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

What Is a Laundry Pump?

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Many people have their laundry appliances in the basements of their homes. However, a potential challenge for some homeowners using this schematic for their laundry is that their washing machine is below their main wastewater line. So how can you get rid of the gray water (wastewater) that is created when you do a load of wash? Install a laundry pump in your Reading home.

When Gravity Can’t Help

Plumbing utilizes gravity in many ways: water flows down from faucets, it flows down drains and flows down into your main sewer or septic line, which is usually a few feet below the surface of your yard. But gravity can also work against you, especially if your main waste line is above some of your plumbing, as it can be with a washing machine. When this happens, you need the help of a pump.

What a Laundry Pump Does

A laundry pump’s job is to push the gray water from your finished wash cycle up to the waste line so that it can be properly disposed of. The way a laundry pump works is that once a cycle is finished, the water is drained into a small holding tank. Most laundry pumps operate automatically using a float to detect the rising water. When the water level reaches a certain pre-set level, the level of the float triggers the pump to operate, and the gray water is pumped from the tank up to the waste line pipe. When the float drops back down to a certain level, the pump shuts off and a valve inside the pipe stops any backflow from occurring. For those pumps that aren’t automatic, you can manually activate the pump with a switch. It isn’t uncommon for items like buttons and coins to wash into the holding tank, so it’s important to check the tank periodically for these items so they can’t cause a clog.

Plumbing installations should always be handled by a professional.

If you are in need of a laundry pump for your Reading home, call the experts at Basnett Plumbing & Heating today and schedule an appointment.

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How Furnace Maintenance Helps Keep Your Heating System Safe

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Gas-powered furnaces have a reputation as dangerous heating systems; most of this is based on furnaces from decades past and does not apply to modern furnace designs that highlight safe operation. The furnace that keeps your household toasty warm through a Massachusetts winter should pose no greater danger to you than any other type of heating system… or your oven, stove, and toaster for that matter.

But to enjoy this level of safety with your gas furnace you must arrange annual maintenance from a heating professional. Maintenance helps your furnace avoid unnecessary repairs, slows down its aging, and keeps it efficient. Most important, it keeps your furnace safe.

Keep in mind, that we offer different service agreements that will see to your needs.

Furnace maintenance and furnace safety

The principle way that a gas furnace may turn into a hazard is trouble with venting the exhaust gas from the cabinet. A gas-powered furnace works by transferring heat from combustion gas to the air the blower sends into the ventilation system. The combustion gas collects in a metal container called the heat exchanger. After the heat exchanger transmits its heat to the air, the cooled down gas in the exchanger vents out a flue, safely removed from the house.

However, trouble with the heat exchanger or the flue can lead to the exhaust gas escaping into the home, where it poses dangers from toxicity and combustibility. Cracks in the heat exchanger are one of the main dangers an aging furnace might encounter. During regular maintenance, the technician will examine the heat exchanger to see if any damage has started to develop on it. The technician will replace the exchanger with a new one if anything appears suspicious. The maintenance technician will also examine the flue and check to see that the exhaust is escaping without blockage.

Maintenance looks for possible gas leaks along the burner and checks the connection to the gas line. Any place in the furnace that could be a source of a gas leak receives special consideration. Technicians keep an eye out for any signs of corrosion, which often indicates trouble with the exhaust.

Another item that a maintenance technician examines is the thermocouple/mercury sensor, a safety device that measures if the pilot light has gone out. If the thermocouple or sensor has failed, the technician will replace it.

Call us for furnace maintenance today

When you schedule regular furnace maintenance in Reading, MA from Basnett Plumbing & Heating, we will send an experienced technician to your home who will make your family’s safety the number one priority. Our service agreements also come with other benefits, such as discounts on repairs and service calls, upfront pricing, and priority scheduling.

Schedule this important pre-season furnace maintenance in Reading, MA and the surrounding areas through Basnett Plumbing & Heating.

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What Is the Best Fuel Option for a Whole-House Generator?

