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

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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Benefits of Installing a Humidifier for Your Home

Monday, November 10th, 2014

“It’s a dry heat” is usually a way to say that a hot day doesn’t feel as awful as it could. However, dry air can create as many problems as humid air, and if your home is suffering from issues with low humidity, you will need to find a way to fix it… especially during the winter, when dry air puts an edge on the cold, the exact reverse of the feeling of a “dry heat.”

The best method to cope with low humidity is installation of a whole-house humidifier. Small portable humidifiers are fine for taking care of a single room, but you can only deal with the full scope of the problem with professional installation of a whole-house unit into your HVAC system. Call the indoor air quality experts at Basnett Plumbing & Heating and ask about our services for humidifiers in Middlesex County. We will help your home achieve a comfortable and healthy balance of indoor humidity.

How a whole-house humidifier benefits you

  • Increased comfort: The reason that heat is more difficult to tolerate with high humidity is because the moisture in the air makes it harder for your body to release heat through perspiration. The opposite occurs in cold air, where the low moisture draws heat rapidly out of your body, making cold temperatures seem worse. This can create a problem during winters, making a house feel extra chilly to everyone in it. A humidifier will provide a comforting balance of air moisture.
  • Energy efficiency: Going hand-in-hand with better comfort, a humidifier will require you to run your heating system less frequently during the winter.
  • Fewer health issues: Dry air causes cracked and irritated skin and itchy eyes. It will also dry up sinuses and mucus membranes, which is not only uncomfortable, but also lowers the body’s defense against the spread of illness. In low humidity, flus and colds will become much more common. A number of viruses also thrive in dry climates. A humidifier will reduce these problems.
  • Protection for building material and valuables: Low humidity sucks moisture out of surfaces in your home as well, which will cause a number of problems. Wood is most susceptible to damage, and will crack in low humidity. This can create severe damage for precision musical instruments and valuable antiques. It will also peel wallpaper and painted surfaces. Balanced humidity thanks to a whole-house humidifier will help to protect your home.

Come to us for all the services necessary for humidifiers in Middlesex County. (And if your air is too humid, we offer dehumidifiers as well.)

The professionals at Basnett Plumbing & Heating will help you locate the right humidifier for your home and install it so that it does that job you need.

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Reasons to Have a Grease Trap Installed

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Fat, oil, and grease (also known as FOG) are major causes of problems in kitchen plumbing. They seem innocuous in their liquid form when they are hot, but once they cool down they change into waxy, solid material. If this develops inside the wastewater lines of your plumbing, it will lead to high water pressure, clogging, and interference with appliances.

Although you should avoid pouring FOG down your drains (remove it to a trash receptacle), there isn’t any way to prevent all of it from entering kitchen drains—and this is especially important for commercial kitchens, which deal with an immense amount of waste product from cooking and cleaning on a daily basis. If you need special help to stop the fat, grease, and oil from going down into the wastewater system of your home or business, then the installation of a kitchen grease trap will provide immense help.

At Basnett Plumbing & Heating, we are committed to keeping your kitchen, whether in a home or a workplace, free from problems associated with FOG, and we install grease traps in Middlesex County to help with this. Our installers will find the right sized grease trap for your establishment, and we will also provide the service to keep it working effectively.

Should you have a grease trap installed?

Not every home needs a grease trap, since the amount of FOG that goes down the drain is usually small (unless you are pouring it directly down the drains, which you should never do). A simple grease trap is often all that is necessary.

But for a commercial kitchen, grease traps are vital: you have the fat and grease from fryers and grills that must be washed away. This will cause extreme damage to your plumbing and lead to enormous clogging in the pipes that will require professionals to clean out. The clogging will also lead to higher water pressure, and that will cause leaking and damage along the pipes.

The biggest problem that a grease trap can prevent is excess FOG entering the sewer system. This can cause serious issues with the municipal waste system, and as a result may put your establishment in violation of health codes. Grease traps installed for your commercial kitchen will help keep away debilitating shuts-downs for your business.

We handle grease traps for Middlesex County businesses, as well as homes, that will keep away the trouble from any fat, grease, and oil that slides down the drains.

If you do not have grease traps installed for your establishment, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today and talk to our plumbing specialists about having the work done.

