Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC Blog: Archive for January, 2015

Is a Propane Generator Right for My Home?

Friday, January 30th, 2015

When it comes to fueling a whole-home generator, there are three fuel choices: natural gas, diesel and propane (LP). Deciding which type of generator will work best for your home based on the fuel type is determined partly by preference and partly what is available to you. All three types can keep the major systems of your home operational during a power outage, so how do you choose? This is where you’ll want to start working with a trained expert.

Using Propane

Not all homes have access to a natural gas line, and if you don’t have access to one, your next choice is propane. Propane is typically stored in a tank, an option that isn’t available for natural gas. Propane is part of the chemical make-up of natural gas, so the two fuels come from the same family; as such, they behave and work in a similar way.

How an LP Generator Works

An LP whole-home generator works just as any other home generator: it connects directly to your home’s electrical panel and is equipped with sensors that detect when an outage has occurred. Should an outage occur, the generator automatically takes over providing electricity to the electrical box so that your home’s major systems stay operational. The main difference between an LP generator and a natural gas one is that instead of being connected to a main pipeline for fuel, the generator is connected to the LP tank.

Why Consider an LP Generator?

In addition to the general benefits a generator provides, here are some others to consider that are specific to LP:

  • LP has a long shelf life
  • LP is clean-burning
  • An LP generator can easily supply the power you need to keep your home operational
  • LP fuel is available during an outage (tank needs to be filled)

If you are interested in installing a whole-home generator but have hesitated because you don’t have access to a natural gas line, you may want to consider a propane generator for your Maynard, MA home. Call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today and speak to one of our experts.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating can help you pinpoint which type of generator will work best to meet your needs. If you are ready to install a whole-home generator, call us today.

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Why Install a Condensate Pump for HVAC Equipment?

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Air conditioners and condensing boilers and furnaces create excess water during operation; this excess water is known as condensate. Condensate needs to be removed from any of these systems, and is typically done so by the condensate array in each unit. Standard condensate arrays work with the laws of gravity and allow the condensate to flow down into your home’s exit plumbing to either your sewer or septic system. But close proximity to the exit plumbing isn’t always a given, and in these cases, it is necessary to use a condensate pump for your MetroWest property to ensure proper drainage of the condensate.

How Does a Condensate Pump Work?

A condensate pump is a small plastic box, about the size of half a shoe box. Its main components are a float switch, a small reservoir and the small electric pump mechanism. As condensate drips into the box, the reservoir fills. The float switch has a pre-set that determines how high the float can go before it activates the pump. Once the amount of condensate reaches this pre-set limit, the float switch activates the condensate pump and pumps the water up to the exit plumbing.

Why Install a Condensate Pump?

The condensate from any whole-home system has to be properly disposed of; allowing the condensate to simply drip into your foundation or into a bucket is not acceptable. As such, you will need to install a condensate pump. A couple of side benefits you can gain from a condensate pump are a cleaner, more aesthetic look around your condensate array area and less risk of bacterial growth since the pump ensures that the condensate water will be removed.

Can I Install It Myself?

The condensate array is an important part of your HVAC system, so unless you are an expert, it is highly recommended that you hire a professional to perform the installation.

Condensate problems can result in mold and mildew infestation, problems with your system and potential water damage to your property.

If your heating or cooling system in the MetroWest area, is in need of a condensate pump, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today.

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Services You May Need for Your Drains

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

The drains in your home carry a lot of responsibility, since you would be unable to make use of your sinks, showers, and tubs without them. Chances are, you haven’t thought much about the condition of your drains unless you’ve noticed a serious problem with your drainage. And when this dismaying event occurs, you’ll find you may have taken for granted the comforts of the modern day home plumbing system.

Take a look at some of the most common drain services performed in Littleton, and be sure to schedule service with the technicians who have been in the business for over 25 years at Basnett Plumbing & Heating.

  • Drain Installation or Replacement: You may need drains installed if you’ve just moved into a new home, are installing a new appliance, or if older pipes have corroded. Professional installation is necessary for all drain pipes, even if it is just a small extension to accommodate a new sink or washing machine. This is because drain pipes must be sized for your home and to the specifications of the new appliance or fixture.
  • Drain Repair: You may not need to renovate your entire piping system if a pipe has burst. Sometimes, drain pipes or sewer pipes break because of a pressure imbalance or even because of tree root infiltration rather than widespread corrosion throughout the pipes. The cost of drain repair is a wide range dependent on the level of damage sustained and the method of repair that is necessary to seal the pipes.
  • Removing Clogs: Plumbers have tools to remove clogs which work far more effectively than home drain cleaning liquids and small drain snakes or wires. Professionals carry large augers that can latch on to clogs deep within the pipes, or they sometimes use powerful jets of water to blast blockage out into the sewer.
  • Drain Maintenance and Cleaning: If you schedule maintenance with a trained technician every year, you can rest assured that there are no potential leaks in your drain line or find out that you need to schedule repairs before a leak damages your property. Your plumber should also clean your drains during maintenance to keep clogs from occurring later on.

