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4 Benefits of a Variable-Speed HVAC System

4 Benefits of a Variable-Speed HVAC System

A variable-speed HVAC system has an air handler with several settings instead of just one speed. It can change its rate to match your Lakewood Ranch, Florida, home’s heating and cooling needs, so it’s more efficient than a conventional system. Two-stage units are similar. They have two separate compressors instead of one with multiple speeds. Variable-speed HVAC systems can provide energy savings, humidity control, low noise levels, and comfort for you and your family.

Energy Savings

Variable-speed heaters and air conditioners are more expensive than single-speed systems, but the energy savings they provide make the investment worth it. Traditional systems turn on and off more often than variable-speed models because they only have one setting.

A variable-speed system can lower your utility bills in summer and winter by staying on at a mostly constant speed. This uses less energy than a conventional HVAC system uses to start and stop working frequently. It also reduces potential wear and tear, preventing inconvenient, expensive breakdowns and making variable-speed units last longer than most conventional systems. A variable-speed HVAC system can even increase the value of your home.

Humidity Control

Heaters and air conditioners both dehumidify the air in your home along with conditioning it. Since variable-speed systems stay working more often than traditional systems, they’re better at removing excess moisture. Humidity often returns when conventional systems stop running. It can attract bacteria and pests like cockroaches and silverfish. It can lead to bad smells and swollen or rotted wood furniture or floors.

Dehumidifying your home’s air with a variable-speed system will also make you and your family feel cooler. Sweat evaporates faster in dry air, increasing comfort levels.

Low Noise Levels

Many HVAC systems make a loud noise when they start or stop working, and the air handler is noisy and distracting. Since variable-speed systems don’t always work at full speed, they’re much quieter. They work more often, so you won’t be startled by as many sudden changes in the background of your home. They also won’t disturb light sleepers. Most people don’t even notice the sound of a variable-speed HVAC system. Most of the time, the fan is much slower than the fan in conventional system air handlers.

Comfort

A traditional HVAC system runs at high speed until the temperature in your home matches the setting on your thermostat. It turns on again after your house becomes a few degrees too warm or too cold. The fluctuating temperatures can make you and your family uncomfortable. They also encourage people to use their heaters and air conditioners more. A variable-speed system can keep your home’s temperature and humidity almost constant. Since it works more often at a lower speed, temperature fluctuations are less noticeable.

More air passes through a variable-speed system’s filter, removing more contaminants than a conventional system, increasing your indoor air quality. The extra airflow makes whole-home dehumidifiers and air purifiers connected to your ductwork more useful. It also increases the effectiveness of UV air cleaners.

You may need to change your system’s air filter more often, but your home will have less dust. You won’t need to clean as frequently, and your electronics will stay in better condition. You and your family will also have fewer health problems. Pollutants like pollen and dust won’t be able to cause asthma or allergy symptoms, rashes, headaches, or fatigue.

We have more than 75 vehicles and over 40 years of heating and cooling experience. We’ve installed more residential and commercial air conditioning systems than any other dealer in Florida, and our customers can choose an excellent maintenance plan. Plumbing, water treatment, and electrical services are available as well. We offer outstanding quality, affordable prices, and honest service.

Call Aqua Plumbing & Air anytime at 941-306-3715 for more information about variable-speed HVAC systems from our friendly, knowledgeable technicians.

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Preparing Your Home to Sell

Preparing Your Home to Sell

Making the decision to put your Sarasota, Florida, home on the market can be bittersweet. You’re sad to say goodbye to a house you’ve loved, but you’re excited to move into a home that’s a better fit for your growing family, or as an empty-nester.

No matter how ready you are to move on, however, you won’t get the best return on your investment without taking care of a few essential tasks. From adding insulation to replacing an old HVAC system, find out how to prepare your Florida home to sell.

Add More Insulation

Adequate insulation is essential for every home in Sarasota’s humid subtropical climate, as this material is designed to keep hot air outside and cool air inside. Insufficient insulation can increase cooling costs and drive up utility bills, which may be a red flag to potential homebuyers.

