The Fashion of Wearing White and Labor Day

September 1st, 2014

You may have heard about the fashion faux pas of wearing white after Labor Day. In the present, this tradition is usually treated as old fashioned and a joke. Few people will criticize you for wearing white articles of clothing after the first Monday in September, or even take notice of it except to wonder why it was ever a major concern at all.

Where did this tradition of white clothing going out of fashion after Labor Day come from, and why did it fade away like colorful fabric washed in a hot load in the washing machine?

In general, white makes sense for the heat of summer. Light-colored clothing reflects away the radiant heat of the sun, instead of absorbing it the way dark colors do, so for thousands of years of human history people have preferred to wear white clothing during the hotter months.

However, the idea of white as strictly fashionable during the summer season only emerged in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—the time when the very concept of “fashion” began to spread across the Western Hemisphere.

It was only the highest level of post-Civil War society in the U.S. that strict and often bizarre rules for fashion controlled whether someone was in with the “in” crowd. Compared to our ideas of what’s fashionable today, the Czars of Style in the 1880s were true despots. Things as trivial as sleeve length could determine whether a woman in high society—no matter her level of wealth—was fashionable or a pariah.

Wearing white during the only summer, when it was common for weddings and outdoor parties, was only of these restrictive society rules. When the U.S. government made Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894, the Fashion Czars gained a definite cut-off point for when wearing white was no longer “acceptable” in the upper echelons of wealthy society.

For many decades, this rule only applied to a small number of millionaire socialites in a few big cities, but in the 1950s it reached general fashion magazines that were read around the country and started to affect more people.

But time eventually broke apart this odd rule, and during the 1970s fashion became more individual. Some fashion legends, like Coco Chanel, also purposely rejected the restriction and wore white throughout the year. Today, the “no white after Labor Day rule” is little more than an amusing gag to tease friends, and almost nobody takes it seriously.

Whatever you choose to wear after Labor Day (and if it’s white, we won’t tease!), everyone here at Basnett Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning hopes you have a happy end of the summer and great plans for the fall!

What’s Involved in Duct Replacement

August 25th, 2014

Branching off from your heater and/or air conditioner in your home is a vital network of ducts that distribute conditioned air throughout the rooms and then draw it back into the system to re-circulate it. Although this ventilation network is a key part of keeping your home comfortable, it’s also easy to forget that it’s there at all, since almost all of the ducts remain hidden behind drywall and flooring. Just because you can’t see your ducts doesn’t mean they won’t develop problems that will requires sealing, repairs, or even replacements.

If you notice strange smells coming from the vents, detect a rise in your home’s humidity, notice a drop in heating or cooling power, or see an unexplained rise in your utility bills, you may have ductwork trouble that needs attention from indoor air quality specialists.

For duct replacement in Weston, MA, or other services for your HVAC system, contact the team that has helped the Metrowest Area since 1987: Basnett Plumbing & Heating.

The job of duct replacement

Small gaps or holes that permit air leaks in ducts usually only require repairs. In some cases, however, ductwork will need a full replacement. This is usually necessary if you have aging ducts that have developed heavy corrosion. Sometimes, ductwork can sustain damage because of construction, and in this case, the broken sections will also need replacement. Professionals will get access to the ducts in the walls, doing their best to cause no damage to other construction material, and detach the damaged ducts from the surrounding segments to put in the new section.

Duct replacement is sometimes necessary in order to install a new heater or air conditioner. A higher-powered system often requires larger or more extensive ducts than you currently have. To accommodate the new system, the duct replacement specialists will remove older ductwork and replace them with newer ones that can handle the change in the AC or heater. During this time, the ductwork specialists will also see that older duct material such as sheet metal is replaced with more flexible material.

You can’t delay when you need work of any kind on your ducts. Those old, leaking, or damaged ducts will place enormous pressure on your air conditioner or heater, making it work much harder to achieve its normal output. Your bills will skyrocket while your comfort dwindles, and the extra stress on the HVAC system will lead to more repair bills and a shortened lifespan for the system. The broken ducts will also risk reducing your indoor air quality, letting in excessive amounts of debris into the ventilation system and out into your home. When you need top-quality duct replacement in Weston, MA, call our team of duct replacement experts at Basnett Plumbing & Heating.

