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

Lunenburg HVAC Question: What Does the EPA Do for Indoor Air Quality

Monday, July 30th, 2012

There are a number of agencies in the United States dedicated to protecting the health and wellbeing of citizens. What does that mean for you in Lunenburg? It means many of the rules and regulations related to indoor air quality are directly overseen by the EPA and the US government. For a better idea of how this impacts your currently lifestyle, here’s a quick look at what the EPA does.

Formation

The Environmental Protection Agency was formed in 1970 by Richard Nixon and the US Congress to oversee the regulation and oversight of air, water, land and hazardous waste. In short, the EPA works to keep our environment clean and safe.

The EPA and Homeowners

While much of what the EPA does relates to corporate pollution, regulations for manufacturing and consumer products, and development of safe methods of production for things like oil, food and water, the EPA has a big hand in ensuring your home stays safe.

Specifically, the EPA started and oversees the Energy Star program to help consumers purchase appliances and HVAC systems that use the least possible energy. Additionally, the EPA oversees the measurements and minimum requirements for home insulation and ventilation. This has as direct impact on indoor air quality.

Current EPA regulations are based on the ASHRAE Standards for low rise buildings and has been revised in the last two decades to ensure proper ventilation and insulation to reduce energy waste and maintain clean, fresh air.

The clean air act has a big impact on how homes are ventilated and maintained and the EPA does a lot of public service work to educate the public on ways to stay safe, including a recent campaign to get your home tested for radon – a potentially life threatening gas that can exist in any home, regardless of age.

Getting to Know the EPA

If you have an indoor air quality problem in Lunenburg, one of the best resources on the Internet is the EPA’s indoor air quality website. It contains laws and regulations that impact your home (if you plan on remodeling or adding on to your home) and dozens of resources for testing and understanding the levels of pollutants in your home. For more information about keeping your indoor air clean, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating!

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Littleton Plumbing Guide: The Root of the Problem – Why is the Sewer Line Blocked?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

If you have dealt with a blocked sewer line in your Littleton, MA home, you know all too well that it can be a nightmare. Sewer lines are made out of especially sturdy materials for a reason: because we collectively want to keep their contents inside. So, when a sewer line gets blocked and starts backing up or seeping — or even cracks under the stress — it can be a real mess.

If you have never had encountered a sewer line block, count yourself lucky.

Whichever category you fall into, it is important to know about causes of sewer blocks lie, so that you have an idea what you are up against should you ever encounter (another) one, as well as being able to take some reasonable prevention measures. Read on to learn about some of the common culprits that block up sewer lines.

 Flushed Objects

The most preventable common cause of a blocked sewer line is the flushing of objects that should not be flushed. Sewer lines are not meant to handle solid objects like diapers, sanitary napkins or other garbage, so if these get flushed down the toilet — either intentionally or by accident — it can cause an ugly block.

Even smaller objects or bits of debris that seem to move fine through the sewer line can build up over time to cause a block. Paper towels, hair, grease or dirt can collect on the walls of the line and cause a block as well.

 Tree Roots

It may seem like nothing happens beneath the ground of our lawns, where the sewer line runs. In fact, there is quite a bit of life going about its business under there, including the root systems of the trees in your yard. These roots can grow right into your sewer line, infiltrating it and causing a blockage.

 Defect

The last main cause of a sewer link blockage is shoddy materials. Although sewer lines are meant to be made of high quality material because of the stress they perform under, it is still possible for one to collapse or bulge with use.

Repairing a blocked sewer line calls for a Littleton, MA plumbing professional’s assistance. To avoid having to make that call, the best thing you can do as a homeowner is keep solid objects from being flushed down into the sewer line. It can save you a huge headache later on. If you have any problems with your plumbing or drain system, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call!

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Littleton Plumber’s Guide: How to Fix a Slow Drain

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Ever fill up a bathroom bowl or kitchen sink with water and then wait forever for the water to drain? A clogged drain can take forever to free up and is often the source of frustration and a loss of precious time as you get ready for work or play.

The solutions to fixing a slow drain in Littleton can be very simple or complex, requiring a little patience or expertise to a major service or repair bill. Let’s hope the solution is the former and not the latter. And here are some suggestions.

If your bathroom sink is draining slowly, remove the stopper and inspect it for any “cling-ons” – namely hair. One of the most common clogs can be hair wrapped around the shaft of the stopper. Remove the hair, replace the stopper, run some hot water and check to see how quickly the water drains down. If that simple fix doesn’t work, dig a little deeper.

Hair can be tangled in the flange or the horizontal rod and clip, further down the pipe. You may need to dig out the hair or debris with a long object like a screwdriver or wire hanger. Don’t bring out the “big guns” like a snake or auger if something simpler will do the trick.

Once the debris is cleared, you may even want to use a small hand plunger to force air down the pipe and remove any other residual debris that may be slowing down the water flow. These steps should clear up the problem. A liquid or granulated drainer cleaner may also break up the clog. Running hot water can do the trick, too.