To preserve energy efficiency, your home should have sufficient insulation from the foundation to the roof. Not sure if your home has enough insulation or need a hand finding problem areas? A home performance evaluation or energy assessment can identify areas where you need more insulation and help you devise a plan for improvement. You can do this energy assessment yourself over the course of a weekend or hire a professional to make sure you don’t miss any warning signs before putting your home on the market.

Deal With Drafts

Drafty doors and windows are more than mere nuisances. As conditioned air seeps out of the windows and warm air leaks in under the doorstop, your home’s energy efficiency can decrease, leading to utility bills that are higher than they should be.

Fortunately, home performance evaluations can also identify the air leaks that compromise energy efficiency and decrease comfort levels in your home. Once you’ve zeroed in on the most problematic cracks and leaks, add caulking and weather-stripping to your pre-sale to-do list.

Replace the Air Filter

Air filters may not look important, but they’re essential to keeping your HVAC system running smoothly and efficiently. These disposable components prevent dust, pet dander, pollen, and other airborne debris from entering your heating and cooling system, where it could accumulate and cause performance issues or breakdowns.

If you can’t remember the last time you replaced the filter, add it to your to-do list and mark your calendar. Then make a point of replacing the filter every 30 days until the closing date. Changing the filter regularly will improve your HVAC system’s efficiency and help clear the air, both of which potential buyers will appreciate.

Clean Up the Outdoor Unit

Even if your family has already moved out of the home you’re planning to sell, maintaining the yard is critical. Not only do you want to keep up an inviting appearance that attracts buyers, you also want to prevent your home from taking on an abandoned look.

As you’re working on the yard, be sure to tidy up around the outdoor HVAC unit. Remove any fallen leaves, branches, or other items that have accumulated on the top of the unit. Cut grass and trim back nearby shrubs to leave a clear path for air to flow into and out of the system. Keep in mind that obstructions can impact HVAC efficiency and compromise system performance, but keeping the outdoor unit clean takes only a few minutes a couple of times a month.

Schedule HVAC System Maintenance

Rather than holding off on routine maintenance and leaving future tuneups to the next owner of your home, take the time to schedule HVAC maintenance. After all, many potential buyers will want to see a clean bill of health for your HVAC system.

If more than six months have passed since your last HVAC tuneup, now is the ideal time to schedule preventive maintenance. A routine inspection by the Aqua Plumbing & Air team gives you a chance to get your heating and cooling system ready for the season ahead, ensure that the system is running efficiently, and identify any persistent issues.

Repair and Clean Ductwork

If our team identifies ductwork issues during our maintenance visit, we may recommend that you address them before putting your home on the market. After all, leaky ducts can increase household energy consumption significantly, as the average duct system wastes up to 30 percent of conditioned air due to cracks and bad connections. Duct sealing can help address cracks and energy loss while lowering energy usage.

Over time, a surprising amount of dust and debris can accumulate in your home’s ductwork, too. In many cases, duct cleaning offers a smart solution for removing dust, biological growth, and pests before these issues appear on potential homebuyers’ radar.

Address Humidity Issues

Humidity issues aren’t unusual in Sarasota, but you also shouldn’t ignore persistent problems. Start by adjusting the humidity control on your thermostat, setting relative humidity to 50 percent or lower.

If indoor moisture levels are still too high, causing your home to feel sticky or contributing to structural issues, think about a higher-level solution. Adding a whole-home dehumidifier to your HVAC system can help keep moisture levels under control, making your home feel more comfortable to potential homebuyers. Investing in a whole-home dehumidifier can also improve your HVAC system’s performance and efficiency, giving interested buyers even more to get excited about.

Clear the Air and Improve Ventilation

Humidity isn’t the only indoor air quality issue that many Sarasota homeowners have to face. If your home tends to be a magnet for dust, pet dander, pollen, and other airborne contaminants, your HVAC filter may not be doing enough to keep the air clean. When this problem happens, our team often recommends installing a whole-house air filter that connects directly to your HVAC system. This high-tech component can remove almost all indoor pollutants, and many can capture and kill viruses and bacteria, resulting in ultra-clean air.

