Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC Blog: Archive for December, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve from Your MetroWest Area Plumbing and HVAC Contractor!

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve! Have a great time welcoming the New Year tonight! We hope that you are able to achieve all of your resolutions for this upcoming year. Fun fact: the ancient Babylonians were the first to establish the tradition of New Year’s resolutions. That means that people have used this time of year to set goals for themselves for thousands of years!  If one of your resolutions is to be more environmentally friendly, remember that an upgrade to your HVAC system can make a big difference in your house’s energy efficiency!

Continue Reading

Belmont Plumber Tip: How to Increase Your Water Pressure

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

It’s no fun when you are in the middle of taking a shower in your Belmont home and the stream of water slows to a trickle. The most logical thing to blame the loss of water pressure is a toilet being flushed or a washing machine being filled. It is not uncommon for losses in water pressure to be associated with simultaneous water usage in other parts of the home.

But if low water pressure seems to be a constant problem when only one source is being used and there are no other appliances using water at the same time, you may have a bigger problem on your hands.

The first thing to do is to check the source of the water supply to your outdoor faucets. Turn the hose bibs to the fully open position and run the water. Is the pressure okay? If so, you probably have a problem indoors. While you are outside, check for any leaks in the hose bibs or faucets. A leak can cause a loss of water pressure in other plumbing circuits.

Now check the hose bibs on the lines leading to interior fittings, like faucets or showerheads, etc. Is the hose bib turned to the fully open position? Someone may have been playing with the bib and turned it down or off. If that checks out okay, take a look at all of the fittings in your plumbing fixtures. Are there any leaks? Is there standing water anywhere, indicating a leak?

If so, tighten up the affected fittings. If you need to remove any fittings to inspect or replace (i.e. a worn out washer or bushing), make sure you turn off the water supply to the fitting first.

If there are filter screens in your faucets check them for an accumulation of debris and clean if necessary. A clogged screen can greatly reduce water pressure.

Many new homes now come with a pressure regulator, which governs the water pressure going into the home. The regulator is located above ground, usually where the pipes enter the home. The pressures are usually preset by the regulator manufacturer but may not always be compatible to the local environment. If you think that may be the problem, contact a local plumbing professional for an opinion.

A disruption in the piping that feeds water into the home can also affect water pressure, such as tree roots in the pipes or a break in the line. These problems can only be diagnosed and corrected by qualified plumbing professionals. Please do not attempt to find and fix these problems as the result may be costly or even dangerous to your health.

Low water pressure can be a drag but it may also only require a quick fix.

Continue Reading

Question from Hudson: When Should You Replace Instead of Repair Your Heating?

Monday, December 26th, 2011

We all dread an expensive repair in Hudson, whether it is a car that needs a new transmission, a leaky roof that needs new shingles, or electrical wiring that has been chewed up by a wild animal. We often try and put bandages on things that we know should be replaced but we just can’t afford to replace them.

The same can be said about your home’s heating system. When your heat goes out or your home just doesn’t seem to be heating up to the setting on your thermostat, your first inclination is to check and see if it is running. Some people will put their hand over a heating vent to check for hot air while others may go into the basement or mechanical room to listen to hear if the furnace is running. Maybe there is a blockage in the ventilation system or a blown circuit breaker, two relatively easy fixes.

If the furnace isn’t working after checking the obvious symptoms, your next move is to call for service. Any qualified heating professional would be able to diagnose your problem and offer suggested repairs. Something relatively minor like a bad circuit board or blown fan motor are not real expensive repairs and are the best option versus replacing the furnace. And you may keep experiencing the same problem and getting the same repair work done – anything to avoid an expensive replacement.

But at some point the vicious cycle will come to an end. Your repair bills will begin to inch their way past the cost of replacing the furnace. You can only bandage a problem so long before it becomes “unfixable.” You may not want to pay an expensive replacement bill but consider the alternatives.