Reasons to Have a Grease Trap Installed

August 18th, 2014

Fat, oil, and grease (also known as FOG) are major causes of problems in kitchen plumbing. They seem innocuous in their liquid form when they are hot, but once they cool down they change into waxy, solid material. If this develops inside the wastewater lines of your plumbing, it will lead to high water pressure, clogging, and interference with appliances.

Although you should avoid pouring FOG down your drains (remove it to a trash receptacle), there isn’t any way to prevent all of it from entering kitchen drains—and this is especially important for commercial kitchens, which deal with an immense amount of waste product from cooking and cleaning on a daily basis. If you need special help to stop the fat, grease, and oil from going down into the wastewater system of your home or business, then the installation of a kitchen grease trap will provide immense help.

At Basnett Plumbing & Heating, we are committed to keeping your kitchen, whether in a home or a workplace, free from problems associated with FOG, and we install grease traps in Middlesex County to help with this. Our installers will find the right sized grease trap for your establishment, and we will also provide the service to keep it working effectively.

Should you have a grease trap installed?

Not every home needs a grease trap, since the amount of FOG that goes down the drain is usually small (unless you are pouring it directly down the drains, which you should never do). A simple grease trap is often all that is necessary.

But for a commercial kitchen, grease traps are vital: you have the fat and grease from fryers and grills that must be washed away. This will cause extreme damage to your plumbing and lead to enormous clogging in the pipes that will require professionals to clean out. The clogging will also lead to higher water pressure, and that will cause leaking and damage along the pipes.

The biggest problem that a grease trap can prevent is excess FOG entering the sewer system. This can cause serious issues with the municipal waste system, and as a result may put your establishment in violation of health codes. Grease traps installed for your commercial kitchen will help keep away debilitating shuts-downs for your business.

We handle grease traps for Middlesex County businesses, as well as homes, that will keep away the trouble from any fat, grease, and oil that slides down the drains.

If you do not have grease traps installed for your establishment, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today and talk to our plumbing specialists about having the work done.

What’s the Difference between Mechanical and Electronic Air Cleaners?

August 11th, 2014

To protect the indoor air quality of our homes, we sometimes need to do more than simply open up a few windows during the day. Adding in an air cleaning system, such as a mechanical air cleaner or an electronic air cleaner, will remove most of the contaminating particles that circulate through the ventilation system of your house. The cleaners are easy to install with the assistance of HVAC professionals who have indoor air quality experience, and the systems will work well for many years at keeping unwanted pollution from the inside of your house.

Since 1987, Basnett Plumbing & Heating has helped homeowners in Chelmsford, MA with air cleaners and other installations that improve the air inside their home. Contact us today to learn more about our improvements that will increase the comfort and health inside your home.

Mechanical air cleaners vs. electronic air cleaners

There are many choices available for installing air cleaners in a home, but they can be divided into two broad categories: mechanical and electronic. One is not automatically superior to the other; it depends on the specific home and its air quality issues.

  • Mechanical air cleaners: These cleaners are filters, such as HEPA filters. They consist of a mesh of fiberglass filaments that trap particle in the air that passes through them. HEPA filters can stop 99.97% of airborne particles down to 0.3 microns in size. These filters do not require any power to operate and are generally inexpensive; the only cost comes from installing replacements. Mechanical filters will take care of the air quality problems of most homes, but they do not affect gaseous or odor molecules.
  • Electronic air cleaners: These devices do not use filters at all, but instead electronic fields that ionize the particles of contamination that attempts to pass through them. Ionized particles are drawn down to a set of plates where they are trapped. Using this method, electronic air cleaners can prevent the passage of particles down to 0.1 microns in size, and they will also stop gasses such as carbon monoxide, smoke, formaldehyde, and odors. They are excellent choices if you need the extensive cleaning power to affect these smaller particles. They require power to run, so unless you need their action to combat minute particles, you should stay with mechanical filters.

