If you are installing a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system or upgrading an existing one, it is important to make sure that the new unit is properly sized. HVAVC systems that are too small will not heat and cool properly, break down more often and cost more to operate. Although it is tempting to oversize a unit, they often have the same problems that undersized units have. In addition, oversized units create humidity problems. According to the Department of Energy, faulty installation is a common reason for poor HVAC performance.
To make sure your new system is correctly sized and installed, ask your HVAC contractor to follow the load calculation guidelines recommended by the two most respected professional organizations in the U.S.: the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and Air Conditioning Contractors of America. The certified professionals at Aqua Plumbing & Air in Sarasota, Florida, use these guidelines and procedures to ensure proper load calculation, sizing and installation. Our technicians have advanced training and years of experience in installing all types of HVAC systems.
What Is HVAC Load?
Your HVAC contractor may speak with you about calculating load while planning your new system. Cooling load is the amount of heat that must be removed from a space to maintain a constant temperature. Heating load is the amount of heat that must be added to maintain a consistent temperature. The calculation is then used to determine the size of unit that will provide adequate heating and cooling at a reasonable cost.
Some contractors estimate load using the rule of thumb, a practice highly discouraged by industry experts. Load calculation requires precise evaluation of several factors that determine the size of unit and ducts, placement of components and other important aspects that affect comfort, price and reliability:
- Square footage of building. Although the size of a building is not the only factor in determining load, the larger the building, the more cooling or heating load is required.
- Orientation. West- and south-facing buildings receive more solar gain than north- and east-facing ones. In Florida, the summer afternoon sun can raise temperatures several degrees through windows, walls and doors, which increases the cooling load. In the winter, south-facing buildings gain heat from the sun, which reduces the heating load.
- Local climate. The ambient temperature and amount of humidity affect load. High temperatures and humidity require more cooling power.
- Number of doors and windows. Doors and windows allow transfer of heat, and windows are a major source of heat gain and loss.
- Presence of shade trees and types of vegetation on the lot. Shade can lower outdoor temperatures around a building by as much as 6 degrees. Well-planned landscaping can reduce cooling load by up to 50%.
- How many people occupy a room. People generate heat. The more people occupying a room, the greater the cooling need.
- Purpose of a space. Kitchens, laundry rooms, electronics, lighting and appliances generate heat, requiring more cooling power.
- Construction materials and condition of building shell. Some materials are more energy-efficient than others. Your HVAC contractor may conduct a blower door test to evaluate the building shell. Cracks allow infiltration of outside air.
- Amount of insulation. Insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve energy efficiency.
If a contractor’s quoted price is substantially lower than that of other contractors, or if the company insists that a smaller unit is sufficient for your needs, be wary. Shopping for the lowest price can end up costing more in the long run. If you are replacing a unit, the contractor must also consider the compatibility of the new unit with existing ductwork, thermostats, system controls, registers, grilles and other sources of ventilation. If you opt for a new, high-efficiency system, installation takes more time. The contractor must balance the system, run pressure tests and modify ductwork to ensure compatibility. Spending more time increases the cost of installation.
The technicians at Aqua Plumbing & Air take the time to talk about important factors that affect the choices you make about selecting a system suitable for your situation. We ask about your indoor climate requirements, budget and air quality needs. We discuss energy efficiency options to help you find a unit that balances cost with higher efficiency. We also discuss the advantages of installing advanced controls, such as programmable thermostats and smart systems. Our goal is to ensure your comfort with reliable equipment at a reasonable cost.
Problems With Undersized HVAC Systems
Undersized units often have many problems. The DOE reports that proper sizing and installation are key to HVAC efficiency. Units run longer to reach the temperature set point, which can overtax the compressor. During periods of extreme heat, they may not be able to keep indoor temperatures comfortable. Units may overheat and shut down. Utility bills are higher when a system must run longer to maintain a comfortable indoor environment.
Typically, undersized units break down more often, which not only causes inconvenience but can allow indoor temperatures and humidity to rise to levels that can endanger the health of building occupants. Undersized units often fail before reaching the normal span of service life. Customers are then faced with purchasing a new system.
