeration

We also work closely with many businesses in the service and hospitality sector in Myrtle Beach installing, cleaning, and repairing commercial refrigerators, freezers, and ice machines. Faulty refrigeration equipment can lead to customer dissatisfaction or worse. SCDHEC inspections require holding temperatures and sanitation standards for walk-ins, display cases, and even ice machines. Our mechanical professionals work with all major manufacturers to ensure your hotel or restaurant is safe and up-to-code.

Emergency Shut-Off

Commercial boilers and heated pools and spas require emergency shut-off valves or switches. Our team is qualified to evaluate, install, or repair your boiler shut-off so you are compliant with the National Fire Protection Association (Code 85).

Stairwell Pressurization

Stairwell pressurization exists in part to suppress fires from spreading from hotel rooms and hallways to stairwells which are the primary means of escape. Pressurization also improves the ease with which doors can open and close. Stairwell pressurization is required for National Fire Protection Association code compliance. Our mechanical team is fully equipped to verify and solve issues relating to stairwell pressure.

Generators and Back-Up Power

Our sister company, Cooper Electrical Services, handles all commercial generator sales, installation, maintenance, and repair. Living in the path of destructive storms, businesses need to be prepared when power goes out. Our generator team allows businesses to keep facilities operational and secure for extended periods of time.

Your Source for Mechanical and Electrical Services

The above is just a highlight of some of the regular kinds of projects we work on. If your hotel or restaurant needs expert mechanical or electrical services, please contact us. Our team is knowledgable, professional, and dependable. We've been serving the Myrtle Beach area since 1989, and we're proud to be a part of this community. Don't wait, Call Cooper.

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5 Air Conditioning Myths That Still Exist

Summer is Myrtle Beach is hot, and air conditioning at home and at work is a necessity. The last thing you want is for your AC to go out in July or August in South Carolina. Despite the wealth of information on the web, there are still some common myths about AC that folks believe. Here are our top air conditioning myths and why you should ignore them.

Myth 1: Wait Until the AC Dies Before Replacing It

There's some logic behind this idea. It makes sense to use something fully before replacing it, which means that sometimes the cost of repairs makes more sense than the expense of a total replacement. But sometimes the "run it 'til the wheels fall off" mentality neglects the cost of inefficiency. 

Old units with occasional repairs may be costing you more than just the parts and labor. Old ACs work harder and cool less. You'll see the added expense on monthly utility bills, on top of the frustration and discomfort from an inefficient AC. 

For more information, check out our post on when it's better to replace and when it's better to repair your HVAC.

Myth 2: Turning Your Thermostat Down Lower Will Cool the Room Faster

Sorry, folks. It doesn't matter if you set your thermostat at 68 or 60 degrees. Setting your thermostat lower than the ideal temperature won't get you there any faster. Your AC unit has a limited capacity, and setting the temperature at a colder setting doesn't speed up the pace. The greater the gap between the actual temperature and the set temperature, the longer it will take to get there. Patience is a virtue.

Myth 3: It Doesn't Matter Where You Put the Thermostat

We're sure this isn't as commonly believed as the others, but we want to highlight the fact that thermostat placement is important to how effective your AC is in cooling your home or office.

Your thermostat is the device monitoring indoor temperature and deciding whether or not your AC needs to come on. If your thermostat is in direct sunlight or near a window, or if it is directly below a vent blowing cool air, it is not getting an accurate representation of the indoor temperature. Poor placement skews readings, which means you may be adjusting your thermostat to a setting lower than you normally would in order to feel cool in the rest of the space.

A central location on an interior wall away from vents is always the best place for a thermostat.

Myth 4: The Larger AC Unit, the Better

Despite popular opinion, bigger isn't always better, and it's definitely true with AC units. If your air conditioning unit is too big, the compressor will turn on and off in quick intervals, which isn't good for wear and tear. It may also not effectively remove moisture from the air.

If the unit is too small, it will be working too hard to cool your home and constantly running. This can wear out the mechanical components and lead to high utility bills.

All of the above is the reason why units are always rated for a specific square-footage range. Choose the unit that fits your home or office.

