From a Contractor Magazine article:
“We are proud to share this with our Clients and Friends, after all it is your trust and confidence with us that placed us here”
Multi-generational, family-run AC Plumbing, Heating & Mechanical specializes in hydronic retrofits,
serving commercial and residential clients in the Cleveland area.
BEDFORD HEIGHTS, OHIO — In Cleveland, the name Caruso might come to mind
if you’ve spent any time in a fire hall, a supply house or a historic train station. That’s
because the Caruso family legacy is one of courage, hard work, and a dedication to
In 1912, at the age of 13, Antonio Caruso stepped off a boat from Sicily and onto U.S.
soil. Upon arriving, Caruso immediately went to work for the Nickel Plate Railroad
in Conneaut, Ohio, working on steam locomotives and roundhouses.
A love for big equipment, steam and water piping was passed on to Antonio’s son,
Tony, along with an affinity for hard work. Young Tony grew up around the railroad,
became a professional firefighter and simultaneously learned the plumbing trade.
After decades of managing two careers, he’s a retired fireman and is turning the
family plumbing and heating company over to his three children.
Anthony, like his father, is a professional fireman and paramedic, working 24
hours on, 48 off. When he’s not on duty at the firehouse, he’s AC Plumbing’s
lead hydronic technician.
Siblings Monica, Anthony and Michael now operate the 35-year-old, 14-person
company in Bedford Heights, Ohio. Anthony, like his father, is a professional
fireman and paramedic, working 24 hours on, 48 off. When he’s not on duty at the
firehouse, he’s AC Plumbing’s lead hydronic technician. Michael has a construction
management degree, which has brought the company to a new technical level. He’s
also the lead plumber. Monica runs the office full-time, and her husband, Kelly
Miller, heads up the HVAC portion of the business.
When they’re not working at one of their multiple jobs, the Carusos are active in
their local PHCC Chapter. What’s good for the company is good for the trades, and
ultimately good for the community. So, they take the opportunity to learn as well as
“We have turn of the century homes where giant coal-fired boilers have been converted to natural gas, and are still in operation,” said Anthony. “When we retrofit these, the original boiler is usually left in the basement, alongside the new condensing boiler. Other times, we’re installing completely new radiant systems in mid-century-modern houses. There’s really no ‘typical’ day when it comes to our hydronic work.”
Hydronics in Action
Working on residential or commercial hydronic projects in the area result in a lot of referral and return boiler customers. Such was recently the case at a 3,000-sq.-ft. home in Pepper Pike. “This home was built in the ’60s, and the owner bought it as a foreclosure about eight years ago,” explained Anthony. “He completely renovated it, and at the same time, we installed a radiant in-floor system and retrofitted the ductwork.”
Half-inch PEX was stapled up to provide two zones of heat on the ground floor of the
two-story home. Upstairs, a custom-made hydronic coil was placed in the existing
ductwork. The 105,000 Btuh Burnham ES2 boiler also supplies DHW through a 60-
gallon Burnham Alliance stone-lined sidearm tank. Control for the whole system is
provided by a tekmar system. Fixed-speed circulators were used on the boiler, indirect tank
and upstairs zone. The two radiant zones each used a three-speed Taco 0015 pump.
The near-boiler piping also includes a Fernox TF1 Total Filter and Taco 4900 series air separator.
“Of all the components used here, two that were selected for a very specific purpose
at the time of installation were the Burnham ES2 and the three-speed Taco pumps,”
explained Anthony. “The three-speed pumps give us more flexibility to tune the flow
rate to the radiant loop without using a variable-speed pump. Plus, we’re always
well-stocked with 0015s because they fit nearly every residential application out
“The owner didn’t want a condensing boiler,” he continued. “The Burnham ES2 is a
cast iron boiler that’s designed to tolerate lower return water temperatures than
most similar models, making it a perfect choice for a radiant system. And at 85
percent AFUE, it’ll still provide a fuel savings over other atmospheric boilers.”
Service, when needed
This past summer, the system needed a little more attention than in previous years.
An air vent needed to be replaced, as did a radiant circulator. Instead of using
another conventional three-speed pump, Caruso installed a new ECM-powered Taco
0015e3. The three-setting pump provides the same functionality, higher efficiency,
and a number of technician friendly features that speed up installation and service.
“It feels like this pump was built for the technician,” said Caruso. “The details really
make a difference, like the universal flange-to-flange width, nut holders that are cast
into the flanges and the double-insulated construction, which eliminates the need for
a ground wire. Also, the indicator light means I don’t need to put my ear up against
the pump to see if it’s running.”
In the end, Tony and Anthony’s shared passion for piping serves them well when
working on some of the area’s old mansions — like the Pepper Pike project — still
heated by giant, high-mass steam and hot water systems. Maintaining, fixing and
retrofitting these systems consumes most of Anthony’s time.
Tony built the company based on family principals.
“Despite the fact that AC
Plumbing, Heating & Mechanical has grown substantially, those family principals
haven’t changed; it’s the reason that customers often become friends, and we
wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Anthony.