Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Bedford’

How a Baseboard Heater Works with Radiant Heating

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Using radiant heat to warm up a room—that is, heating up an object in the room so it sends out waves of warmth that raise the temperature of other objects in the room is one of the more efficient and cozy home heating methods. For many decades, the standard form of radiant heating was sending hot water (and in some cases, steam) to a cast iron radiator. However, the most common way to provide radiant heating today is to circulate the hot water to a baseboard heater, which work as effectively as a radiator while taking up much less space. In many homes, a baseboard heater will provide a more even distribution of warmth than a radiator.

Is installation of radiant heating part of your future plans for home comfort? Or would you like to change your boiler from using radiators to using baseboard heaters? In either case, call our experts in radiant heating in Bedford, MA at Basnett Plumbing & Heating. You want professionals for this installation job, and with our team taking care of it, you will have your new baseboard heaters keeping your family warm in no time at all.

What baseboard heaters actually do

A baseboard heater is placed against the wall of a room down near the floor. Hot water circulates into the unit, but instead of working strictly through the radiant heat coming from the unit—as a radiator does—baseboard heaters also use convection.

Inside the baseboard heater is a series of metal fins that are heated by water. Cold air drops down the wall (usually from a window, which is why baseboard heaters are often positioned under windows) and into a vent in the baseboard heater. Once this air is warmed, it rises up from the baseboard heater and creates a curtain of warm air between the wall and the room. The air then cools down and falls, creating a convection current. This combination of radiant heating and convection heating is one of the fastest and most energy-efficient ways to heat a room. Like other hydronic radiant systems, it requires no ductwork at all, and it runs with very little noise.

There are also electric baseboard heaters unconnected to any central system. However, these systems are very inefficient and are usually only used to assist homes that already have another heating system installed. A baseboard heater connected to a hydronic system like a boiler is, on the other hand, a full-house solution for warmth.

To find out if using a baseboard heater for radiant heating in Bedford, MA is the optimal choice for your home, give our team at Basnett Plumbing & Heating at call today!

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Steps Involved in Leak Detection

Monday, July 7th, 2014

If you’ve experienced a leak in the pipes under your sink, you might think that “leak detection” is a simple process: just look for the gushing water! But most of your home’s plumbing lies hidden behind walls and floorboards, and some are set down in the concrete foundation. Leaks, both large and small, are often hard to find even after you notice evidence of their existence, like discolored spots on the wall or the growth of mildew.

To locate leaks, you need plumbers who come armed with the best detection equipment available. Thanks to the skilled leak detection in Bedford, MA from Basnett Plumbing & Heating, you can have any leak sealed up with minimal excavation and damage to your property.

The process of leak detection

  • Visual inspection: Before plumbers start to use the high-tech equipment to find a leak, they’ll use their own knowledge and skill to narrow down their search area. Plumbers are used to looking for hidden leaks using nothing other than their eyes and past experiences. Finding warped floor boards, spots of mildew, water discoloration, and combining with what they know of pipe placement, plumbers will target a specific area to begin the leak detection search.
  • Listening devices: This is one of the basic tools of leak detection, and usually the first device that plumbers will use. Listening discs, which operate on similar principals to a medical stethoscope, can hear the drip and escape of water that is causing pressure increases through hard building material. Often, listening devices are all that’s necessary for a plumber to pinpoint the leak.
  • Infrared sensors: If the listening discs still leave some area for doubt, plumbers will use infrared sensors to narrow further the search area. These sensors can pick up excess moisture in regions around pipes because the moisture will be at a different temperature as it leaks from the plumbing.
  • Video inspection: The last stage of leak detection—if it is feasible—is to use video pipe inspection equipment to probe down into the pipes with a camera that sends back a feed to a monitor. Through this method, plumbers can not only locate exactly where the leak is, but how large it is and what remedies will fix it.

One the plumbers have identified that leak location and its extent and type, they can begin careful excavation to reach the break and perform the necessary sealing or replacement work to repair it.

Skilled leak detection in Bedford, MA will save you time and money: no time-consuming and expensive tearing open of walls and floors to find the leaking plumbing.

Call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today if you think you have a leak plaguing your home. Whatever work needs to be done, our plumbers can do it—fast and right the first time.

