Summer is almost here, bringing with it warmer, wetter weather and all the excitement of the season. While you enjoy the fun that summer offers, sometimes you need to escape the heat into the cool haven of your Sarasota home. Build a more comfortable, efficient, and healthier home by kicking down these three barriers to summer comfort.
Lack of HVAC Maintenance
Since your HVAC system is the heart of comfort in your home, it can also become a significant barrier to your comfort without proper care. Over time, the strain your unit experiences as it tries to maintain comfort in your home will take its toll, wearing down components and causing damage. Without maintenance to remedy these issues, your HVAC system will struggle to maintain comfort and will simultaneously increase your utility costs.
During a professional maintenance appointment, our service technicians will identify areas of wear and tear and, if necessary, repair such damage. They can also refill your refrigerant, clean the interior of your unit, calibrate your thermostat, help you isolate habits that may be exacerbating HVAC damage, and much more. Most importantly, HVAC maintenance fixes problems caused by a lack of maintenance, resulting in better comfort for you and your family.
Your air conditioner works hard to supply your home with the cool air that you need. But if that air doesn’t stay where it belongs, your unit will push itself to compensate, and to no avail. That effort will increase strain on your system, potentially leading to further wear. The leaks will allow warm summer air to infiltrate your cool home. Air can leak out in many areas of your home, maybe around doors and windows that aren’t adequately sealed, in unfinished areas like your attic, or in your duct system.
Isolating air leaks can be difficult. You can plug air leaks around windows or doors by resealing around them. If you see light coming through corners of walls in your attic, that’s also a sure sign of an air leak. Finding leaks in your air ducts is more difficult, though reduced comfort and higher utility costs could be a symptom of such leaks. Our team here at Aqua can help you find out if you have these air leaks.
Poor Indoor Air Quality
It’s hard to get comfortable when you’re constantly sneezing and running out of tissues due to dirt and dust particulates and other allergens floating around in your home’s air. Poor indoor air quality is always a threat to comfort, but you should watch out for specific IAQ threats in the summer. Following the bloom of spring, more pollen and other allergens float around, and those allergens can easily make their way into your home. Keep those allergens from affecting you by removing your shoes when you enter your home and by cleaning fabrics often.
Since your pets are likely to be spending more time outside in the summer, they could also be bringing in these hazardous particles. Pets can also spread dander through your home. To mitigate both of these threats to indoor air quality, clean your pet often and keep them out of certain areas of your home so you’re guaranteed a healthy, comfortable environment when your allergies flare up.
Your HVAC system also plays an important role in indoor air quality, but if you’re not performing maintenance on your unit, it can also become a barrier to high IAQ. If your HVAC filter is getting clogged, then you’ll likely have more dust and debris blown through your home, and your energy efficiency will drop. Change those air filters monthly and, if you’re especially susceptible to indoor air hazards, consider installing a whole-home air cleaner, which will catch more particles and more effectively purify your air.
Summer is for backyard barbecues, vacations, and relaxation. Don’t let these barriers keep you from enjoying all that a comfortable summer can offer. To improve your comfort with professional HVAC maintenance, call Aqua Plumbing & Air at 941-306-3715.
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Mini-split ductless systems are becoming a super popular option for homeowners who need a unique solution to their home’s climate control. If you’ve been considering a ductless HVAC system for your Sarasota, Florida, home, we’ve created this guide to give you all the info you need to know about these systems, so you can make an informed decision about whether one is right for you.
How They Work
Ductless mini-split HVAC systems work differently than a traditional HVAC system. Significantly smaller, these units are designed to provide climate control solutions for unique or difficult rooms and home layouts. The system itself is actually fairly simple. There are two main components: an exterior portion that is outside of the home and an interior portion, which is located in the area to be heated or cooled. The exterior part houses the compressor, while the interior has the blower and the thermostat.
The system cools by removing heat from the air via a refrigerant and replacing the heated air with cooled air. When it gets cold, the system works in reverse, pumping in hot air and removing the cold air.
One of the greatest perks of ductless systems over window-mounted units is that the system is extremely quiet, with minimal fan noise. In addition, they only require a small hole to be drilled between the interior and exterior portions, a much smaller commitment to many of the other climate control alternatives on the market.
Because they’re relatively small and have few components, ductless HVAC systems are also remarkably energy efficient. Ductwork has a major impact on your energy efficiency, especially if the ductwork is dirty or improperly sealed. With such a huge opportunity for energy waste, even the best systems can still end up affected.