Problems With Oversized HVAC Systems
Oversized units often have issues similar to undersized systems. Because they reach the set temperature quickly, they short-cycle, or start and stop more frequently, which wears out the compressor more quickly. Although the set temperature is quickly reached, the unit has not operated long enough to adequately remove humidity. Rooms may feel uncomfortable or clammy. Too much humidity creates an environment for mold to grow in ducts, near vents and in the living space. Ultimately, the system stops working properly and has a shortened service life. In addition, larger units cost more and must be paired with compatibly sized ducts. You will pay more for cooling power you do not need.
There are several types of energy-efficient systems available for commercial and residential use. Air conditioners are rated by SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency ratio, which describes the amount of cooling required over a cooling season divided by the amount of energy required to power the unit during that time. The higher the SEER, the more energy-efficient the unit. Federal guidelines stipulate a minimum of SEER 14 for Florida. Carrier offers equipment up to SEER 26. Systems with higher SEER ratings usually cost more.
Ductless mini-splits. If your home does not have ducts, or if you are adding on and cannot connect to a ducted system, ductless mini-splits solve the problem. Available as both air conditioners and heat pumps, ductless units provide conditioned air to single rooms or zones. Each unit has its own controls, allowing independent temperature selection without affecting comfort in other spaces. Because there are no ducts, no cooling or heating is lost, which increases energy efficiency. In addition, pollutants are not carried from room to room through ducts.
Multistage units. A standard air conditioner operates at one speed, either on or off. When it reaches the desired temperature, it shuts off. As temperatures rise, it cycles on again. Variable-stage compressors adjust to the cooling load. When temperatures are lower, the unit runs at lower speeds, using less energy. When temperatures rise, it runs at higher speeds to meet cooling needs. Dual-stage compressors are more energy-efficient because they run at lower speeds approximately 80% of the time. They run longer, which minimizes swings in temperature. The result is better comfort and humidity control with less energy usage.
Variable speed blowers. In addition to variable-stage compressors, variable-speed blowers adjust the speed of the fans that blow air over the coils and into the living space. They are more energy-efficient because the speed adjusts according to the heating or cooling need. You will not feel blasts or pockets of hot or cold air. Indoor air quality improves because fans that run longer keep air circulating.
Why Choose Aqua Plumbing & Air?
A new HVAC system is a major investment that should last for years. Proper sizing and installation are key to performance and longevity. Aqua Plumbing & Air has been serving customers in Sarasota and nearby communities since 1974. We are a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer, a prestigious designation that must be earned each year. Our technicians and staff undergo training by Carrier to provide superior customer service and technological expertise. We back our Carrier installations with a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee and are authorized to honor Carrier warranties. Our technicians are certified by NATE, the leading professional organization for technician certification.
We use industry guidelines for new installations, ensuring that your new system is properly sized and installed. After we complete an installation, we are available for maintenance checkups, repairs and any other needs you have.
If you are considering a new installation, call today to talk to one of our knowledgeable service technicians. Please note that we are available 24/7 for emergencies.
There are several ways in which your Sarasota, FL, home’s water can become contaminated. Contaminants have risks associated with them, but there are ways to mitigate those risks. Read on to learn more about the kinds of contaminants that may be present in drinking water and what you can do about them.
Types of Possible Contaminants
Contamination may include agricultural waste, heavy metals, organic chemicals, nitrates, microorganisms, fluoride, and other sources. These contaminants reach the water supply in different ways.
Runoff from local agriculture is a source of potential contaminants when the water from farms is not controlled. Agricultural contaminants include fertilizer, animal feed, animal waste, animal burial, manure, pesticides and field irrigation. These contaminants end up in groundwater from runoff, where they can end up in the water supply.
Heavy metals can leach into the water system from household plumbing, electronics, manufacturers, municipal waste disposal and even natural mineral deposits. This includes arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, selenium, and more. An excess of heavy metals in the body can lead to liver damage, anemia, and cancer.
Organic chemicals found in many household products can end up in your home’s water. These are present in dyes, paints, solvents, pharmaceuticals, and disinfectants. They can also enter the water supply via surface water seepage and groundwater movement.
