Ways to Avoid Tree Root Problems with Your Drain Line

April 18th, 2014

Your home’s  drain line remains out of sight—exactly as you want it—running from underneath your property and out to the municipal sewer system in the center of the street, where the line deposits the wastewater collected from all the drains in your house.

But although the drain line remains out of sight, don’t keep it entirely out of mind. Damage to this line will cause clogs in your drains, and possibly flooding into the basement and foundations of your home. This will require the work of skilled plumbers to repair. For all Littleton, MA drain problems, call on Basnett Plumbing & Heating for fast and reliable service.

The Problem with Tree Roots

Perhaps the #1 danger to your drain line is tree roots. The growing roots of plants naturally seek water and nutrients, and so they will spread down toward the wastewater pipes. The tiny tendrils at the end of roots will find minute places to infiltrate into the pipes, soon growing into a blockage inside. This can even lead to the pipe breaking when the root pressure grows too powerful.

There are ways you can help avoid this. You should know where your drain line is located underground; you can call a public utility company (the “Call before You Dig” people) to find this information, and use it to help guide you when landscaping and planting. Try to plant large trees distant from the drain line; for shrubs and bushes that are closer to the pipe, choose plants with shallow or slow-growing roots.

There are some root-dissolving chemicals that will protect your pipes. You may wish to consult with professional plumbers regarding this, since they will know how to best create a chemical barrier between the roots and your drain line.

You should act fast at the first signs of root infiltration so professionals can stop the problem before larger repairs become necessary. Regular clogging of drains throughout your home is an early signal of the problem. If you identify root growth in time, plumbers can often eliminate it with root-destroying chemicals instead of needing to dig down to fix or replace the pipe.

It always helps to have regular inspection of your drainage system from professional plumbers. Annual plumbing maintenance will catch potential problems with your drain line to help you head off an expensive and disruptive repair. You will also have cleaner and healthier plumbing in general.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating has the experienced plumbers to help your Littleton, MA drain system stay root-free and problem-free. Call us for maintenance, repairs, and installation for your plumbing.

3 Reasons That Air Conditioning Maintenance Is a Good Idea in Spring

April 10th, 2014

Summer planning for your air conditioning starts in spring. To make sure that it’s ready for the season, you need to schedule a maintenance session with a skilled air conditioning technician.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating has a long history of delivering comfort to homes in the Metrowest Area. Our emphasis on quality and promptness has made us the #1 choice for many homeowners. When you need air conditioning maintenance in Littleton, MA, contact our staff.

3 reasons to have air conditioning maintenance done during spring

  1. Avoid the summer repair crunch: Summer heat means busier schedules for air conditioning repair technicians: they will have numerous emergency calls to attend to. This can make it difficult to find a convenient time for a maintenance visit on your system. Spring, however, is a slower period for HVAC companies, and you should have few problems finding a time for maintenance that works for both you and your technician.
  2. Be prepared for spring surprises: One of the basic goals of AC maintenance is to prevent the system from breaking down during hot days when it has to do the most work. Spring can occasionally have surprise hot days, especially the closer it gets to summer. You don’t want your system to fail because you’ve delayed maintenance until the last minute. It’s always wise to stay a few months ahead of the weather when it comes to maintaining your home comfort systems.
  3. Catch repair needs in time to fix them: A part of regular maintenance is checking the AC to see if there are any malfunctions that may have gone unnoticed so far, or places where repairs will soon be necessary. If you have maintenance done during the spring, you’ll have ample time to schedule the repairs before the weather grows too hot.

If you sign up for the Ultimate Savings Agreement and Ultimate Maintenance Agreement available from Basnett Plumbing & Heating, you’ll receive the maintenance necessary for your air conditioner and heater, along with 15% discount on repairs and service calls, priority scheduling, upfront pricing, and more. You’ll save money where it counts the most: fewer repairs, increased energy efficiency, and a longer system lifespan. Trust us with all your Littleton, MA air conditioning repair and maintenance needs.

Winter Thaw and Burst Pipes: What You Need to Know

April 3rd, 2014

Homeowners who live in places with low winter temperatures know that one of the major dangers to their plumbing is pipes bursting because of freezing. This can have a large destructive effect on a home’s plumbing system and require numerous repairs to rectify. You need to know what to do about frozen pipes and how to prevent pipe bursting. And you need to know about it now more than ever, at the start of spring, as we’ll explain.

