Perfecting Your Indoor Air Quality

A Guide to Perfecting Your Indoor Air Quality

According to studies by the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends approximately 90 percent of their life indoors. While this statistic probably wants to make you go outside and soak up some sun, it has far-reaching consequences in other areas of your life, especially your health. Because you spend so much time indoors, you want the air you breathe to remain as clean as possible. Fortunately, it’s not as hard as you think. If you’re searching for ways to perfect the indoor air quality in your Lakewood Ranch, Florida, home, here’s a handy guide to get you started.

Go from Artificial to Natural

There are hundreds of air fresheners available on the market that claim to make your home smell great or clean better than any substitute. While these claims aren’t unsubstantiated, they fill your home with volatile organic compounds or VOCs. Humans and animals have many adverse side effects from inhaling VOCs such as eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system.

To avoid VOCs in your home, there are many proven methods. Instead of using air fresheners, you can heat lemon or cinnamon to emit a wonderful aroma in your home. You can also use essential oils, which not only have a pleasant smell, but also have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. The most common types of include eucalyptus, thyme, peppermint, and lavender.

If you use harsh cleaners in the bathroom or kitchen, try using baking soda, vinegar, or lemon juice mixed with water. These clean just as effectively as other chemicals while keeping your air quality normal. Additionally, you can use a water and vinegar solution to mop the floor effectively. In the laundry room, avoid using traditional detergents and dryer sheets, especially products with fragrances. When used, these laundry products spew a number of chemicals into the home, and few are expelled through the dryer vent. Instead, look for natural or fragrance-free products, or if you have the drive, make your own using borax, washing soda, grated bar soap, and essential oils to provide an aroma.

Keep Ducts and Filter Clean

When you use the furnace or air conditioner, forced air goes through a filter and into the ductwork before it enters your home. However, dirty filters and ducts spew contaminants into your home, causing your air quality to falter. To make matters worse, this condition also causes your HVAC system to work even harder to produce the same results as a clean system.

To counteract this scenario, it’s important to change your air filter at least once every 90 days. In seasons where you use your HVAC system more frequently, you should increase this frequency to once every 30 to 60 days. Filters also come in a number of qualities, ranging from coarse to fine, and also known as a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). The higher the MERV rating of your air filter, the more effective it is at keeping debris out of your home.

While this does a ton to prevent dust from entering the system, it isn’t 100 percent effective. Over time, debris accumulates in your air ducts. You can use a brush to clean the excess dust from your air registers, but to do a thorough cleaning, you’ll need to enlist our help. When you schedule a duct cleaning, one of our certified HVAC technicians will come out and ensure they’re just as clean as the day they were installed. It’s just another way that we’re committed to improving your air quality.

Install Indoor Air Quality Products

Another way to clean your air is a more hands-off approach. By installing an indoor air quality device, you only need to install them and let them do the rest of the work. The first device is an air purifier, which differs slightly from an air cleaner. Both trap dust from entering your HVAC system, but an air purifier sanitizes the air as it passes through the system. Often, air purifiers utilize a UV lamp, which kills hazardous organic material such as bacteria, viruses, and mold. UV lamps themselves do nothing to prevent pet dander and dust from entering the house, but when used in conjunction with an air cleaner or air filter, they’re highly effective at promoting healthy air.

Most of the year, Florida has high humidity levels which permeate your home. This high humidity encourages the growth of harmful allergens including dust mites, mold, and mildew. In addition, your air conditioner has to remove the moisture from the air when operating, causing it to work harder and handing you a higher energy bill in the process. However, there is a solution. We specialize in the installation of whole-home dehumidifiers. With a dehumidifier, you don’t have to worry about your air conditioner carrying the workload. Plus, you can breathe easier, sleep more comfortably, and enjoy better indoor air quality thanks to a proper indoor relative humidity.

Get an HVAC Tuneup

Sometimes you don’t have the expertise to improve your air quality because there are technical aspects that you don’t have the training or knowledge to understand. One of those aspects is an HVAC tuneup. Even if you keep up with filter replacement, or you decide to install extra air quality products, it still isn’t always enough. That’s when an HVAC tuneup comes in handy. Our technicians conduct a thorough investigation of every aspect of your system to ensure it’s running in tip-top shape.

Not only does a tuneup ensure excellent mechanical operation, but it also helps filter out pet dander, dust, and other allergens from the air by ensuring the filter and other aspects are working properly. Systems that use gas or oil may also subject your family to carbon monoxide, which is highly toxic and even lethal if undetected. Ideally, you should schedule this maintenance biannually, but if you’re absent-minded, an HVAC maintenance plan is the best route to take. With an HVAC maintenance plan, you get exclusive benefits from us, as well as a discount on repairs. Not only will you enjoy better air quality, but you’ll also get it at a fraction of the price.

Get Some Houseplants

A few decades ago, NASA was finding ways to improve the air quality on space stations. After their research, they found how highly effective houseplants are at improving air quality. In your home, chemicals and other substances such as formaldehyde poison the indoor air. However, many species of plants help filter these substances out of the air, while also emitting fresh oxygen and giving your home a warm, inviting look. Some of the most efficient plants to filter the air include Boston ferns, peace lilies, English ivy, spider plants, aloe vera, and Chinese evergreens. The best part is that you can choose plants to match your style and decor while reaping the benefits at the same time.

Open the Windows

It sounds like a no-brainer, but many homeowners forget how important it is to open the windows and doors every so often. You don’t have to throw them wide open, but even opening them a crack and turning on a fan can help ventilate the home and expel allergens and other pollutants from the home. Unless it’s blistering hot or uncomfortably cold, it’s something you should do at least once a week.

