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PLUMBING • DRAINS • COOLING • WATER QUALITY

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.

6 Signs You Should Call a Plumber

Hidden water leak

Some plumbing problems are easy to spot – a dripping faucet, an overflowing toilet, while others can be more subtle. Here are some signs to look for that could indicate a serious plumbing, sewer or drain problem.

1. Water is draining slowly out all sinks, tubs, toilets, dishwasher etc.
This usually indicates a blockage in the main line rather than a localized blockage. A plumber should inspect the main line for blockage.

2. You hear water running but nothing is on.
While a running toilet is a fairly common plumbing noise, if you hear dripping or running water and you can't determine the source, call a plumber to have the cause identified and to ensure there isn't a damaging water leak.

3. You see signs of a leak.
If you see mildew or mold, dark surfaces or puddles of water it could be a sign of a water leak behind the wall.

4.Your water bill has unexpectedly jumped.
This could indicate a hidden water leak. Check your water meter to see that amount of water used.

5. Your Toilet is gurgling or bubbling after flushing.
This could be a sign of a backed up sewer line. A video inspection can find the cause of sewer line stoppages.

6. Water pressure has dropped.
If the water pressure has only dropped for a single source, such as a faucet or shower head. Try cleaning the aerator with vinegar to remove mineral deposits. Ensure that all supply valves are completely open. If the water pressure has dropped throughout the entire home, have a plumber inspect the plumbing.

Have plumbing problems? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help.
Sarasota Florida PlumberFamily gathering and lots of cooking can put a lot of demands on your home's plumbing system. Unfortunately, if you have been having sewer or drain problems, the holidays are the most common time when serious clogs and backups will occur. Here are some tips to prevent drain problems during the holidays.

1. Have your sewer and drain lines inspected. An ounce of inspection is worth a pound of clogged drain debris. A video sewer and drain line inspection will give you the peas of mind that your sewer and drain lines are in top condition and ready to deal with the extra demands of holiday guests this season.

2. Don't put grease down the drain. What do you do with all that oil from the deep fryer are cooking your turkey this year? Never pour the grease down the kitchen drain or even a floor drain. Instead, put it in a sealed container and freeze it. Then put it in the trash can.

3. Put coffee grinds in the garbage.  Coffee grounds should not go in the disposal or down the drain.

4. Use strainers in drains. Make sure your kitchen and bath drains have a grate or screen to prevent debris from entering the drain pipe.

5. Rinse the drains regularly with hot water. This will help prevent oil and grease from accumulating.

6. Use safe drain products. If your drains are prone to clogging, consider a safe, environmentally friendly option for keeping your plumbing system working smoothly. Bio-Clean is a safe blend of bacteria and enzymes. The friendly bacteria actually eat away the build up, leaving behind only water, carbon dioxide and mineral ash. The bacteria continue to multiply, thriving on their natural food source . . . that gunky build up in your pipes and drains, completely cleaning your home’s entire plumbing system.

Have a clogged drain?

First, try physically clearing the drain with a plunger. We recommend avoiding the use of chemical drain cleaning products. They can be hazardous to use and store in the home. If all else fails, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help fix your plumbing problems, so you can keep your holiday guests happy.
"Henry removed an old water heater and installed a new on demand unit. He worked hard and was very informative when I asked question. Would use them again."
– BBB Review 10/30/17

"Jonathan was prompt, efficient and helpful. He completed the job quickly. His work was clean and precise (Nice right angles and clean neat solder joints}---Quality work. With so many people doing shoddy work, It was a pleasure to see work done well. He was also very pleasant and personable which made it a pleasure to deal with him."
– Facebook Review 10/28/17

"Henry was professional and compassionate about our emergency issue with the Hot Water Heater. He was very knowledgeable and provided various solutions that would meet our needs. He was thorough in his work and tidy in his clean-up. So, we opted for the Ultimate Advantage Club as a new member, so that ABC Plumbing & Henry can be here to provide excellent service."
– Buzzbox Review 10/19/17
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.
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