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PLUMBING • DRAINS • COOLING • WATER QUALITY

What's the Best Garbage Disposal For My Kitchen?

Sarasota Garbage Disposal Installation

When it comes time to replace your old under sink garbage disposal there are a number of things to consider. Not all disposals work the same way and its important to choose the right amount of horsepower for your needs. You'll also want to consider factors like durability, noise levels, price, and brand reputation.

The first factor to consider is horsepower. 1/3 Horsepower is the starting point and typically the units with the lowest power. While they may seem like a bargin, we recommend avoiding low powered disposals. They are more prone to jamming and are often made from cheaper components that rust out more quickly.

1/2 horsepower garbage disposals are the minimum recommended power for a home disposal. They are affordable and small enough to fit in tighter spaces. If you don't use a disposal very often and don't mind the higher noise levels of a smaller disposal, a 1/2 horsepower unit may be a good option. If possible, choose a disposal with stainless steel grinding components to increase the life of the unit.

For most kitchens, a 3/4 horsepower disposal will work best. It will have plenty of power to handle all those holiday leftovers and can safely grind potato peels, celery and more with no problems. While they will require more space under the sink than lower power units, they will usually operate with much less noise.

If you do a lot of cooking and entertaining, consider a 1 horsepower disposal. It can handle just about anything you can put down it. With a larger chamber, most will have premium stainless steel components that make quick work of everything from chicken and fish bones to fruit rinds. While 1 horsepower units are top-of-the-line, they can be very large, so make sure you have the room under your sink.

Whatever size unit you decide to purchase, it's important to always run a lot of water when grinding waste to ensure the waste does not build up inside the drain.

Have questions about selecting the right garbage disposal for your kitchen? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help you choose the right disposal for your needs.
Thank you to all our customers for choosing ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning!

"Tanner was the ultimate pro. He greeted us upon his arrival with a smile and introduced himself. He sought out where the problem was, had to go under our house to fix the problem and did so without a single complaint and always with a smile. ABC SOUTHWEST COMPANY should be proud of Tanner, the service he provided and the knowledge to find, evaluate and fix the problem. Thanks"
– Tanner S. Facebook Review 11/30/17

"Great Job by both Technicians, quick and very thorough to explain what they were doing to each component. Arrived on time. no hassles at all."
– Google Review 11/26/17

"Jonathan was very professional, communicated well, timely and neat."
– BuzzBox Review 11/06/17

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– BuzzBox Jonathan K. 11/04/17

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The Importance of Proper Air Conditioner Sizing

Southwest Florida Air ConditioningOne of the most important factors in how effectively a central air conditioner will cool a house is how well it is matched to the size of the home. It's not the physical size of the condenser unit, but rather the air conditioner’s ability to produce cooled air as measured in BTU (British Thermal Unit) per hour and in tons.

In air conditioning, too few BTUs is never enough while too many will lead to less comfort. When a new air conditioner is installed your HVAC technician will carefully consider the air volume in the home to calculate how many BTUs the system will need to provide in order to maintain the right balance of comfort and efficiency.

If the AC unit is undersized, it will have to run continuously, or cycle on and off repeatedly on hot days to keep the house cool, increasing your electric bill and shortening the lifespan of the unit. On the other hand, if the unit is too large it will not run long enough to remove moisture from the air. The result will be cool, clammy air that feels like a chilly fog.

A correctly sized central air conditioner will run through the required amount of cycles to keep your house comfortable, but will not run so much that it looses its efficiency.

Central air conditioners come in many different sizes to fit a wide range of applications. An experienced HVAC technician will be able to properly size the unit to cool your home with the most comfort and efficiency. They will also take in to account other factors, such as climate, the height of the ceilings and the level of insulation.

If your air conditioner is running too long or not cooling effectively, it may not be properly sized. Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call. We can help determine if the system is sized properly to perform at its best.

The ABC's of Plumbing – Energy Factor

If you're planning on replacing your old water heater, one of the most important things to consider is how efficiently it will produce hot water. To make it easier for consumers to compare water heaters and select the most energy efficient model, the US Department of Energy has developed a standard for residential water heaters, call the Energy Factor.

As with cars and Miles Per Gallon (MPG), the Energy Factor (EF) rates how efficiently a water heater uses its fuel source. When comparing standard products of the same fuel type, a water heater with a higher Energy Factor rating uses less energy, resulting in both energy and cost savings.