Monday, July 21st, 2014

With a whole-house generator, you not only have protection for your family in case of a major, extended power loss, you have something even better: peace of mind.

However, when it comes to installing a generator for your home, you can’t simply pick any model and expect that it will do the job. You have some important choices to make so that the generator you end up with can handle the power needs of your home and work efficiently. One of the key choices you will need to make is the generator’s fuel source.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating specializes in fitting homes with propane and natural gas generators in Reading, MA and other parts of the MetroWest Area. We will help answer all your questions regarding whole-house generators to steer you to the model that will keep you certain throughout the year that your home will be ready for any energy emergency.

Let’s look at the two major fuel options for generators to help get you started with choosing one:

Propane generators

If you do not have access to a natural gas line for your home, then a propane generator is an excellent choice. Propane is stored in a tank for the generator to use, and does not require that you connect the generator to any municipal system.

There are two drawbacks to propane generators that make us advise homeowners who do have access to natural gas lines to opt for a gas generator instead. The first is that propane costs more than natural gas, and it is a more volatile fuel when it comes to price fluctuations. The second is that you can run out of propane; if you are caught with a low or empty propane tank during a power outage, you may experience difficulty getting more heating fuel.

Natural gas generators

These are the most reliable model of whole-house generators, and you should make them your top choice if you have a connection to a natural gas line. Natural gas burns cleaner than other fuels, like oil and propane. And it burns efficiently—it’s less expensive than using electricity. You won’t spend much more money to power your generator during an emergency than you would to run the power in your home at regular times. Because natural gas comes from a municipal supply, you won’t have to worry about running out of heating fuel or getting caught with an empty tank.

Aside from selecting the best fuel type for your home’s generator, you must also have the right sized system to match your needs for power during an outage. Even if you feel certain of the fuel type for your future generator, you will still require the generator installation expertise of professionals to see the work through to the end.

Whether it’s installing propane or natural gas generators in Reading, MA, you can trust the job—from start to finish—to Basnett Plumbing & Heating.

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3 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Friday, June 13th, 2014

In Reading, MA, we have it all: dry cold in winter, sticky humidity in summer and allergies from spring to fall. All of these things can be a problem indoors, too. Since 1987, Basnett Plumbing & Heating has been helping customers in the Metro West area achieve the level of indoor air quality they need to be comfortable and healthy. Does your indoor air quality in Reading need improvement? Let us demonstrate 3 ways you can use your cooling system to improve your Reading indoor air quality:

#1: Dehumidifier

It’s no secret that eastern Massachusetts can get very hot and humid in the summer, particularly in July and August. When it gets excessively humid outside, your air conditioner has to work extra hard to keep things cool inside. One way to help both yourself and your air conditioner work better during humid stretches of weather is to install a whole-home dehumidifier.

A whole-home dehumidifier removes excess humidity from the air, helping lift the load from your air conditioner. A whole-home dehumidifier can also help reduce mold growth, the proliferation of dust mites, and increase your indoor comfort level.

#2: Air Filter

Your air conditioning system comes with a built-in air filter, but the job of this filter is to help stop dirt and dust from entering your air conditioning system – not improve the air quality. So, if you suffer from allergies or sensitivities to air pollution, this air filter will not assist you very much. By adding a more efficient air filter to your air conditioner, you will be able to screen out allergens like pollen, pet dander, mold spores and other microbes that can be a problem for the allergy sufferers in your home.

#3: UV Germicidal Lights

Do you have concerns about bacteria and mold coming through your air conditioning system? Then you may want to consider the installation of UV germicidal lights to your air conditioner. UV germicidal lights are installed in your indoor unit, above the coils. The UV light effectively kills 99.9% of all viruses, bacteria and mold, making it a very healthy addition to your air conditioning system.

Breathe Better, Live Healthier

You spend a lot of time in your home, so it makes sense that your indoor air quality should be where you need and want it to be.

