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PLUMBING • DRAINS • COOLING • WATER QUALITY
Tuesday, 19 March 2019 16:27

Preventing a Clogged Sewer Line

Preventing Sewer and Drain Line Problems
A backed-up sewer line can be a real disaster, resulting in extensive damage to your home and in many cases requiring expensive repairs to your plumbing system. It's important to know the warning signs of sewer and drain problems to prevent the small problems from becoming drain disasters.

Knowing the Warning Signs

A home's sewer and drain system is designed like a tree, with branches of drain pipes leading to  main trunk line that runs out of the house to the sewer main. If there is a clog in a secondary line it's going be isolated to that line. For example, if your bathroom sink is clogged and the toilet flushes normally, it's isolated to the sink drain. However, it the problem is with the main line, the toilet may percolate and waste water may come up from the shower or tub drain or floor drain in the basement.

Slow to empty drains and gurgling noises from toilets are often the first warning signs that your sewer system is obstructed. It's important to have a sewer line inspection as soon as possible to identify and correct the problem.

Preventative Sewer Line Maintenance

Most home owner's insurance policies do not cover sewer line problems and repairs and in most cities, homeowners are responsible for maintaining the sewer line that runs form the house to the sewer main by the street.

You can reduce the potential for sewer and drain clogs by keeping materials like cotton swabs, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, baby wipes and other waste products out of toilets. This would include products marketed as "flushable". Pouring paint, grease and oil and other chemicals down the drain is not only harmful to the environment, it can cause problems inside the pipes.

Among the most common cause of sewer line backups and damage is tree root intrusion. A sewer and drain line inspection is cheap insurance and can find potential problems with tree root intrusion, broken or disconnected pipes, debris build-up and more. If problems are found your plumber has many tools to help clear or repair the line, including rodding, water-jetting, and trench-less sewer line repair. A follow-up video camera inspection will help to ensure that the repair was successful.

Have questions about your sewer and drain lines? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. From video camera inspections to sewer and drain line cleaning and repair, we can help.
Monday, 18 March 2019 15:01

Spring Plumbing Checklist

Spring Plumbing Checklist

Spring is a good time to take a look around your home to find any plumbing issues that could lead to expensive damage to your home. Problems like water leaks, and inefficient plumbing fixtures can also lead wasted water and energy as well as higher utility bills.

Kitchen Plumbing

  • Check the faucet for drips and repair if needed
  • Check under the sink for signs of water leaks, including water stains or mold
  • Inspect the operation of the disposal, does it sound louder than it should?
  • Do the kitchen drains empty quickly, or do they need cleaning?

Bathroom Plumbing

  • Look for drips and leaks around toilets
  • Check for cracks in the toilet tank and bowl
  • Does the toilet run for longer than it should or does the handle need to be held down to empty completely? The parts may be worn out and need replacement
  • To see if the toilet is leaking, add several drops of food coloring to the tank. Check the bowl 30 minutes later. If the water has become colored, there is a leak
  • Check drains by filling sinks, tubs and showers with water. Do they drain quickly? Or do they need cleaning?
  • Check faucets and shower heads for mineral build-up. Soak fixtures in vinegar overnight to dissolve the deposits

General Plumbing

  • If plumbing fixtures are unused for long periods of time, exercise faucets and valves under sinks and toilets to prevent sticking
  • Check the water heater thermostat. It should be set to 120 or lower to prevent scalding
  • Flush the water heater tank to remove sediment at the bottom of the tank that can reduce efficiency and lead to corrosion. Check your water heater manual for the proper procedure for draining and maintaining the unit
  • If the water heater is over 12 years old, consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient model
  • Ensure there ere no flammable liquids store near the water heater
  • Check washing machine hoses for bulges, cracks or other signs of wear. Replace with stainless steal hoses if needed
  • Pour a bucket of water into floor drains to fill the trap and prevent odors
  • Check for signs of water leaks in ceilings and under sinks
  • Ensure that pluming vents outside the home are free of obstructions such as bird nests and debris
  • Ensure the sump pump is working properly by pouring a bucket of water in the pump pit. The pump should turn on a drain the water away
If you have water leaks, slow drains or other plumbing problems, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help with all your plumbing repair and installation needs.
Tuesday, 27 November 2018 15:19

5 Common Central Air Conditioner Problems

Central air conditioners are generally very reliable. When problems arise it's usually the result of lack of maintenance or an aging unit that is reaching the end of its lifespan.  Here are some things to check of your AC is not cooling.

Air Condioner Problems

1. Low Refrigerant Levels
An air conditioner that is running, but staying on too long and not cooling properly, may have a refrigerant leak or be insufficiently filled.

2. Thermostat or Sensor Problems
Check that the thermostat is set to "cool" and is set low enough to turn the unit on. Also ensure that the batteries are charged if the thermostat has batteries. If the unit does not turn on, check the circuit breaker to make sure it hasn't tripped.

3. Drainage Problems
A damaged refrigerant line or broken fan can cause an air conditioner coil to freeze, casing the unit to malfunction. Also ensure that the drain pan is not backed up, by clearing the drain line if needed.

