Consider It Done!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015 18:36

Tips For Plumbing Emergencies

Ever come home to a broken pipe or a major leak? There’s never a good time for a plumbing emergency, but in an instance where a problem arises, you should be familiar with a few quick fixes. Follow the tips below to keep the mess under control until the plumber gets there:

In case of a leak, know where the main water shut-off valve is located. This will allow you to turn off the flow of water to prevent major water damage. Heavy duty paper towels or rags will help to clean up the water until the plumber gets there to fix the problem.

“Backing off” will allow your plumbing system to maintain its integrity. In order to keep the stress off of your plumbing, use two wrenches at once, turning in opposite directions.

How can you temporarily fix a cracked or burst pipe? Duct tape or pipe sealing tape will help pull the crack together, but again, this is only a temporary solution. Call in a plumber for a permanent fix.

Have a clogged toilet or sink drain? A cup plunger can be used to solve the problem. They have a funnel that applies extra force down the drain, which is useful for sinks or toilets. As a reminder, any time you use a plunger of any kind, you’re putting extra force on your pipes. This can cause the pipes to crack or shift, and can break seals. We suggest calling an expert plumber, who can clear the drain in the safest way possible for your plumbing.

The next time you experience a plumbing emergency, think fast! Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning and we’ll be there to fix the problem!
In the typical Florida home, air conditioning uses far more electricity than any other appliance. During the summer, air conditioning can account for as much as 70-80% of your electric bill.

Of course, the most obvious way to lower your cooling bill is to run the air conditioner less often and turn the temperature up a couple of degrees. But there are several other little steps that can make a significant difference.

1. Clean your air conditioner coils. Dirty cooling coils will make your air conditioner work harder, reducing efficiency. Your air conditioning technician can perform this maintenance or you can do it yourself by removing the outer cover. 

2. Use ceiling fans. A ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. Remember to turn off ceiling fans when no one is in the room.

3. Although thermostats can be adjusted manually, programmable thermostats will avoid any discomfort by returning temperatures to normal before you wake or return home. Schedule the temperature to be higher when you will be away from home for an extended period.

4. On hot days, avoid using heat generating appliances like your oven. Use a microwave oven, or grill outside. Instead of using your clothes dryer, hang clothing outside to dry. This will reduce heat as well as humidity inside the home.

5. Make sure bathroom and kitchen fans are vented to the outside (not just to the attic).

Have air conditioning questions? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015 16:38

Water Heater Safety

Water heaters are energy efficient and provide a reliable source of hot water. What you may not know is they employ numerous safety features to reduce a few common safety hazards, these hazards include:

Excessive Hot Water Pressure

One of the most important parts on a water heater is the temperature and pressure relief valve. If the water pressure or temperature inside the tank get too high, the valve will prevent damage to the unit.

Hot Water Scalding

Preventing scalding is especially important in households with children or elderly. Because the temperature of the water that first flows out of the tap can be very hot, a temping valve is used to reduce the danger of scalding.

Bacterial Infections

When the temperature of the water is kept too low bacteria such as legionella, which causes Legionnaire's disease, can grow in water heaters if the water is not hot enough to kill it. The best way of preventing bacteria from growing in your hot water system is to ensure the temperature stays above 122° F.

Wastewater Backflow

Backflow occurs when drinking water and non-potable wastewater mix. It most often occurs when the pressure in the system changes and waste water is drawn into the supply system. To prevent backflow contamination water heaters use a one-way valve and in some cases a pressure overflow tank to prevent contamination.

Have questions about your water heater? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we're here to help.

Thursday, 09 July 2015 18:03

Plumbing Tips For The Hurricane Season

The Atlantic hurricane season is June to November. Even if your home isn't in the direct path of a hurricane, torrential rains and power outages are still a risk most homeowners in Southwest Florida live with. Here are some tips that can help you and your home's plumbing survive the storm.

  1. Ensure that all storm drains near the home are clear of debris so they can handle the runoff from heavy rains.
  2. Check your sump pump. Fill the sump pit with several gallons of water. It should automatically turn on and start removing the water. If the sump pump has a battery, ensure it has has a sufficient charge.
  3. Know the location of the water shutoff valve. During a hurricane turn off the water supply to prevent contaminated water from entering the home. When you're ready to ration water open a faucet furthest away from the main line so air can enter the system.
  4. Turn off the water heater. Heating and storing water puts extra pressure on your plumbing system, so shut off the gas or electrical supply to the unit. The water heater can be a source of potable water during a hurricane.