Let Basnett Plumbing & Heating help you improve your indoor air quality in Reading with one of our many tried and true techniques – call us for an appointment today!

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Hydronic Heat and How It Works: A Reading, MA Heating Guide

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

While many people in Reading, MA enjoy the reliable and comfortable heat provided by their boiler, few actually know how they work. At Basnett Plumbing & Heating, our heating technicians have been providing boiler services throughout the Reading, MA area for many years. We thought it would be helpful if we put together a quick explanation of what hydronic heat is and how boilers work.

Hydronic Heat

Put simply, hydronic heating is the use of water or steam to transfer heat into a space. Some of the most common types of hydronic heating systems are hot water radiators and radiant floor heaters.

How Hydronic Systems Work

Hydronic heating systems are pretty simple. Here are their essential parts:

  • Boiler or heating tank – A large tank where the water is heated or vaporized.
  • Piping – In modern systems this is almost always PEX tubing. In older systems you’ll likely find steel or copper pipes.
  • Pump – The pump keeps the water circulating through the system so that it is always hot.
  • Heat exchanger – This can be the radiator in each room, the floor or wall piping or some other element that transfers heat into the room.

Types of Hydronic Systems

There are many different types of hydronic heating systems available on the market.

  • Hot water radiators – While their name might imply that they provide radiant heat, they actually form a hot air convection current in the room. The radiators are fed hot water by a boiler.
  • Steam boilers – These are some of the oldest hydronic systems. They are almost identical to hot water radiators.
  • Under floor and wall radiant heating – These systems actually do provide radiant heat. A series of coils are installed in the floor or wall. Hot water or steam is circulated through them that provides comfortable heat to the home.

If you’re interested in learning about the benefits of hydronic heating, call the experts at Basnett Plumbing & Heating. Our plumbers have years of experience working with all types and brands of heating systems. We would love to talk with you about any issues that you’re having or new installations that you’d like to do. Give us a call today!

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Reading MA Heating Question: What Does a Furnace Thermocouple Do?

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Modern appliances are equipped with an array of safety measures to make sure that they operate safely in your Reading MA home. This includes gas furnaces, which are harmless when working correctly but can be unsafe if something goes wrong. Perhaps the most crucial safety feature of a gas furnace is the thermocouple, also called a flame sensor.

Essentially, a furnace thermocouple works as a kill switch to shut off the furnace in case the gas is not igniting, like if the pilot light is out. Here is how it works.

The thermocouple is made up of two pieces of metal which are welded together at one end, called the “hot end” because it actually sits directly in the path of the furnace flame. On the cold end, it is wired to a circuit. Under normal circumstances, when the furnace is switched on, gas flows through the line and is ignited by a pilot light, ignition spark or glow coil. The flame heats up the thermocouple, and the furnace stays on.

However, sometimes the gas may not ignite, for example if the pilot light is out or the glow coil is faulty. In these cases, if there were no thermocouple, gas would continue to flow out without being lit, creating a very dangerous situation.

What the thermocouple does is detect heat, so if the furnace is on, but the hot end of the thermocouple has not heated up, that circuit up at the cold end kills the power to the furnace so that gas cannot continue to flow out unchecked. That way, you do not have to worry about a gas leak building to dangerous levels without being aware of it.

Sometimes, the thermocouple can malfunction, causing the furnace to shut off even if the burners are working just fine. Usually that is just the result of build up on the hot end over time.

If you need furnace repair in Reading MA or the surrounding MetroWest area, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call!

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Littleton Plumber’s Guide: Water-Saving Tips and Tricks

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Here are some of our favorite water-saving tips. They are easy to incorporate into your lifestyle – and can save you hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water a year. For more tips about how to improve your Littleton plumbing, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call!

Whole House

  • Check for leaks – you may save thousands of gallons a month! You can find leaks by looking, listening, and monitoring your water bill for unusually high usage. To check for toilet leaks, put food coloring in your tank. If it gets into the bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Don’t forget to look for leaks in your outdoor plumbing too.
  • Know where your master water shut-off valve is located. In the event of a major problem, you’ll save thousands of gallons of water – and maybe your possessions as well.