Take the Smoking Outside

If you smoke or you have friends or family members that smoke, don’t let them smoke inside your home. Cigarette smoke has over 4,000 chemicals and an abundance of second-hand smoke which lingers in your home, causes health problems and terrible indoor air quality. Obviously, the best way to stop this from happening is by quitting, but if you still partake, take it outside.

Perfecting your indoor air quality isn’t an arduous process if you know where to start and make a commitment to the entire process. While you can do some of this on your own, you’re going to need the professionals at Aqua Plumbing and Air to deal with the technical end, such as installation and repair. Our expert technicians will provide quality work with a friendly manner that gets you back into your normal routine. Call us today at 941-306-3715.

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Home Water Filtration

Enjoy Awesome Benefits With a Home Water Filtration System

Clean water is something that many people take for granted. Without it, you couldn’t shower, cook, or drink without risking your health. While many areas have stellar tap water, your Sarasota, Florida, home is better off with a home water filtration system. With one of these systems, you can remove the impurities that pass through even the most rigorous water treatment facilities. By installing a water filtration system, you can enjoy a bevy of benefits that improve your health and lifestyle.

Types of Water Filtration Systems

Before you pull the trigger on a water filtration system, it’s important to note the three types available for most homes. The first type is a reverse osmosis water system. Although it sounds like you need to crack open a high school biology textbook to understand how it works, it’s actually simpler than you may have thought. Using air pressure, a reverse osmosis water filtration system forces water through a semi-permeable membrane. This removes most of the contaminants from the water and is the most effective system. Most reverse osmosis systems remove the contaminants in five, six, or seven stages, and produce from 50 to 90 treated gallons each day.

The next type is an activated carbon water treatment system. This is the most common and least expensive way to filter water in your home. They’re installed right at the source of the tap, and using carbon filters, they remove parasitic organisms, heavy metals, and other chemicals. Most often, people use these systems in their kitchen for pure cooking and drinking water.

The last type of system is an ion exchange filter, or water softener. This system uses positively charged ions to attract negatively charged ions found in elements such as barium, magnesium, and calcium. While these elements aren’t harmful in small doses, large amounts can adversely affect your health, damage pipes, and cause drinking water to taste bad.

Cost Savings

Now that you know the various ways to purify your water, it’s time to talk benefits. One of the foremost advantages of a water filtration system is cost savings. Instead of buying bottled water, you can drink straight from the tap. For most families of four, this translates to savings of about $500 to $700 a year. On average, the most expensive reverse osmosis system only costs about $300 to $500 a year with an annual filter replacement cost of $50 to $80. You’ll even get to see these savings within a few months of installing your water filtration system.

Preventive Maintenance

Although it may take years to manifest, unfiltered water can eventually cause plumbing problems that require the help of one of our licensed plumbers. Heavy metals in drinking water can damage pipes and appliances over time, but it can happen so gradually that it comes as a shock or surprise when a problem occurs. Your dishwasher, ice machine, water dispenser, and garbage disposal are all at risk of disrepair without a water filtration system. 

Saving the Environment

According to studies, Americans purchase over 50 billion bottles of water a year. The only problem is that only 23 percent of these bottles find their way to a recycling center, while the rest go into a landfill. With your water filtration system, you won’t add to the mess of plastic that goes into landfills; this will lower your carbon footprint and provide a sense of self-satisfaction at the same time.

Clean Drinking Water

Drinking from the tap won’t kill you, but when you look at all the toxins that remain in drinking water after water treatment facilities, you may be shocked. Most water treatment plants pump fluoride and chlorine into the water to treat it, yet high doses of these elements are bad for the human body. With a water filtration system, you can remove over 2,000 toxins that aren’t pulled from the water at these facilities. The result is healthier, better tasting water.

Although a home water filtration system may seems unnecessary to some, its benefits far outweigh the initial and residual costs. If you’ve decided to make the change to healthier, cleaner water, it’s time to give us a call at Aqua Plumbing and Air. We’llprovide a free water test and have your system up and running in no time at all. Contact us today at 941-306-3715.

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plumbing

10 Things You Should Know About Your Home

A reliable and safe plumbing system plays an essential role in keeping your home and family clean, safe and healthy. Clogged toilets, drains and sinks are aggravating and can disrupt your daily routine. Leaking pipes are even worse since they can cause substantial damage to the building itself. To avoid these costly and frustrating situations, the skilled plumbers at Aqua suggest you take a few minutes to become familiar with your water delivery system and develop some basic troubleshooting skills.

Ten Things you Should know About Your Home and Plumbing System

Delivering water safely and dependably is no easy task. Whether you rent or own your home, it’s important to know when your piping and fixtures aren’t working properly. Check out these ten simple ways to prevent damage to your plumbing system and potentially avoid a dangerous situation.