Energy-recovery ventilators are also smart picks, especially if your home tends to have pockets of stale air. These HVAC add-ons refresh the air constantly and improve airflow, helping your home feel and smell cleaner to your family as well as to potential buyers.

Upgrade to a Smart Thermostat

If your HVAC system is in great shape, you can still make cost-effective upgrades that appeal to potential buyers. For example, if you still rely on a manual thermostat, consider upgrading to a smart model. This device won’t break the bank, but it can help you save energy and tend to attract eco-conscious buyers.

Opt for a Wi-Fi–enabled smart thermostat that can connect to your home’s network and allow you to log in and change settings from anywhere. You’ll appreciate the convenience that a smart thermostat offers, and you’ll love being able to turn the air conditioner up and down for open houses and last-minute realtor visits no matter where you are.

Replace an Aging Air Conditioner

When you’re getting ready to sell your house and move on to a new home, investing in a new HVAC system may be the last thing on your mind. After all, why take the time or spend the money to replace an aging air conditioner when the new owner can tackle such an important task?

While some homebuyers want a home improvement project, many are seeking a move-in ready home. In the latter case, having to make a major improvement after moving in can be a big turnoff.

Rather than risking turning away potential buyers, consider replacing your aging air conditioner, especially if it’s on its last leg or if it no longer keeps the home cool. Our team of cooling experts can recommend the latest energy-efficient models, such as the Carrier Infinity 21 central air conditioner. This Energy Star–certified model is one of the most efficient models on the market and offers advanced features such as two-stage compression for superior comfort. With so many perks and high-tech features, you may want to install one of these systems in your new home, too.

Whether you need to replace your old cooling system with a new air conditioner or you need advice on energy-efficient upgrades, we’re always here to help. Call the Aqua Plumbing & Air team today: 941-306-3715.

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Best Energy Savings Techniques for Families

Best Energy Savings Techniques for Families

Many Sarasota, Florida, residents cringe at the mention of the need to save energy when having to confront the thought of miserable days spent in hot, stuffy houses. Thankfully, current advances in technology allow us to conserve energy while improving the comfort of our own homes and creating a healthier living environment. For youngsters with health concerns, the quality of the air indoors and the absence of drafts are important factors to take into consideration. Modern energy-efficient appliances and upgrades give you more control over your environment and also often come with fun perks such as user-friendly technology.

Outline an Energy-Conservation Plan

To have your energy-saving efforts work for your family in the long-run, you need to first develop and incorporate a good plan consisting of daily actions combined with practical upgrades around the house. Identify energy-conservation habits that you can start implementing into your daily routines as a family and choose ones that work for your family’s lifestyle to make it more enjoyable. If certain practices – such as keeping the temperature in your house a little higher during hot summers – make you miserable, then focus on energy efficient upgrades that will result in less energy usage.

Upgrade Your Lighting

The easiest and fastest way to start saving energy is to upgrade your outdated home lighting with compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) lights. Although CFL and LED lights do indeed cost more than standard light bulbs, they use 25 percent to 75 percent less energy. They also last up to 25 times longer than incandescent light bulbs, which means that you’ll be saving more in the long-term. To improve efficiency, convenience, and safety of your home, consider dimmer switches or motion detection lighting. Even though these upgrades may be small, you’ll see a drastic change.

Improve Your Window Treatments

Be sure to inspect your windows and consider their size and orientation to the sun. Typically, windows do not insulate very well and, in turn, can cause your house to lose heat when it’s cold outside or to accumulate heat when it’s warmer. Various window treatment options can help you save energy and can also help make your home’s interior more appealing with items such as layered draperies, awnings, and shutters. During hotter periods, it’s a good idea to close drapes or blinds on sun-facing windows and to open windows during cooler nights to enable air ventilation.