When you need work with your pipes in Harvard, MA, get in touch with Basnett Plumbing & Heating. You can expect quality service, on-time arrival, and a job done right the first time when you rely on our services.

The real reason for burst pipes

Frozen pipes don’t burst because water expands when it freezes, even though that sounds like a common sense explanation. When water expands, it takes the path of least resistance, so it will expand to the sides in pipes, which doesn’t threaten to make the pipe burst.

The danger comes from thawing. As the ice in the pipe melts, the water caught between the ice plug and the closed faucet causes an increase in pressure. This is what leads to pipes shattering from the inside. Therefore, the spring thaw is when you should feel the most concerned about frozen pipes giving your plumbing grief.

As the weather warms up, keep the faucets open on pipes that have frozen. (You can tell a frozen pipe because when you turn the tap, a mere trickle of water comes from the faucet.) However, be cautious about trying to unfreeze the pipe yourself with tricks like using electric blankets, space heaters, or hair dryers. And under no circumstances should you use any device with an open flame! It’s at this point you need to call a professional plumber to assist with the thawing process so you have the least risk possible of a pipe shattering.

A plumber can also help you prepare for next winter so your pipes won’t freeze in the first place. Pipe insulation sleeves are an excellent way to shield the plumbing from losing too much heat. If your plumber works for a company that also handles HVAC, he or she can direct you toward ways to provide more warmth to areas with pipes.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating has encountered frozen and burst pipes many times since we started in business in 1987. If you need special assistance to prevent shattering plumbing, or if you need to have pipes in Harvard, MA replaced, call us to schedule an appointment. We will finish the work fast but keep you satisfied. (We do HVAC work as well.)

High-Efficiency Furnaces and Condensate Pumps

March 27th, 2014

Furnaces once had low heating efficiency ratings: they lost a large amount of energy through exhaust gases. However, heating technology has made significant strides during the last few decades, and the development of better venting, electronic igniters, and especially condensing furnaces have helped make these old standbys of the HVAC world into competitive models of energy-saving. Today, many furnaces earn the U.S. Department of Energy’s qualifications for the ENERGY STAR label, a sign of an efficient system that saves you money and benefits general energy conservation.

A part of keeping a high-efficiency furnace—or any furnace—protected from the condensation (exhaust vapor created during the heat exchange process) is a condensate pump. We’ll look a bit more at high-efficiency furnaces and condensate pumps in this post. When you need heating repair in Concord, MA for a condensate pump or furnace, contact Basnett Plumbing & Heating. We’ve served the Metrowest Area with excellent comfort since 1987.

High-efficiency furnaces

How does a high-efficiency furnace attain its reduction in exhaust waste that leads to its energy-saving performance? The secret is taking the exhaust vapor that’s leftover in the heat exchanger after the exchanger cools down and moving the vapor to a second heat exchanger, releasing further heat through condensation. This decreases the amount of waste while increasing the amount of heat created in the exchangers. Although these high-efficiency condensing furnaces are more expensive than standard furnaces, they can return enormous savings in energy that soon pay back their installation costs. They can last longer than standard furnaces as well.

Condensate pumps

One way to prolong a furnace’s life is to remove as much condensate away from it as possible. Condensate is corrosive and acidic, and extended contact with the interior of your furnace will lead to destructive and even dangerous corrosion developing on the furnace. It can also be dangerous if it enters your home.

Installing a condensate pump will help prevent any excess condensation vapor from impairing your furnace or escaping to damage your home. You will need to have professionals install and maintain a condensate pump, and replace it if necessary.

Always trust to experienced installers

A professional HAVC technician will help you decide what sort of furnace will work best for your home, and can also recommend if a condensate pump will help you. Sometimes, a high-efficiency furnace is your best option for your long-term budget; in other cases, a traditional furnace will fit your requirements.

For all your needs for installation or heating repair in Concord, MA, look to Basnett Plumbing & Heating.