  1. Learn to Read Your Water Bill: Water bills may appear complicated, but they’re really pretty straight forward. Every month, compare your water usage to the same period from last year to expose leaks and other hidden problems. If you don’t understand any part of your bill, your local water utility will be happy to answer your questions.
  2. Locate the valve for the Main Water Source: The valve for the main supply is usually located at the meter, but it can also be found where the water line enters the house. Some systems include two valves positioned at the meter and also at the entry point. In an emergency, it’s critical to know exactly where to go to shut off the water, so make sure you remember where the valve is located and how it operates.
  3. Find the AC Condensate Drain Lines: Many AC cooling problems are related directly to clogged condensate drain pipes. Every air conditioner produces condensate, and clogged lines can cause water to overflow inside the unit. If the problem isn’t corrected, it can lead to water damage and mold growth in your home.
  4. Keep an Eye on Your Water Pressure: Maintaining proper water pressure in a piping system is critical, but it’s rarely checked in most homes. Excessively high water pressure is the number one cause of expensive piping leaks. User-friendly water pressure test gauges are available for around $10, or you can ask your water utility to check the pressure.
  5. Know Your Waste System: Sewer and septic clogs must be addressed immediately, and knowing the location of the clean-out plug is the starting point for solving the problem.
  6. Service Seldom Used Drains: It’s easy to ignore drains that aren’t used often, but they’ll grab your attention when sewer gas enters the room. To avoid this problem, pour two cups of vegetable oil down the drain to prevent evaporation inside the trap.
  7. Find the Main Gas Valve: Locate the main valve for natural gas or propane so you can shut it off quickly if you smell gas or experience an emergency.
  8. Know Your Water Heater: Water heaters are a primary source of catastrophic water leaks. A broken water heater can create a dangerous situation, so it’s important to know how to shut off the water and fuel supply to the unit. At Aqua Plumbing & Air, we inspect your water heater as part of our comprehensive plumbing maintenance service.
  9. Prevent a Water Heater Disaster: Water heaters don’t last forever, and they have a tendency to malfunction at the worst possible time. Placing a pan under the water heater may prevent costly water damage. If you see water leaking from the pressure relief valve, it may need to be replaced by a professional plumber.
  10. Locate Your Fixture Shutoff Valves: Every toilet and sink has a shutoff valve installed underneath the unit to protect against flooding in the event the fixture fails. However, these devices are not meant to be used on a regular basis.

Call a Professional Plumber

If you would like to learn more tips and techniques from an experienced plumber, call the pros at Aqua Plumbing & Air today at 941-306-3715. They can answer all your questions and arrange an appointment at your convenience.

installing energy efficient windows

The Ultimate Guide to Energy-Efficient Home Additions

Building a home addition is a thrilling experience, because it gives you control over every aspect of your home design. You can eliminate all of your key annoyances like poorly placed windows that bring too much heat into your Sarasota, Florida, home while incorporating money-saving features such as efficient lighting and low-flow faucets.

Done right, building a new home addition will give you many opportunities to improve your home’s design and minimize energy costs, from the roofing down. Make sure you consider all the possibilities and address each part of the addition mindfully for the most efficient results.

Door and Window Installations

No matter where you’re building onto the home, you’ll need to incorporate doors in your design. In the vast majority of additions, windows are a key element as well. It’s easy to get lost in the aesthetics of door and window design and forget about the crucial logistics around your entry and exit points.

Doors and windows have energy efficiency ratings that let you know how effective they are at preventing heat gain or loss. The U-factor lets you know how quickly non-solar heat flow passes through a door or window. The lower this number is, the more efficient your choice.

The solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) is another important number to look at. This tells you how much solar radiation the door or window transmits or absorbs. A higher SHGC rating indicates that the product can collect solar heat efficiently. While this is effective at reducing heating costs in a cool climate, it’s not appropriate for our Floridian weather. Here, you want a lower SHGC rating, which indicates that the product blocks heat gain and decreases cooling loads.

Though beautiful, wood is the least efficient choice for doors and windows. Fiberglass or insulated steel is much better. You can add weatherstripping to increase energy efficiency on any door or window. Some doors come equipped with a magnetic strip that acts as weatherstripping, eliminating the need for this extra step.

Window Placement

When you’re building a home addition, you can choose where each window is placed and situate these for the most efficient effect. Avoid east- and west-facing windows when possible, as these will experience the most heat gain from sunlight. In Florida, heat from the sun is intense. Utilizing north- or south-facing windows is a better option.

Shade your windows if you can, whether this means building an awning on the outside of the house or using smart tree placement to keep the sun’s rays from shining directly into the room. Avoiding direct sunlight will help protect your furniture and home décor as well as reduce your utility expenses. When direct sunlight streams through a window, it damages anything it shines on, fading fabrics, paints, and wall hangings. Design your addition for indirect sunlight whenever possible.

Adequate Insulation

The best time to insulate a room is during the construction phase. If you’re building a home addition, you’re in the perfect position to add efficient insulation. Florida residents should insulate their walls with a product that’s rated R-13 or higher. For the attic, use insulation rated at least R-38. Design your addition so your home has a continuous layer of insulation around the entire envelope. This will give you the most efficient seal.

Heating and Cooling

Comfort is an important consideration for your new home addition. If you have a central heating and cooling system, you’ll likely want to carry your ductwork through into the addition. Work with a contractor who can provide custom duct fabrication for your addition so you have as few turns in the new construction design as possible. Insulate your ducts when you put them in to keep air from escaping.

Depending on the placement of your home addition, you may want to consider using zoned heating and cooling for it. With the right installation and smart thermostat, you can divide your home into zones and manage temperature and humidity independently in each area. This is a great money-saver if you have parts of the home that you don’t need to heat or cool during the day.

If you don’t want to connect your home addition to central heating and cooling, consider adding an energy-efficient, space-cooling installation like a heat pump. Despite their name, heat pumps can provide both heating and air conditioning. Installation is simple with just a small hole in the wall connecting the interior and exterior units.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

Does your home addition include new appliances? Appliances are a major investment, so take the time to make sure you’re choosing the right ones. Look for Energy Star certified products for everything from your washer and dryer to refrigerator, range, and dishwasher.

The Energy Star label indicates that these appliances use less energy and water, thus reducing your home utility expenses. An Energy Star refrigerator purchased today will use 40 percent less energy than a convention model from 2001. An Energy Star dishwasher will save you over 5 gallons of water per cycle when compared to a model from before 1994.