Nitrates are a component of chemical fertilizers as well as human and animal waste. These chemicals, when ingested, can reduce the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. This is especially dangerous for infants.
Microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses and parasites live everywhere on the planet, including your home’s water at times. These can come from human and animal waste, water runoff, or leakage from underground storage tanks. Private wells are more vulnerable to these microorganisms because they lack the constant oversight found in public water systems.
Excessive fluoride, which is often used to help prevent tooth decay, is sometimes added to residential water systems. Some homeowners add fluoride to private water systems like water from their wells. Consuming too much fluoride can lead to skeletal fluorosis, which presents as pain and tenderness of the bones.
Other sources of contaminants include:
- Radionuclides like uranium and radium
- Waste from medical facilities and institutions including research laboratories
- Waste from storm water pipes and drains
- Runoff from oil and gas production facilities including pipelines
- Runoff from commercial facilities such as airports, boatyards and railroad tracks
Industrial properties such as metal fabrication facilities and machine shops can also result in contamination. These sources are especially notable for heavy metal contamination like lead, copper, and other metals.
How Contaminants Get Into the Water
While municipalities test and treat public water systems, contaminants can get into the water after treatment has occurred. They can get into the source water itself or in the distribution system.
Often, contaminants end up in the water because of a break in the waterline. Where the break occurs, these contaminants may find their way in. Contamination happens when these breaks occur past the point of filtration or treatment.
Human activity can also introduce contaminants into your home’s water supply. For example, activities that involve septic tanks, industrial sewage treatment plants, and landfills are possible culprits.
Most of the homes in the U.S. rely on groundwater for at least part of their water supply. It’s also one of the biggest sources of irrigation water. Groundwater is especially vulnerable to pollutants and contamination.
Man-made products like gas, oil, and chemicals can get into the groundwater. These can wreak havoc on your health.
Rain also picks up dissolved gasses in the air when it falls. This water becomes part of the groundwater and can pick up more minerals and gases in the soil when it passes into the aquifer. From there, it can end up in your home’s water.
Here are just a few sources of groundwater contamination:
- Atmospheric contaminants
- Uncontrolled hazardous waste
- Storage and septic tanks
One of the biggest ways that lead can get into your home’s water is actually from your pipes. In fact, pipes made before 2011 can contain up to 8% lead that comes from the material used to weld or solder the pipes together.
Those with old pipes are most likely to have lead issues, though it is always a good idea to check your water’s purity. Since you cannot see, smell, or taste it in your water, testing is the only sure way to know if your water contains the metal.
Private Water Systems Are Particularly Vulnerable
According to the Southwest Florida Water Management District, there are over 24,000 homes in Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota counties on private wells. Many homes also have private water systems like cisterns and rainwater collection systems. These private systems are not monitored or treated like public systems are. This lack of testing can lead to significant health risks.
The EPA doesn’t regulate or provide recommendations to private well water systems. According to the CDC, over 15 million U.S. households rely on private wells for drinking water. These private owners are personally responsible for making sure their water is free of contaminants and should obtain regular testing of their water as the purity may change over time.
Rainwater Isn’t as Pure as You Might Think
Many homes utilize rainwater collection systems as a way to conserve resources. This water is often used for bathing or drinking. Don’t assume that collected water is safe to drink.
The risk of rainwater contamination depends on a lot of factors, including the season and how you collect and store the rainwater.
There are several ways that rainwater becomes polluted:
- Dust, smoke and soot from the air before it gets collected
- Dirt, germs, or bird droppings washed in from your roof
- Asbestos, lead, and copper from roofing materials like gutters and pipes
- Bacteria, parasites, viruses and chemicals in the water collection container
Rain barrels do not provide any kind of filtration or treatment. Adding chlorine or iodine won’t remove chemicals, and neither will boiling the water, though both purification methods can help with microorganisms.
Health Risks of a Contaminated Water Supply
Contaminants in water can lead to adverse health effects. This includes gastrointestinal illness, neurological disorders, and reproductive problems. Infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with compromised or weak immune systems are especially vulnerable.
