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

Littleton Plumbing Tip: Stop Kitchen Sink Clogs Before They Jam Up Your Sink

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Most homes in the Littleton area have garbage disposals attached to their kitchen sink drains. However, not all garbage disposals are alike. Some have powerful grinding motors that can easily handle large volumes of food scraps and shred them into fragments that quickly move through the drain. Less powerful units may jam or incompletely shred the food scraps, which can build up and eventually clog the drain.

If you have a garbage disposal in your Littleton home,  run plenty of water while operating it and listen to make sure it’s completely finished grinding before you switch it off. If you have an older unit, or a unit rated at 1/3 horsepower, you may want to reduce the volume of scraps you put into the drain, and probably not use it for disposing bones and other tough or stringy scraps.

Don’t Pour Grease Down the Sink

No matter what kind of disposal you have, you should never pour grease down the sink. That applies to sinks without garbage disposals as well. Grease does not mix with water, so it will cling to the interior walls of the drain pipes. Pouring detergent or soap down the drain can loosen some of the grease but not all of it. As it builds up, the grease will collect hair, food fragments, and other debris and eventually become a thick clot that backs up the sink.

Bacon grease is an obvious culprit, but every meat releases a small amount of grease when it cooks. When preparing a meal, if you must pour liquid that might contain grease down the sink, follow it with plenty of hot water and dish detergent. The detergent will help flush away the grease before it builds up.

Other Causes

Even without a grease build up, hair can clog up a sink, particularly when it collects in the trap, which is the U-shaped curve of the drain pipe. Hair makes its way into the sink from washing and cleaning chores. Mopping the floor picks up loose hair. When the cleaning bucket is dumped down the sink, the hair can accumulate in the trap. Buckets of dirty water from cleaning chores should be dumped down the toilet, which has a much larger diameter drain pipe.

Soap, particularly from a bar of soap, and other detergents can clog a drain if they are allowed to accumulate. A bar of soap left in the sink can slowly ooze soap into the drain, causing a buildup that will grab hair and other debris. If dish detergent or other detergent is accidentally spilled into the sink, wash it away with plenty of hot water.

Never pour paint or solvents down the sink or toilet. They don’t mix with water, will leach through septic systems, and cannot easily be removed by municipal waste treatment plants. They can also build up inside your home’s waste pipes.

For any plumbing repair in the Littleton area, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call!

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Lancaster AC Guide: Quick Tips to Save Money on Air Conditioning

Monday, June 18th, 2012

You’ve probably heard once or twice that the cost of running your Lancaster air conditioner is more than that of any other single electrical device in your house. With careful attention to how your AC operates and when you use, there are some things you can do to slash cooling costs. Here are a few of the easiest:

  • SEER Matters – What is this magical acronym you hear so much? SEER refers to how many BTUs your Lancaster air conditioner can produce with a single watt of electricity. A low SEER device therefore uses a LOT more electricity to produce the same volume of cooling as a high SEER device. Since current devices offer SEER of 13 or higher (some are up to 20+), just about any upgrade will save you money relatively quickly if your current air conditioner has a rating of 8 or lower.
  • Program Your AC – If you have a single point analog thermostat, you’re wasting a LOT of electricity. You’re either paying to cool your house while it’s empty or you’re coming home to a roasting hot living space. Purchase a programmable unit and set the system to 85 degrees when you’re not home. With timers in most digital units, you can tell it when you’ll be home so that you walk into a cool, comfortable space without having to keep it cool all day long.
  • Use the Landscape to Your Advantage – Instead of relying solely on your air conditioner to keep the house cool in the summer, plant some trees and shrubs around the house to block the sunlight. Simply adding some shade to your property can directly reduce how much heat your home absorbs throughout the day and reduce how much your AC unit needs to work to keep you cool.
  • Ventilate Your Roof – A good third of the heat in your home is absorbed directly through the roof. To keep this heat from affecting the rest of your home, install a roof fan that ventilates the excess energy and keeps the attic at a steady temperature. Less heat up top means less cooling needed down low.

A good air conditioning system is effective no matter what the temperature does, so it’s easy to forget how big your bill will soon be. To avoid an overblown bill, keep an eye on your cooling and follow these simple tips to cut back on use. To schedule your annual maintenance visit, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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Acton Plumber’s Guide: Why Buy WaterSense Labeled Fixtures?