Cool Roofing

Designing a home addition gives you the opportunity to address energy efficiency from the floor to the ceiling, including the roof. A cool roof is one that’s designed to reflect sunlight in order to keep heat away from the house and minimize energy absorption. You can use any highly reflective material to construct a cool roof.

If your roof has a low slope, you can use a reflective single-ply membrane as your cool roof. For a steeply sloped roof, install cool asphalt shingles or naturally reflective tile. Paint a metal roof with a cool reflective coating to minimize heat gain. In Florida, cool roofs can go a long way toward reducing your cooling costs by battling the harsh, hot rays of the sun.

Efficient Water Fixtures

Are you installing new plumbing in your home addition? If you’re building a bathroom, kitchen, bar, or even a garage, plumbing can play a major role in this new extension. Reduce your water expenses from the very beginning by choosing high-efficiency plumbing fixtures.

If you’re choosing a new toilet, look for one with an insulated tank to get rid of condensation. A large accelerator flush valve will help you resist clogs and minimize the need for plumbing services. You’ll also want to look for a toilet that reduces the amount of water used per flush. Compared to standard toilets, those with the WaterSense label have the potential to reduce water use by 20 to 60 percent.

Check the flow rate for all your plumbing fixtures when you’re comparing new installations. Choose faucets and showerheads that are low-flow. These use less water while offering a very comparable experience. You can quickly minimize the amount of water that flows down the drain as you rinse dishes or take your shower simply by picking the right plumbing units.

Efficient Lighting

Think carefully about how you want to use each part of the room when you’re wiring it for light fixtures. The most efficient solution is a combination of whole-room lighting and task lighting that’s customized for the way you’ll use the space.

If someone is simply reading in a corner of the bedroom, they shouldn’t be forced to turn the room’s ceiling light on. For this job, a dedicated lamp is best. In a bathroom, consider adding a dimmer light near the tub for a relaxing bath as well as bright lighting over the mirror for taking care of hair and makeup. When you have the right light for the job, you don’t have to waste energy using an all-purpose solution that doesn’t meet your needs as well.

Choose energy-efficient bulbs like halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Wire your lights to timers, dimmers, or photocells for more control over your lighting. These efficient alternatives can use as much as 80 percent less energy when compared to traditional incandescents.

Make sure your home addition is as efficient as possible from top to bottom. If you need a professional hand with air conditioning installation, plumbing, or electrical repair, contact Aqua Plumbing & Air at 941-306-3715. We’ll help you choose the most effective and affordable picks for your home.

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sleeping in allergy proof bed

How to Upgrade to an Allergy-Proof Bed

If you struggle from asthma and allergies, your home can become a minefield of potential irritants. Your bed is one of the trickiest places to control allergens. Without the proper precautions, your mattress, sheets, and other bedding will become a welcoming haven for dust, dander, and more. Keep your allergies under control in your Bradenton, Florida, home with these smart steps. Covering your bedding, cleaning up your room, and improving your HVAC system will help you upgrade to a more allergy-proof sleeping space.

Cover Your Mattress and Pillows

Your mattress and pillows offer a welcoming haven for dust mites. Those irritating creatures can burrow down into your bed, making a cozy home which can cause asthma and allergy flare-ups. Your first line of defense against dust mites is a zippered, dust-proof cover. Choose a cover for both your mattress and your pillows. The ideal time to cover these items is when they’re new. However, covering an older mattress will still help. Existing dust mites will get trapped inside and die, while new ones won’t be able to access the deep recesses of the bed.

Every time you sit on your bed, dust, dander, and other irritants become airborne. Minimize this problem by covering every part of your bed that you can. Don’t forget to encase your box spring as well. Though you don’t use sheets on this part of your bed, it’s just as welcoming for allergens. 

Launder Your Bedding Often

You should wash your bedding at least once a week if you’re prone to allergies. While bedding covers will keep dust mites and irritants from the deeper recesses of the bed, they’ll still get into your sheets, pillow cases, dust ruffle, and comforter. Take these off and wash them regularly.

Use hot water when you’re washing your bedding. This will help to kill the dust mites. If you’re concerned that your delicate bedding won’t withstand the hot water, choose an allergen detergent. This is specifically designed to get rid of irritants like dust mites.

Keep Dust Under Control

While some amount of dust is inevitable in your home, there are several things you can do to minimize the amount that gets into your bed. Vacuum your bedroom regularly to pull allergens out of the carpet. You can track in pollen, dirt, and more on your shoes or clothes. Vacuuming will help keep these irritants out of your sleeping space.

Dust your ceiling fan regularly, so it’s not sprinkling dust and dander around the room with every spin. Spray dusting spray on a pillowcase and carefully place the case over each fan blade. Pull the dust and dirt off each blade as you remove the pillowcase. Dust other flat surfaces in the room often, as well.

Manage Humidity

High humidity encourages allergens. If your bedroom is very humid, you might have mold taking root around the bed. Damp bedding can give growth to mildew. Consider installing a whole-home dehumidifier in your house to keep humidity levels consistently low throughout. This will help not only with the allergens in your bed, but with irritants throughout every part of your home.

Keep the Air Clean

What’s in your air will ultimately settle in your bed. Keep dust and other allergens out of your bedroom as much as possible by taking mindful steps to clean your air. Change the filter in your HVAC system once every one to three months. If you’re struggling with allergens in the home, you may want to consider adding an air purifier to the system, as well.

Locate the air vents in your bedroom and make sure they’re clean. If your bed is sitting beneath a dusty vent, you’ll have a hard time keeping allergens at bay. Remove the vent and clean the grille thoroughly for fresher air and easier breathing.