Outdoors

  • Adjust your sprinklers so that you water only your lawn – not your sidewalk or driveway.
  • Consider adding a patio or “outdoor room” to your home. You’ll have less lawn to water and will add thousands of dollars to your home’s value.
  • Do two chores at once – water the grass by washing your car or your pet on the lawn. Be sure to use natural, biodegradable soaps.
  • Have your Littleton plumber re-route your laundry waste water to your lawn (check with local authorities first to be sure this is legal in your town).

In the Bathroom

  • Turn off faucets when you’re not actively using water – such as when you’re lathering your hands, shaving, or brushing your teeth. You’ll save hundreds of gallons each month. New touchless water faucets (or very affordable converters for your existing faucet) make this easy and fun to do, especially for kids.
  • Shorten your shower by only a minute or two, and save 150 gallons of water a month. (You can do this by turning off the shower while you lather your hair.)
  • Replace your old showerhead with a new WaterSense water-saving showerhead. They’re inexpensive and easy to install. You’ll save up to 750 gallons a month (and it’s a great opportunity to get a nice style upgrade too!).
  • Install WaterSense-certified aerators on all your faucets – another inexpensive upgrade that can save hundreds of gallons a month.
  • Insulate hot water pipes so don’t have to run the water as long while you wait for it to heat up.
  • Plug the tub before turning the water on for your bath, then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
  • Keep a bucket in the shower to catch water as it heats up. Use this water to flush toilets or water plants.

In the Kitchen and Laundry Room

  • Install a tankless water heater near your kitchen sink so you don’t have to run the water while it warms up.
  • If your dishwasher is new, scrape off excess food, but don’t pre-rinse. Modern dishwashers are built to handle un-rinsed items.
  • Upgrade your old water-cooled refrigerator, air conditioner, or ice-maker to a new air-cooled model for a significant reduction in water use
  • When buying new appliances, look for the EnergyStar label, which guarantees high efficiency. Also, look for models that offer cycle and load size adjustments.
  • Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when they are full – you can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.

If you need plumbing service in the Littleton area, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call!

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Lunenburg HVAC Question: What Does the EPA Do for Indoor Air Quality

Monday, July 30th, 2012

There are a number of agencies in the United States dedicated to protecting the health and wellbeing of citizens. What does that mean for you in Lunenburg? It means many of the rules and regulations related to indoor air quality are directly overseen by the EPA and the US government. For a better idea of how this impacts your currently lifestyle, here’s a quick look at what the EPA does.

Formation

The Environmental Protection Agency was formed in 1970 by Richard Nixon and the US Congress to oversee the regulation and oversight of air, water, land and hazardous waste. In short, the EPA works to keep our environment clean and safe.

The EPA and Homeowners

While much of what the EPA does relates to corporate pollution, regulations for manufacturing and consumer products, and development of safe methods of production for things like oil, food and water, the EPA has a big hand in ensuring your home stays safe.

Specifically, the EPA started and oversees the Energy Star program to help consumers purchase appliances and HVAC systems that use the least possible energy. Additionally, the EPA oversees the measurements and minimum requirements for home insulation and ventilation. This has as direct impact on indoor air quality.

Current EPA regulations are based on the ASHRAE Standards for low rise buildings and has been revised in the last two decades to ensure proper ventilation and insulation to reduce energy waste and maintain clean, fresh air.

The clean air act has a big impact on how homes are ventilated and maintained and the EPA does a lot of public service work to educate the public on ways to stay safe, including a recent campaign to get your home tested for radon – a potentially life threatening gas that can exist in any home, regardless of age.

Getting to Know the EPA

If you have an indoor air quality problem in Lunenburg, one of the best resources on the Internet is the EPA’s indoor air quality website. It contains laws and regulations that impact your home (if you plan on remodeling or adding on to your home) and dozens of resources for testing and understanding the levels of pollutants in your home. For more information about keeping your indoor air clean, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating!