Monday, June 11th, 2012

If you have been shopping for new plumbing fixtures in Acton lately, or even just wandered through that section of the home improvement store, you have probably noticed that some of them bear a familiar label.

“Just what is this ‘WaterSense’ company and why have I never heard of them before?” you may ask yourself. “Are they a new manufacturer?”

No, it’s not a new fixture company. WaterSense is a program in partnership with the Environment Protection Agency designed to make it easier for consumers to find, identify and choose products that use water more efficiently. You can find it on a number of faucets, shower heads and toilets. Even some newly built homes that exclusively have WaterSense fixtures installed bear the certification.

In order to wear the WaterSense label, a product has to meet strict criteria, such as using water at least 20% more efficiently than its average competitor, while also performing at least we well, and obtaining certification from an independent third party.

That’s all well and good, buy why should anyone buy a WaterSense labeled fixture? What are the benefits? In contrast to older or less efficient products, fixtures with the WaterSense label:

  • Are better for the environment
  • Reduce water consumption
  • Operate more efficiently
  • Employ more advanced technology
  • Perform as well as or better then competing products
  • Save you money on utility bills

As with the EnergyStar label that graces so many appliances and electronic devices these days, in this case what is good for the environment is also good for your wallet. The added efficiency of WaterSense products reduces water consumption, which not only conserves water for everyone, but conserves money for you.

So, for homeowners who are in the market for new plumbing fixtures and like to save the planet as well as some money, WaterSense labeled products are the way to go. For more information about ways to improve the plumbing in your Acton home, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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Call Basnett Plumbing and Heating for Your Cooling Needs!

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Stressed over energy costs? Don’t beat yourself up! Basnett Plumbing and Heating has the solution for all of your plumbing, heating and cooling needs. Basnett has been proudly serving the MetroWest area for 25 years.

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Westford AC Tip: Air Conditioning Condensate Problems

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The beauty of air conditioning in Westford is that we don’t have to do anything to live in a cool climate even when it’s boiling outside.  Programmed to adjust automatically, modern thermostats make it even easier.

It is very inconvenient therefore (not to mention uncomfortable) when our unit is not functioning properly forcing us to pay attention.  Suddenly over-heated, our first inclination may be to call for help, but often the repair can be accomplished easily or avoided completely.

Air Conditioning 101

The process of conditioning air to a cooler temperature involves rapid evaporation and condensation of chemicals called refrigerants.  These are compounds having properties that allow them to change from liquid to gas and back at low temperatures.

When the liquid evaporates and transforms into gas it absorbs heat.  Compressed tightly together again, the matter condenses back into liquid with a residue of unwanted moist heat that must be released to the outdoors.

Over the course of handling the air to cool it, air conditioners are able to filter dust and dehumidify the air as well.  This release of moisture is why air conditioners have drains.

Condenser Coils

As the heat is removed from the gas, it forms condensation that must be drained from the system.  Tiny particles accumulate along the path, prone to shifting and resettling until they become lodged and can form a significant enough blockage to hamper the efficiency of the unit.  If the drain line becomes blocked, the unit drips or overflows the pan and works its way back into the house, causing damage and potentially mold.

This is when panic is inclined to call for the cavalry.

If you have any problems with your Westford AC, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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When Was the Last Time You Had Your Heating System Serviced?

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Furnace Service | Littleton | Basnett PlumbingMost household furnaces in Massachusetts use about 2,500 heating load hours per year. To put that in context, if your furnace were a car you would have driven 69,000 mile. Most automakers recommend changing your oil every 7,000 miles and getting a tune-up every 30,000. Have you have your furnace serviced lately? If you neglect to schedule preventative maintenance checks for your heating system it will eventually begin to run less efficiently, small problems left unchecked can over time cause damage to the system. An inefficient furnace will also cause you energy bills to rise.

Call Basnett today to find out more about our service and maintenance agreements. You will save big on service and repair, receive discounts, and benefit from guaranteed priority scheduling. You take care of your care, why not take care of your furnace! Basnett proudly provides top quality plumbing, heating, and air conditioning services to the Metrowest area.

If you would like to check how far you have “driven” your furnace without a service visit download this fun excel document and follow the directions.

 

 

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