4. Dirty Air Filter
Air filters should be replaced monthly or as recommended by the manufacturer. A dirty filter will cause the air conditioner to run more frequently, reducing efficiency, wasting energy and shortening the lifespan of the unit.
 
5. Leaking or Obstructed Air Ducts
Air ducts are an often overlooked part of a home's cooling system. Air duct cleaning and sealing can ensure that your system cools as efficiently as possible without wasting energy.

Have questions about your central air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. From annual AC maintenance and repairs, to new cooling system installation, we have you covered.
Wednesday, 25 April 2018 14:33

Spring AC Maintenance Checklist

Sarasota Air Conditioner Maintenance

Many of the problems we see that lead to unexpected air conditioner repairs are simply the result of poor maintenance, or ignoring the signs of a potential problems for too long. Annual maintenance is critical to ensuring your air conditioner operates reliably and efficiently. But there are also a few simple steps you can take yourself to ensure your central air conditioner is kept in good shape. Here are a few things you can do before you schedule your annual air conditioner maintenance.

Outside the House

The outside section of the air conditioner, called the condenser, should be clean and unobstructed. The unit draws air in from the sides to dissipate heat so ensure that there are no trees, shrubs or other objects near the unit that could be reducing the flow of air. The fins and condensing coils of the air conditioner should be clean, without excessive dirt or debris.
  • Vacuum away any dirt, leaves and debris outside the main cabinet. Never use a power washer to clean an air conditioner!
  • Inspect the base pan for blocked drain openings
  • Inspect the coil and cabinet for any holes and leaks
  • Inspect the fan blades for any damage
Inside the Home
  • Replace the air filter - A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, increasing the likelihood of early failure.
  • Ensure that air vents or registers are unobstructed in every room of your home.
  • Update your thermostat for the cooling season.
  • Check for any unusual odors when your system starts.
  • Listen for abnormal noises when your system starts.
If you experience any strange odors or sounds, or the air conditioner is not blowing cold air, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help with all your home cooling needs.
Tuesday, 13 February 2018 15:55

Preventing Air Conditioner Mold Problems

Exposure to mold in the home can cause health symptoms, including coughing, itchy eyes, and hives. In people with underlying health conditions such as respiratory impairments like allergies asthma, mold can lead to difficulty breathing.

Air Conditioner Maintenance Sarasota

Because air conditioners create moisture through condensation, standing water can potentially lead to mold growth. If mold is present on the air conditioner, the air handler can circulate this mold spores throughout the home.

If you notice a musty odor when the air conditioner is running, or see mold on the outside of the unit, have a professional inspect and clean the unit. The drain condensate lines should be cleared to ensure that moisture is draining away and collecting in the pan to allow mold to grow.

Take Steps To Preventing Mold Growth In Your HVAC System
  1. Replace air filters monthly, or at a minimum every three months. 
  2. Seal air ducts to reduce condensation.
  3. Keep air conditioner drip pans clean.
  4. If excess humidity is a problem in your home, consider installing a dehumidifier.
  5. Check your air ducts for excess dirt and have them professionally cleaned if needed.
Have concerns about mold in your air conditioner or air ducts? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help diagnose the cause and recommend solutions to remove existing mold and prevent future mold growth.
Running a central air conditioner during the hot, humid summer months can take a big chunk our of the average household's energy bill. If you're noticing that energy use rises even more than normal while running your air conditioner, there are several steps you can take to lower your home cooling cost.

1. Fix Air Leaks - A minor air leak in one window may seem like no big deal, but many leaks around doors and windows can add up, causing your air conditioner to work harder. Use weather stripping or caulk around doors and windows to seal air leaks around the entire house.

2. Program Your Thermostat - Your thermostat is the brains of you cooling system. Be sure to program the temperature around your household schedule by turning the temperature up when your away from home. Learning, or Smart thermostats can help you save energy automatically by learning your household routine and automatically adjusting the temperature accordingly.

3. Perform Regular Maintenance - A sudden increase in your utility bill could be a sign that your air conditioner is in need of service. If you have skipped annual maintenance and your energy bill has suddenly increased, have an AC technician inspect the unit to make sure there are no problems.

4. Replace Old Equipment - If your air conditioner is more than 10-12 years old, it's time
start planning for a replacement. While a new air conditioner is a major investment, the good news is a newer unit is likely to cost significantly less to operate every month.

5. Replace Dirty Air Filters - One of the most common reasons an air conditioner will begin to run less efficiently is a dirty air filter. Replacing the filter monthly is one of the most important maintenance tasks you can perform.

Have question about your air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help.
Thursday, 08 February 2018 21:01

How Long Does a Central Air Conditioner Last?

How Long Does a Central Air Conditioner Last?

How Long Does a Central Air Conditioner Last?

As the warmer spring weather arrives in the Sarasota area and your air conditioner runs more ofter you may be wondering how many more years your central air conditioner will last. The short answer is approximately 10-15 years. But the long answer is more complicated, because it depends on many factors. Some of these factors include the quality of the furnace itself – lower costs models will likely need replacement before a more expensive, higher end model does. A lower cost air conditioner in a hot climate may be ready for replacement in as little as 6-8 years.