Call the drain experts at Basnett Plumbing & Heating for superior drain services in Littleton.

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The Process Involved with Aeroseal Duct Sealing

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

The ducts in your home are designed to provide an efficient route for air to travel from the indoor air handler to the vents and registers in your home, but only if your ducts are well-sealed. But it may be surprising to learn that most homes have poorly-sealed ducts contributing to quite a bit of energy loss and extra spending on heating and air conditioning costs. In fact, on average, 30% of your energy bill goes to heating or cooling an unconditioned area like an attic or crawlspace simply because there are cracks or holes in the ducts.

Basnett’s Aeroseal duct sealing process helps you to cut energy costs significantly, improves comfort, and even protects the air quality of your home from harmful contaminants that may enter through holes in the ductwork. The inspection, sealing, and certification can give you peace of mind and keep your HVAC equipment running more efficiently for years to come.


First, technicians inspect the duct system for problem areas and recommend ways to improve the efficiency of the ducts beyond sealing. They’ll look at the design of the ductwork, the age of the material, and address your concerns over poor indoor air quality or hot and cold spots in the home. They’ll use information from a computer program to determine whether the airflow to the home is proficient and what may be the source of the trouble.


When it’s decided that sealing is the best step to take, all of the registers in the home are sealed and the air conditioning and heating equipment is covered. A small access point is cut into the ducts so that technicians can insert a machine and seal it to the ducts temporarily. After everything is sealed, the machine runs, emitting adhesive particles into the air which then travel around at random, latching onto holes and cracks. This process should take about 4-8 hours.


Finally, technicians will inspect the ducts to make sure the job was completed properly. The computer runs a diagnostic test again, and the customer is presented with a read-out of the condition of the ducts both before and after sealing so that they can see how airflow has improved.

At Basnett Plumbing & Heating, our technicians are certified for Aeroseal duct sealing in Lexington. Call us for an evaluation of your home today.

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Are Steam Boilers Appropriate for Installation in a Home?

Friday, January 16th, 2015

The term “boiler” makes it sound as if this heating system works by boiling water, but this isn’t necessarily true. Steam boilers must boil water in order to create steam, while the fluid in a regular hot water boiler doesn’t necessarily have to boil. So how do you know if your home system is a steam boiler or a hot water boiler? Well, generally a residential boiler is not a steam boiler. Steam boilers are mainly used in industrial applications because of the high levels of heat they produce. Let’s take a look at how these units work.

Hot water boilers and steam boilers work using fairly similar principles. Both types of systems burn fuel in order to heat water, which passes through a set of pipes and moves into the building to reach an endpoint. This endpoint may be a radiator, convector unit, or baseboard unit, or there may be a set of pipes underneath the floorboards. But steam boilers must boil water at a high temperature and pressure in order to produce steam. Because these systems can produce large amounts of heat at fast rates, they are used to heat spaces too large for a hot water boiler to handle.

A steam boiler can be quite powerful, which is why some homeowners would like for this technology to be made available in their homes. However, steam boilers are simply not appropriate for home installation. Your heating system must be sized for installation and steam boilers are simply too large for any size home. A steam boiler would become overworked in residential use, and most homeowners would have no clue as to how to operate it.

In fact, when a steam boiler is used in a large commercial or industrial application, the boiler operator sometimes has to obtain a license and stay on-site or on-call at all times. However, steam-heating boilers are usually more efficient for use on large commercial properties, since the steam generation calls for fewer circulatory pumps, and because the controls allow for steam to be used for multiple purposes. For example, a hospital may generate process steam for use in sterilizing equipment and use heating steam to heat the building.

The friendly technicians at Basnett Plumbing & Heating can help you to learn more about gas boilers and steam boilers in MetroWest. Contact us today!

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How to Ensure Your Whole-House Generator Works Properly

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

One of the best features of owning a whole-house generator is that it only turns on when you really need it to. Whole-house generators don’t waste fuel running throughout the year when you’ll only need to use it a small handful of times. But when the power shuts off in your home, your whole-house generator turns on within seconds.

The fear in all this, however, is in not knowing for certain whether your generator will work. Because generators only switch on when there is no longer an electrical current running through your home, it can be difficult to tell whether it will work when you need it. Although today’s generators are built tough to resist wear and tear, you still want to do everything you can to be certain you’ll be protected in the event of a power outage. Let’s take a look at how you can accomplish this.