If these solutions don’t work, a slow drain could be the result of a more serious problem. At that point you may want to use a snake on the problem or call a professional Littleton plumber to fix it.

If your kitchen sink drains slowly, the problem could be a build-up of food or grease in the pipes. Once again, using a plunger or chemical drain cleaner may solve the problem. But don’t discount the fact that something may be blocking the pipes, like a piece of bone or a child’s small toy (if you have a mischievous toddler). A visual check of the problem might be the simple solution to the slow drain “mystery.”

If you are at your wit’s end and the water drainage continues to be a problem, call a professional Littleton plumber like Basnett Plumbing & Heating.

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MetroWest Plumbing Guide: Stop Sink Clogs Before They Start

Monday, July 9th, 2012

A clogged bathroom sink can disrupt your morning routine. A clogged kitchen sink can make preparing dinner a frustrating task. Stop those annoying plumbing problems before they happen in your MetroWest home by understanding how clogs occur. The main culprits are grease, hair, and food.

Hydrophobic and Hydrophyllic

In the world of chemistry, substances that dissolve in water are hydrophyllic. Salt and sugar are the most obvious examples. Substances that don’t dissolve in water, such as grease, oil, and organic solvents, are hydrophobic. They will quickly cling to any available surface that allows them to separate from water. Grease and oil from different sources will clump together rather mix with water.

When grease and oil are poured down a sink, they coat the inside of the drain pipe. Water will not remove them. Soaps and detergents are effective cleaners because they have both hydrophobic and hydrophyllic properties. They can pull some of the grease and oil away from the walls of the drain and into the  water, but the base layer of grease stuck to the pipe will not move. Over time, the grease stuck inside the drain accumulates. Hair and food debris gets caught in the grease. Eventually, the clot becomes large enough to stop the water from moving. No matter how much water you flush down the drain, the grease clot stays put.

Hair and Food

We all know we’re not supposed to flush things down the drain, but when we use a bathroom sink for routine grooming, it’s almost impossible to prevent an occasional hair from falling into the drain. When cleaning the dishes after meals, a small amount of food waste inevitably makes its way into the kitchen sink drain.

Over time, the strands of hair and bits of food accumulate in the U-shaped portion of the drain called the trap. Once an object becomes snagged inside the trap, it becomes an anchor for other objects to grab hold of. A clot of hair,  food particles, and other debris slowly accumulates.

Preventing Clogs

Most MetroWest homeowners know that cooking grease should never be poured down a sink. But they may not realize that many foods, even lean foods like chicken or fish, give off small amounts of grease or fat when they cook. Scraps of food ground up in the garbage disposal can release grease that clings to the walls of the drain. For any busy kitchen, it’s nearly impossible to prevent some grease or oil from making its way into the drain. To help prevent a grease build up in the kitchen sink, add some dish detergent whenever you put cooking liquid, food scraps, or plate scrapings into the sink. Follow up with lots of hot water. For bathroom sinks, when you see a hair fall into the sink, try to wipe it away with tissue before it slides down the drain.

If you do get a clog in your MetroWest  plumbing, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call!

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Andover Air Conditioning Q/A: Is it Cost Effective to Use a Ceiling Fan and AC at the Same Time?

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

There are a lot of ways to keep your house cool in the summer, and chances are you’ve incorporated more than one of them into your home already. For instance, ceiling fans are great and can really keep you comfortable in moderately hot weather. But when the heat and humidity really start to pick up, you really need your Andover air conditioning system to keep your home cool.

One or the Other?

If you’re like most people, you switch off your ceiling fan when the AC comes on. After all, the air conditioner is powerful enough to cool the house on its own. So is it really worth it to expend energy running another, secondary cooling device?

In fact, it is. Ceiling fans in particular use very little energy. Yet they’re quite effective at making your home feel cool and comfortable. So there’s really no reason not to take advantage of their benefits while running your AC.

Cutting Costs

You might be surprised to learn that far from being a waste of energy, using your ceiling fan and AC at the same time can actually save you money. That’s because the cooling power of the fan allows you to turn up the thermostat on your AC unit a couple of degrees without compromising your comfort levels.

And turning up the thermostat on the AC just that small amount will translate into pretty substantial savings on your monthly energy bills. That savings will more than pay for the cost of running the ceiling fan, and you save money.

Better Air Circulation

Running the ceiling fan with the AC on or off is always helpful in terms of promoting good air circulation throughout your house. And the more air circulates, the more comfortable your indoor environment will be. Good air circulation is also important because it helps to minimize the number of air contaminants that build up inside.

More Efficient Heating

The benefits of ceiling fans don’t stop with cooling either. In fact, you can run them in reverse to help maintain even heating in the winter. Essentially, there are few investments you can make that will serve you better throughout the year than a ceiling fan regardless of the other home heating and cooling systems you have in place.

For more ideas about how to effectively use your Andover air conditioning system, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call!

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