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

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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Common Water Heater Repairs

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

There are few more unpleasant daily inconveniences you may encounter in your home than to discover that you have insufficient hot water for your morning shower. Loss of hot water to your household will cause numerous problems, making normal tasks like cooking and cleaning difficult and sometimes impossible.

You need to call professional water heater technicians whenever your hot water supply appears to be in jeopardy. It is a simple task to find excellent water heater repair in Dunstable, MA and the surrounding areas: just call Basnett Plumbing & Heating and we will send one of our trained and experienced repair technicians to take care of your troubled water heater.

Some common water heater repairs you may need

Although water heater manufacturers build their products to last, they cannot make a water heater that is 100% malfunction-proof. Here are repairs that water heaters need the most often and that our technicians can handle for you.

  • Replacing a broken dip tube: The dip tube carries fresh water into the water heater tank and deposits it at the bottom of the tank near the heat exchanger or heating elements. If the dip tube breaks, it will begin to leave the cold water the top of the tank, where it mixes with the heated water and ends up pumped out of the tank. This is the most frequent cause for losing the normal volume of hot water people you from the water heater. Technicians will replace the dip tube to restore normal operation.
  • Repairing the pump: The main mechanical part in a water heater is the pump that moves the heated water out of the tank and into the hot water pipes. The pump can wear down and eventually cease working, which will mean no hot water at all to your home. Regular maintenance will help prevent emergency pump repair issues.
  • Flushing the tank: The tank of the water heater can pick up minerals and other deposits from the municipal water supply, which will start to gather at the bottom of the tank. If this accumulation continues, it can lead to the tank overheating and contamination of the water supply, or even corrosion. Technicians will flush out the tank to reduce these dangers. They will sometimes do this as part of regular maintenance.
  • Fixing leaks: Leaking pipes are one of the most common troubles for water heaters (as well as any part of a plumbing system). There are various causes for leaking to start—corrosion, high water pressure, poor soldering—and the repair technicians will track down the cause and provide the long-term solution.

Only call for professionals when you need water heater repair in Dunstable, MA or other parts of MetroWest.

You can depend on Basnett Plumbing & Heating for high quality service. We also offer regular maintenance that will help keep emergency repair calls out of your future.

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How Ductless Heat Pumps Save Money

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Using ductwork to channel air from a heater, air conditioner, or heat pump has been the standard in homes for so many decades that the very concept of ductless heating and cooling often sounds odd to people. However, the installation of a ductless heat pump in a home has numerous benefits that include saving space for the purpose of new home construction and remodeling and helping to increase indoor air quality through the removal of the dust and dirt that often contaminate ducts.

There is another important advantage from going ductless: money savings. For a number of reasons, a ductless heat pump will help you save money on your heating budget. You can contact Basnett Plumbing & Heating to speak to our professionals in ductless heat pumps in Dunstable, MA for more information about installing one of these systems for your home. We will help you discover if ductless is a practical route for your home and how much you can save.

How ductless heat pumps mean energy savings for a home

The main reason that ductless heat pumps can reduce your heating and cooling costs is that they do not lose energy through ducts. As heated or cooled air travels through ducts in a home, it will lose energy—even if the ducts are in impeccable condition with no air leaks. Ductless systems blow air directly into rooms through wall mounted units, losing very little energy in the process.

Because ductless heat pumps are designed as zone systems (each individual blower can be controlled separately from the others), they will save money because you will no longer need to cool or heat your entire home every time the heat pump turns on. You can shut down the blowers in empty rooms, such as guest rooms, and only expend energy for locations that need it. This will add up to large savings, especially if you have a house with many rooms and zones.

Finally, lack of ductwork means no duct cleaning. In order to maintain an efficient HVAC system that uses ducts, the ductwork must receive regular professional cleaning to remove excess dust, dirt, and other contamination that can lead to a drop in efficiency and unhealthy indoor air quality. Without ducts, you won’t have to pay for duct cleaning or worry that dirty ductwork is interfering with airflow.

Ductless heat pumps are not ideal for all homes, so before you make any major decision about installing one, ask for help from professionals.

At Basnett Plumbing & Heating, we have many years of experience installing ductless heat pumps in Dunstable, MA and the rest of the Metrowest Area.

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Westford Plumbing Tip: What You Need to Know About Water Heater Leaks

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

A leak in your Westford home’s water heater can be a big or small problem depending on where the leak is, how severe it is and whether it requires repair or replacement. Here are some things you should know about water heater leaks that will help you determine who to call and how to act.

 Where Is the Leak?

Step one is to determine where the water is coming from. Look for leaks around the fittings and valves attached to the device. If one of them is loose or if you see water dripping from a connection, it can probably be fixed relatively easily. However, if the leak is coming from the body of the water heater, you may have a ruptured tank which is a sure sign of a bad water heater that needs to be replaced.