On the other hand, ductless mini-split systems have a small, closed system that has little to no opportunities for energy waste. This can lead to a significant boost in energy efficiency and a reduction in utility bills.
Ductless mini-split systems can be used as whole-home solutions. However, some of the best uses for them are for single rooms or areas in a home that are difficult to cool. New construction or conversions where ductwork either can’t be extended or is too costly to renovate are a perfect setup for ductless mini-split systems, which can be used to get climate control into those rooms. Oftentimes, these systems are far cheaper than extending ductwork.
In some cases where the addition is a significant amount of space, it may be too much of a load for the current central HVAC system to handle. A ductless system is the perfect augmentative measure to keep that new space comfortable without overloading the central HVAC.
They are also a good choice for historic homes where either there isn’t a central system or the central system only reaches the few main rooms. Ductless mini-split systems can be used as a zoning system for family members who like their room temperature to be different than the rest of the home, or to cool or heat rooms selectively while leaving the rest at a stable, low-cost temperature.
Like any system, there are some limitations to ductless HVAC systems. They are mostly intended for room-sized spaces, which means they often can’t work for adjoining rooms or oversized spaces. In addition, due to the fact that there isn’t ductwork in place, the room has to have external-facing walls, meaning it isn’t appropriate for interior-located rooms. Some homeowners don’t like the interior portion of the ductless system. Even though modern systems are significantly sleeker and quieter than older models, it still is a unit that’s placed in a conspicuous place.
Another limitation for many homeowners is the cost. Ductless mini-split systems can be pricey, even though they often pay for themselves in energy savings. In addition, the filters on the system need to be washed or replaced monthly. They can’t handle the same buildup as central HVAC filters, and any excess dust or debris can lead to poor performance.
Sound like your home is an ideal candidate for a ductless HVAC system? The experts at Aqua Plumbing & Air can help you pick and install a system in no time. Give us a call at 941-306-3715 to set up an appointment today!
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When you have plumbing issues in your Sarasota, Florida, home, it can lead to water damage and malfunctioning appliances. Older homes often have plumbing that’s no longer considered efficient for use with newer appliances. And over time, corrosion and clogging can lead you to consider upgrading your plumbing system. The best way to know when it’s time to upgrade your plumbing is to be vigilant and watch for these seven signs and symptoms of an aging system.
Leaking faucets can lead to higher energy use and water damage if they’re left unaddressed. Leaking faucets won’t fix themselves, and while some issues can be resolved for a while, odds are, the fixtures will eventually degenerate further and need to be replaced.
When your sinks or tubs don’t empty at all, it could be the result of clogged drains. Clogged drains can be caused by paper products, hair, dirt, or other debris that has built up in your pipes. Clogging can also occur because of grease lining the walls of your pipes or because of corrosion as old pipes become worn.
While slow drains can be a sign that your pipes are becoming clogged, they can also be caused due to a lack of proper venting, which lets pipes drain easily. Unfortunately, these vents are usually installed at about the same time as the drainage pipes were, so if your drainage pipes are old or worn, it could mean the vents are also worn.
Older homes were often outfitted with galvanized pipes, and if you update or sell your home, you’ll need to bring these pipes up to code. The problem with galvanized pipes is that they can rust easily from the inside, which can lead to many problems, such as major leaks, discolored water, and uneven water pressure.
Older homes may also have lead pipes where the water main comes in. Lead pipes are much softer, which can cause lead to leach into your water supply. If you have either type of older piping, an upgrade is important to ensure the safety of you and your home.
Gurgling or Bubbling Sounds
Percolating or bubbling noises around the drain mean the system could be backed up or that there’s some flow constriction or improper venting. This sound may also be linked to water backing up in basement floor drains or excess water around other drains. When proper flow is inhibited, you should consider replacing your piping.
Noises aren’t the only thing you should watch out for. You should also be mindful of bad smells. Bad smells coming from your drains indicate something isn’t right in the system. If the smell is that of biological growth, it means there’s water pooling somewhere in your pipes where it shouldn’t be. Bad smells around fixtures and appliances could indicate that seals are poor or have become worn.
Other smells can indicate danger, such as the smell of raw sewage. While this smell could be as simple as a drain trap that has dried out, it could also indicate a blocked, cracked, or broken sewer line. If you notice sewage backing up along with this smell, you should contact a professional immediately.