The good news is that many of the factors that determine how long a central air conditioner will last are under your control. The most important thing you can do is have your air conditioner professionally maintained every year. This will not only make the unit last longer, it will help it operate more efficiently saving you money on your utility bill and unexpected repairs.

Because most air conditioner parts can be replaced as they wear out, it's usually a good idea to repair parts as wear out. With new air conditioners operating at much higher efficiency than units made just a decade ago, replacing the unit may be more cost effective in the long run when compared to the repair cost of keeping a 10-15 year old unit running.

Have questions about your air conditioner? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we're here to help.
Thursday, 04 January 2018 17:25

Tips to Clean & Deodorize Your Drains

Keeping your drains clean will not only help remove the buildup that can lead to clogged drains and sewer line problems, it can also reduce the unpleasant odors caused by food waste in kitchen drains.

Southwest Florida Drain Cleaning

If water starts to drain slowly, we recommend trying natural methods rather than store-bought chemical cleaners that can present a safety hazard and risk damaging metal finishes on plumbing fixtures.

First, try quickly pouring about two quarts of boiling hot water down the drain. Wait several minutes, then pour cold water to solidify the remaining grease. Repeat the process again with hot water rinse away the remaining congealed residue.

If odors are a problem, deodorize and clean drains with white vinegar. Heat 4-6 cups of vinegar until just simmering. Wait one minute. Pour 2-3 cups down the drain, rinse with cold water, then pour the remaining hot vinegar down the drain.

For stubborn drain residue, first, run hot water down the drain. Turn the water off. Add a cup of baking soda down the drain. Next, pour 2 cups of hot vinegar down the drain. The vinegar will react with the baking soda and scrub the residue from the drain. After a half hour flush the drain with hot water.

To keep garbage disposals clean and fresh, grind ice cubes occasionally to clean residue off the blades.
Air Conditioner Inspection Southwest FloridaIf you're buying a home in Southwest Florida you'll have a lot of items on your home inspection checklist, among the most important is the air conditioner. Here are a few simple things you can check yourself to ensure that the air conditioner is working properly and has been regularly maintained.

Check the Condenser Unit Outside the Home

The outside section of the air conditioner, called the condenser, should be clean and unobstructed. The unit draws air in from the sides to dissipate heat so ensure that there are no trees, shrubs or other objects near the unit that could be obstructing the flow of air and reducing efficiency. The fins and condensing coils of the air conditioner should be clean, without excessive dirt or debris that could also reduce performance.

The air conditioner should be sitting on a clean level surface, preferably a stone or cement slab. The unit may also be suspended from the side of the house. In either case ensure that the unit is level and that the refrigerant lines are not stressed.

Inside the Home

If the AC is not running, turn the thermostat down about five degrees cooler than the indoor temperature. Once the AC is on check outside again to ensure the fan at the condenser unit is turning. The unit should make a steady sound when operating. If it makes rumbling, rattling or other strange sounds or surges, a cooling technician should inspect the unit further.

Check that the air filter is clean and the right size for the unit. A dirty filter reduces air flow, which reduces efficiency and increases the likelihood of problems.

After the air conditioner has been running for at least 15 minutes, check the temperature of the conditioned air coming out of the register closest to the evaporator cooling inside the home.  Blowing air will feel cool on your skin, so use a thermometer to accurately measure the temperature and ensure it's cold.

In addition to removing heat from the home, an air conditioner also removes moisture from the air. This is the job of the evaporator coil.  A drain pan sits below the evaporator coil and empties condensation (water) into a drain line.  Ensure that the line is unobstructed and the pan is draining completely.

While the above items cover the basics of a central air conditioner inspection, there's no substitute for a thorough, professional cooling system inspection performed by a trained technician. So the next time you're moving into a new home, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. You'll rest easy knowing your air conditioner is operating reliably and efficiently.
It's understandable that homeowners to want to save money by tackling maintenance projects around the home. However, there are some projects that are definitely not DIY, especially work that involves electrical systems and air conditioners.

Always contact a qualified, licensed electrician to perform any electrical work in your home, including the installation and servicing of air conditioning and heating equipment.

Consider These Facts and Statistics
  • According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 15% of consumer-product related electrocutions are related to contact with large appliances. These electrocutions occur most commonly while someone is attempting to service or repair the appliance.
  • In 2006, an estimated 33,500 injuries were reported to hospital emergency rooms as involving air conditioners, fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air purifiers, and heat pumps. The leading types of injuries were laceration (14,890), contusion or abrasion (6,110), and strain or sprain (4,430).
  • In 2006, air conditioning or related equipment was involved in an estimated 7,400 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 270 civilian injuries and $200 million indirect property damage.
  • In 2003-2006, the 7,000 reported home structure fires per year involving air conditioning and related equipment included 2,400 per year involving central and room air conditioners specifically and 3,700 per year involving fans.
  • In 1995-2003 (excluding 1999, which was not reported), there were 11.5 electrocution deaths per year involving air conditioners and 4.3 electrocution deaths per year involving fans.
The next time you need help installing or maintaining your home's air conditioner, call the experts at ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help keep you safe and comfortable.
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