Water Heater Energy Factor

The Energy Factor is determined by performing a 24-hour simulated test on residential water heaters. During the test a measured number of gallons of water are drawn from the water heater in six equally spaced draws that begin one hour apart. After the beginning of the last draw a standby period of 18 hours follows.

The result of the test is expressed as a decimal. For example, a gas water heater with an energy factor rating of 0.5 means it's 50% efficient. It will use 50% of the gas to heat the water, while the remaining 50% is heat going out the exhaust flue.

When comparing water heaters it's important to consider the fuel source. While an electric water heater may have a higher EF rating, electricity is typically more expensive than natural gas. Also, be sure to compare the EF for the same type of water heater, the EF rating for tankless and hybrid water heaters is measured differently than it is for conventional tank water heaters.

Have questions about choosing the best water heater for your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning.

How Switching to Energy Star Appliances Can Save You Money


ENERGY STAR® Air ConditionersIf you've been shopping for a new appliance like a refrigerator or stove, you have likely seen an ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR® is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program started in 1992 that helps consumers save money and reduce their impact on the climate through better energy efficiency.

The government has partnered with other industry to include not only major appliances but also air conditioners, water heaters and even new homes and buildings. In order to be Energy Star rated, appliances must meet strict energy efficiency guidelines, as set out by that program. Look for this label when shopping for an appliance if you want to reduce your energy costs.

One of the most energy intensive appliances in the home is the central air conditioner, accounting for almost half of the energy us in many homes. If you're replacing a 10 year old air inefficient conditioner you could save $100 on your energy bill with an Energy Star rated central air conditioner. The ENERGY STAR label guarantees significant energy savings and do not cost any more than standard appliances.

When its time to replace your old central air conditioner, ask ABC Southwest for information on the latest ENERGY STAR® units. You'll be surprised how much the savings can add up.

What's the Best Kind of Water Heater?

Best Water HeatersWhen choosing a new water heater for your home there are more choices than ever. Here's a comparison of the most common types of water heater and the advantages and disadvantages of each style.

Electric Tank Water Heater

Heats and stores water using electricity
  • Purchase Cost (less installation): $300 - $1,200
  • Advantages: Lowest upfront cost, Good for small or large households
  • Disadvantages: More expensive to operate

Gas Tank Water Heater

Heats and stores water using natural gas or propane
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $380 to $1,500
  • Advantages: Lowest upfront cost, Good for small or large households
  • Disadvantages: More expensive to operate

Tankless Gas Water Heater

Heats water on demand when its needed.
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $1000+
  • Advantages: Good for smaller households, lower operating cost, small footprint
  • Disadvantages: More expensive to operate

Electric Heat Pump Water Heater

Uses electricity to move heat from one place to another
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $1,000+
  • Advantages: Great for warm climates like Florida
  • Disadvantages: More expensive than a conventional water heater

Condensing Gas Water Heaters

Heats and stores the water using gas, then uses the combustion gas to further heat the water.
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $1,000+
  • Advantages: Lowest operating cost. Can save a household $100+ a year
  • Disadvantages: Higher up-front cost

Hybrid Tankless Water Heater

Combines the advantages of a small storage tank with a tankless water heater.
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $1,000+
  • Advantages: Lower operating cost. Less standby heat loss than a conventional tank water heater, and no "cold water sandwich" that can occur with tankless water heaters.
  • Disadvantages: Higher up-front cost
Need help choosing the best water heater for your needs? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help answer all your questions.

How Much Water Could You Be Saving In Your Home?

Water Savings

97 percent of the earth's water is salt water, leaving only 3 percent of the earth's water fit for human consumption. While water is a renewable resource, the best way to ensure there will be enough fresh water in the future is to start conserving water today.

The average U.S. family uses 127,000 gallons of water each year. One of the best ways to reduce water waste is to use low-flow plumbing fixtures and appliances. For example:
  • A normal faucet will use 4,000 gallons a year when run just 4 minutes a day. A low-flow faucet would reduce that amount by a quarter... a savings of 1,000 gallons of water a year.
  • A washing machine that washes 2 loads a week will use 5,000 gallons a year... while a water saving unit will use 3,000... a savings of 2,000 gallons a year.
  • A shower head that is used 15 minutes a day will use 19,000 gallons of water a year... a low-flow shower head would use just 9,000 gallons a year... a savings of 12,000 gallons per year.
  • The largest source of water use in the home is toilets. If a toilet is flushed 15 times per day it will use 33,000 gallons of water per year. By comparison, a water saving or dual-flush toilet would save over 24,000 gallons of water every year.
The total savings for using low-flow, water efficient fixtures and appliances is 40,000 gallons a year, a 30 percent savings on water bill.