With proper care and maintenance, you can create a healthy, allergen-proof sleeping space. If you need a professional hand keeping your air clean, contact Aqua Plumbing & Air at 941-306-3715. We can help with everything from annual tune-ups to thorough duct cleanings, so you breathe better.

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Is Central Air Conditioning the Best Choice for Your Home?

Many Sarasota homeowners assume that central air conditioning is the only viable option for keeping their homes cool in the sweltering Florida summers. While central air is certainly one of the most common choices, it’s not your only one. Make sure you understand all the air conditioning options available so you can choose the most efficient installation for your home.

How Central Air Works

Central air conditioners are something many Floridians take for granted without really considering how these systems work. Central air conditioners feature a condenser, evaporator, and compressor. The condenser and compressor are in your outdoor unit. If you have a split system, the evaporator is inside the house. If yours is a packaged system, the evaporator is outside as well.

Refrigerant cycles through a closed system in your air conditioner. Passing through the evaporator coil, it absorbs heat from the home. The refrigerant then moves to the compressor and releases the heat. The fan in your outdoor unit helps dissipate this heat. The refrigerant then resumes its chilled state and returns to the indoor coil. Air is blown over the chilled tubes to cool it before it’s blown back into the house as the cycle continues.

Options in Central Air

Central air conditioners come in several different forms. The most important consideration when you’re selecting a central AC unit is the size. If your air conditioner is too large, it will cycle on and off more than necessary, resulting in high utility bills and uneven cooling. If it’s too small, it will run continuously, experiencing more wear and tear than it’s built for as it struggles to cool a home that it can’t handle. Your HVAC technician should perform a load calculation for your home to determine the appropriate-sized air conditioner for your square footage.

Air conditioners also come with different SEER ratings, which determine the unit’s efficiency. A higher SEER rating now will translate to lower energy expenses throughout the life of the system.

Ductless Alternatives

If your home doesn’t have ductwork throughout, you may want to consider a ductless alternative for air conditioning. A ductless heat pump can both heat and cool your home. This system features a small outdoor condenser and indoor evaporator. These are connected via a small three-inch hole in the wall between the two units. You can connect a single condenser to multiple evaporators.

Ductless systems are ideal for historic homes that don’t have ductwork, as installing ductwork is expensive and time-consuming for these buildings. A ductless heat pump is also an efficient choice if you want to supplement cooling in a sunroom, converted garage, or other part of the house that isn’t connected to your ductwork.

Portable and Window Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners are, as the name suggests, highly portable so you can move them around the house easily for targeted cooling if you’re troubleshooting high temperatures in a particular area. You might keep a portable air conditioner in the living room during the day, but move it to the bedroom with you at night. Window air conditioners offer a similarly small scope for cooling, working in just one room at a time. While you can move a window unit, this is a cumbersome process and not something you would want to do often.

Neither option is as effective as a central air conditioner. A window unit can improve your efficiency if you want cooling in only a small area of the home. There are Energy Star rated units that will help you take an eco-friendly approach with your window unit. Portable air conditioners are not Energy Star certified, making them a more expensive option. These units can offer cooling for a small part of the home, but you’ll need several to get the coverage that a central unit offers.

Are you considering a new air conditioner for whole-home cooling or supplemental cooling in a perpetually warm part of the home? Aqua Plumbing & Air will help you choose the best air conditioner installation for your home. Just give us a call at 941-306-3715 to learn more.

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Protect Your Plumbing

How to Take Care of Your Plumbing

Plumbing problems can cause serious damage to your University Park, Florida, home if you don’t find and fix them immediately. They can cause rotting, mold growth, and damage to your walls and flooring. Mold spores can also lower your indoor air quality and cause asthma attacks, allergies, skin irritation, and even lung damage. Take care of your plumbing by preventing clogs, looking for leaks, saving water, preserving your water heater, reducing pressure, and keeping sewers clear.

Preventing Clogs

Clogs in your drains can cause backed-up water put added pressure on your pipes, shortening their lifespan. You can avoid clogs by keeping food scraps out of kitchen drains, keeping hair out of bathroom drains, and avoiding anything but sewage and toilet paper in toilets. Install screens over the drains in your sinks, showers, and tubs and pull out any debris every few weeks to prevent buildups.

Even if you have a garbage disposal, scrape leftover food into the trash before you do your dishes. Before you run your disposal, turn your water on and leave it running for a few seconds afterward to help rinse debris down your drain. You also shouldn’t put liquid grease down your drain because it solidifies and causes clogs after it cools. For the same reason, you should avoid using bath oils.  

You can use a plunger to fix many slow or clogged drains, but you should contact a professional for severe clogs. Commercial drain cleaners or clog removers can damage your pipes if you use them too often, and stubborn clogs can produce bad smells from rotting food or other debris. A professional can protect your pipes and keep water from overflowing and damaging your floors.

Looking for Leaks

You should do a weekly inspection of your home’s plumbing to look for leaks, and remember to check your faucet handles and pipe valves. Other common places to look for leaks include shower heads, toilet flappers, and pipe fittings. If you don’t take care of leaks quickly, even small ones can cause expensive damage to your plumbing.

Signs of leaks include mold growth, a musty smell, and puddles of water. If your sink fills up with bubbles while it drains, then it’s draining slower than it should. If your sink works correctly, the water in it should form a smooth swirl as it drains. Locate the shut-off valve for your home’s water supply before you have plumbing problems. That way, you can stop leaks or broken pipes from causing more damage until a professional arrives.