In many cases, the best choice for the cleanest air is to have both types of cleaners installed. Rely on the advice from indoor air quality specialists to learn which option is ideal for your home. Trust to Basnett Plumbing & Heating for your indoor air quality needs.

Our experts with air cleaners in Chelmsford, MA will determine the purification system that will give you home the healthiest air possible. Call us today.

Some Benefits of Installing a Hot Water Recirculation System

August 4th, 2014

One of the small ways that you waste water every day is when you turn on a hot water faucet for a sink or a shower, then have to wait for the cold water to warm up. The reason you have this delay is that the water in pipes cools down when the taps aren’t in use, and it takes extra time for the water from the water heater to reach you. All the water that comes from the tap before the arrival of the hot water goes down the drain.

There is a way to solve this problem: hot water recirculation systems. With the assistance of a professional plumber, you can have one put into a new home, or choose to have your current plumbing system retro-fit for one. They are an especially good idea when you need to have your old water heater tank replaced.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating offers installation of hot water recirculation systems in Sudbury, MA. We have worked with these marvelous systems for many years, so place your trust in the experience of our team.

How does hot water recirculation work?

Although there are a number of different models, the most common is a demand-controlled system that doesn’t remain on constantly, but comes on from a switch or motion detector located near each fixture. This turns on the circulation pump which stops water from entering the return line; the pump moves room temperature water from the line back into the water heater. The hot water flows to the farthest tap and the sensor then shuts the pump off, leaving the hot water ready for use. A second type of system, an integrated loop system, simply keeps hot water in constant circulation through the pipes so it is always available for the taps. This kind of system uses more energy, however.

What are the benefits?

The benefit you will experience first is the convenience of no longer needing to wait for the water coming from a faucet or showerhead to heat up. Those minutes of testing the water for your shower in the morning will vanish—and those little minutes add up to a lot of saved time over a week, and month, and so on.

The bigger advantage, however, is one you won’t see immediately: water bill savings. For an average home, the amount of water wasted each year due to waiting for running water to heat up is approximately 1,000 gallons. If you eliminate this water from your budget you can achieve tremendous savings. The hot water recirculation system will pay for its own installation in only a few years.

Installing hot water recirculation systems in Sudbury, MA is a big task, so make sure you work with expert plumbers to find out if it is a worthwhile investment for your home.

Contact the team at Basnett Plumbing & Heating to find out more about this service and other ways we can help you with your plumbing.

Air Conditioning Upgrades Available in Tewksbury

July 28th, 2014

Whether you are replacing an old air conditioner or want to maximize the performance and benefits of your current one, Basnett Plumbing & Heating has some great options for upgrading your air conditioning in Tewksbury. Why upgrade? Depending on the type of upgrade you choose, upgrades can help improve energy efficiency, indoor air quality and put less strain on your system. Here are a few upgrades to consider for your air conditioning system:

  • New thermostat – your thermostat controls when your air conditioner cycles. If it is aging, malfunctioning or needing frequent repair, it could be costing you money and putting a strain on your air conditioner. By upgrading to a digital, programmable or wi-fi thermostat, you can increase your energy efficiency and significantly reduce the need to repair your thermostat.
  • Zone control system – many houses have rooms or spaces that cool differently from others. This can be from daytime heat gain, special architecture such as wall-to-ceiling windows, or your home’s floor plan. Whatever the cause of differentiating temperatures, they can create discomfort and energy inefficiency in your home. One of the best ways to combat these issues is with a zone control system. With a zone control system, you create separate zones – individual rooms, floors, etc. – in which the temperature can be individually controlled. How? Motorized dampers are installed into your ductwork; each damper is connected to a thermostat that is wired into a central control panel that gives you complete control over the temperature in each zone. This allows for customized comfort throughout your home, as well as better energy efficiency.
  • Energy recovery ventilator – an energy recovery ventilator, also known as an ERV, is a ventilation system that exchanges your indoor air with the outdoor air while using the energy from the outgoing air to pre-cool (or pre-heat) the incoming air. The component responsible for this exchange is the heat exchanger, which is the core of the ERV. The end result is that you get a constant stream of fresh air in your home while adding great energy efficiency with the pre-treated air.

These are just a few examples of upgrades available for your air conditioner.