5 Factors To Consider When Deciding To Repair or Replace Your AC

How old is the Air Conditioner?

A central air conditioner will last 10 to 15 years. Older units are usually much less efficient and need more frequent repairs. Some older AC units will use Freon which is being phased out and is expensive.

What needs to be repaired?

Minor problems like clogged drain lines and ignitors are less expensive to repair than blower motors, condenser coils and compressors. It may be better to invest the money for expensive repairs in a new air conditioner.

Repair or replace air conditioner

How efficient is the unit?

Newer, high efficiency air conditioners can have up to 20 SEER (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_energy_efficiency_ratio) efficiency ratings, reducing energy use and operating costs significantly. If the current unit is less than 13 SEER, you can expect significantly lower energy consumption and hundreds of dollars a year in savings from a newer unit.

Frequency of repairs

If major repairs have becoming more frequent in recent years, it may be best to invest the cost of repairs in a new unit.

Is the Current Air Conditioner the Right Size?

An over-sized unit will cycle more often, be prone to early failure and have poor humidity control. A new, professionally installed system using heat gain calculations will be matched to your home's unique requirements.

5 Plumbing Systems To Check When Buying a Home

Plumbing ChecklistBuying a home is a big investment. Older homes in particular can present risks when it comes to plumbing systems.  By doing your research and ensuring that the plumbing system is functioning correctly, you can avoid making costly mistakes. Here's what to check.

1. Hot Water System

Ask the realtor or homeowner the age of the water heater. A water heater will typically last 10-15 years. Inspect the water heater for leaks, excessive rust and other signs of age and deterioration.

2. Water Leaks

Check taps, pipes, appliances (including dishwashers, clothes washers, ice makers) for signs of leaks. Check for stains or signs of mildew that could indicate a hidden water leak. Because many leaks go undetected and can get worse over time, have a plumer check the system and repair any leaks prior to closing.

3. Check the Sump Pump

A inoperable sump pump can lead to serios water damage. Slowly fill the sump pump pit with water. It should turn on and remove the water.

4. Water Saving Toilets

Check toilets to see if they are newer, low-flow models. Toilets manufactured since the last 90's are mandated to use less than 1.6 gallons per flush.

5. Sewer and Drain Lines

Ask about the current age of the sewer line and whether it has been inspected within the last two years. Ensure that all drains empty quickly. A video sewer line inspection is .cheap insurance that will help find potential trouble like tree root intrusion, cracks, blockages and other problems

Need a plumbing inspection before your next home purchase? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help ensure everything is working as it should be.

Choosing the Right MERV Rating For Your HVAC System



If you want to find out how effective your air filter is at removing contaminants from the air, check the filter's MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV is a standard that rates the effectiveness of air filters. A higher numeric rating means the filter will remove finer particulate matter from the air.

Filters are tested for for their ability to trap pollen, dust mites, mold spores, dust, pet dander, bacteria and tobacco smoke. Here are how effective the different MERV ratings are at removing various contaminants from the air.

1-4 : Filters out pollen and dust mites.

5-8 : Removes mold and dust.

9-12 : Traps lead dust and most bacteria

12+ : Filters out all bacteria and tobacco smoke

When choosing an air filter for your HVAC system it may seem like a good idea to buy the filter with the highest MERV rating, since you want to have the cleanest air possible, right? In most cases, you should use a filter in the 5-8 range. The reason is that filters with a high MERV rating will have the smallest pores for air to pass through. This can make it harder for the HVAC system to push air through the filter, reducing system performance. To avoid restricting the air flow, filters with a higher MERV rating should be changed more frequently (at least every three months) to prevent damage to the HVAC system.

Ultimately, if your home's air is dirty enough to require a higher MERV rating, or you're changing air filters more than once a month, you may be better served by having a whole home air filtration system. A furnace air filter is really just designed to keep your HVAC equipment clean to prevent wear and tear. A whole house air filtration system is designed to actually clean the air inside the home.

Have questions about air filters? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help answer all your questions.

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