Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC Blog: Archive for January, 2014

Repair vs. Replace: Which Is the Better Choice for My Furnace?

Monday, January 27th, 2014

The best way to get the most value from the furnace that warms your home is to keep it well-maintained so it lasts many years, even exceeding its manufacturer’s expected lifespan. Replacing a furnace is expensive, so a long-lived furnace is a money-saver…

…unless it turns into a money drainer… and that is something that could happen with a furnace approaching the end of its lifespan. At a certain point, the cost of continual repairs as well the money siphoned away because of inefficient operation will make replacement the superior option. We’ll give you some advice on how to find out if your furnace should have repairs or replacement.

Make Basnett Plumbing & Heating your choice for furnace repair in Concord, MA, as well as for your new furnace installation.

How can I tell if I need repairs or replacement?

The first thing you should do when this question crosses your mind is to check on your furnace’s age and the manufacturer’s suggested lifespan. In general, electric furnaces will last longer than gas furnaces. If your furnace has met or exceeded this, then you have already received an excellent value from it, and replacement is something to give serious consideration.

Now evaluate your repair costs and power bills to determine how much additional money the aged heater is costing you. If you have maintained your heater diligently each year but your bills continue to rise, then you are losing money from an inefficient furnace. If repairs are more and more frequent, then replacement is probably your optimal choice.

The best way to determine if replacement or continued repairs is more cost-effective is to seek the advice of an HVAC professional. A skilled technician can look over your furnace and determine the level of wear and tear, and then perform airflow tests to discover its efficiency. The technician will provide you with an informed answer about the option that will give you the best long-term value.

Call for professional assistance today

It’s not difficult to find solid advice regarding your furnace: call Basnett Plumbing & Heating. If you need furnace repair in Concord, MA, have your visiting technician advise you about your options for replacement and their benefits. If you decide on new installation, the Basnett Plumbing & Heating team can deliver you the professional service to get the job done fast. And if it turns out your furnace can still soldier on with targeted repairs, our team will make sure your get the best repairs possible.

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Drain Repair FAQ: What Is a Drain Snake?

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

A drain snake is a powerful tool for cleaning out drain clogs, from simple blocks to heavy concentrations of solidified grease and oil. When the simple use of a sink plunger won’t take care of clogged or slow drain, one call to a plumber armed with a motorized drain snake (or even a manual one) can take care of the trouble without causing any harm to your drainpipes.

If you need a sink unclogged right away, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating. We’ll take care of your drain repair in Littleton, MA.

The Basics of Drain Snakes

Drain snakes (also called “drain augers”) are probably the best general tool for quickly clearing out drain clogs. Plungers can only handle simple clogs, and liquid drain cleaners can cause serious damage to the inner lining of pipes and leave behind toxic residue.

Drain snakes come in two standard types: manual and motorized. Their basic operation is the same. The snake is made of a long coil of flexible wire. The snake enters the drain and through the pipes until it comes to the clog. The snake then rotates (either by manually turning a handle or through the action of a motor) and the ends dig into the clog much the same way that a corkscrew enters a cork. And, like the corkscrew in the cork, the drain snake can then pull the clog up and out of the drain. If the clog doesn’t move, the drain snake can break the clog apart to clear the drainpipe.

Although you can purchase manual drain snakes in hardware stores and through online outlets, you should let professionals handle them to make sure that you do not cause damage to your drains. It’s especially important to leave motorized drain snakes to trained plumbers.

Other Drain Cleaning Options

Although drains snakes are effective at taking care of most clogs, if you are experiencing consistent clogs or slow drains in your house, you should have a plumber look into it too see if there are serious problems occurring in your plumbing, such as a damaged sewer line. Drain cleaning with a hydro-jetter can also eliminate the build-up in pipes that cause repeated clogs. Ask your plumber about your options.

For the drain repair in Littleton, MA that will take care of clogs and keep them from coming back, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating.

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Common Repairs for High Efficiency Condensing Furnaces

Monday, January 13th, 2014

You may have heard about high efficiency condensing furnaces as an option for home heating that can significantly reduce energy use. However, you may not know how these units run, or what kind of repair issues they may encounter. We’ll go into more detail about high efficiency furnaces and their repair needs in this post. If you need installation or furnace repair in Littleton, MA, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating for excellent service.