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Sudbury, MA Plumbing Repair Tip: How to Prevent Plumbing Problems

Monday, April 8th, 2013

We often don’t think of our plumbing until something goes wrong with it. But preventive maintenance is the best way to avoid unnecessary plumbing repairs and costly premature repiping. While we often spend time cleaning and maintaining the integrity of most of our other household appliances, our plumbing often gets overlooked. There are a number of simple steps you can take as a homeowner to prevent plumbing problems. While we all know that repairs are often inevitable due to general wear and tear and age, we also want to minimize the damage where we can. In this post, we’ve compiled a short list of some things you can do to prevent plumbing problems. For Sudbury, MA plumbing repair services, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today!

  • Hire a pro: Your home plumbing needs professional attention and servicing for all repair and maintenance tasks. A certified and trained plumber has the skills, knowledge, and years of experience to diagnose a wide range of plumbing problems accurately and quickly, and to recommend the best solution.
  • Clean your drains: We don’t often think about where our wastewater goes or how it gets there, but your drainage system is just as important as your pressurized water supply system. You can prevent a lot of damage and mishaps when it comes to your drain system by routinely hiring a plumber to inspect and clean them. While you may be tempted to use some of the harsh chemicals sold in stores, they can actually damage your plumbing.
  • Install a sump pump: Depending on where you live, and the orientation of your house with respect to the land on which it sits, your home may be more or less inclined to basement flooding. A sump pump is a great solution for homes who suffer from moist, damp, and water in their basements. It’s installed in the lowest part of your basement, away from the sewer and water lines, and it pumps the water outside of your home before it can begin to collect inside.

For more information about what you can do to prevent plumbing problems, call the Sudbury, MA plumbing repair experts at Basnett Plumbing & Heating today!  

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Arlington, MA Plumber’s Tip: Common Plumbing Clogs

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Maintaining the drain lines in your Arlington, MA area home is one way to avoid common plumbing clogs. This includes regular drain cleanings and avoiding flushing or washing anything down your drains that could cause a clog. It helps to know what these common clogs are and how to prevent from from occurring.

Call Basnett Plumbing & Heating any time if you have further questions or need plumbing repairs.

Toilet Clogs

Toilet clogs could be temporary or an indication that you may have a larger plumbing problem. While there could be a clog deeper in the drain line, you could have something caught near the base of the toilet. The only way to know is to call a plumber, since plunging it is only temporary. Toilets that are backing up often usually means there’s a larger issue. You don’t want to be left with a leaking sewer line at a joint where a clog is located.

Sink Clogs

Grease clogs are one of the most common kitchen sink clogs. Avoid putting grease or cooking oil down your drains or in your garbage disposal. Also avoid using conventional drain cleaners since they have chemicals that can hurt your pipes. Call for a professional drain cleaning service or use natural cleaning products.

Shower Drains

Hair, dirt, and soap scum can cause slow shower drains or clogs, so get a hair trap to avoid this. However, it is important to clean these out often so that the hair and other debris don’t cause slow drains or get backed up in the drain.

Call the Arlington, MA plumbers at Basnett Plumbing & Heating if you would like to know more about common plumbing clogs and how to prevent them.

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Boxborough Heating Guide: Furnace Control Boards

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

One way to be a truly responsible homeowner is to familiarize yourself with the major systems and appliances in your home. By having at least some understanding of how, say, your refrigerator or toilet work, you gain understanding of how to use them efficiently and detect when something goes wrong.

The same is true of your Boxborough home’s furnace, which can appear to be a complicated piece of machinery. In order to help you get acquainted with your furnace, we will discuss one of its main control components, the furnace control board.

As the name suggests, furnace control boards are responsible for governing the operation of the furnace. At a minimum, a simple furnace control will control the furnace ignitor (e.g., a spark generator or glow coil), the gas valve and the furnace thermocouple, also called a flame sensor.

More complex furnace control boards will also have control over the blowers and/or the built-in diagnostic system.

To simplify things, you can think of the furnace control board as being a driver and the furnace as its car. Just as the driver oversees all the functions and operation of the car from ignition to shutting off the engine, likewise does the control board for the furnace.

A typical operation sequence for a furnace control board goes something like this:

  1. The control board receives a signal from the thermostat that the temperature is too low.
  2. It starts the ignition system, whether that be a spark generator, glow coil or pilot light.
  3. Once the ignitor is hot, the furnace control board initiates the flow of gas through the burners, where it is ignited.
  4. The control board keeps the furnace running until it is signaled by the thermostat that the temperature is now high enough, or until it detects something is wrong.