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Chelmsford HVAC Tip: Basic Terminology

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Ever try to look up basic information about your Chelmsford heating and air conditioning systems? There are dozens of terms that might as well be Greek for all you know – a mishmash of words and phrases talking about energy efficiency and air flow ratios. To make your next upgrade a little easier and give you a baseline with which to work, here are a few of the most common HVAC terms you’ll hear in the industry:

  • AFUE – Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency – This is a simple measurement of how much fuel a furnace converts into actual heat in your home. So, if a furnace converts 92% of the fuel it consumes into heat, it has an AFUE rating of 92.
  • Watts – A single watt is a measurement of electricity. Commonly, your electricity use is assured in kilowatts or kilowatt hours (kWh).
  • BTU – British Thermal Unit – A BTU is a common measurement of how much energy is produced or consumed by an appliance. When referring to an air conditioner, one “ton” refers to 12,000 BTUs.
  • SEER/EER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio refers to how many BTUs can be produced with a single Watt of electricity per hour. So, an air conditioner with an SEER of 14 can produce 14 BTUs of cooling per watt consumed each hour.
  • HSPF – Heating Seasonal Performance Factor – Refers to the efficiency of the heating elements in your heat pump.
  • COP – Coefficient of Performance – A measurement of how effective your heat pump is at heating a space compared to standard electrical resistance heat. The lower the temperature gets outside, the lower the COP will be. Equipment is usually measured for COP at 47 and 17 degrees to give an idea of seasonal performance of a new heat pump.
  • Refrigerant – Refrigerant is any gas that is used to draw heat from the air in a particular environment through an air conditioner or heat pump. It has a much lower boiling point than water, allowing it to cool despite the temperature outside. Currently, most equipment uses R-22 refrigerant while the new standard will be R-410A (Puron), legally required in all cooling units by 2020.
  • CFM – Cubic Feet per Minute – Used to measure the volume of air passed through an air handler by an air conditioner or furnace.

There are a number of complicated details to keep track of when choosing a new air conditioner or furnace. If you have any questions about your HVAC system, never hesitate to call Basnett Plumbing & Heating!

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Andover Heating Contractor Guide: Which Fuel is Right for Your Home?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Andover homeowners all want to save money on household expenses and utility bills. We turn off lights when we leave the room, take shorter showers and make sure the kids don’t keep the refrigerator door open. These small habits help, but still we all want to save a little wherever we can, right?

One area where people are constantly looking for ways to save money is home heating. Everyone wants to be comfortable and warm in their homes, but that costs money, so homeowners are always on the lookout for the most effective and cost efficient way to keep the house warm.

What is the most cost effective fuel for home heating?

Is it natural gas, electric, fuel oil or propane? How about less conventional heat sources like wood or geothermal pumps?

We all wish there was one easy, all-encompassing answer to this question, like a heating magic bullet that would keep every family warm and happy for pennies on the dollar. Unfortunately, there isn’t. It depends on too many factors for any one solution to work for everyone.

Probably the biggest factor that plays a role in the cost of a particular fuel is its local availability. Resources are available differentially, so that while one option might be cheapest for a family of five in Andover, Massachusetts, the analysis is entirely different for a single person in Kearney, Nebraska.

What is the most cost effective option for you?

That is a better question, but still not one that is necessarily easy to answer.

To figure it out, you need to carefully analyze several factors:

  • Local availability (see above)
  • Local climate
  • Size of your home
  • Your family’s needs
  • Existing heating equipment
  • Your budget

Armed with this information, you can do a careful comparison of the options available to you. For assistance you can use an online calculator to compare fuel costs, such as this one from the Energy Information Administration or this one from Hearth.com. Or, if all else fails, call a contractor for a professional assessment.

Comparing fuel costs and choosing the right solution for you may take some time, but the savings can be well worth it.

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Still River Heating Guide: Inspecting Your Furnace Heat Exchanger for Leaks

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Like all the heating and cooling components in your Still River home, your furnace needs regular maintenance and annual checkups performed by certified HVAC technicians. Here are some things that a professional heating maintenance technician can do to make sure your furnace is functioning safely.

One of the main concerns with any type of furnace is the potential for carbon monoxide gas leaks, which can be fatal if not detected. The heat exchanger is designed to prevent dangerous flue products from leaking into the home; therefore, it is important to inspect the heat exchanger for any cracks or excessive corrosion.

There are a few methods for introspecting a furnace heat exchanger for leaks and potential repairs (again, best performed by a professional HVAC technician):

  • Visual Inspection of the Furnace Heat Exchanger. Use a strong flashlight to visually check the heat exchanger thoroughly for cracks or open seams, particularly in areas that are susceptible heat or mechanical stress. Some seams may have been joined improperly during manufacturing, so be sure to check all joints. Also check for rust or corrosion in areas exposed to any type of moisture. Make sure you can gain access to all the parts of the heat exchanger. If you see any cracks, holes, or severe deterioration, your heat exchanger needs a professional repair. Ultimately, you may not be able to see all the parts of your heat exchanger, so further testing is recommended in addition to a visual inspection.
  • Flame Test. You can also observe the flame after the furnace is first turned on to detect potential damage to the heat exchanger. Turn off the furnace for at least five minutes, and sit close enough to the furnace to observe the burner flame. Have someone turn up the thermostat, and watch the flame for any changes in color or irregular patterns in the flame. If the flame makes any sudden changes, this could mean that the heat exchanger is damaged. Keep in mind that like the visual test, the flame test cannot determine damage to your heat exchanger alone.