3 Ways to Tell If Your System Is In Top Shape

  1. Weekly Self-Tests: You can rest easy: most modern home generators perform weekly self-tests. For about 20 minutes a day, the generator runs a test all on its own to make sure everything is working as needed. And if not, you’ll be alerted to any problems so that you can schedule repairs ASAP.
  2. Visual Inspections: Most experts also recommend you inspect the system yourself from time to time, especially after any major weather events. While you shouldn’t check the electrical wiring on your own, you can look for any signs of physical damage, and call a technician if anything looks unusual.
  3. Schedule Annual Maintenance: Finally, you can schedule annual maintenance with a trained electrician, who will inspect the unit, tighten any electrical connections, and check for any safety or operational issues.

Still unsure about whether you should install a whole-house generator? Here’s a thought: a power outage can cost you hundreds of dollars in food loss, hundreds more paying for hotel rooms, and thousands repairing burst pipes or renovating rooms damaged from flooding due to sump pump failure.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating is the place to call if you want to speak with an expert trained in installing, repairing, and maintaining whole house generators in Stow.

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How to Avoid the Need for Drain Repair in Concord

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Basnett Plumbing & Heating is glad to help our customers in Concord, MA with drain repairs. However, we understand that calling for plumbing repair work isn’t something you want to do on a regular basis. We have some tips that will help keep your drains in the best shape possible so that you will encounter few hassles and even fewer emergencies—hopefully, no emergencies.

Tips for keeping your drains free from repairs

  • Do not pour FOG (fats, oils, grease) down the drains: Perhaps the #1 cause for drain problems in homes, particularly in kitchens, is accumulation of deposits of fats, oils, and grease—collectively referred to as FOG. In liquid form, FOG seems quite harmless, which is why many people do not think twice about pouring it down kitchen drains. But when fats, oils, and grease cool down, they change into obstinate, waxy solids that will start to coat the insides of drainpipes. Before long, these deposits will start to narrow down the volume in the pipes, causing high water pressure, slow drains, and persistent clogging. Routine drain cleaning services will help clean away this accumulation, but the best way to prevent it in the first place it to see that excess FOG from cooking is placed into a separate receptacle and removed to the trash. You can also have professionals install grease traps if FOG is a major problem in your home.
  • Replace aging drainpipes: Older homes usually have plumbing made from galvanized steel. Although this is a strong metal, it is also prone to corrosion as it ages. A large number of drainpipe repairs are due to these corrosion in older pipes. The best way to get ahead of such repair issues is to have repiping done to put in copper and plastic drainpipes that resistant corrosion. Call professionals plumbers to find out more about repiping.
  • Use drain covers: Here is a simple method for keeping unwanted debris out of drains. A drain cover that catches items such as hair will help prevent the drainpipe from clogging. This is especially helpful on bathroom drains, which can suffer from hair caught down in the p-trap (the U-shaped bend in the pipe directly under the drain opening).
  • Do not use chemical drain cleaners: Here is another drain problem that is easy to stop. Using store-bought “drain cleaners” to handle minor clogs and slow drainage can soon lead to big problems. The acidic action in these products can erode older drains, wear down newer pipes, and they rarely remove the entire clog, leaving behind enough material to allow for the clog to rapidly catch more debris and start enlarging again. If you invest in a professional plumber to remove the clog, you have a much higher chance of averting future repairs.

We can assist with the new pipe installation and thorough drain cleaning that will make future drain repair in Concord, MA a “Once in a Blue Moon” occurrence.

If you want help with drain repair prevention, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today!

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Will a HEPA Filter Work in My Home?

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Mechanical air filters work on a basic principle: a filter composed of media (usually a mesh of randomly arranged fiberglass strands) traps particles that attempt to pass through it while allowing airflow to continue with minimal resistance. An air filter that correctly matched and installed in an HVAC system can remove more than 99% of the contamination passing through the ductworks and prevent it from entering the rooms of a building.

It is important to highlight the word “matched.” There are many different types and strengths of air filters, and if the wrong one is installed in a home, it will end up restricting air flow and putting immense pressure on the heating and cooling system. If you are interested in installation of air filtration in Middlesex County, MA, you must rely on professionals who can find a filter that is the best match for the HVAC system so you will enjoy cleaner air without your AC and heater suffering a plunge in efficiency. The indoor air quality experts at Basnett Plumbing & Heating can help see that you receive quality filters installed in your home that do exactly the job you require.

The “trouble” with HEPA air filters in homes

The most well-known type of mechanical air filter is the HEPA filter (High-Efficiency Particulate Absorption filter), which is widespread throughout commercial buildings, hospitals, airlines, and other public facilities. For a filter to quality as a HEPA filter—at least according to U.S. government standards—it must remove at least 99.97% of the particles that attempt to pass through it.

This sounds fantastic on paper. In practice, a HEPA filter is usually far too powerful for use in homes. The thickness of the fibers in these filters will choke off residential air conditioners and heaters, causing a large drop in comfort while spiking energy costs.