You should also learn how to shut off the water supplies to sinks, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, and other water-using appliances, such as your refrigerator’s icemaker. Inspect the hose on your washer once per year and move the machine a few inches from the wall to prevent kinks, leaks, cracks, bulges, and other problems. Homes with basements often have a shut-off valve near the front foundation wall where the water main enters. If you don’t have a basement, the shut-off valve could be underneath your kitchen sink or near your water heater.

Conserving Water

Updating your plumbing fixtures can help you save money on your utility bills and extend your system’s life. Homeowners used to flush early water-saving toilets two or three times for every use, but newer models flush easily and reduce clogging problems. They can even increase the value of your home. You can also add an aerator or flow restrictor to your kitchen or bathroom faucet to save water, and new faucets with sensors can turn your water on and off automatically.

Gravity-flush toilets use a flush valve or flapper to remove water from the toilet bowl, while pressure-assist toilets have a tank that holds water under pressure. When the flush valve in a pressure-assist toilet opens, gravity and pressure create a loud, powerful flush. These types of pressure-assist toilets are often available in many public restrooms. You can also choose a vacuum-assist toilet with a vacuum tank connected to a large tube (called a trapway) that carries water away. The water flowing out of the tank helps remove waste by creating suction.

Add aerators or flow restrictors to your bathroom and kitchen faucets to save water as well. Aerators add air to the water from faucets to make their water pressure seem higher, and flow restrictors cut the flow of water. They’re both easy and inexpensive to install. New faucets with automatic sensors that turn your water on and off are available, and you can also add a low-flow showerhead for water savings and better temperature control.

Maintaining Your Water Heater

Hot water is essential for washing your dishes, taking a comfortable shower, and doing your laundry. Problems with your water heater could shorten its life, waste energy, or cause expensive water damage. You should lower your water heater temperature to save energy and keep it performing well. Also, water heaters can burn children if they’re set too high. Fortunately, most water heaters have a dial for adjusting their temperature nearby.

Gas water heaters have pilot lights that usually stay on all the time. That way, you can get hot water quickly when you need it. A water heater timer can help you save money by turning your pilot light off when you’re at work or asleep. It’s very similar to programmable thermostats. Sediment can also gather in the bottom of your hot water tank over time, shortening its life and causing rust and corrosion. You should have a professional connect a hose to the drain spout at the bottom of your tank and flush out debris twice per year.

Your water heater’s temperature and pressure relief, or TPR, valve opens if the temperature or pressure increases too much in an attempt to prevent an explosion. Homeowners should raise and lower the test lever on top of the water heater twice per year to check this important part. Hot water should rush out of the pipe below the valve, and you might need to replace it if no water comes out or you only see a small amount. Leave some space around your water heater so that a professional can get to it if you have problems.

Adjusting Your Water Pressure

High water pressure is great when you’re taking a shower or filling a pot in the kitchen, but it can put stress on your pipes and cause leaks. You can measure your water pressure with a hose bib gauge from a hardware store. Just attach it to an outside spigot and turn on the water. A plumber can install a pressure reducer to prevent problems from high water pressure.

If you turn on your water and it only trickles from your faucet, you probably have low water pressure from residue that can build up in older pipes, especially if you have hard water. Remove your faucet aerators and showerheads, get rid of any debris or deposits, and then replace them. You should contact a professional if you still have low water pressure, especially since it could come from clogged pipes, a serious leak, pipes that are too small, or a problem with your local water supply.

Keeping Your Sewer Lines or Septic Tank Clear

If you have a municipal sewer system, you should hire a plumber to snake your main sewage pipe and remove tree roots every few years. If you have a septic tank, you should get it pumped out by a professional. Don’t use exposed pipes as hangers for laundry because the weight can loosen joints and fasteners.

Also, remove hoses from outdoor pipes and spigots in winter to keep frozen water from cracking a pipe and causing a flood. You should add insulation to pipes in cold areas, such as your garage or basement, to prevent frozen pipes, save energy, and shorten your wait for hot water.

Aqua Plumbing & Air is a Factory Authorized Carrier Dealer with over 75 service vehicles. We can help you with your plumbing, your HVAC system, or your electrical system, and we can install, maintain, and repair a variety of equipment. Call us anytime at 941-306-3715 for excellent service from our professional and experienced technicians.

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What's That Smell?

Air Conditioning Trouble? What To Check for Before Calling a Pro

Even a minor problem with your air conditioning system could become worse and damage your Longboat Key, Florida, home if you don’t take care of it immediately. You could even need to replace your HVAC system. Have your HVAC equipment inspected by a professional at least once per year to prevent expensive, inconvenient breakdowns and save energy. Check for common signs of air conditioning trouble like an uncomfortable home, a strange smell, unusual noises, or ice on your HVAC unit before you call a professional.

An Uncomfortable Home

If your home feels warm even when your air conditioner has run for a while, you should check your air filter by holding it up to a light. If the light can’t pass through it, the filter is dirty and you should change it. A dirty air filter reduces your system’s air flow and efficiency, and it can spread pollutants around your home and lower your indoor air quality.

You should also make sure your air vents are open and keep furniture away from them. Keep leaves, grass clippings, dirt, and other debris away from your outdoor unit so it can work at peak efficiency. If your home doesn’t get more comfortable, contact a professional. You could have leaky ductwork, gaps in your insulation, a malfunctioning thermostat, an undersized unit, or another problem.

A Strange Smell

Air contaminants can cause a musty or stale smell, and it can make your allergy or asthma symptoms worse. It usually grows in areas with a high humidity, so it could mean that your air conditioner isn’t taking enough moisture out of the air. Mildew can grow inside your ductwork, on insulation, underneath carpeting or wallpaper, and more. It even can cause serious damage to your home. You can prevent this, save money, and make your indoor air feel cooler and more comfortable by using a dehumidifier.