Constantly Running Toilet
When you hear the sound of your toilet constantly running and the tank refilling, you shouldn’t ignore it. A running toilet can waste many gallons of water a day and could be fixed by simply having a professional replace a few tank parts. If the parts in your tank aren’t the problem, you may need to look at replacing your toilet or checking the surrounding pipes.
Proper maintenance, repair, and even replacement of the plumbing systems in your home should always be taken seriously. If you’re experiencing any of the above problems, you may want to consider investing in a plumbing upgrade. Upgrading your plumbing can save you money, protect your water supply, and keep you safe.
If you’re considering a plumbing upgrade, contact Aqua Plumbing and Air at 941-306-3715 today to schedule a consultation.
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Many of us grew up learning some basics of electrical safety: Unplug appliances before cleaning them, keep appliances and power tools away from water sources, and do not touch downed power lines. How many of us have an understanding of how the electrical systems in our North Port, Florida, apartments and houses work? To keep you and members of your household safe, follow essential electrical safety measures related to outlets, cords, and your home’s electrical service panel.
Be Careful With Cords
Regularly check cords to make sure they’re in good condition. Replace any appliance or item that has cracked or damaged cord. To prevent cords from being damaged, keep them away from high-traffic areas of your home.
Improperly maintained cords are among some of the leading sources of fires in the home. To avoid potential fire hazards, do not nail or staple cords to baseboards, other objects, or walls. Ensure that cords do not travel under carpets or rugs, and do not place heavy furniture on them.
Avoid leaving portable and countertop appliances plugged in when they’re not in use. Even though they’re not operating, these appliances can still consume small amounts of electricity. Unplugging appliances can help you save a few dollars on your home’s utility bill.
Treat Outlets With Care
Make sure outlets and switches are flush with walls. Remove and replace any broken outlet covers. To keep children from placing objects into outlets, use outlet safety covers.
Ensure that all plugs fit correctly into outlets. Never force or try to modify a plug to fit into an outlet, and don’t overload circuits by trying to plug too many appliances or objects into a single outlet.
In rooms where water is present, such as bathrooms, the kitchen, and the laundry room, have an electrician install ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. These special types of outlets prevent electrical shocks by interrupting the circuit if they detect an unsafe flow of electricity through the outlets.
You can do a simple test to make sure GFCI outlets throughout your house are working correctly. Push the "reset" button, plug a small device such as a hair dryer into the outlet, and turn on the device. Push the "test" button; the hair dryer or test device should turn off. If you discover that the GFCI does not function correctly, contact an electrician to help you correct the problem.
Pay Attention to Your Home’s Service Panel
If you need to shut off a circuit breaker in the service panel, place tape over the breaker and close the panel door. If your home has a fuse box, remove the fuse so that someone in your home doesn’t decide to inadvertently use it. Tape a sign to the panel door that reads "Do Not Touch" to alert people not to try turning on the power.
When you need to stop power going to a circuit, be sure to verify that power is not flowing to the respective outlets. You can purchase a tool called a continuity tester at a hardware store; this tool can tell you whether the power has been shut off properly.
When you need to reset your circuit breaker, follow the instructions below.
- Find the breaker that has its switch facing toward the off position. Some breakers may have a red indicator button that displays if a circuit is tripped.
- Before you reset the switch, check inside the panel to find out what circuit the breaker controls and shut off any appliances or lights to prevent the circuit from overloading once you turn it on. Reset the breaker switch to the on position.
- Before replacing a blown fuse, turn off appliances and lights on the circuit.
- Turn off the main power supply to your home. Depending on the type of fuse box your home contains, you may need to remove a fuse block (look for one labeled "main power"), slide a lever to shut off power, or turn off power at a main service panel located elsewhere in your apartment building or house.
- Once the power is shut off, carefully unscrew the fuse. Be careful only to touch the insulated rim of the fuse. Replace the old fuse with a new one of the correct amperage. Never use objects such as pennies as substitutes for fuses.
- Removable-cartridge fuses supply power to large appliances, such as home air conditioners. To change these types of fuses, you’ll want to contact an electrician to help you make the necessary replacement.
Watch How You Handle Extension Cords
If an appliance pulls more electricity than the extension cord it’s connected to can carry, the cord can overheat and start a fire. Each year, about 4,700 fires in the home result from problems with extension cords, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Before using any extension cords in your home, make sure that the cords you are using have been certified by an independent testing laboratory, such as the Underwriters Laboratory. Also, take time to verify that both the size and wattage rating are correct for the type of extension cord use you intend. Generally, the thicker the cord, the higher the wattage it can handle.