(An example of a malfunction where the control board would get involved is a thermocouple that is not detecting enough heat. In this case, the control board would shut off the gas flow to prevent a leak into the home.)

Furnace control boards are an essential part of your home’s HVAC system. And now, as a responsible homeowner, you know just how important.

If you need furnace service in Boxborough MA or the surrounding area, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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Still River Heating Tips: Simple Steps to Prevent Heat Loss

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

There are two fundamental ways to make your Still River house warmer. One is to generate heat, which is the job of your furnace or boiler. The second is to keep the warm air in — and thereby keep cold air out — which is the job of your system of insulation.

The idea that the physical structure of a home can be a component of the HVAC system is one that is often overlooked, but when you think about it, it makes sense. The insulation, windows, doors and building materials that comprise your home are designed to keep the place warm against the cold and vice versa.

So, when bolstering your HVAC system to promote efficient heating, it is important to also consider heat loss and how to prevent it. This is a process that can get out of hand if you go overboard, so it is important to prioritize. Let’s look at the top 3 places to start when trying to prevent heat loss.

  1. Doors and Windows:  If you have older doors and windows, they could be a source of heat loss in your house, even if they are always closed. Replacing your windows and door with Energy Star rated ones will make sure that you are not losing heat to the outside AND still getting all the heat energy from the sun. Installing storm windows or putting up heavy curtains in winter can also help cut down on your heat loss.
  1. Seal off drafts. If any opening to your house, such as windows and doors, is improperly sealed, improperly installed or if the surrounding construction is deteriorating, you can lose a lot of heat. Check any drafts that you notice that might indicate a problem, and also if your vents and air ducts are leaky.
  1. Start at the top. If you want to go farther in sealing your house up against the cold, it is time to work on the insulation. When installing new insulation, remember that heat rises, so you get the most bang for your buck by starting at the top. If you only have the budget or time to insulate one space, make it the attic. You can work down from there.

These areas should be your top three priorities on your mission to prevent heat loss in your Still River home. If you start here, you will get the best gains with the least effort. If you have any questions about how to keep your home warm this winter, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call!

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How to Calibrate Your Thermostat: A Tip from a Bedford Heating Contractor

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Have you ever set the thermostat in your Bedford home to a desired temperature and “hoped for the best?” Maybe it’s because the temperature setting you expected this finely tuned instrument to maintain just isn’t right. You may see 70 degrees on the thermostat but the home feels more like 65 degrees. In fact, if you used a hand-held thermostat, you might get real proof that your thermostat is not working like it should.

There are reasons for a malfunctioning thermostat and solutions to correct them, namely calibration. First, let’s look at some reasons why a thermostat can be out of kilter.

The first thing to note is that thermostats are very sensitive instruments and change to the slightest changes in temperature. An incorrectly installed thermostat or one that is accidentally bumped or jarred can malfunction. It may wind up out of level, causing it to operate incorrectly. Possibly the most common problem affecting accuracy is a build-up of dirt, which can affect the calibration of the thermostat. Other problems may be caused by loose wiring.

Here are some steps you can take to check your thermostat for accuracy and recommended actions.

  1. Use a standard glass thermometer to check the room temperature. You should mount it on the wall nearby your thermostat and use some padding to keep it from actually coming in contact with the wall, which could affect the readings.
  2. Wait 15-30 minutes for the thermometer to adjust to the temperature and enable it to give the most accurate reading. Once the time has elapsed, compare its temperature reading to that on your thermostat.
  3. If there is more than a one degree variation, your thermostat may be dirty. Remove its faceplate and examine it. If there is dirt or dust inside, blow it out. If you can reach the contact points, you can clean them with a new dollar bill (and speaking of dollars, a clean and accurate thermostat will make your furnace run more efficiently and save you money on your utility bill).
  4. Some thermostats use a mercury vial which can indicate if the thermostat is level or not. If it is not level, a simple adjustment using a screwdriver may do the trick. In the worst case, you may have to remove the thermostat and drill a new hole to reinstall the mounting screw in a different location.
  5. Now that you have made these corrections, check both thermostats to see if the temperatures match. If they don’t, try steps 3 and 4 again. If that still doesn’t work, your problem may be more than just a dirty, lopsided thermostat. You may need to replace the thermostat – or even look at the heating system in its entirety. It could be time to call a professional heating contractor to check out your entire system.