The basics of high efficiency condensing furnaces

What makes condensing furnaces different from standard furnaces is that condensing furnaces have more than one heat exchanger. A heat exchanger loses some heat through the exhaust flue in the form of water vapor, which is one of the major sources of heat loss in standard furnaces. But condensing furnaces use their second heat exchanger to extract heat from the water vapor that would otherwise escape to the outside. This second exchanger condenses the vapor into a liquid, a process that releases heat—which the furnace then supplies to the house, while a pipe drains away the liquid. Because of this use of water vapor, condensing furnaces have the highest AFUE rating available for gas furnaces, usually in the upper 90%.

Repairs for high efficiency furnaces

These furnaces have some different repair needs from standard models. Here are a few:

  • Replacing heat exchangers: Cracks in heat exchangers are major problems in any gas furnace, since a crack can allow the escape of exhaust gas into the cabinet—a potentially dangerous situation. With a high efficiency furnace, you have two exchangers to deal with, and twice the potential for problems.
  • Unclogging the condensate drain: Standard furnaces don’t have to worry about draining away liquid, only gaseous exhaust and water vapor. But a high efficiency furnace has to safely remove the condensate from the second heat exchanger. Clogs in the condensate drain can lead to numerous issues, such as triggering a pressure switch in the unit, which will prevent it from operating. Professionals will need to find what is clogging the drain and clear it.
  • Unclogging the flue vent: Venting is important to all gas furnaces, especially for high efficiency models. The pressure switch can be tripped if the exhaust flue becomes clogged—and these obstructions may be up on the roof (nests, leaves). The flue vent may be sagging or sloping, which will also cut down on flow and trigger the pressure switch. This can sometimes involve extensive work, so call professionals to investigate why the pressure switch is turning the furnace off.

High efficiency furnaces cost more to install than standard furnaces, but they can pay for themselves through their efficient energy use after only a few years. Call Basnett Plumbing & Heating for more information about high efficiency furnaces, or for any furnace repair in Littleton, MA that you need.

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How a Faulty Thermostat Affects Your Heating

Monday, January 6th, 2014

A common image people have when they think of “heating repair” is of a technician with an enormous box of tools opening up a furnace cabinet and tinkering with the large components on the inside. Although a great deal of heating repair will require a technician to work directly on your heater, whether it’s a furnace, heat pump, or boiler, there is one common repair that takes place far away from the actual heater: fixing, adjusting, or replacing the thermostat.

Although a small component of your heating and often far removed from the heating unit itself, the thermostat is still a part of the heating system, and if it develops faults it will have a large negative effect on your heating—which can sometimes seem like it comes from another source. Fixes to a thermostat are often an important part of heating repair in Littleton, MA, and we’ll explain what can go wrong when your thermostat goes wrong.

Call Basnett Plumbing & Heating for quality repair work for any part of your heater, from the thermostat to the burners.

Faulty thermostat = faulty heating

The most common trouble that a thermostat can encounter, and which is often hard to diagnose without an expert’s help, is miscalibration. A thermostat can start to misread the temperature, but it only takes a few degrees to cause the thermostat to throw off your whole heating: your heater will start to turn on and off when it shouldn’t, which will not only cause discomfort, but also drain power. (Heating systems use the most energy at start-up.) If you notice uneven heating throughout your home, the reason might be a thermostat miscalibration.

More extensive than a miscalibration is an electronic fault that affects communication between the thermostat and the heater. In this case, the thermostat may stop turning the heater on altogether, which homeowners may mistake as something wrong within the heater—a full breakdown—instead of an issue with the thermostat. The opposite can also happen: the thermostat loses its ability to turn your heater off, and so it runs continually.

In all these cases, you’ll need an expert heating technician familiar with thermostats to solve the problem. Repairs will sometimes fix the issues, although a replacement thermostat is often a good solution. If you have an older, manual thermostat, it might be a good idea to replace it no matter what and upgrade to a digital, programmable, or wireless thermostat.

Contact Basnett Plumbing & Heating for your heating repair in Littleton, MA. We work with all kinds of thermostats, and if your thermostat is causing you problems, we will track down the trouble and find the best solution for you.

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