First is the obvious – it costs too much to keep repairing the furnace. Secondly, you never know when the furnace may break down and its failure to operate could have dangerous effects on the people in your home, especially if someone is sick. Third, your furnace may not be able to keep up with the heating demand due to lifestyle changes, i.e. an addition put on the house, carpeting removed and wood floors exposed, a new window, door, or skylight added, etc. Your old furnace may not have been designed to keep up with these changes and the repairs are only delaying the inevitable.

Ask yourself if everyone in your home is comfortable during cold weather. If most answer no, it may be time to consider replacing that old furnace with a new, energy efficient model that uses today’s technology – and leaves a smaller carbon footprint – to keep up with the demand for heat, in any sized building or home. Your decision to replace your old heating system could be as simple as the need to use modern technology to solve your indoor comfort problems.

Continue Reading

Merry Christmas Eve! Happy Holidays from Your MetroWest Boston Plumbing and HVAC Contractor

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

We wish you a very Merry Christmas! We plan on eating lots of great food and spending time with our loved ones. We hope that you get everything you want under the tree this year! Fun holiday fact: the song “Jingle Bells” was inspired by sleigh races that were common in Medford, Massachusetts, where the song was written. It was originally called “One Horse Open Sleigh.” Here are the original lyrics (courtesy of Wikipedia), Merry Christmas!

Dashing through the snow

In a one-horse open sleigh

O’er the hills we go

Laughing all the way.

Bells on bobtail ring

Making spirits bright

Oh what sport to ride and sing

A sleighing song tonight.

|: chorus 😐

Jingle bells, jingle bells

Jingle all the way!

O what joy it is to ride

In a one-horse open sleigh.

A day or two ago

I thought I’d take a ride

And soon Miss Fannie Bright

Was seated by my side

The horse was lean and lank

Misfortune seemed his lot

He got into a drifted bank

And we – we got upsot

|: chorus 😐

A day or two ago

The story I must tell

I went out on the snow

And on my back I fell

A gent was riding by

In a one-horse open sleigh

He laughed as there I sprawling lie

But quickly drove away

|: chorus 😐

Now the ground is white

Go it while you’re young

Take the girls tonight

And sing this sleighing song

Just get a bobtailed bay

Two forty is his speed

Hitch him to an open sleigh

And crack! You’ll take the lead.

|: chorus 😐

Don’t be left in the cold this year by foregoing the annual maintenance of your HVAC system. Regular maintenance not only keeps your system working efficiently but it also makes sure it is working safely. Keep your family warm and safe this winter!

Continue Reading

A Guide from Bolton: How to Shut Off Your Water Supply

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

In the case of a plumbing emergency, the last thing you want to do is watch as more water continues to pour into your Bolton home through a burst pipe, broken appliance or busted water valve. So, the first step should always be to turn off your main water supply valve. Here are some tips for finding that valve and getting the water supply off as soon as possible.

Finding Your Main Water Supply Valve

The valve is almost always located in one of two places. It will either be outside at the entry point for the water supply to your house or it will be located in your basement or garage between the inlet and the main water line. In some cases, it may be even be under an access panel in basement. However, this is less common than the first two options.

Once you find the main water supply valve, turn it off to immediately stop more water from entering your home. If you notice that water is continuing to enter your home, you have a problem before the entry valve and should call the city immediately because one of their pipes might have burst.

Shutting Off Individual Appliances

In many cases, the problem is related to a single appliance. If this is the case, you don’t necessarily need to turn off the entire water supply – just the supply valve for the specific appliance or fixture. Every major water fixture and appliance in your home should have its own shutoff valve in an easy to reach place. This goes for every sink, toilet, shower, dishwasher, and washing machine in your home – not having those valves can be dangerous.

Once you have turned off your water supply, it’s time to call a plumber. Make sure to keep track of everything you do (take notes if you can) and supply that information to the plumber both on the phone and when they arrive. It will help them diagnose and solve the problem much faster.