Today’s thermostats have few working components but are very sensitive, advanced instruments. It takes little to throw off a thermostat but luckily, it takes little effort to correct the resulting problems.

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How Do I Stop My Pipes from Knocking? A Question from Still River

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Tell me if this sounds familiar – you are sleeping comfortably and in the middle of the night a soft but persistent knock sounds through the pipes in your Still River home. At first it is easy to ignore, but inevitably the sound will grow with each passing night and eventually start keeping you awake. Luckily, there are simple solutions for knocking pipes that do not require a plumber or expensive parts.

First, it is good to know why your pipes are knocking in the first place. In most cases, knocking pipes are caused by variable water pressure in the main supply pipes coming into your home. That pressure is important because it keeps the water moving freely between pipes and into your faucets. However, when the air used in pressurizing those pipes leaks or is depleted, water moves suddenly and violently, creating the knocking sound as it traverses the length of the supply lines.

The easiest fix for this kind of knocking is to first turn off your main supply valve. Make sure you communicate to anyone in your home that you are shutting off the valve as it will stop ALL water coming in. Now, flush the lines by opening all of the faucets and flushing your toilets. Water can still leave your home through drainage pipes and this will ensure all of the supply lines are fully empty.

Once the lines are cleared, feel free to turn your main valve back on. It is important to do this slowly so that the air chambers between and around your pipes have time to refill before the water courses back into them. However, now that the pipes were fully emptied, the knocking sound should be completely gone.

It is as simple as that. In most cases, you should not need to call a plumber to help, but if you have any problems finding your main valve or shutting it off, a plumber can be helpful with the proper tools and the knowhow for various kinds of shutoff valves. Additionally, if you live in an apartment building or a shared space, you may not be able to perform this fix. Rather, you should contact your superintendent or landlord and make sure they know exactly what is happening – with any experience, they should recognize the problem and be able to make similar fixes to your pipes.

Knocking pipes can be incredibly frustrating if not dealt with as soon as they start. Now that you know how simple it is to make the fix, make a habit of regularly flushing your lines and the knocking likely will not start up again.

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Causes and Solutions of Poor Boiler Heating Performance: A Tip from Bedford

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a mechanical engineer to troubleshoot – and possibly diagnose – the problems with your boiler when its heating performance is erratic or non-existent in your Bedford home.

The good thing about boilers is that they are typically reliable and long-lasting. There aren’t a lot of working parts that can break down and cause problems, compared to other home heating equipment. When problems do arise, they are usually related to the expansion tank or circulating pumps. But a problem can be much simpler – like a tripped circuit breaker.

The most common problems can be noise, no heat, or poor/erratic heating. Before calling a qualified heating and cooling professional, take a moment to see if you can figure out the what’s wrong.

If you have a noisy boiler it might be because of two things – a faulty circulating pump or water trapped in the return lines. If the pump breaks it will make a loud noise when its motor runs. Water can be trapped in the return lines, which may require “re-pitching” the lines to allow for a flow back to the boiler. You may be able to adjust the flow by positioning hangers on the piping but replacing a pump is better left to a professional.

If your boiler is producing no heat, it could be because of something as simple as a circuit breaker being tripped or a fuse being blown. Check your circuit breakers and fuse and reset or replace if necessary. Is your boiler thermostat in the heat mode? It should be but if it isn’t, make the switch. If your boiler has a standing pilot you should check to see if it is lit and if not, re-light it.

Other problems would take a professional to fix. For example, no heat can be traced to low water levels in the boiler. The boiler should always be half-full of water and if it isn’t, it is likely because of leaks or a faulty pressure reducing valve. Don’t try and fix the problem by yourself.

Low water levels may not cause the boiler to lose its heating capabilities, but may cause fluctuations in its heating capacity. Again, it is advisable to call a professional to diagnose and fix the problem. Poor heating can also be traced to mineral deposits in the boiler. Consult your owner’s manual on instructions how to flush out the boiler.

As always, read the owner guide or operating manual for your boiler. You should get some good tips on proper maintenance and troubleshooting. And have the phone number of a qualified professional taped to your boiler – just in case.

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