Serious diseases and illnesses are rare but may be life-threatening when contaminants are both dangerous and in high concentration. This includes acute and chronic toxicity, liver damage, intestinal damage, kidney damage, and cancer.
Symptoms to watch out for include prolonged vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, dehydration, or stomach cramps. If you have any concerns about your health, please contact your health care professional for an evaluation.
Mitigating the Risk of Contaminants in Your Water
Ensuring the safety of the water in your home is crucial for your family’s health and well-being. Drinking water needs to be clean and free from contamination. Two ways to address the risk of water contamination include testing your water on a regular basis and getting an in-home filtration system.
One system our professionals may recommend is a reverse osmosis filtration system. Also known as RO systems, these filters work by pushing the water through a special membrane. The contaminants, larger than water molecules, are too big to pass through, resulting in purified water. The captured contaminants are then disposed of through the wastewater system.
We may also recommend an advanced water conditioner system based on a certified, on-site evaluation of the water flowing through your entire home. This system softens the water, reduces mineral build-up, and gives the water a smooth feel.
It’s impossible for the public water system to test for and remove every possible contaminant in the water supply. These molecules can enter your home’s water and present risks and possible health problems. Contact Aqua Plumbing today for a complimentary drinking water analysis for residents in Sarasota, FL. We are fully licensed and stand behind our work with a quality guarantee.
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Insulating windows and inlets, turning off lights when not in use, and prompt repairs of your systems are important ways of lowering the utility bills. Residents of South Venice, FL, can employ the following strategies to ensure that they lower utility costs year-round.
Repair Leaky Ducts and Replace Air Filters
The cooling and heating system needs to work efficiently to minimize energy losses. Fix any ventilation, air conditioning, and heating ducts. Ensure that your HVAC system does not have leaks and, if any, call for repairs and upgrades to prevent heat and AC losses.
Check the air filter on your HVAC regularly. Since they trap dust, fur, and debris in the air, a blocked filter can be a significant loss. Your HVAC will have to work harder to keep your house comfortable while using more energy and wasting a lot more. Checking and replacing them will enable your system to work efficiently, thus reducing your energy costs.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
Invest in a smart or programmable thermostat so that you can keep track of your heating and cooling energy usage. A smart thermostat is programmable, enabling you to control it from any mobile device. These thermostats can automatically adjust your home’s temperature, depending on the time of day without the need for manual adjustment.
Program the thermostat to energy-saving levels when you are not home or when asleep. You can set the thermostat to heat specific rooms only or completely turn off when not in use for an extended period. As a result, energy usage is more efficient on a need-to-use basis, and you get to save on electricity bills.
Use Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans help circulate cool air in a room and reduce the HVAC system’s workload. You can use fans to reduce the amount of energy in use by the air conditioning system. When the weather cools off, reverse the direction of your fan to pull warm air from the ceiling down into the room.
Invest in Home Insulation
Insulating your home will ensure cool air during summer is well circulated within the house and maintained for extended periods. Check the insulation in your attic and apply extra if there is a need. You end up saving energy by reduced cooling times and eventually lower your utility bills.
Visit us at Aqua Plumbing & Air for excellent repairs and maintenance on your heating and air conditioning system.
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It’s easy to just switch on your furnace or heat pump and hope everything works when cold weather rolls around in Bradenton, FL. But foregoing proper fall maintenance can lead to your heating system running inefficiently or even breaking down. Here is a complete guide to maintaining your furnace each fall.
Clean All Heating Components
Over the course of the year, your furnace attracts all sorts of dust and gunk. Burning dust on your furnace’s burner is responsible for that acrid smell that you get when you turn the furnace on for the first few time each year.
In addition to causing poor indoor air quality, a dirty furnace or heat pump doesn’t run as well as a clean one. Components like the circuit board run hotter than they should. Over time, this added heat can cause these parts to fail and your furnace to break down.
A trained HVAC technician has special equipment to clean all of the parts of your heating system without damaging them. This cleaning should happen each fall.
Lubricate All Moving Parts
Your furnace or heat pump doesn’t have a lot of moving parts, but these parts move a lot of air. Over the course of a winter, things like your blower fan and the belt that drives it get a workout and need to be properly lubricated to work correctly.