Have questions about your home's plumbing system? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we're here to help.
Thursday, 07 May 2015 13:14

Solutions For Uneven Cooling in the Home

It's not uncommon for homeowners to tell us that their living room is perfectly comfortable while their bedroom is always too warm. If you have noticed that some rooms in your home are too warm while other rooms are comfortable, there are several things to check.
  • Ensure that air vents are not blocked by furniture or other objects
  • A central cooling system works best if all vents are open and doors are open to allow air to circulate evenly
  • Check the air ducts for excessive dirt and debris. If necessary, have the ducts professionally cleaned to restore airflow.
  • Your home should be properly insulated to prevent cool air from escaping. Inadequate insulation in your attic is a priary cause uneven cooling problems.
  • Install ceiling fans. Many times the solution to uneven cooling is just inadequate air circulation, especially in rooms with high ceilings.
  • Air duct leaks. It's not uncommon for air ducts to have significant gaps and holes that can let air escape. Taping the gaps or having professional duct sealing performed will help the conditioned air reach the farthest reaches of the home more easily. 
Have questions about air conditioning? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we're here to help.

Most new air conditioners built within the last 5 years are designed to operate very quietly. When you hear unusual noises, it is usually the result of a lack of maintenance or a sign that a part has worn out and is about to fail. By being aware of these noises you can address the small problems before they leads to a breakdown.

When your air conditioner is working normally it will often make some noises. Subtle thumping and whining sounds are normal. By becoming familiar with the normal operating sounds that an air conditioner makes, you will be able to more easily recognize unusual sounds that could be cause for concern.

Malfunctioning Air Conditioner Noises

Air conditioners have many parts; there are fans, hoses, belts, compressor motors, coils and other components that work together to move cool air throughout your home. As air conditioners age belt often become loose, leading to thumping sounds. A clogged air filter reduces air flow and can cause the unit to whine as it cycles on or off. Loose hardware on compressor parts can lead to rattling sounds.

Preventative maintenance is the best way to minimize the likelihood of air conditioner repairs. An AC tune-up includes the following steps that keep your air conditioner operating quietly and reliably:
  • Inspection and lubrication of all moving parts
  • Inspection and replacement of worn belts and hoses
  • Replacement of dirty air filters
  • Ensuring that the unit cycles on and off properly
  • Inspection of electrical connections
  • Inspection of refrigerant levels
Have questions about your air conditioner? Need to schedule an AC tune-up? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning today.

Ceiling fans are often advertised as a means of saving you energy, but it depends on the efficiency of the fan itself and how it is used.

A ceiling fan doesn't actually cool the air in your home - it can only circulate it.  It makes you feel cooler during warmer months because the air blowing across your skin evaporates moisture, making you feel cooler. During the colder months a ceiling fan will help circulate the warm air closer to the living space in larger rooms.

Ceiling fans have the potential to save energy in a few ways:
  • If you use ceiling fans instead of your air conditioning on spring/fall days when the weather is just warming up, it will use less energy than running your air conditioner.
  • At the same time, if you're using the fans while also setting the thermostat a few degrees warmer, you're possibly saving money, depending on things like how many degrees, how many fans are operating, and how efficient the fans are.
  • Remember to turn off the fans when there is nobody in the room. Because fans don’t cool the air, but actually add some heat with the energy they’re using, it will defeat the purpose of using the fan if it's running in empty rooms.
The important point to keep in mind is that in order to realize the benefits of ceiling fans, you must be turning down the thermostat in winter and turning it up in the summer by at least several degrees. And, as noted above, only use fans in rooms that are occupied.

As with choosing an air conditioner or furnace, ceiling fans are also Energy Star Rated. By choosing a more energy efficient model you can save as much as 50% over non-qualifying models.  

Besides ceiling fans, here are some other tips for saving money on heating and cooling your home:
  1. Use a programmable thermostat - The ability to change the temperature in your home when you're away or while sleeping can make a big difference in your energy usage.  The government estimates as much as $180 in energy costs (enough to buy some ceiling fans!).  Newer thermostats are simple to program and many come pre-programmed to energy star guidelines!
  2. Have your air conditioner and furnace cleaned and maintained -  Regular maintenance of your heating and cooling system will ensure the burners are working efficiently, the A/C coils are clean and the refrigerant charge is correct.  Improper refrigerant charge can make your equipment work harder (using more energy) and shorten its life.
  3. Change your furnace air filter - a clogged furnace filter will make your heating system's blower work much harder than it needs to and might even cause your coil to freeze up when your A/C is running.  Standard 1" filters should be changed every month when your equipment is running continuously.
The U.S. Department of Energy has put into effect new regulations that require all manufacturers of water heaters to meet a higher energy factor (EF) rating. Based on the new requirements, there will be significant changes to water heaters manufactured after April 15, 2015. This includes gas, oil, electric water heaters. Tankless water heaters already meet the new requirements.