Fine-Tune Your Water Heater

Your water heater could take up to 25 percent of your household’s energy total without you even realizing it. To bring your energy bill down, try switching to low-flow shower heads and aerators, take shorter showers, or reduce the temperature of your water. If your water heater is over 10 years old, it’s good to consider replacing it. Those who cannot fathom how to conserve water with little people in the house can save their time and energy by using a dishwasher. Washing your clothes in cold water on the shortest cycle can also help you save energy.

Utilize Your Appliances and Electronics Properly

With the number of electronics in our lives, the energy usage for powering them is enormous. What makes things worse is the energy they consume in standby mode. The best efficiency upgrade that will help you save energy easily is to set up power-strips around your house. When no devices are charging, turn off the power-strips to conserve energy and prevent excess utility costs. Help your kids develop life-long energy saving habits by scheduling ‘electronic-free’ periods. This will both help you cut down on costs and also gives you more quality family-bonding time.

With the technology that we now have, saving energy really doesn’t need to be a hassle – in fact, it can be very easy and enjoyable. Getting your family members interacting with each other instead of a mobile phone screen can even strengthen your family and develop a healthier, happier household. To get your Sarasota or Manatee home evaluated for energy efficiency, contact specialists at Aqua Plumbing & Air at 941-306-3715.

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5 Indoor Pollutants You Might Be Bringing Into Your Home

5 Indoor Pollutants You Might Be Bringing Into Your Home

When you think of air pollution, your mind probably jumps to the smog and pollution found outside in big cities. However, it may come as a surprise that the air in your Lakewood Ranch, Florida, home may be more polluted than any air you will breathe outdoors. What’s even more surprising to many is where the pollution is coming from — it could be from things you are bringing into the home without realizing it. These common causes of indoor pollution should be banished from your house for good!

Candles

If you smell odors in your home, your first instinct might be to light a candle to replace the scent with a better one. Although candles can create a pleasant atmosphere and ambiance, they can also release harmful gases and sediments that lower the quality of the air. Paraffin is especially concerning since it’s typically whitened in bleach that brings a number of dioxins to your air. Acrolein is another chemical commonly added to candle wax to solidify it, but it’s been linked to the same risks of lung cancer as cigarette smoke.

Even candles made from beeswax, soy, and vegetable oil can release harmful gases into the air, so it’s best to avoid them at all costs. Some of these include toluene and benzene, which are known carcinogens. Synthetic fragrances and artificial dyes are used to create candles that look and smell better, but these contain dangerous chemicals, as well.

Cleaning Products

Keeping your home clean is important in maintaining the indoor air quality and a pleasant environment for guests, but certain products used to clean can do more harm than good. Even cleaners marketed as organic or eco-friendly can cause health symptoms like congestion, sore throats, and headaches. Products containing any petroleum-based solvents, alcohol, ammonia, or chlorine are especially dangerous, often leading to throat and eye irritation.

Your cleaning products could also give off volatile organic compounds, which may worsen existing respiratory health problems like asthma and allergies. Some of the most commonly used products that contain VOCs include floor and furniture polish, chlorine-based bleach, oven cleaning products, upholstery and rug cleaners, and just about anything in an aerosol can.

Smoke

Smoke is hard on your lungs, so it’s not surprising that it lowers the indoor air quality. Whether it’s cigarette smoke or the smoke from a nearby fire, it’s important to keep it out of your house as much as possible. Never smoke inside your home or within a few feet of doors, windows, and exterior air intakes.

Air Fresheners

Instead of lighting a candle to combat unpleasant odors in your home, you might be tempted to pull out a can of air freshener and start spraying. However, this is just as dangerous, if not more so, as using candles. Air fresheners often contain toxic pollutants that can make your family sick. In fact, the toxicity has been compared to that of secondhand smoke.

Some products contain glycol ethers, which can lead to anemic symptoms, fatigue, and nausea, while others have phthalates, which are chemicals used to soften plastic. Natural air fresheners, such as essential oils and baking soda, are better alternatives to chemical-laced commercial products.