 Draining Your Tank

Once you identify the leak, turn off the water supply to the tank and prepare to drain it the rest of the way. You should also disconnect the power from the device. If the water heater is gas, I recommend you call a professional who is certified to work on gas appliances. For electric water heaters, you still want a professional Westford plumber, but the next step here is to simply turn off the breaker to stop electricity from flowing to the device.

They will drain the tank next, using the bucket to capture the water as it is released. Once the tank is empty, it is time to tighten your fittings.

 Fixing the Problem

Assuming this is a fittings or valve problem, your plumber will loosen any fittings that appeared to have leaked, repair the plumbing thread and retape the pipes, finally tightening the fittings back into place. The pressure valve may need to be replaced as well – now if it is necessary.

Before reapplying the electricity to the water heater, your plumber will reattach the water supply and turn it on to check for leaks. If it holds water, you are lucky and your water heater’s tank isn’t leaking. Next they will reattach everything and turn it back on.

If you notice the leak continues, you should call Basnett Plumbing & Heating as it is likely the glass inside your tank has cracked or is leaking. Most of the time, this cannot be repaired and means you need a new water heater installed.

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Chelmsford Heating Tip: Different Types of Furnace Filters

Monday, March 26th, 2012

A good filter for your furnace is a must. Because that device heats and blows air throughout your Chelmsford home, you want to be sure that it doesn’t recycle contaminants and bacteria that could easily be captured at the air handler. That’s why it’s vital to choose the right furnace filter on the first try. Here are some furnace filters to consider and their various benefits to your home and family:

  • Electrostatic – Most electrostatic filters are permanent and must be washed on a regular basis. They are electronically charged to capture particles as they pass through, much like a magnet. These filters are effective because they are both physical and electronic. However, keep in mind that they are only as efficient as the cleaning they receive.
  • HEPA – HEPA is the highest rating available for a filtration system, removing up to 99.9% of all particles as small as 0.3 microns. However, they are also inefficient when used in furnaces as they severely reduce air flow. They are not often recommended for this reason.
  • Pleated – Pleated filters come in both reusable and permanent forms and can be either purely mechanical or electrostatic. There is a very wide range of efficiency ratings for pleated filters so make sure you analyze your home’s specific needs before selecting any one pleated filter.
  • Activated Carbon – Activated carbon is unique from the other three filter types because it effectively removes fumes, odors and chemicals from indoor air along with other larger particles. It is recommended that if you choose an activated carbon filter, you supplement it with a pleated or electrostatic filter (or choose a combination filter) to remove all unwanted components from your home.

There are a lot of options when it comes to furnace filters. To make sure you get only the best air quality, talk to a Chelmsford heating professional who can help you determine which pollutants are the biggest problem in your home.

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Dunstable Heating Guide: Heat Recovery Ventilators

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

While the design of modern homes is to retain as much energy as possible while minimizing the cost of heating and cooling, that very design can have a negative impact on your Dunstable home’s indoor air quality. Because air cannot pass freely between indoor and outdoor environments, you are stuck breathing the same air day after day.

Luckily, there are t options that will exchange the heat in your indoor air to the outdoor air as it enters your home. In effect, you can retain all of the heat your home produces each day before it leaves the house. It works equally well in the summer to retain the cooled air your air conditioning units produce.

How Heat Recovery Works

Heat recovery ventilators come in many forms, including simple ventilation, heat exchange, or air exchanging. There are even some indoor heat pumps that will carefully draw heat from the air as it’s removed from your home and recirculate it through your air ducts.

The idea is the same no matter how the system is installed. As air leaves your home through a ventilator, a counter-flow heat exchanger transfers energy between the air leaving and entering your home. So, instead of warm air leaving and cold air entering, the air coming into your home takes the heat from the air leaving your home. Air comes and goes, but heat stays inside.

In the summer, the same system works in reverse to remove heat from the air coming into your home and keep it outside. The one thing to keep in mind with a heat recovery ventilator is that it doesn’t retain the humidity in your home as an energy recovery ventilator would. If you live in an area with very high or very low humidity during summer or winter, an ERV may be a better solution for your needs.

Air Quality Benefits

The goal of a good heat recovery ventilator is not just to retain the heated or cooled air in your home. It is also to ensure you have clean, fresh air to breathe each day. Most people don’t realize, but when you don’t circulate your air and your home is sealed up with enhanced weather-stripping and high quality insulation, unwanted contaminants begin to build up. A heat recovery ventilator makes sure you not only get fresh air, but that it’s properly filtered and the heat or cooling your comfort system produces is retained. No money is lost, energy is saved, and your family stays comfortable and healthy – everyone wins.

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Pepperell Heating Repair Question: How Do I Check a Gas Furnace Draft Pressure Switch?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

There are many reasons why a furnace stops working and in many cases, a Pepperell homeowner can perform some simple diagnostics to pinpoint the problem. Finding the problem is one thing – fixing it is another. When in doubt, don’t try it yourself. Call a qualified professional.