The Different Types of American Standard Heat Pumps

March 19th, 2014

Heat pumps have been used as an alternative to forced-air furnaces and boilers for heating in many homes across the US. And while a number of fine manufacturers have heat pumps on the market, American Standard is one brand that we recommend for our customers in the MetroWest area. The company divides their heat pumps into three different types, each of which contains its own features and options. Below is a quick breakdown of the different types of American Standard heat pumps .

  • Silver Series. The Silver Series is a comparatively small heat pump, which makes it work well for smaller homes or in places that don’t have a lot of extra room for an HVAC system. That also makes them a good choice for those hoping to save a little money on installation while still enjoying all of the benefits that a heat pump has to offer.
  • Gold Series. The Gold Series is the “middle ground” option for American Standard heat pumps. They can handle a larger load than the silver series, and tend to run more efficiently as well, thanks to patented American Standard features such as Duration technologies and SpineFin upgrades. Their increase efficiency and ability to handle a bigger workload makes them more expensive than the Silver Series.
  • Platinum Series. The Platinum Series is the top-of-the-line model. They use the same advanced technologies that the Gold Services does, and can support large spaces like the Gold Series does, but they utilize a two-stage heating and cooling process, which provides even more efficiency than the Gold Series.

Obviously, not every type of American Standard heat pump is right for every home, and you need to factor your needs before making a decision on the model that’s right for you. Luckily, for heating in Carlisle, MA and other nearby towns, you can call on the trained experts at Basnett Plumbing & Heating. We have the skills and know-how to help you select the best unit for your circumstances, and will perform the installation with courtesy and care. Pick up the phone and give us a call today. You’ll be glad you did!

This Is Why Your Boiler May Not Be Giving You Heat

March 12th, 2014

Boilers provide an even heat throughout a home that many people find they prefer to the forced-air heating that comes from a furnace or a heat pump. The warmth that radiates from a baseboard heater or even an old-fashioned cast-iron radiator spreads quickly through rooms and carries none of the dust from a ductwork system with it.

But even though a boiler is durable and usually needs few repairs, it can still encounter problems that will lead to you losing your valuable warmth. Here are some reasons your boiler may have stopped providing you with heat. Make sure you call for the necessary heating repair in Littleton, MA as soon as you can: Basnett Plumbing & Heating has skilled technicians ready to get your boiler back in shape.

Some reasons for losing heat from a boiler

  • Dirty or rusted burner: If you have a gas-powered boiler—the most common type—the combustion gas that heats the water in the tank comes from a burner. If the burner becomes covered with dirt or grime, or if rust flakes start to form inside it, it will choke off the supply of oxygen that allow the gas jets to ignite, and the water in the tank will not heat up. Repair technicians can remove the burner unit and clean it so it works properly again.
  • Failed pilot/ignition: To light the burner, a boiler requires either a standing pilot light (older models) or an electrical igniter (newer systems). A pilot light can go out because of a draft, as well as a covering of dirt. The electrical igniter will eventually burn out after 3–4 years and require replacement.
  • Failed heating elements: For electric-powered boilers, the heat for the water comes from two electrical heating elements inside the tank. It only takes the failure of the top one to severely reduce your supply of hot water from the tank, leading to almost no heat. Technicians will need to replace the broken elements.
  • Running out of oil: With an oil burner, you need to keep a close watch on your supply of fuel. If your oil boiler stops giving you heat, check the oil supply to see if it has run out. Leaks can also cause you to run out of fuel without realizing it.

You’ll need professionals

For most of these problems, you’ll need expert technicians to perform the repairs. If you don’t know why your boiler has stopped giving you warmth, you’ll need HVAC experts to inspect the system and find what needs to be done. Don’t guess, and don’t try to do the work yourself!

Call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today if you require heating repair in Littleton, MA. Expect our technicians to arrive on time and get the job done right the first time.

The “Silent” Toilet Leak and Plumbing Repair

March 3rd, 2014

Any kind of leak in a toilet in your home presents a serious problem. It can stop the toilet from working, lead to flooding, create a massive and expensive waste of water, and cause structural damage to the floors of a bathroom. (In extreme cases, floors have collapsed beneath leaking toilets!) Many toilet leaks are easy to detect and you will know right away to call for professional repairs to take care of the problem.