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Littleton Plumbing Guide: The Root of the Problem – Why is the Sewer Line Blocked?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

If you have dealt with a blocked sewer line in your Littleton, MA home, you know all too well that it can be a nightmare. Sewer lines are made out of especially sturdy materials for a reason: because we collectively want to keep their contents inside. So, when a sewer line gets blocked and starts backing up or seeping — or even cracks under the stress — it can be a real mess.

If you have never had encountered a sewer line block, count yourself lucky.

Whichever category you fall into, it is important to know about causes of sewer blocks lie, so that you have an idea what you are up against should you ever encounter (another) one, as well as being able to take some reasonable prevention measures. Read on to learn about some of the common culprits that block up sewer lines.

 Flushed Objects

The most preventable common cause of a blocked sewer line is the flushing of objects that should not be flushed. Sewer lines are not meant to handle solid objects like diapers, sanitary napkins or other garbage, so if these get flushed down the toilet — either intentionally or by accident — it can cause an ugly block.

Even smaller objects or bits of debris that seem to move fine through the sewer line can build up over time to cause a block. Paper towels, hair, grease or dirt can collect on the walls of the line and cause a block as well.

 Tree Roots

It may seem like nothing happens beneath the ground of our lawns, where the sewer line runs. In fact, there is quite a bit of life going about its business under there, including the root systems of the trees in your yard. These roots can grow right into your sewer line, infiltrating it and causing a blockage.

 Defect

The last main cause of a sewer link blockage is shoddy materials. Although sewer lines are meant to be made of high quality material because of the stress they perform under, it is still possible for one to collapse or bulge with use.

Repairing a blocked sewer line calls for a Littleton, MA plumbing professional’s assistance. To avoid having to make that call, the best thing you can do as a homeowner is keep solid objects from being flushed down into the sewer line. It can save you a huge headache later on. If you have any problems with your plumbing or drain system, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call!

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Southborough Plumber’s Guide: How to Prevent Bathroom Water Damage

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Water damage. Even the mere mention of potential damage from excess water in your Southborough house is enough to send a chill down your spine. However, there are a number of things you can do to avoid such damage, especially in the bathroom.

The Bathtub

The biggest single contributors to water damage are the shower and bathtub, where gallons upon gallons of water are distributed every day. You can minimize damage by doing the following:

  • Tiles – Check for missing or cracked tiles and replace them immediately. Supplement the tiles with grout that is properly sealed and check for any potential leaks.
  • Keep it Dry – There is a lot of water in your bathroom. Keep it off the floor by drying it up after a shower, hair washing or any other moisture producing activity in the bathroom. Make sure you minimize the risk of excess water by placing bathmats on the floor outside your shower.
  • Exhaust Fan – Water builds up in a bathroom because there is no moving air. Humidity can be just as damaging as actual wetness, especially if it settles in cooler temperatures. To avoid this happening, install an exhaust fan attached to the light switch to draw out any moisture after a shower.

Sinks and Fixtures

  • Check Under the Sink – Look under the sink and make sure there are no drips from the faucet and no leaks from the trap. You may simply need to check and clean the trap once every month or so.
  • Seals – Check sink seals on a regular basis for cracks or leaks and replace them when necessary.
  • Speed of Drainage – If the sink drains slowly, the drain may be clogged. Check the trap and if that doesn’t help, pour a mixture of vinegar and baking soda down weekly.
  • Upgrades – Upgrade your fixtures to save water. Toilets eat water to the tune of 40% of your annual consumption and your shower head can be made almost twice as efficient without cutting into your comfort level. If you notice a drip, crack or leak from any of these devices, simply upgrade them and you’ll save a lot of water (and reduce how much of it could leak if a problem occurs in the future).

There are a lot of ways to avoid water leaks in your bathroom. Keep a close eye on things and it will be much easier than if you waited for a full blown problem to develop. If you suspect that there is a problem with your plumbing, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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