Without this lubrication, these parts require more energy to run. They also create more heat when they run, which can make them wear out quicker than they would have otherwise.
Check the Vital Heating System Parts
Your furnace has a few key parts that have to work in order for your furnace to function. A few that frequently have issues are the pilot light or electronic ignition, the heat exchanger and the furnace thermostat.
A professional HVAC technician should inspect any of these parts for damage or wear before the heating season. If any are failing, the technician can fix the problem before it becomes a breakdown and potentially a night spent in the cold.
Check the Gas Connections
If you have a gas furnace, you must make sure that there are no leaks in your gas service lines before the heating season. Leaks can cause gas to build up near your furnace and potentially explode, so this is one thing on the annual checklist that’s about more than keeping you comfortable; it’s about keeping you safe.
Test Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors
Not every item on your fall maintenance checklist requires a professional. Checking your smoke and CO detectors is something you can do easily and is key to keeping you safe over the winter. Old models of smoke and CO detectors used 9-volt batteries, so if you have one of these, now is the time to change the batteries.
Newer smoke and CO detectors have long-lasting permanent batteries or are hard-wired into your house. But these also require some checking. Test each one to see if the alarm still works, and replace it if it does not.
If any of your detectors are more than 10 years old, replace them. Smoke and CO detectors become less sensitive over time, and old detectors may not alert you to a dangerous condition.
Clean the Condensate Line
If you have a high-efficiency furnace or heat pump, your system will use a pipe to drain water created during the heating process away from the furnace. This pipe, called a condensate line, can get clogged with dust and dirt over time, especially when the system hasn’t run for a while.
A clog can cause the water to back up, causing it to stop working. A professional HVAC technician will make sure that your condensate line is clean during an annual maintenance visit and flush it out if required.
If you haven’t maintained your furnace or heat pump this year, call Aqua Plumbing & Air. We have a full team of trained HVAC technicians ready to service your furnace or heat pump this fall. Set up an appointment today.
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According to the National Ground Water Association, well water should be tested at least once a year. That once yearly concept is a baseline; changes in your water’s smell, taste, or color as well as malfunctioning septic systems and other events can require more tests. So how can homeowners in Bradenton, Florida, know if they need to have their well water tested more than once a year?
If you or other people living in your home are experiencing frequent bouts of gastrointestinal illnesses, the culprit may be the water that you are drinking, washing your dishes with, and using for showers. For example, it may be the fault of coliform bacteria, which can thrive and reproduce in water. Our water testing professionals can perform a coliform bacteria test that will indicate if these hazardous bacteria are present in your home’s water.
When it comes to water contamination, the worst offenders are coliform bacteria, nitrates, lead/other metals and arsenic. These can all be especially dangerous when consumed through drinking water or absorbed by the skin. Your home should be a place where you can feel safe, which makes safeguards in your home’s water system so important.
The Eye Test
Another sure-fire way to know if your home is being infiltrated by impure water is by taking a look at the laundry when it comes out of the washing machine and the pipes under your home’s sinks. The presence of harsh metals such as manganese, copper, and iron can lead to stained pipes and laundry. The severity of the stains that you see are directly related to the amount of these harsh chemicals in your home’s water system.
While the eye test can indicate that these chemicals may be present in your home, a professional test can indicate the details of their presence. A specimen analysis will inform our team of water quality professionals about the best steps to take to save your laundry and plumbing from unsightly stains.
Keeping the Trash Outside
No matter how many state and federal regulations exist, there is no way to completely remove the danger created by dumps, landfills, and factories to a home’s water system. There is a wide variety of toxins that can find their way into your home if you live close enough to one of these facilities.
Total dissolved solids, also known as TDS, sulfate, chloride and other metals, can all make their way into your home through the water system. These chemicals can cause both health risks and annoying inconveniences to your everyday life.
Nothing is better on a hot Florida day than coming inside and having a nice glass of ice water. That feeling of cold, soothing relief may be short-lived, however, if your water smells and tastes like a cocktail of harsh, dangerous chemicals.