Here’s a way you can calculate wattage if the appliance or tool expresses power usage in amps. Multiply amps by volts (such as 120 volts) to determine wattage.
Follow the tips below for more extension cord safety guidelines:
- Be sure polarized appliances are plugged into polarized extension cords only. Polarized plugs are a special type of plug that features one prong that’s slightly wider than the other and goes into an outlet only one way.
- Immediately disconnect a cord if any part of it feels warm. Heat in an extension cord can signal that the cord is being overloaded, which could result in a fire or electrical shock.
- When using outdoor appliances and tools, or adding illuminated decorations to the outside of your home during the holiday season, use only extension cords rated for outdoor use.
- In areas of the home where beds or furniture may be moved against extension cords at the part where they join the plug, use an angle extension cord. This type of cord is designed specifically to accommodate this situation.
- Do not place extension cords in areas where they can become tripping hazards. Additionally, don’t use nails, staples, or tacks to attach extension cords to baseboards, walls, or similar surfaces. Sharp objects can damage the cord, which can create fire hazards or expose people to potential electrical shocks.
- Keep all extension cords away from heat sources such as heating units. Do not install them behind a refrigerator and never attempt to plug a refrigerator into an extension cord.
Other Electrical Safety Issues You Shouldn’t Ignore
- Keep electrical equipment away from sources of water, such as bathtubs, pools, and sinks. Never touch any electrical equipment, outlets, or switches with wet hands or while you’re standing in water. Water and electricity are a dangerous combination.
- If your house has aluminum wiring, do not attempt to make any types of electrical repairs on your own. Aluminum wiring is more susceptible to damage than copper wiring. If you’re unsure about the type of wiring that exists in your home, contact Aqua Plumbing & Air’s electrical technicians for help.
- Use surge protectors on appliances and electronic devices in your home. A surge protector works to protect appliances by diverting extra power if voltage on a circuit exceeds 120 volts. When buying surge protectors, choose those that have an indicator light so that you can verify that they are operating properly.
- Be aware of signs that could signal you may have a problem with the electrical wiring in your home: circuits that always trip, flickering lights, a smell of burning plastic that could indicate overheated wires, or outlet covers that feel hot to the touch. Contact an electrician immediately if you discover these problems in your home.
Taking steps to promote electrical safety in your home can help protect your loved ones and your home from dangers such as electrical shocks or fires. For reliable electrical services in the North Port area, contact our electrical experts at Aqua Plumbing & Air at 941-306-3715.
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Home renovation projects are both exciting and stressful for homeowners. When planning and executing a major home renovation project, it’s important to keep your plumbing in mind. While it’s easy to forget about your pipes because they’re out of sight, it’s vital to include them in your plans. Here are five things you need to know about plumbing when planning your project to help guarantee a successful renovation!
Before you start any renovation project — but especially in kitchen and bathroom overhauls — you need to know where your main pipelines are. Having a map of how your plumbing is routed in your home can help you avoid major problems and timeline delays caused by an unanticipated pipeline. If you’re planning on moving a sink or a toilet or a fridge, you may need to move pipe locations.
It’s also important to keep this in mind if you’re renovating near a bathroom or kitchen. Even if you don’t have a plumbing component planned for your renovation, you can’t discount the pre-existing plumbing. You don’t want to hit something important and have a plumbing crisis on your hand!
In line with the previous topic, have your plumbing plans cemented before you start your renovation project. Knowing what to expect and planning for movements or reorganization can help you not only keep on an appropriate timeline but also help structure your budget. Pick out where you want any new plumbing-related appliances to be and discuss the feasibility of this selection with your contractor. Changing plans midstream may not be possible with plumbing renovations, especially if you’re dealing with a major water source.
If you have an older house, preplanning is even more important. Plumbing from earlier in the 20th century used different layouts and narrower pipelines than modern homes. Planning out every plumbing-related renovation with this in mind can help reduce the chance of costly errors, particularly if you’re planning on including plumbing upgrades in your renovation!
Keeping an overall plumbing plan organized is another helpful tip when doing renovations. It may be tempting to just reroute and not worry about the overall plumbing organization, but this can create problems down the line if you try to do another project later. Keeping pipelines and plumbing organized neatly within your home can save you a lot of headaches later. Having to refit pipes later in a project because your disorganization led to a plumbing issue is not only expensive but also time-intensive.