Pollen

When your kids play outside or Fido rolls around in the grass, they may be tracking in another substance that is lowering your indoor air quality. Pollen is especially common during the spring and summer months. Many people suffer from pollen allergies, so when it’s tracked in and gets into the HVAC system, you may notice symptoms like eye irritation, sore throats, and congestion.

It’s tough to get the pollen out once it has settled in the ducts, so try to keep pollen outdoors as much as possible. Before your kids come back inside, have them change their clothes or at least leave their shoes outside. Bathe your pets often, especially if they go outside. Regular duct cleaning can also help remove pollen and other contaminants from the system.

Indoor air quality plays a major role in the overall health, comfort, and wellness of your family, so contact us at Aqua Plumbing & Air at 941-306-3715 to learn more about our IAQ solutions.

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4 Ways to Preserve Your Commercial Plumbing System

4 Ways to Preserve Your Commercial Plumbing System

The plumbing system that carries water into and out of your University Park, Florida, business is essential to the health and well-being of your employees and customers. Proper maintenance and prompt repairs of damaged pipes and leaky faucets make life more comfortable and reduce future expenses. Discover how plumbing maintenance, water treatment devices, and water conservation practices help preserve your commercial plumbing system over the long term.

How Commercial Plumbing Works

A network of pipes delivers fresh water to your business. The water itself generally comes from a municipality’s supplier. Once the water enters your business, it’s distributed to different areas via a network of pipes. These pipes direct water to a heater, which then sends the flow to sinks, showers, or other appliances.

Used water exits your business via a different network of pipes, the drain-waste-vent (DWV) system. The water flows into the sewer system, aided by gravity. Venting pipes are linked to the drain and waste pipes. They also release hazardous gases and maintain proper drainpipe pressure.

Master Basic Plumbing Maintenance Tasks

The following monthly plumbing maintenance tasks help keep your business’s system running smoothly.

  • Clean drains with a mixture of boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar. This solution can help keep drains from clogging, and it’s gentler on pipes than the harsh commercial drain cleaners often used.
  • If you have sinks, toilets, or other appliances in your business that are rarely used, flush or run water through them regularly to keep the components in good working order.
  • Once a month, visually inspect the network of water pipes in your business for signs of leaks. A small inspection mirror mounted on a handle allows you to see around corners when you’re working in tight spaces. If you do discover a leak, contact one of our Aqua Plumbing & Air specialists immediately so that we can correct the problem and prevent it from becoming a larger and more expensive repair.

Focus on Proper Water Treatment and Quality

Approximately 85 percent of Americans access tap water from municipal water systems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the municipalities that provide water service. The agency also determines safe levels of contaminants and requires water authorities to provide detailed annual reports to consumers to keep them informed.

All tap water contains some dissolved contaminants, such as material picked up from surfaces it travels over on the journey to your business. While tap water potentially contains millions of contaminants, only a few pose health risks, and most are present in such low levels that they’re not dangerous. But a few, such as lead, can pose serious health concerns if they’re present in high levels so it’s important that those levels are monitored.

You can employ various water treatment methods at your business.

  • Activated carbon (charcoal) filter: The carbon (or charcoal) in the filter absorbs and attracts impurities. These filters are generally installed as under-the-sink filters. While this option is relatively inexpensive, you’ll need to replace the filters periodically.
  • Ion exchange: This system, also referred to as a water softener, exchanges ions in the unit with ions in the water. An ion exchanger removes minerals like calcium and magnesium that make water hard. Although these are not unhealthy to consume, they leave hard-to-clean mineral deposits on appliances and sinks. A whole-business system requires professional installation. Keep in mind that these units need to be periodically replenished with a special kind of salt.
  • Reverse osmosis: This type of water purifying system uses a semipermeable membrane to block contaminants but still allows water to pass through. Reverse osmosis removes the widest level of contaminants from the water, including organic compounds and inorganic chemicals as well as arsenic and other waterborne pathogens. A plumbing professional can install this type of system in your business. When considering a reverse osmosis system, keep in mind that these systems use a substantial amount of electricity, and they can waste two to four times as much water as they filter.

