Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC Blog: Archive for April, 2012

Littleton Plumbing Repair Tip: What to Do if a Pipe Bursts

Monday, April 30th, 2012

If you live in a cold climate, you are more likely to have experienced the disaster of a frozen pipe bursting. There are other causes of burst pipes, so rest assured you are not alone; plenty of homeowners have had to face a burst pipe as well.

When this happens, there are three fronts on which to attack the problem: stopping the flooding, repairing the pipes and preventing future bursts.

Before doing anything else, you need to stop the flooding in your house. Start by turning off the water supply, either to that pipe or to the whole house. It doesn’t matter which, as long as it’s shut off. Turn on cold water taps around the house to drain remaining water from the pipes. Turn off the water heater. This will at least prevent the flood damage from being too extensive.

Get a sump pump and or some absorbent material to start sopping up the water that leaked into your home, then call a Littleton plumber. The pipe and fitting will need to be replaced, and some adjacent ones may need to be as well, so the best solution here is just to call in a professional rather than try to do it yourself. The last thing you need is another burst pipe.

Finally, prevent future breaks in pipes by implementing some of these strategies:

  • Insulate your pipes
  • On cold days, keep your pipes warmer by opening up doors to the attic or basement
  • When going away in the winter, shut off the water supply and drain the plumbing system

By keeping your pipes as warm and insulated as possible, you decrease the likelihood that the water within will freeze, potentially causing a leak or break in the pipe. Burst pipes are not necessarily completely preventable, so it is important that you now know what to do if and when a pipe bursts in your home.

Water damage, especially flooding, can cause serious trouble in your home, so everything you can do to prevent and mitigate the risk is a good step. For more advice on how to deal with emergency plumbing repair in Littleton, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating!

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Westford Plumbing Tip: What You Need to Know About Water Heater Leaks

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

A leak in your Westford home’s water heater can be a big or small problem depending on where the leak is, how severe it is and whether it requires repair or replacement. Here are some things you should know about water heater leaks that will help you determine who to call and how to act.

 Where Is the Leak?

Step one is to determine where the water is coming from. Look for leaks around the fittings and valves attached to the device. If one of them is loose or if you see water dripping from a connection, it can probably be fixed relatively easily. However, if the leak is coming from the body of the water heater, you may have a ruptured tank which is a sure sign of a bad water heater that needs to be replaced.

 Draining Your Tank

Once you identify the leak, turn off the water supply to the tank and prepare to drain it the rest of the way. You should also disconnect the power from the device. If the water heater is gas, I recommend you call a professional who is certified to work on gas appliances. For electric water heaters, you still want a professional Westford plumber, but the next step here is to simply turn off the breaker to stop electricity from flowing to the device.

They will drain the tank next, using the bucket to capture the water as it is released. Once the tank is empty, it is time to tighten your fittings.

 Fixing the Problem

Assuming this is a fittings or valve problem, your plumber will loosen any fittings that appeared to have leaked, repair the plumbing thread and retape the pipes, finally tightening the fittings back into place. The pressure valve may need to be replaced as well – now if it is necessary.

Before reapplying the electricity to the water heater, your plumber will reattach the water supply and turn it on to check for leaks. If it holds water, you are lucky and your water heater’s tank isn’t leaking. Next they will reattach everything and turn it back on.

If you notice the leak continues, you should call Basnett Plumbing & Heating as it is likely the glass inside your tank has cracked or is leaking. Most of the time, this cannot be repaired and means you need a new water heater installed.

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Harvard Heating Question: How Much Electricity Does a Gas Furnace Use?

Monday, April 16th, 2012

“How much electricity does my gas furnace use?” might sound like silly question. In fact, electricity is necessary for several important tasks as part of your Harvard gas furnace’s operation.

Lighting the Torch

Gas is the fuel that fires the flame that heats the air that warms your home, but electricity is the spark that lights the gas.  The flame is not roaring all the time or just ignites spontaneously.  Think of the athlete igniting the Olympic torch.

A low voltage electric signal from the thermostat opens the valve that controls the amount of gas flow and therefore the flame.  A solenoid coil in the valve senses gas and ensures flame to prevent an explosion or leakage, then opens wide to let the heating begin and shuts down when the desired temperature is reached.

Blown Away

All that heated air must be moved through the ductwork and distributed room to room to create the comfort and this is done by a motor-driven fan which is the largest use of electricity in a gas furnace.  The motor turns on and shuts down according to the relationships between flame, heated air and the thermostat setting.

Known as a draft inducer, a second fan is employed to remove the toxic fumes that are the residue of the burned gas.  These fumes which can be deadly are usually pushed through a PVC pipe to the exterior and released safely into the atmosphere.

Sum Total

The amount of electricity used to ignite the flame is very small, phased through a low-voltage impulse wire, nearly too small to even show on your meter.  Most of the electrical energy contributing the critical role of powering the two fans in gas furnaces adds up typically to less than 600 watts at any given time or about the same as a few light bulbs.

While gas furnaces are much more efficient and less costly than any kind of electric heat, they are useless (and even dangerous) without that little bit of electrical help.

If you have any questions about your Harvard heating system, contact Basnett Plumbing & Heating today!

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Helpful Tips from Basnett Plumbing & Heating

Friday, April 13th, 2012

MetroWest | Honeywell | BasnettPrepare for emergencies with natural gas and propane powered generators.

Basnett now supplies and installs natural gas and propane powered generators to protect your home during any powerloss situation.
Wondering how to select a backup generator for you home? Check out this useful chart!