Plumbing Design Choices
If your renovation plans include major overhauls of your kitchen and bathroom, it’s important to decide on designs and appliances before you get moving on the renovation. Different appliances have different plumbing requirements. If you have a relatively new home, you should be fine to just reroute your pre-existing system, but historic homes may pose more of a challenge.
In addition, you may want to consider energy- and water-efficient appliances and faucets. This can help lower your overall utility bills and reduce your water consumption. These systems often include interior portions or different plumbing requirements. Planning on using these systems ahead of time can help your project proceed smoothly.
Budgeting before your renovation gets going is vital for almost every major project. Plumbing renovations can be tricky, and a lot of issues can come up. Building some extra contingency into your budget can help reduce stress. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly, but it’s important to prepare just in case.
In addition, items like faucets, pipes, spigots, and drain components can end up being more costly than many homeowners realize. Know what styles you want and if there are any additional upgrades you want to include before your project gets started.
The experts at Aqua Plumbing & Air can help you with your plumbing renovation needs. Give us a call at 941-306-3715 to set up a consultation today!
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Plumbing problems often occur suddenly. Some are minor, but others can cause a lot of damage to your Sarasota, Florida, home. When a plumbing disaster strikes, you need to act quickly to avoid a catastrophe. Here’s what to do in a plumbing emergency.
A Leak or Burst Pipe: Shut Off the Valves
If you have a plumbing leak, shut off the water supply and assess the problem. If it is a small leak, you can fix it by applying an epoxy paste and wrapping it with self-fusing tape. If it’s a burst pipe, an outside leak, or you cannot locate the source of the leak, you’ll need a plumber. If water has accumulated in the ceiling causing a bulge, make a hole in the ceiling to drain the water before it causes the ceiling to collapse.
If you’re moving into a new home in Sarasota, one of the first things you should do is locate the water valves. When a pipe bursts, water can quickly flood your home. You don’t want to be scrambling to find the water valves. The toilet, clothes washer, and kitchen sink valves are easy to find. Locating the main water valve may require more searching. In most homes, it’s located near the house’s perimeter very close to the outside water meter.
Sewage Problem: Call the Water Company
If you notice a foul sewage smell in your home or septic waste pooling in your yard, you could be facing a major problem. It could indicate a problem with the septic tank, sump pump, or an obstruction in the city’s sewer line. Don’t try to fix a sewage-related problem yourself. You may expose yourself to harmful bacteria. Call the water utility company or septic company who will send a trained professional to investigate and fix the problem.
Overflowing Toilet: Call the Plumber
When the water in the toilet bowl continues to rise after you’ve flushed, panic sets in. If you don’t act quickly, you’ll soon be ankle-deep in water. First, shut off the valve located behind the toilet. If you have young children, put on a rubber glove and stick your hand down the bowl. It may be a simple problem like a stuck toy. If you come up empty, grab a plunger to try and unblock the drain. If neither of these works, it’s time to call a plumber.
Plumbing blockages often creep up slowly. If you notice that your bathtub and sink drain slowly or the water in your toilet bowl takes longer than usual to return to its normal level, a blockage could be forming somewhere in the plumbing system. It’s best to have the problem checked by a professional.
Excessively Hot Water: Switch Off the Water Heater
If you turn on your tap and scalding hot water comes out, your water heater is overheating. Water this hot increases the pressure inside the tank which causes damage to the water heater. It also presents a safety hazard to your family as scalding water can cause serious burns, especially to children. To avoid injuries, turn off the water heater until the problem is solved. Here’s what could be causing the water heater to overheat:
- The temperature dial. Someone may have inadvertently turned the dial up a few notches. Turn the dial back down and the temperature will return to normal.
- A malfunctioning reset button on the thermostat. The thermostat will need to be replaced.
- A failed temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve. The TPR valve releases excess pressure from the water tank, thereby preventing the water from overheating. Get the plumber in to repair or replace the TPR valve.
- Mineral buildup. Minerals naturally found in water often collect around the heating element. A heating element encrusted in minerals has to work harder, will overheat and eventually burn out. Drain the tank and clean the heating element.
When a plumbing disaster strikes, it’s inconvenient, stressful, and requires immediate attention. For help in a plumbing emergency, don’t waste any time in contacting Aqua Plumbing and Air at 941-306-3715. We’re available 24 hours a day and we will come to the rescue any time of the day or night, over weekends, and on holidays.
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