Hydrogen sulfide coursing through your home’s plumbing system can wreak havoc on the pipes within the plumbing system. Not only do the presence of these chemicals create a foul taste or smell, but pipe corrosion can also add to the issue. Instead of waiting to experience a big gulp of foul-tasting water, have your home’s water regularly tested to avoid any unwanted surprises.
Rapid Water Filtration Wear
If you already have safeguards in place to protect the purity of your home’s water, you’re certainly ahead of the game. However, if the filters and other water treatment equipment that you have installed are wearing out quickly, it means that your home may have an issue with pH and other corrosion-causing chemicals.
Ensuring that the water in your home is safe for drinking and other uses is one of the most responsible things you can do as a homeowner. Fortunately, our team of water treatment professionals can help you with that goal. Contact us at Aqua Plumbing Sarasota today to inquire about our free water testing for your home.
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A reliable thermostat is one of the best HVAC investments for your Palmetto, FL, home. The different types of HVAC thermostats available are many. Let’s discuss the different types of thermostats and how they function.
What Is a Thermostat and How Does It Function?
A thermostat is a device that works alongside your HVAC system; it helps in regulating the indoor temperatures by turning your system on or off. Since there are many different types of thermostats, you should make a selection based on your preferences, budget and home needs. Some common types of thermostats include:
- Smart thermostat
- Programmable thermostat
- Non-programmable Thermostat
- Wi-Fi thermostat
Smart HVAC Thermostat
A smart thermostat works alongside your home automation system to control your home’s temperature and air conditioning needs. This thermostat will adjust your home’s indoor temperatures according to your living habits. It can estimate when you leave/arrive at home and use these estimations to create a pattern to satisfy your home’s heating and cooling needs.
Most smart thermostat options have several smart features such as voice control and work well with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. These thermostats are ideal for households that prefer optimal indoor temperatures, and for tech-savvy homes. Smart thermostats are similar to Wi-Fi thermostats because you can readily access them through your smartphone.
However, you will need a steady internet connection so that you can connect to the thermostat’s app. A smart thermostat is more expensive than other thermostat options, but you will be able to cover this upfront cost in one or two years through the money you save on energy costs. Some smart thermostats have a built-in system that alerts you when it is time to schedule maintenance.
Non-Programmable HVAC Thermostat
A non-programmable thermostat, also known as a manual thermostat, is the most basic option. It works best for people who spend most of their time indoors because it requires you to adjust the temperature settings and set the system fan. The disadvantage of this thermostat is that you cannot program it to change while sleeping or on vacation.
Some high-quality non-programmable thermostats provide high efficiency through communication with your heating system to maintain your home’s desired temperature. Other non-programmable thermostats have convenience features such as a touchscreen, digital display, and backlighting.
With a programmable thermostat, you can easily set your day and night temperature schedules. Most of these programmable thermostats have daily and weekly temperature settings. You can program this thermostat with a single temperature setting when you are at home and make adjustments on the temperature settings for when you are away.
The programmable thermostat saves you the hassle of having to adjust your system manually. It is ideal for places that experience drastic temperature changes. You can choose from various programmable thermostat options such as 5-2, 5-1-1 and 7-day programmable thermostats.
These thermostats allow you to adjust your temperature settings through internet-connected devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops, making it possible to control your thermostat remotely. The Wi-Fi thermostat works like a programmable thermostat in the sense that you can re-program the system when you happen to arrive home early or if you wish to extend your vacation.
Wi-Fi vs. Non-Wi-Fi Thermostats
Our company offers both Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi Carrier thermostat brands. A non-Wi-Fi thermostat is pretty much a smart thermostat, which adjusts your home temperature needs according to your schedule without internet connectivity.
With a Wi-Fi thermostat, however, you can control the temperature settings on your thermostat from your smartphone device as long as you have a stable internet connection. Unlike a Wi-Fi thermostat, which is easy to use, the non-Wi-Fi thermostat can be frustrating for your family if your schedules change regularly.
If you wish to learn more about modern-day thermostat installation, maintenance and repair, contact us at Aqua Plumbing & Air.
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