However, there is an insidious type of toilet leak called the “silent” leak that is tricky to detect. We’ll look at what it is, how to find one, and what to do about it. For further help with your plumbing in Concord, MA, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating.

What is a “silent” toilet leak?

This kind of leak occurs because of an ineffective flush valve system inside the water tank. If the flapper inside the tank forms an imperfect seal, water will leak around it and flow into the bowl. A broken fill valve in the tank can also cause the shut-off valve to fail to close, meaning water will continuously flow into the tank and into the overflow tube. Neither will be obvious, but both will lead to a large waste of water, sometimes up to 300 gallons a day.

How can I tell I have this kind of leak?

Look for in increase in your water bills. If you suspect it may come from a toilet leak, place a few drops of water coloring in the tank. If the color enters the bowl within 10 minutes, you have a flush valve leak. Leaks with the fill valve are harder to find: you have to remove the lid from the tank and observe the overflow tube for a period to see if it is continually removing water from the tank.

Can I repair this type of leak myself?

Attempting to repair this on your own can lead to further damage. You need a professional to come in and figure out which components will need replacements and if other deterioration is occurring. Professional plumbers are used to seeing this type of leak and will be able to fix it quickly and accurately.

Don’t let water waste inflate your bills!

If you let silent toilet leaks continue without repairs, you can end up paying $500 more per year on your water bills—and there’s always the potential for the leak to increase if it begins to cause flooding and floor damage. Call in experienced plumbers as soon as you can.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating can handle your needs for plumbing in Concord, MA, whether it’s a leaking toilet, a water line burst, or a clogged drainpipe. We’ve served homeowners in the Metrowest Area since 1987.

Steam Versus Hot Water Boilers: What’s the Difference?

February 24th, 2014

One interesting fact about boilers: most of them don’t “boil.” At least, not any more. If you’ve ever watched old gangster movies where a gunfight in a boiler room caused steam to start blasting all over the place, then you know that steam power was once important for boiler operation. Boilers raised the temperature of the water above the boiling point to convert the water to steam, and this high pressure steam moved through the pipes to radiators to provide heat.

Steam is a highly efficient heat transfer fluid, but most boilers today use hot water instead of steam, and a pump on the water tank circulates the heat through the pipes to the radiators. But steam boilers are still available and are sometimes the better option for certain homes. We’ll look at the main differences between them to help you decide which one your home needs. You can count on Basnett Plumbing & Heating to assist you so that you get the best possible heating in Groton, MA possible.

Steam vs. Hot Water

The main difference between a steam boiler and a hot water boiler is the amount of energy each uses. A steam boiler must burn more fuel (gas or oil) to raise the temperature of its water to boiling level, and this makes hot water boilers more energy efficient, using approximately 25% less energy than steam boilers. For many homes, this is significant enough to prefer hot water over steam.

However, as mentioned above, steam is more efficient at the transfer of heat than hot water. Once steam is created from water, the steam is able to provide a larger output of heat than hot water, up to 300+ MBH. (1 MBH = 1,000 BTUs per hour.) This makes steam heaters capable of dealing with extreme levels of cold and helping homes that have poor insulation. Few heating systems available can produce as much heat as a steam boiler.

However, most homes will not need this level of heat power from their boiler. Steam boilers also require special safety precautions because of the temperature of the steam (the water must be heated to 212°F) and require rigid regular maintenance.

The right choice for you (and the right maintenance)

If you live in a house that suffers heavy drafts during harsh winter days, a steam boiler may do the best job keeping you warm. Have an HVAC technician perform a heat load calculation for your home to determine if the power of a steam boiler will help you keep warm. If you decide to have a steam boiler installed, make sure that you schedule regular maintenance for it to keep it safe. Basnett Plumbing & Heating can take care of both the installation and maintenance for your steam boiler. Of course, we handle hot water boilers as well! Trust us with all your heating in Groton, MA.

Can a Furnace Rust?

February 17th, 2014

Rust is a major threat to homes, and has been since humans first started using iron. The effect of rust on metal is a reduction in strength that eventually leads to metal flaking away to nothing. If you notice rust on major appliances, it usually means you need to call for repairs… and you may need to replace the appliance entirely.