In addition to increasing efficiency and lowering your heating bills, inspecting your furnace will ensure that your heating system operates safely throughout the winter. Along with having your heat exchanger inspected, we recommend that you test all the carbon monoxide detectors in your home on a regular basis, as well as changing the filter every month and cleaning out the ventilation system.

If you need further assistance, or suspect any leaks in your furnace, you will need to schedule an appointment with a Still River HVAC technician. Keep your home warm and safe this winter.

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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 YouTube.com 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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A Guide from Bolton: How to Shut Off Your Water Supply

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

In the case of a plumbing emergency, the last thing you want to do is watch as more water continues to pour into your Bolton home through a burst pipe, broken appliance or busted water valve. So, the first step should always be to turn off your main water supply valve. Here are some tips for finding that valve and getting the water supply off as soon as possible.

Finding Your Main Water Supply Valve

The valve is almost always located in one of two places. It will either be outside at the entry point for the water supply to your house or it will be located in your basement or garage between the inlet and the main water line. In some cases, it may be even be under an access panel in basement. However, this is less common than the first two options.

Once you find the main water supply valve, turn it off to immediately stop more water from entering your home. If you notice that water is continuing to enter your home, you have a problem before the entry valve and should call the city immediately because one of their pipes might have burst.

Shutting Off Individual Appliances

In many cases, the problem is related to a single appliance. If this is the case, you don’t necessarily need to turn off the entire water supply – just the supply valve for the specific appliance or fixture. Every major water fixture and appliance in your home should have its own shutoff valve in an easy to reach place. This goes for every sink, toilet, shower, dishwasher, and washing machine in your home – not having those valves can be dangerous.

Once you have turned off your water supply, it’s time to call a plumber. Make sure to keep track of everything you do (take notes if you can) and supply that information to the plumber both on the phone and when they arrive. It will help them diagnose and solve the problem much faster.

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How Heating Zone Control Can Save You Money in Groton

Friday, December 9th, 2011

The costs of heating your Groton home have risen dramatically over the past couple of decades, thanks to higher energy costs and price increases for heating equipment. Despite the strides made in energy efficiency, there seems to be no end in sight for the steady rise in heating equipment operating costs.

Now add in the cost of heating unoccupied areas of your home, such as basements, hallways, or extra bedrooms, and the energy costs go even higher. Most of these costs are unnecessary and avoidable if you have the time and a small investment in a well-planned heating “strategy” for your home. This strategy involves using heating zone controls to make the most efficient use of your heating system.

In a nutshell, here is how heating zone control works. The rooms in your home are connected to your heating system by a series of ductwork, which carries heated and conditioned area to all corners. But some of these areas may not need to be heated as much – or possibly at all – compared to other rooms in your home. For example, do you need heat in your kitchen but not in your basement? Most people would answer yes. Or they may say they need more heat in the kitchen and some, but not very much heat in the basement.

Or try this: do most people in your house spend more time in one room, such as the family room, and less time in their bedrooms? If so, why would it be necessary to heat the bedrooms all of the time? In order to deliver heat to areas in your home that need it the most, the ductwork to these rooms should always be “open.” Ductwork to other unused areas of your home can be “closed” during various times of the day.

Opening and closing of ductwork and airflow is achieved by zone controls. A zone control is installed in the home which electronically or wirelessly opens and closes “dampers” in the ductwork, depending on the heating demand. You can divert heat to areas of your home using zone control and dampers while decreasing the heating load on your furnace. This type of heating zone control will move heated air to where you want it. Simply put, you are not heating areas of your home that don’t need the heat.

The heating zone controls can be programmed for various times of the day, too. For example, you may not need any heat in your basement while you sleep or when you are away from home. You can program the damper in your basement’s ductwork to remain closed or partially open during these times. In a sense, the heating zone control in your home acts like a programmable thermostat – only it uses a series of dampers to control indoor temperatures.

The next time you walk into an unused part of your home, think about how much money you are spending to heat it. It makes sense to consider heating zone controls. The initial costs of installing zone controls and dampers are minimal and the payback in energy savings and comfort are substantial.

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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

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

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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