To find out more about how upgrades can improve your air conditioning in Tewksbury, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today and schedule an appointment.

What Is the Best Fuel Option for a Whole-House Generator?

July 21st, 2014

With a whole-house generator, you not only have protection for your family in case of a major, extended power loss, you have something even better: peace of mind.

However, when it comes to installing a generator for your home, you can’t simply pick any model and expect that it will do the job. You have some important choices to make so that the generator you end up with can handle the power needs of your home and work efficiently. One of the key choices you will need to make is the generator’s fuel source.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating specializes in fitting homes with propane and natural gas generators in Reading, MA and other parts of the MetroWest Area. We will help answer all your questions regarding whole-house generators to steer you to the model that will keep you certain throughout the year that your home will be ready for any energy emergency.

Let’s look at the two major fuel options for generators to help get you started with choosing one:

Propane generators

If you do not have access to a natural gas line for your home, then a propane generator is an excellent choice. Propane is stored in a tank for the generator to use, and does not require that you connect the generator to any municipal system.

There are two drawbacks to propane generators that make us advise homeowners who do have access to natural gas lines to opt for a gas generator instead. The first is that propane costs more than natural gas, and it is a more volatile fuel when it comes to price fluctuations. The second is that you can run out of propane; if you are caught with a low or empty propane tank during a power outage, you may experience difficulty getting more heating fuel.

Natural gas generators

These are the most reliable model of whole-house generators, and you should make them your top choice if you have a connection to a natural gas line. Natural gas burns cleaner than other fuels, like oil and propane. And it burns efficiently—it’s less expensive than using electricity. You won’t spend much more money to power your generator during an emergency than you would to run the power in your home at regular times. Because natural gas comes from a municipal supply, you won’t have to worry about running out of heating fuel or getting caught with an empty tank.

Aside from selecting the best fuel type for your home’s generator, you must also have the right sized system to match your needs for power during an outage. Even if you feel certain of the fuel type for your future generator, you will still require the generator installation expertise of professionals to see the work through to the end.

Whether it’s installing propane or natural gas generators in Reading, MA, you can trust the job—from start to finish—to Basnett Plumbing & Heating.

How Do Hot Water Recirculation Systems Work?

July 14th, 2014

If you have ever investigated ways to save water in your home, you will have seen the suggestion that you place a bucket beneath a faucet to catch the water that you would otherwise waste while waiting for a hot water tap to warm up sufficiently for a bath or shower. This delay for hot water occurs because the water sitting inside the pipes cools down when not in use, and each time a hot water tap comes on, this cool water must exit the pipes first before the arrival of the hot water.

Not only does this waste water while you wait for it to warm up, it is also an inconvenience. But there’s no way to avoid it, right?

Actually, there is: the technology of a hot water recirculation system. You’ll save time and save money thanks to one of these systems. We’ll explain how they work for your benefit.

To find out more about hot water recirculation systems in Houston, TX, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating. We can tell you how best to add one to your existing plumbing, or for new home construction.

How hot water recirculation works

The basic operation of hot water recirculation is a plumbing system that constantly moves hot water through the pipes at all times without the use of a hot water tank. The system must still use a hot water heater, however, such as a boiler, but it does not store the hot water inside waiting for use the way that a hot water tank does. Instead, it keeps a steady flow of heated water moving in a continuous loop through the hot water lines which runs from the water heater to every fixture in a home. This means that whenever you turn on a hot water tap, there is a heated water supply immediately ready.

When the water has cooled down after going to every fixture, it returns through the existing cold water pipes (along with the entering cold water from the municipal supply) back to the water heater to start the cycle over once again.

Some hot water recirculation systems use thermostats to determine when the water needs to reheating, while others simply keep the water heater running constantly. Although systems with the thermostat can cost more to install, they will save money in the long run through reduced energy use. These thermostats will also help to keep the water that comes from your taps from emerging as too hot and possibly injuring someone.

Find out more about installation

The best time to have hot water recirculation systems in Houston, TX installed is during a full plumbing installation for new construction of a home. However, you can choose to have a retrofit of your current plumbing system as well: plumbers will take out your water heater and install new piping, while maintaining the original cold water lines.