Continue Reading

Happy Hanukkah from Your MetroWest Boston Plumbing and HVAC Contractor

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Happy Hanukkah from everyone at Basnett Plumbing & Heating! We hope you have an amazing holiday full of friends, family, and great food. Whether you have a Menorah or a Christmas tree in your house, we wish you very happy holiday. And since one of the great traditions of this time of year is delicious food, here is a recipe we found for Crispy Potato Pancakes:

Crispy Potato Pancakes

“Here’s a potato pancake that doesn’t take much time to make and is just right for two people. Weekends become our time to relax and enjoy life, and this is one of our favorite treats. -Nancy Salinas, Grand Rapids, Minnesota”

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium potatoes, peeled

1 egg

1/3 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Finely grate potatoes; drain any liquid. Place potatoes in a bowl. Add egg, onion, flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder; mix well. In a large skillet, heat 1/8 in. of oil over medium heat. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls; press lightly to flatten. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately.

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

Continue Reading

A Pepperell Plumber’s Guide: What to Look For When You Have Water Damage

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Water can be a beautiful thing. But it can be a very nasty thing, too. While water is an essential for life, it brings a high price tag when gone unchecked and allowed to seep, leak, and drain into your Pepperell home. Damage caused by water can cause structural damage to a building and destruction of its contents. When left unchecked – over time – water damage can lead to mold growth and have a serious affect on building occupants’ health.

The destructive forces of water leave telltale signs throughout a building. Let’s look at some.

  • Wood damage – water can saturate wood, causing it to rot and decay. Check for discolored wood around plumbing fixtures, a sure sign of an ongoing or older leak that has since been repaired. Just because a leak has been fixed, the after-effects can linger. Soft or uneven surfaces around a plumbing fixture are a sure indication of water damage. Pull back carpeting, pads, tiling, or flooring to get to the root of the problem.
  • Drywall damage – porous material like drywall can leave many signs of water damage and, like wood, can be seriously degraded by water damage. Check for discoloration around plumbing fixtures and soft spots. Don’t assume that a dry surface that is stained is not a structural problem. You may have to cut out the drywall to reach the true source of the water damage.
  • Ceiling tile stains – a sure sign that water is coming in from a source above a roof or ceiling. Ceiling tiles are a porous material that are great for showing every little bit of moisture or water that comes in contact with them. The same is true with plaster or drywall ceilings. Stains indicate a more serious problem and should be investigated right away.
  • Damp, musty smells – water can leave some unpleasant odors, especially untreated water. Leaks or standing water are a source for higher humidity levels in a home. If you are standing in an area where water has soaked into floors or walls, there is often a damp, humid smell. Don’t mistake it for high humidity levels in the home. The smell can come from hidden sources like a leaking pipe joint or broken valve behind an access door.
  • Mold build-up – wood and drywall surfaces provide great food for mold growth when saturated with water. The mold can be of a harmless nature but often can become dangerous black mold. When black mold spores are airborne they can cause respiratory problems and even worse, medial problems down the road. Look for unusual clusters of mold in damp areas and if you find some, immediately call a professional plumber to suggest clean-up and to repair the source of the water leak.

There are many signs of water leakage in the home, caused by leaking or broken pipes, dripping faucets from worn-out washers, cracks in the walls and foundations allowing ground and rain water to seep in, etc. Find and fix the source immediately or pay even higher costs in repair bills later on.

Continue Reading

A Tip from Andover: How to Test for Water Leaks

Friday, December 16th, 2011

A water leak can be a big problem. Not only does it increase your bill – pouring water out of pipes that you now have to pay for – but it puts your Andover home and its foundation at risk. Steady water flowing into concrete under your home is incredibly dangerous if left unchecked. Here are some quick tips to check for a leak if you suspect there might be a problem.

Your First Clue

The first clue that there might be a leak in your home is the water meter. If it suddenly starts to rise much faster than normal, you probably have a leak. You use the same amount of water on most days for showers, dishes and laundry. If the meter goes up by double each day, that water must be going somewhere. Many meters will even have a marker on them that indicates a leak (a red flag that you are using too much water and it’s probably a leak).

Finding the Leak

If you notice your water meter rising when all of your water using appliances are off (or the little warning meter is going off), you have a leak – let’s find it.

Start by turning off the main shut off valve to your home. Make sure your shut off valve is working properly by running a faucet after the valve is closed to see if water still comes out. If the leak indicator or meter is still moving after the shutoff valve is closed, the leak is before the shutoff valve, but after the meter. If it’s not moving, the leak is somewhere in your home, after the shutoff valve.