FREE cold weather kit with purchase of Standby Generator

Hidden Ways to Save Energy

While many homeowners are increasingly more aware of ways they can save energy and lower their bills, there are plenty of energy-saving tips that are not as well known. Making a minor change or improvement, such as installing a new thermostat, can make a difference. Even if you’ve just installed a new high-efficiency AC unit, here are some ways you can maintain its performance levels and save on energy bills.

Ductless Vs. Central Heat Pump Systems

Installing a new heat pump system in your home is a significant investment and decision; however, there are many options on the market today, including high-efficiency and ENERGY STAR models. All the different models should be researched before making your choice. Here’s some helpful information about the pros and cons to both ductless and central heat pump systems.

SAVE with a $500 Rebate on Ductless AC Mini Splits

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Welcome to the team Nancy!

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Recently hired Customer Service Ambassador, Nancy Wojtas, coordinates the daily schedule and dispatching of our technicians, ensuring customer satisfaction. She assists with administrative tasks and project completion, aiding in the accuracy of our customer and vendor master files.  Nancy is goal oriented, versatile and enjoys sharing her sense of humor. Welcome to the Basnett team!

Basnett Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is a family-owned business. Since establishing the company, Basnett has achieved strong growth and a strong reputation with customers. Basnett believes in being involved in the community and supports local clubs and organizations.

Our technicians are professionally trained and certified in virtually all facets of plumbing, heating & AC. At Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC all our service technicians receive ongoing training to keep up with the latest industry trends and products. Since 1987, our goal has been to earn the trust of MetroWest home and business owners.

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Chelmsford HVAC Tip: Basic Terminology

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Ever try to look up basic information about your Chelmsford heating and air conditioning systems? There are dozens of terms that might as well be Greek for all you know – a mishmash of words and phrases talking about energy efficiency and air flow ratios. To make your next upgrade a little easier and give you a baseline with which to work, here are a few of the most common HVAC terms you’ll hear in the industry:

  • AFUE – Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency – This is a simple measurement of how much fuel a furnace converts into actual heat in your home. So, if a furnace converts 92% of the fuel it consumes into heat, it has an AFUE rating of 92.
  • Watts – A single watt is a measurement of electricity. Commonly, your electricity use is assured in kilowatts or kilowatt hours (kWh).
  • BTU – British Thermal Unit – A BTU is a common measurement of how much energy is produced or consumed by an appliance. When referring to an air conditioner, one “ton” refers to 12,000 BTUs.
  • SEER/EER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio refers to how many BTUs can be produced with a single Watt of electricity per hour. So, an air conditioner with an SEER of 14 can produce 14 BTUs of cooling per watt consumed each hour.
  • HSPF – Heating Seasonal Performance Factor – Refers to the efficiency of the heating elements in your heat pump.
  • COP – Coefficient of Performance – A measurement of how effective your heat pump is at heating a space compared to standard electrical resistance heat. The lower the temperature gets outside, the lower the COP will be. Equipment is usually measured for COP at 47 and 17 degrees to give an idea of seasonal performance of a new heat pump.
  • Refrigerant – Refrigerant is any gas that is used to draw heat from the air in a particular environment through an air conditioner or heat pump. It has a much lower boiling point than water, allowing it to cool despite the temperature outside. Currently, most equipment uses R-22 refrigerant while the new standard will be R-410A (Puron), legally required in all cooling units by 2020.
  • CFM – Cubic Feet per Minute – Used to measure the volume of air passed through an air handler by an air conditioner or furnace.

There are a number of complicated details to keep track of when choosing a new air conditioner or furnace. If you have any questions about your HVAC system, never hesitate to call Basnett Plumbing & Heating!

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Concord Heating Tip: What to do if Your Heating System Breaks

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

What if the heart of your Concord heating system – the furnace – stops working? The warm air that used to flow from your vents has been replaced by a chilly draft. It isn’t time to panic, but it is time to take action. Before you do anything, determine why the furnace stopped working. It may be something as simple as a tripped circuit breaker in your electrical panel. Check the circuit breakers first.

The pilot light in your furnace may have blown out. It can be re-lit if you follow the directions in your furnace owner’s manual. You can find answers on how to re-light a pilot light on the Internet, too.

If the shutdown has not been caused by an electrical or pilot light failure, there is still no need to panic. But another obvious question is: did you pay your last gas bill? Maybe you had a shutoff notice and either ignored it or forgot about it.

Now that you are convinced that the furnace has failed, here are some things you should do. First, find the name of a qualified Concord heating and cooling professional. If you already use a heating contractor, contact them and schedule a service call.

While you are waiting for help to arrive, ensure that everyone is safe and accounted for. Make sure pets are nearby and protected from the cold, too. What you don’t want to do is use any appliance to keep you warm that is not designed to keep you warm, like a stove. If you have electric space heaters or propane heaters, carefully locate them in a well vented room (windows open a bit or portable fans circulating air). You don’t want any build-up of gases from fossil burning appliances, gases which could contain deadly carbon monoxide.

Huddle up everyone into a room and break out lots of blankets. You may even want to make an “adventure” of this – find a movie to watch and pop up a bunch of popcorn.  If your waiting time is more than 24 hours, you might want to call up a friend or relative and make arrangements to spend the night with them.

The main thing to remember is not to panic. Most qualified Concord heating contractors, knowing the circumstances, will send out a repair person in a matter of minutes or within one or two hours. Just remember to avoid keeping warm by using unvented heating devices.

Call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today if you suspect a problem with your heating system!

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