How do these changes affect you?

Some of the changes that may affect you as a consumer are:
· Higher priced units – up to 35% more expensive.
· Larger units – 2” tall and 2” wider, and in some cases units may be even larger.
· More complex installation requirements
· Possible significant home remodeling costs if your water heater is located in a small space like a closet or attic.

These new regulations are being made to improve the efficiency of water heaters, which will result in lower energy costs for homeowners.

Water Heater Regulations

Should I Wait, Or Upgrade Now?

Sarasota Water HeatersAccording to manufacturer’s suggested service life, the average lifespan of a water heater is about 8-12 years. Homeowners with water heaters 10 years old or older need to seriously consider replacing it now, before the regulations go into effect and costs go up.

ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning will answer any questions you may have about the new regulations, evaluate your current water heater and provide you with options on the next steps. Then, if you decide you want to install before the new regulations take affect we’ll reserve your water heater from our inventory.

For more information, visit:
U.S. Department of Energy
AO Smith
American Water Heaters
State Water Heaters
If your water heater has a conventional storage tank, it's important to perform regular maintenance to ensure that it operates efficiently and does not wear our prematurely. Most homeowners have a water heater installed and simply forget about it until it stops heating or working altogether and needs replacement. However, with a few simple maintenance steps you can increase the lifespan of the unit while also making it work more efficiently. Annual water heater maintenance will save you money in the long run, extending the like of the unit and ensuring that it operates at peak efficiency.

Water Heater Maintenance

1. Flush the water heater tank annually

Almost all water heater manufacturers recommend flushing the tank annually. Draining the tank removes sediment build up that has collected at the bottom of the tank, allowing the burner to work more efficiently. If your home has hard water, it's especially important to drian the tank to remove mineral deposits like calcium and magnesium that will build up over time, reducing efficiency.

Before draining your water heater tank, check the manufacturer's instructions for the correct procedure for draining your model of water heater. If you're not sure what to do, play it safe and call ABC Southwest for help.

2. Check the anode rod

The anode rod hangs inside the tank to help prevent the interior walls of the tank from rusting out. It should be checked annually when the tank is drained. The anode rod is designed to corrode easily, reducing the amount of corrosion on other parts inside the tank. Replacing a badly corroded rod is far cheaper than replacing the water heater. Without a good anode rod, hot water will rapidly corrode the inside of the tank, shortening its life.

3. Insulate the water heater tank

This is a step you only have to do once. Wrapping your water heater in a blanket of insulation can improve it's efficiency up to 40 percent. Even though the tank may feel cool to the touch, after installing the blanket put hand under the blanket. You'll be suprised how warm it is! Before installing a water heater blanket be sure to check your manufacturer's instructions, some manufacturers advise not covering the unit. Also, be sure to cut openings out for all water heater controls, including the thermostat, pressure relief valve and other controls.

4. Inspect the exterior of the water heater for leaks

Look for signs of rust around the base of the water heater. Also check the overflow valve for signs of leaks. Are there water stains on the floor around the tank? If you notice signs of possible water leaks have the unit inspected by a plumber to ensure the tank is not rusted out or in need of maintenance. Note that some moisture around the tank is not unusual, and typically is the result of condensation on cold water pipes during humid weather.

Have questions about your hot water heater or other plumbing systems? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.
A home's plumbing system is designed to keep odors from building up inside the home. When you smell persistent odors it could be the sign of plumbing system problems. Here are some things to look for.

Bathroom Plumbing Odors

If you have a foul odor when flushing the toilet it could be caused by a worn toilet wax ring. The wax ring is designed to seal the toilet against the floor. Whenever water goes down a drain it pushes the air away. If the wax ring is not fully sealed, it will force the air between the floor and the bottom of the toilet, instead of down the drain pipe.

Air is also released out the main vent through the roof of the house. If the roof vent becomes blocked, the air has no place to escape. To eliminate the bathroom odors, reseal the wax ring on the toilet and ensure the main vent is not obstructed.

Basement Plumbing Odors

Traps are designed to seal out foul odors by sealing the drain with water. When the water evaporates, the seal is broken and odors enter the basement. To eliminiate the odors, simply pour a bucket of water down each trap. In addition, sinks, shower and floor drain that are used infrequently can be refilled with water to prevent smells from entering the house.

Kitchen Plumbing Odors

Foul odors in the kitchen are often caused by a garbage disposal that has a buildup of food debris. To eliminate the odor, turn on the faucet and grind ice cubes and lemon peels in the disposal, followed by a small amount of liquid dish detergent. Finish by rinse the disposal with cold water for 30 seconds.

Have questions about your plumbing system? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.
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