From here, look for signs of water damage or dampness throughout your home (and possibly outside). Most of the time, an indoor leak will manifest somewhere – either in a dripping ceiling or a damp spot on the carpet.

If no such evidence presents itself, look outside for water. Damp spots on your lawn on dry days are a sure sign as well. If you cannot find any signs of water leakage on or around your property, it may be time to call in a plumber to take a closer look.

Continue Reading

A Question from Boxborough: What Is Forced Air Heating?

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Chances are that you’ve heard the term forced air heating in Boxborough before, particularly if you’re in the market for a new home heating system. But what does that actually mean? The truth is that if you’re asking this question, you’re not alone. There are so many types of home heating systems out there that it’s common to be a bit confused and overwhelmed by it all.

The truth is that a forced air heating system is simply a heating system that distributes heat throughout your house using air to carry it. In this type of system, heated air travels through a system of ducts and is expelled through vents into the different rooms and areas of your home in order to maintain a particular temperature. That temperature, of course, is whatever you set your thermostat to, and when the desired temperature is reached, the heat will shut off until the temperature drops down again.

The main difference between the different types of forced air heating systems is the type of equipment that heats the air. For instance, you could have a gas furnace, an electric furnace, a heat pump or a hydronic coil. All of these are capable of heating air, and when paired with a fan, blower or air handler, can distribute heated air throughout your home.

Many forced air heating systems are remarkably energy efficient and can effectively keep you home comfortable all winter long. Additionally, they are generally made to be incorporated with central air conditioning systems for year round temperature control. Heat pumps are especially convenient in this way, as they’re able to both heat and cool your home depending on the season and your home comfort needs.

Particularly if you already have ductwork in place or if you’re choosing a heating system for a new construction home, it can make a lot of sense to opt for some type of forced air heating. However, if you’re looking to replace an existing heating system in a house that doesn’t already have ductwork in place, the need to put it in can add a lot to the overall installation costs of the system.

Continue Reading

Shirley Plumber’s Guide: Plumbing Basics

Monday, December 12th, 2011

There are a lot of pipes, drains, fixtures and appliances in your Shirley home carrying out some pretty incredible tasks. For most people, plumbing is just another system that makes their lives easier. But, if something goes wrong, it’s important that you know exactly what to do and for that, you need to know how your system works.

Fundamental Plumbing

Plumbing is based entirely on the properties of gravity and water pressure. A plumbing system has two basic systems – one that brings water in and one that removes that water once you’ve used it. To bring water into your home, it is pressurized. With enough pressure, it can travel against gravity, rising in the pipes to your fixtures.

Every fixture in your home has a valve on it that allows you to shut off the flow of water when making repairs or if there is an emergency. If the emergency is big enough, you can turn the main water supply valve off outside your home as well.

Drainage Systems

While the water coming into your home is relatively simple – pressurized cold water goes directly to the fixtures and hot water comes from your hot water heater – the drainage system is slightly more complicated.

Once water has exited the faucets in your fixtures, it is no longer pressurized so gravity is needed to remove it. Each drain consists of a few basic parts – the flange, tail piece, trap, and drain extension. When you put water down a drain it goes into the trap and flows into the drain extension, eventually to the sewer line.

The trap is designed to always hold a small amount of water so that sewer gasses cannot back up into your fixtures. Vents are installed in your home as well to ensure there is always air in the plumbing system. That air ensures a vacuum doesn’t generate. If it did, water couldn’t flow out of the house. It’s the same as pouring from a small hole in a can – if you poke a hole in the opposite side, it flows much faster because air enters the can to displace the liquid.

Fixing Your Problems

A plumbing system is surprisingly simple to work on if you understand the basics. But, that doesn’t mean a professional isn’t needed for most major jobs. Because a single fixture or pipe can have an impact on the entire system and because water leakage can be incredibly damaging, it is best to call a plumber whenever you need a second opinion or are unsure you can handle it on your own.

Continue Reading