What type of filter works best with homes? In general, filters that score a MERV rating between 4 and 12. MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) measures the minimum particle size that a filter stops. HEPA filters have MERV ratings of 13 or greater, which means the minimum particle size they trap is 0.3 microns. A filter with a MERV rating of 4 is the sort you might find inside a residential window air conditioner. For an average-sized home, a filter with a MERV rating of 8 is often the best choice.

However, you should never attempt to guess what type of filter will work best for your house. Call on experts to take on this job so that you will get the best of both worlds: clean air and an efficient HVAC system.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating has many years of experience with installation of air filtration in Middlesex County, MA and throughout the MetroWest area. Contact us today!

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A Guide to Modern Furnace Ignition Systems

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

For a gas-burning furnace to work during the winter keeping a building warm, it must have a system in place to ignite the main burner. Once lit, the burner creates the hot combustion gas that enters the heat exchangers and transfers to the air from the blower and into the house. For many decades, a pilot light was the standard way that furnaces lit their burners, but other more efficient and dependable methods have taken the place of the pilot light.

One thing that all furnace ignition systems have in common is that they should only receive maintenance and repair work from trained professionals. It’s potentially hazardous to attempt amateur work on the burner of a gas furnace, so if you should encounter a failed pilot light or electronic igniter in your home’s furnace, only call for repair experts. Basnett Plumbing & Heating has many years of experience working on furnaces in Dunstable, MA and throughout the MetroWest Area. Contact us whenever you need repairs to keep your furnace working.

The different types of furnace ignition systems

  • Standing pilot light: Although electronic igniters are more common in modern furnaces, you will still find furnaces that use a standing pilot light to ignite the burners. If you have an old furnace, it probably uses a traditional pilot light. If this is the case, you should consider replacing the furnace with a new and more energy-efficient unit.
  • Intermittent pilot light: This is a type of electronic igniter that lights up the pilot light only when it is needed, rather than letting the pilot light continue to burn and consume energy. A high voltage electric spark ignites the pilot whenever heat is required; once a flame sensing rod determines that the pilot light is on, the main burners ignite. After the pilot light goes out, the flame sensor shuts off the burner as well.
  • Hot surface igniters: This is the most up-to-date ignition system for furnaces. They work similar to the filaments in light bulbs: electricity passes through silicon carbide or nitride and causes the metal to glow hot. This heat is what lights the burners, and then shuts off when no longer needed. Because hot surface igniters do not use any sort of pilot light, they are both highly efficient and reliable. However, a single igniter will not usually last for the entirety of the furnace’s lifetime, and it will need replacement every 3-5 years.

If your furnace is not turning on when it should, a failed ignition system is one of the likely culprits.

Call Basnett Plumbing & Heating and we will send a skilled professional, one who has repaired many furnaces in Dunstable, MA, and help you get your heating system running once more.

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Why Choosing Professionals for Ductwork Installation Matters

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Although you can see almost none of the air ducts inside your home, they form a critical part of your comfort and the quality of your indoor air. The ducts form a ventilation network that consists of return ducts and supply ducts connected to a central heating and air conditioning system that creates the air circulation throughout the rooms.

If you are planning to convert your house to a new heating or cooling system that will require the installation of new ductwork, you must call for professionals to handle the job. Basnett Plumbing & Heating offers excellent ductwork installation in Harvard, MA that will help ensure that your heating and cooling system works at its best and your home does not suffer from air quality problems or a significant loss in energy efficiency.

Why are professionals so important for this job?

Is it possible to simply purchase ducts and install them on your own? Yes, it is technically possible—but you still should never attempt it. Aside from how time-consuming and difficult such a job is, there are some very good reasons to leave this task to professionals.

The first reason is that only experienced technicians will know the right size and type of ducts to install. Ductwork comes in a variety of materials: metal, flexible plastic, ductboard, etc. Picking the wrong type of ducts will lead to an inefficient ventilation network and excessive loss and gain of heat due to poor insulation. Aside from knowing the right type of duct material to use in any situation, professional installers also know the correct layout of ducts to see that there is the least amount of resistance possible against airflow.

The second reason you need experts for duct installation is that it’s crucial for the ductwork to have no air leaks. If there are any breaks in the seams where the air shafts join, it will cause a significant plunge in air pressure inside the ducts. Even a tiny air leak can cause a 30% increase heating and cooling bills due to drops in air pressure. Gaps in your ducts will also create problems for indoor air quality, since they will allow dust and dirt from closed-in parts of the home to infiltrate the ventilation system and then blow out into the rooms.

Finally, it is simply too difficult to access the areas where the ducts must be installed unless you have the proper training and equipment. You won’t save money or time if you try this work on your own, and amateur installers will run into similar problems.

Make the choice that will keep expenses down and avoid future problems: call Basnett Plumbing & Heating for ductwork installation in Harvard, MA.

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