Myth 5: Regular Maintenance Isn't Worth It

We understand that cleaning and maintenance contracts can seem like a lot of money, especially if your unit has been fine on its own for a while. However, just like oil changes for your car, regular maintenance and cleaning is going to extend the life and hopefully save you money in the long-run when you avoid costly repairs.

Visit our blog to learn more about HVAC service contracts, and what to look for and what to avoid.

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HVAC Service Contracts: What to Look For and What to Avoid

HVAC Service Contract

Service Contracts Benefit Both Owners and HVAC Service Providers

Service contracts, clean and service agreements, or maintenance contracts. All these terms describe scheduled inspection, cleaning, and service of your HVAC system. HVAC service contracts may vary in terms of frequency of visit and scope of maintenance, but 1-2 visits a year is common. 

There are benefits of scheduled service for both HVAC companies and homeowners. HVAC companies benefit from the reliability service work, especially in spring and fall before the extreme heating and air-conditioning months arrive. Homeowners benefit from increased HVAC lifespan and efficiency, as well as being able to be proactive in addressing any issues before they snowball into major repairs. In an area like Myrtle Beach, scheduled maintenance can give you some peace of mind if you have a second property or vacation home.  

That said, signing an annual contract makes some wary for fear of being "locked in" and committed. Contracts can also contain fine print policies or leave curious about what service or products you are actually paying for. In this post we'll look at what to look for and what to avoid when shopping for an HVAC service plan.

Service Contracts to Avoid

There can be many red flags when looking over a service contract. And our first recommendation is that you look over the terms of the agreement before signing or providing payment. Here are some signs of a bad HVAC service contract:

1. Less than a page: A service contract isn't a 50-page document, but it should definitely be more than a page. The document should explain exactly what is covered (and perhaps what is not covered), pricing, and special terms of the agreement. The contract should explain the expectations of both the customer and the service provider. There needs to be enough in the document to protect you and the HVAC company, so make sure it is specific.

2. Insanely Cheap: You know that saying about a deal that's too good to be true? Compare service agreement rates amongst a handful of companies. There may be variations, but they should be in a similar ballpark. Avoid the ones that seem like they can offer the same product and service at a fraction of the price. Something is usually being left out.

3. Minuscule Type: You should be able to read the document. Be wary of the long paragraph on the last page in tiny type. If information is presented like this, it is intentionally being minimized for a reason. Additionally, any reputable service professional should be able to explain these terms to you. If they can't, go somewhere else.

4. Legalese and Jargon: An HVAC service contract should be able to simply state the terms and conditions as well as the scope of service, the expectations from both parties, and the cost. Question contracts that mask contract terms in confusing legalese.

Signs of a Good HVAC Service Contract

On the other hand, good service contracts will inform you of the following:

  • A clear list of covered equipment, if you have multiple units
  • A list of tasks and checks performed during each visit
  • Assurance of quality service
  • Indication of when service will be performed
  • Included and not included parts and labor
  • Details about how work not covered in the contract will be handled (repairs, if needed)
  • Details about payment (how much, when is it due, terms for late payment, etc)

You should feel comfortable with the HVAC company. Ask for a copy of the service contract and take your time to compare what you get (and don't get) with different companies. Some may have perks that others do not (discounted labor rates, priority service, etc). Look at reviews online and talk with neighbors. You can save yourself future headaches by doing a little research before signing a year's agreement.

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4 Signs of Low Refrigerant in HVAC Systems

Low Refrigerant in HVAC

Refrigerant (sometimes called coolant or freon) is a necessary component in every HVAC system. Older HVAC systems relied upon R-22, but new HVAC equipment has moved to R-410A, which is a chlorine-free refrigerant. Regardless of the refrigerant type, all function essentially the same way: to create a cooling effect through an expanding or vaporizing process. But how do you end up with low refrigerant in an HVAC system?

In theory, an HVAC is a closed system where the refrigerant is cycled through various states. In reality, this is nearly impossible. All HVAC systems will lose some refrigerant to leakage due to flaws in seams and fittings or through vibration and wear and tear. Tiny leaks won't be noticeable, but if they become larger over time, you will start to feel the effects. Here are the tell-tale signs of low refrigerant in HVAC systems.