But let’s look at one possible problem and solution you may be able to perform yourself – testing the draft pressure switch. The draft pressure switch on a gas furnace allows an electrical current to pass through to ignite the furnace. The pressure switch monitors the draft conditions and won’t allow the furnace’s gas valve to open unless draft is correct.

If the switch is malfunctioning, so too will (or will not) the furnace.

The best way to locate the switch is by consulting with your owner’s manual or by going online and simply typing in the words “gas furnace draft switch.” It is identifiable by its round size and is bolted to the outside of the furnace. It should be nearby the draft inducer motor because the two are connected by a metal tube. The tube may sometimes be the culprit, too. A tube that is blocked with condensation may cause the switch to go bad.

To check for proper function, first turn off power to the furnace, either by shutting down the ‘on’ switch at the furnace or shutting off the circuit breaker.

Use a volt ohm meter to check if the switch is opening and closing properly. Start by zeroing out the meter’s probes by touching the tips together. Using the dial (could be analog or digital), set the meter to 24 volts. Ground the black probe by attaching it to any metal part of the furnace. Then place the end of the red probe on the metal tube connecting the draft pressure switch to the draft inducer motor.

If the switch is working properly the meter should read at least 24 volts, or very near that. If the reading is short of 24 volts, the switch is not working correctly. At that point you may decide to replace it or call a professional to do the task (recommended).

Always remember that there are many sources which will help you diagnose and repair a problem, especially those available through the Internet. If you search you will find many videos advising you on how to repair certain components. Use all of the resources available to you and keep the phone number of a Pepperell heating and cooling contractor nearby.

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An Ayer Contractor Guide: Pros and Cons of Various Heating Systems

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

When it comes time to install a new heating system in your Ayer home, there are a lot of options to consider. Many people get overwhelmed when confronted with all of the furnaces, boilers and heat pumps on the market these days. So, to help you get a handle on what each has to offer and which will offer you the best benefits, here is an overview of the modern heating system market.


Furnaces are the core of a forced air heating system and use gas, oil or electricity to heat air which is then circulated through your home by a blower in your air handler. Furnaces are among the most fuel efficient heating systems on the market today with options available at up to 95% AFUE (meaning it uses up to 95% of the fuel consumed to produce heat). They are also inexpensive to install and while they don’t last quite as long as boilers, they are highly efficient when well cared for.


Boilers use gas, oil or electricity to heat water or steam which is then circulated through your home into radiators or baseboard heaters. The heated water or steam releases heat into your home and heats it in turn. While not quite as energy efficient as a high efficiency furnace, boiler heat is perfect for homes with existing radiators and no room for vents and ductwork. It also has less of an impact on indoor air quality since there is no air movement and boilers tend to last a very long time when well maintained.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular, especially in milder climates where it rarely gets below 40 degrees F. A heat pump uses the same technology as an air conditioner to extract heat from outside using a compressor, evaporator coils, and condenser coils with refrigerant.

It is most efficient in the spring and fall when temperatures are mild, but it uses much less energy than either a boiler or furnace and it can be used in the summer to cool your home. When properly maintained, a heat pump will last 10-20 years and save quite a bit of money, though it is recommended that you have an emergency heat source for days when the temperature outside gets below 40 degrees F.

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What’s the Difference Between a Furnace and a Boiler? A Question from Arlington

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

When it comes time to choose a new heating system for your Arlington home, there is a good chance your choices are limited. Most homes already have either forced air or radiant heat equipment installed so choosing something different would be costly and unnecessary. But, if you have a choice or are moving into a new home, here are some things to consider regarding the difference between furnaces and boilers.

What a Furnace Does

A furnace uses a fuel like gas, oil or electricity to heat a series of coils in the device. The furnace then uses a blower to push air across the heated coil and into an air handler where it can be distributed throughout your home. This is called a forced air system and requires a combination of ducts and filters to keep air moving smoothly and cleanly throughout your home.

If you have access to gas, a gas furnace with an AFUE of 90% or higher is one of the most efficient and cost effective ways to heat your home. These furnaces can also last upwards of 20-25 years with proper maintenance.

What a Boiler Does

A boiler is different in that it uses water as the heat carrying medium, not air. Boilers still need gas, oil or electricity to heat up the water in the system, though they often use less of it than a traditional furnace – depending on the age of the furnace and the boiler. After water is heated in the boiler, your radiant heating system carries the water to baseboard heaters or radiators throughout your home. This form of heat is preferred by many because it doesn’t require ductwork (which requires extra maintenance) or extra air filtering and it is more humidity friendly in a large home.

In terms of efficiency, both boilers and furnaces are efficient if you’re buying a new model. Capacity is also evenly matched. Boilers take the edge in comfort level and if you have the budget, you can install radiant floor heating which allows you to pipe hot water directly into bathroom floors or your living space so that you never again need to walk on cold floors. Another benefit of radiant heating is that the system will hold heat much longer and then release it over time instead of turning on and off a lot as a furnace tends to do.

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