Before buying any kind of water filter, read the fine print carefully. Each type removes specific contaminants, and not every model removes lead. For best results, be sure any filter you select meets the standards issued by the American National Standards Institute and National Sanitation Foundation (ANSI/NSF).

The method of water treatment you choose for your business ultimately depends on how you want to change your water. Do you want to improve its taste, eliminate contaminants, or both? Give some thoughts to your goals before you choose a treatment option.

Put Best Water Conservation Practices into Place at Your Business

Conserving water is not just good for your business, the utility bills you pay, and your commercial plumbing system. It’s also good for the environment. Discover some daily and long-term ways to conserve water at your business.

  • Don’t allow faucets in bathrooms or break rooms to run unnecessarily.
  • If your break room has a dishwasher, run it only when you have a full load, and use the Economy setting if your appliance has one.
  • Install low-flow toilets, which use 1.6 gallons of water per flush. By comparison, toilets installed in businesses before 1994 consume between 3.5 and 5 gallons of water per flush.
  • For businesses such as gyms or other workplaces that offer shower facilities, installing low-flow shower heads can cut water usage to 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Shower heads installed before 1994 use up to 4.5 gallons of water per minute, so the savings can be substantial.
  • If you decide to use a water softener, choose wisely to get the maximum benefit. As noted above, reverse-osmosis water softeners use substantially larger quantities of water to produce a gallon of purified water.
  • Think about the landscaping outside your University Park, Florida, business. Xeriscaping is a landscaping method that relies on rocks and drought-tolerant plants instead of grass to create an attractive outdoor setting. Xeriscaping helps with water conservation because it requires less watering, and that helps you keep your business’s water usage in check.

Don’t Ignore the Water Heater

Generally located in a maintenance or special service area of your business, water heaters use electricity or gas to warm the liquid. Both types operate similarly, except that a gas water heater has a burner with a flame and an electric water heater has electrical heating elements.

To keep your water heater functioning properly, schedule a regular maintenance inspection with one of our Aqua Plumbing & Air plumbing specialists. During this visit, your service technician will:

  • Check the thermostat’s operation.
  • Inspect the flow of combustion and ventilation air.
  • Verify that the pilot light is operating properly and clean the burner parts in gas water heaters.
  • Drain off the water.
  • Inspect the anode rod.
  • Check the pressure-relief valve.

If you’re not getting enough hot water, your business’s heater may be too small for the usage. Another problem may be that your water heater’s dip tube, a plastic pipe that fits inside the tank and runs vertically to deliver cold water to the bottom of the tank, may be broken. A cracked dip tube can allow cold water to mix with heated water in the upper portion of the tank. Contact an Aqua Plumbing & Air plumbing specialist for repairs or water heater replacements.

If you’re not getting any hot water, the thermostat may be defective or you may have a malfunctioning fuse or pilot light. Contact Aqua Plumbing & Air for assistance with any of these problems.

If you have a gas water heater and you notice a strong smell of gas near the heater, evacuate your business and call your local utility company. A gas leak may be the cause. 

Since 1974, Aqua Plumbing & Air has provided professional commercial plumbing services to businesses throughout Bradenton, Sarasota, and University Park. Our team of licensed, knowledgeable commercial plumbers can recommend the best products and solutions to help you deal with a host of commercial plumbing problems, including drain backups, leaky faucets and toilets, and installation of more energy-efficient plumbing fixtures. Whether you need emergency repairs or preventive maintenance, you can turn to Aqua Plumbing & Air for prompt attention. Call us at 941-306-3715.

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Choosing a Toilet: 8 Tips to Ensure You Get the Right Fit and Flush

Choosing a Toilet: 8 Tips to Ensure You Get the Right Fit and Flush

This article was originally published May 24, 2013

Choosing a toilet used to be a simple matter of finding a design that suited you. Today, though, you’ll need to choose among different mounting types, flushing methods, bowl shapes and other options. Each option has its pros and cons, and what’s right for you depends on your individual needs. Before you start browsing for a new toilet for your Southwest Florida home, get clear on your choices so you can select the model that’s best for you.

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