To learn more about what’s necessary for hot water recirculation installation, contact Basnett Plumbing & Heating today. We have helped the Metrowest Area since 1987 with plumbing solutions.

Steps Involved in Leak Detection

July 7th, 2014

If you’ve experienced a leak in the pipes under your sink, you might think that “leak detection” is a simple process: just look for the gushing water! But most of your home’s plumbing lies hidden behind walls and floorboards, and some are set down in the concrete foundation. Leaks, both large and small, are often hard to find even after you notice evidence of their existence, like discolored spots on the wall or the growth of mildew.

To locate leaks, you need plumbers who come armed with the best detection equipment available. Thanks to the skilled leak detection in Bedford, MA from Basnett Plumbing & Heating, you can have any leak sealed up with minimal excavation and damage to your property.

The process of leak detection

  • Visual inspection: Before plumbers start to use the high-tech equipment to find a leak, they’ll use their own knowledge and skill to narrow down their search area. Plumbers are used to looking for hidden leaks using nothing other than their eyes and past experiences. Finding warped floor boards, spots of mildew, water discoloration, and combining with what they know of pipe placement, plumbers will target a specific area to begin the leak detection search.
  • Listening devices: This is one of the basic tools of leak detection, and usually the first device that plumbers will use. Listening discs, which operate on similar principals to a medical stethoscope, can hear the drip and escape of water that is causing pressure increases through hard building material. Often, listening devices are all that’s necessary for a plumber to pinpoint the leak.
  • Infrared sensors: If the listening discs still leave some area for doubt, plumbers will use infrared sensors to narrow further the search area. These sensors can pick up excess moisture in regions around pipes because the moisture will be at a different temperature as it leaks from the plumbing.
  • Video inspection: The last stage of leak detection—if it is feasible—is to use video pipe inspection equipment to probe down into the pipes with a camera that sends back a feed to a monitor. Through this method, plumbers can not only locate exactly where the leak is, but how large it is and what remedies will fix it.

One the plumbers have identified that leak location and its extent and type, they can begin careful excavation to reach the break and perform the necessary sealing or replacement work to repair it.

Skilled leak detection in Bedford, MA will save you time and money: no time-consuming and expensive tearing open of walls and floors to find the leaking plumbing.

Call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today if you think you have a leak plaguing your home. Whatever work needs to be done, our plumbers can do it—fast and right the first time.

The Famous Painting of the Declaration of Independence Isn’t What You Think It Is

July 4th, 2014

If you grew up in the United States, you probably first saw John Trumbull’s painting of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence in an elementary schoolbook. This oil-on-canvas 12’ x 18’ painting hangs in the rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. It is one of the most famous symbols of freedom in the country and almost every citizen can conjure it from memory.

Except… the painting isn’t of the singing of the Declaration of Independence. The actual title of the work is Declaration of Independence, and although it does portray an important moment in the history of the document that announced the Thirteen Colonies’ decision to break away from British rule, the event in the painting occurred on June 28, 1776, not July 4, 1776.

John Trumbull, a Connecticut native who fought in the Revolutionary War and whose father was the state governor, was commissioned to create the painting in 1817. He did painstaking research on the figures in the picture and also visited Independence Hall to see the actual chamber where the Second Continental Congress met. Trumbull only included 42 of the original 56 signers, because he could not find adequate likenesses for 14 or them, and added a few figures who were not present (most of whom declined to sign the actual document). In fact, the men depicted in the painting had never been present in the same room at one time.

So if the painting does not portray the singing of the Declaration of Independence, what is happening in the image? The Trumbull’s scene depicts the presentation of the draft of the declaration to the Continental Congress for editing and approval. The five-man drafting committee (John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin) is handing over their finished work, which congress would then edit carefully over the next few days before voting on it and signing it on the day that we now celebrate as the start of the United States of America.

One last, odd, fact: two of the five-man drafting committee, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on the July 4—although many years later.

Our family at [company name] hopes that your Fourth of July (or Twenty-Eighth of June if you decided to start celebrating early) is a memorable and happy one.