4 Signs of Low Refrigerant in an HVAC

1. Indoor Temperature Isn't Cool

Maybe the first thing you'll notice if your HVAC is low on refrigerant is that you are having trouble cooling your home. Lowering the thermostat doesn't work, and your HVAC system is now constantly running as it tries to cool a home at a temperature it cannot easily maintain. In Myrtle Beach, this will be most notable during our hot and humid summer months when HVAC systems are put to the test. 

2. Increased Utility Bills

With less refrigerant, your HVAC will struggle to cool your home or office. This means it will be running more frequently. You'll notice the inefficiency when you get your power bill. Sure, power bills tend to go up in the summer when the AC is working overtime, but if you see a spike in your year to year, this could be a sign of a refrigerant leak. Chances are you'll notice the temperature first, but the higher bill will only confirm what you suspect.

3. Ice Buildup on Outdoor HVAC Unit

The evaporator coils on your HVAC unit on the side of your home or office might have ice buildup. Evaporator coils contain refrigerant, and if your refrigerant becomes too low, liquid refrigerant will backflow into the coils which become extremely cold to the point that ice forms. You will see this even in the heat of a South Carolina summer. 

4. Noticeable Hissing Noise

Since low refrigerant in your HVAC is the result of a leak, you may hear escaping gas from one of unit's lines. Some have described a hissing noise while others a slight bubbling. In either case, you are hearing refrigerant escaping from your unit, and chances are, if you can hear it, you might be able to visually inspect and spot it rather easily.

Refilling Refrigerant and Fixing Your Leak

If you think you have low refrigerant from a leak, the best thing is to call an HVAC professional sooner rather than later. Refilling refrigerant and fixing leaks is a troubleshooting problem that Cooper Mechanical Services has been solving since 1989. 

Running your AC with low refrigerant isn't just ineffective. Buildup and refrigerant backflow can damage an HVAC compressor, which is a more expensive problem to fix. Instead, shut your HVAC off, call Cooper, and let us measure your refrigerant and perform some tests to locate your leak

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Running a Humidifier in the Summer Makes Sense

Humidifier in the summer

An Air Humidifier in the Summer?

In South Carolina, we usually take out air humidifiers in the winter when the weather is dry and cold air can lead to irritated respiratory systems, cracked skin, and more. Humidifiers are tools that simply add moisture back into the air by converting a reservoir of water into vapor and distributing via a fan and a directional vent. 

It sounds counterintuitive, especially in hot and sticky Myrtle Beach when humidity is extreme during the summer months. But running a cool air humidifier this spring and summer can help you stay more comfortable and healthier when you're indoors.

Constant HVAC Cooling Causes Low Indoor Humidity

It's normal to have your HVAC unit running almost constantly during a Myrtle Beach summer where temperatures in the upper 90s and extreme humidity is commonplace. Your HVAC unit cools your home or business by drawing warm air through your system and over evaporator coils. Heat and moisture in that warm air is condensed and moved outside of your home. So as the the air recycling back into the room is cooler, it is also dryer. 

This loss of moisture usually isn't a problem. But running your HVAC around-the-clock, like we do in the hottest months of the summer, can lead to some very dry indoor air.

Benefits of Adding Humidity to Your Home in the Summer

Whether you choose to use free-standing electric humidifiers in multiple rooms, or choose to add a whole-home humidifier to your HVAC system, adding humidity in the summer has benefits.

Proper Humidity is Healthier and More Comfortable: The discomfort that results from dry air will be minimized. Alleviate problems associated with dry eyes, nosebleeds, dry skin, and more that develop from constant air-conditioning and low humidity.

Protect Your Home and Possessions: If indoor humidity is too low or too high, you may notice doorways, wood floors, and even things like furniture or wooden instruments warping, cracking, and more. 

Cooper Mechanical Services Can Solve Your Humidity Issues

If you are uncomfortable this summer from constant air conditioning, let us know. The Cooper Mechanical team members are experts in all things HVAC, including finding solutions to balance humidity and ventilation during the hottest and coldest months.

To learn more about humidity and some of the effects from having too much humidity in your home, check out this article from our blog about why humidity makes everything feel hotter and what you can do about it.

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