How does this apply to a furnace? Furnaces, whether gas or electric, do not use water and shouldn’t come in contact with it—unless through flooding—so it seems logical that rust would rarely threaten them. However, furnaces can rust… and often do. When this happens, you need to call for furnace repair from Littleton, MA professionals. Basnett Plumbing & Heating does extensive work with all types of furnaces, and we can help you when corrosion strikes your furnace.

How Rust can Affect a Gas Furnace

Many homeowners are unaware of this, but moisture actually is part of a gas furnace’s heating cycle. When the combustion gas from the burner gathers inside the heat exchanger, it changes into a liquid vapor as it cools down. The vapor then vents out the exhaust flue. However, prolonged exposure between combustion vapor and the metal of the exchangers will lead to corrosion—especially if the furnace isn’t venting correctly.

Corrosion on a heat exchanger is a potentially dangerous situation, since it can lead to carbon monoxide leaks. This is the main reason rust on a furnace must be remedied as soon as possible. Annual maintenance will check to see if rust is developing along the exchanger, and replace the exchanger when necessary and look for the problem with venting.

Rust will often start to occur on a very old gas furnace simply because of the long years of reaction between the combustion gas and the metal. Usually, this is a sign that the old furnace needs replacement.

What about Electric Furnaces?

Rust can also affect an electric furnace. Moisture from humidity often enters the ventilation system attached to the furnace, coming through the intakes and into the cabinet. There is also the potential problem from a malfunctioning air conditioner evaporator coil, which is usually fixed above the furnace. If the AC develops an overflow in its condensate pan, water will drip down onto the furnace and cause it to rust. If you see moisture dripping from your furnace, call for repairs. (Both of these issues can affect gas furnaces as well, by the way.)

Repair—and Prevent—Furnace Rust

You may need to replace a heavily rusted older furnace. But if you catch the rusting soon enough on a younger furnace, professional repairs should be able to fix it. The best way to catch the trouble before it turns into a replacement is to schedule regular maintenance. Contact Basnett Plumbing & Heating to sign up for our Ultimate Maintenance Agreement and help avoid future repair in Littleton, MA for a rusty furnace.

Who Wrote the First Valentine’s Day Poem?

February 14th, 2014

The celebration of Valentine’s Day is often seen as a modern institution, even if the roots of the holiday go back to Late Antiquity and the figures of St. Valentine of Rome and St. Valentine of Terni. It’s difficult to separate our view of February 14th from the more recent phenomenon of greeting cards, comical cupids, and specialty treats from candy companies.

However, not only are some of these traditions older than we might think (mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards were an enormous success in early 19th-century England), but the earliest Valentine’s Day love poem comes from none other than the first great English author, Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote in the second half of the 14th-century.

Chaucer’s most famous work is The Canterbury Tales, an enormous collection of linked stories in poetry and prose. But his 700-line poem “Parlement of Foules” has the special distinction of being the first surviving record of a connection between Valentine’s Day and romantic love. Chaucer probably composed the poem in 1381–82. At the time, he was a member of the court of King Richard II, holding an important bureaucratic position in London. The date suggests that Chaucer wrote “Parelment of Foules” to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of the English king to Princess Anne of Bohemia.

The poem follows the dream of the narrator, where he walks through Venus’s temple and discovers a meeting of birds where they all choose their mates. This is where the mention of St. Valentine’s Day appears (English modernized):

For this was on St. Valentine’s Day,

When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.                                                                  

The poem also contains a familiar Valentine’s image, Cupid with his arrows:

Under a tree, beside a well, I saw

Cupid our lord his arrows forge and file;                                                             

And at his feet his bow already lay.

When Chaucer mentions St. Valentine’s Day, is he referring specifically to February 14th? Late winter isn’t a time when birds in England would mate. However, the date for the start of spring—when some birds would have started nesting in England—was on February 23rd in the calendars of the time, certainly close enough for Chaucer to take poetic license and nudge it a bit to match with Valentine’s Day.

Love birds remain a popular symbol of Valentine’s Day even now, and for this we can thank Chaucer. In fact, he may very well have invented the link between love and Valentine’s Day, although we will probably never know for certain.

Whoever started these traditions, all of us here at Basnett Plumbing & Heating hope you have a wonderful February 14th!