If the odor isn’t musty or stale, and you think you smell gas or something burning, leave your home and call your local gas company or fire department immediately.

Lots of Noises

Your air conditioner should stay relatively quiet if it’s in good condition. If you hear loud pops and banging or grinding noises, your system needs repairs. Your ductwork could also be leaky or incompatible with your current HVAC system. For many homeowners, getting a new, more efficient air conditioning system is more economical than replacing ductwork. You can even choose a ductless system to save money on utility bills and maintenance.

Squealing or screeching noises could mean that your system’s blower motor needs professional adjustment or repair. You could also hear a rattling noise from a minor problem like a loose screw. If you hear buzzing sounds, scurrying, or flapping wings, contact an exterminator and then have your ductwork cleaned.

Ice on Your HVAC Unit

Ice or frost on your air conditioner or heat pump can block your airflow, raise your utility bills, and eventually cause serious, expensive damage or an inconvenient breakdown. It’s alright if you see a small amount of ice or frost in winter, but you should turn off your unit and call a professional if there’s too much or if you see ice in spring or summer. Your HVAC system could have a dirty evaporator coil, low refrigerant levels, or another problem. Don’t try to remove ice or frost yourself because you could damage your outdoor air conditioning unit.

Air conditioners and heat pumps both have a compressor with a fan that blows air across a coil. Condensation that forms on the coil can eventually freeze, reducing air flow and heat transfer rates. Many heat pumps can use a defrost cycle to remove small amounts of ice or frost, but too much can increase your utility bills and shorten your system’s life.

Aqua Plumbing & Air is a Factory Authorized Carrier Dealer with more than 75 service vehicles. We can help you with all your HVAC, plumbing, and electrical needs, including installation, maintenance, and repairs. You can improve your indoor air quality, prevent serious problems, and save money and energy. Call us anytime at 941-306-3715 for help from one of our experienced technicians.

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chronic cough

5 Things You Should Know About a Chronic Cough

Any cough that lasts longer than eight weeks in an adult or four weeks in a child is considered chronic. These long-lasting coughs are more than just an inconvenience; they can become a major disruption in your daily life. The source of your cough could be anything from acid reflux to allergens in the Lakewood Ranch, Florida, air. Getting to the root of your chronic cough is crucial so that you can get some much-needed relief.

The Cough Outlasts the Cold

A cough often comes along with a cold or flu bug. In the early stages, you may experience all the typical symptoms of these illnesses, including a stuffy nose, headache, or fever. After a few days, however, the worst of the symptoms should abate. This leaves you with nothing but a lingering cough that you can’t seem to shake.

The reason the cough hangs on for so long is that your airways have become irritated and increasingly sensitive. Your continuing cough does nothing to ease the delicate, swollen area. The cough can take much longer to heal, often lasting for weeks after your cold has gone away.

Asthma and Allergies Could be To Blame

If you suffer from asthma or allergies, your health condition may be at the root of your cough. Your cough will persist as long as the irritant is in the air. This is one case where you can often eliminate your cough medication simply by making a few smart changes to your environment. If possible, identify the source of your irritation. Is your cough worse in a particular part of the home? You may find that a bedroom with uncontrolled dust mites is triggering your asthma, or a mold growth in the bathroom is making your allergies worse.

Clean your home thoroughly to eliminate dust, dander, mold, and mildew as much as possible. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to pull these irritants from the air. Take steps to keep things clean by replacing the air filter in your HVAC system, encasing mattresses and pillows in dust-proof covers, and ditching your rugs for bare floors.

Other Conditions Can Cause a Cough

Most people associate a cough with respiratory issues. However, your cough may also come from a seemingly unrelated condition. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition where stomach acid flows back into the throat. This is usually associated with heartburn and a sore throat, but coughing could also be to blame.

Do you take medication for high blood pressure? Though you probably wouldn’t make the association, some angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors used to lower blood pressure cause an ongoing cough. Speak to your doctor if you’re having trouble pinpointing the source of your cough to see if a seemingly unlikely culprit is to blame.

A Whole-House Air Cleaner May Help

Regardless of the source, most coughs are made worse by irritants in the air. If you or someone in your home regularly suffers from an ongoing cough, consider installing a whole-house air cleaner in your HVAC system. This will provide an added level of filtration, so you can breathe easier under any conditions. The right air purifier, cleaner, filter, or UV lamp can dramatically improve your indoor air for a new level of comfort and potential relief from that ongoing cough.

Lifestyle Changes Help You Heal

If you’re battling a chronic cough, you should speak to a doctor about the problem to rule out serious causes. However, if your physician can’t prescribe anything but time to heal the issue, there are things you can do to speed up the process. Make sure you get at least seven hours of sleep a night and do what you can to minimize stress. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages that dehydrate you, and focus on drinking more water to loosen mucus in the airways and speed your recovery.

If you want to improve the air quality in your home to help with your chronic cough, contact Aqua Plumbing and Air at 941-306-3715. We can help you pinpoint the right solution for your needs.

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Adding Insulation

9 Ways to Save Energy in Winter

Making your Siesta Key, Florida, home more efficient saves money and helps the environment. To save energy, you should add more insulation, install a programmable thermostat, update your appliances, seal your ductwork, and maintain your HVAC system. You can also increase the resale value of your home. Even if you have a relatively new heating and cooling system, you can save energy and money. Get a professional energy audit from Aqua Plumbing & Air to see where you can save the most energy. 

Adding Insulation

Your home loses most of its heat through drafts and air leaks, so extra insulation will help you stay more comfortable. Check your insulation for leaks or mold once per season and after severe storms. You should replace moldy insulation because it can aggravate allergies and asthma. It’s also a sign of water damage. Additionally, some types of insulation actually lose their effectiveness and become compacted over time.

You can replace your old insulation with spray foam, recycled cellulose fiber, or gypsum since they don’t settle over time. Spray foam is resistant to water and pests, and it expands to fill leaks and gaps. Use caulk to seal smaller spaces around electrical outlets, light switches, and windows.

You should use weatherstripping underneath doors and windows to save even more energy and prevent chilly drafts. Caulk and weather stripping are both easy to install and inexpensive. Adding them only takes one or two hours. You should also replace aluminum window frames with wood, fiberglass, or vinyl for better insulation. The most efficient windows have more than one pane of glass, and the space between the panes is filled with an insulating gas like krypton or argon. Windows that don’t open usually have better insulation.

Installing a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat can raise or lower your home’s temperature automatically. That way, you can always be comfortable, you’ll save energy, and you won’t have to spend time adjusting your thermostat manually. For even more comfort and savings, set your thermostat to raise the temperature of your home about half an hour before you wake up or get back from work.

Some programmable thermostats can set a different temperature schedule for every day of the week and vacations. You can set one schedule for weekdays and another for weekends with others. Some programmable thermostats also have a hygrometer to measure the humidity in your home. High humidity can lead to mold growth and air that feels warmer, while low humidity makes the air in your home feel cold, irritates sinuses, and causes dry skin.

Some programmable thermostats will also remind you to change your air filter; and you can even control some models from a computer, tablet, or smartphone. If you can’t get a new programmable thermostat just yet, turn your home’s temperature down by just one degree for savings.

Upgrading Your Appliances

Replace old appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, water heaters, and refrigerators to save energy. If you replace your refrigerator, get rid of it responsibly instead of keeping it in your garage or basement. You can’t save energy if you keep it plugged in. You can also get a tax break by replacing your HVAC equipment. For the best value, use Energy Star-qualified appliances.

If you need to replace your water heater, choose a tankless or solar one for the best savings. Tankless water heaters only heat water on demand, so they don’t need constant heating like traditional models, and they use less energy. Getting new appliances is expensive, but you’ll get your money back through energy savings.

Sealing and Cleaning Your Ductwork

Warm or cold air often escapes through leaks in your ductwork, forcing your HVAC system to work harder and wasting energy. Leaks also lower your indoor air quality, keep your air filter from working well and let contaminants like dirt and dust into your ductwork. Have the ductwork in your attic or basement checked for holes, dents, spaces between joints, and gaps in insulation.

Most ductwork is inside crawlspaces or behind walls, so an average person can’t access it. However, a professional can find leaks with an infrared imager and other special equipment. Professionals can also fix them with duct sealant or mastic and wrap more insulation around your ducts where it’s missing or thin.

For even more savings, check your home’s exterior for leaks as well. You can also have your ducts cleaned to increase your indoor air quality and save energy. To see if they need cleaning, remove an air register and look in the ductwork. If your ducts are covered in dust, dirt, pollen, or other contaminants, you should have them cleaned by a professional. If you don’t notice lower utility bills or a more comfortable home after you seal and clean your ductwork, contact a professional to inspect, seal, and clean every part of your HVAC system.

Maintaining Your HVAC System

For better airflow, clean or change your furnace filters once per month. You should also have your heater inspected by a professional every winter to catch and fix problems before they cause an expensive breakdown. If your system is more than 10 years old, you can save money by replacing it with a newer model that will save you even more energy.

Keeping the same type of system is less expensive at first, but it could cost you more over time. Many ductless systems have more than one indoor unit, and they can keep every room in your home a different temperature so that everyone can stay comfortable. They’re also easier to install than ductwork inside walls or attics. They only need mounting and access to electricity.

Adding Landscaping

Plant lots of trees on your property for shade in summer, energy savings, and a larger value for your home. In winter, trees lose their leaves, so sunlight can still get to your home and make you warmer. Attractive landscaping can increase the value of your home as well.

An awning or fence above and around your outdoor air conditioning unit will save energy and protect it from leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and other debris. It will also extend your HVAC system’s life and prevent inconvenient breakdowns. Make sure your system has two or three feet of empty space around it on all sides for the most efficient operation.

For more energy savings, a large hedge or a wooden fence can block cold winds. For the best privacy, plant two or three rows of dense shrubs. You can also plant hedges close to your home or grow vines for more insulation and a better-looking garden.

Wearing Warm Clothes

Keep your jacket or sweater on when you get home so you can feel comfortable at a lower temperature and save energy. You can also turn the temperature setting on your water heater down. This keeps children from getting burned as well as saves energy. It’s also safe and sanitary for most people.

Letting in Light

Open the curtains and other window treatments on your west- and south-facing windows during the day to let sunlight heat your home naturally. Make sure you close them at night for better insulation and more privacy. You can also attach a clear plastic sheet or plastic tape to the inside of your window frames for more insulation in summer and winter.

Unplugging Unused Electronics

You should unplug any electronics you’re not using, since all devices that are plugged in use a small amount of electricity. Even apartment dwellers can cut their energy bills by turning off and unplugging unused electronics and small appliances. Some of the biggest energy wasters are video game consoles, microwave ovens, and battery chargers. Connect appliances that use lots of power to the same power strip so you can turn them all off at the same time.

Aqua Plumbing & Air is a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer with 20 years of experience. We can help you with all your heating, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, and water treatment needs. We can install, maintain, and repair a variety of HVAC and other equipment. Call us anytime at 941-306-3715for excellent service and more ways to save energy.

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