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

Lancaster, MA Plumbing Question: Why Is My Water Heater Rumbling?

Monday, March 4th, 2013

If your water heater rumbles or makes other strange and unusual sounds, it may be an indication that you need professional plumbing repair. Often, the sounds your appliances make are warning signs that something needs to be fixed and it’s important that you heed those symptoms. Not only will repair get your water heater working again, but it may also prevent future repairs and premature replacement.  If your water heater makes too much noise, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating plumbing repair in Lancaster, MA today.

There are several different reasons your water heater makes a rumbling noise:

  • Scale. About 85% of homes in America have hard water. Hard water refers to high levels of calcium and magnesium bicarbonate in your water supply. These deposits tend to build up on the inside of your water heater and on the heating elements. Those deposits are commonly called limescale and often cause problems in your water heater’s tank–including overheating. A professional repair service will likely delime your tank in order to get it working again.
  • Sediment. Silicate and sand can build up on the inside of your water heater. Whether drawn from the main water supply or introduced into the system by pipe leaks underground, sediment can also cause your tank to overheat. It can typically be removed by periodic system flushing. Check with a pro to see what the best course of action for your water heater is.
  • Cold water. If the amount of cold water entering your water heater is excessive, then this can also cause a rumbling sound. If there is a leak around the input valve, this can lower the total temperature of the tank and cause your heater to work more than it needs to. The rumbling noise occurs as a result of cold and hot water mixing together.

Sounds are difficult to diagnose during plumbing repair. Let the Lancaster, MA plumbers at Basnett Plumbing & Heating figure it out for you. We offer exceptional plumbing services for all of your home’s needs. Call us today. 

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How to Tell If You Need Repiping: A Boxborough, MA Plumber’s Guide

Monday, February 11th, 2013

The pipes and plumbing system in your home work hard every day to bring fresh water into your home and to dispose of your waste water. Because of that wear and tear, you may eventually have to replace the pipes in your home. When you need repiping in Boxborough, MA, call your local plumber. At Basnett Plumbing & Heating, we thought it would be a good idea to put together some of the signs that could indicate that you need repiping services.

Low Water Pressure

If you’ve noticed a sudden or gradual drop in water pressure, it could indicate that you have leaks in your piping system. While leaks can often be replaced, if your plumbing system is old it might make more sense to get your home repiped. Older pipes will start to break down more often and replacing sections of it might only be delaying the inevitable.

Rust

When you notice rust in your water it means that you may need to replace your pipes. Rust is a huge problem for any home. While you can sometimes replace rusted sections of pipe it usually means that you have to replace your entire system.

Corrosion and Mineral Deposits

Over time, your pipes can start to corrode. While copper pipes are generally resistant to corrosion, it can still eventually can happen. Mineral deposits can also start to build  up in your pipes because of hard water. While these problems can sometimes just result in leaks and repairs it can also eventually get to the point where you need to replace your whole piping system.

If you need plumbing repairs in Boxborough, MA, call the experts at Basnett Plumbing & Heating today. Our expert plumbers have years of experience working with all different types of plumbing problems.

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Sudbury, MA Heating Question: What Are Unico High Velocity Systems?

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Central heating and air conditioning are one of the truly great innovations in the business of keeping your home comfortable. There is nothing quite like the even, effective heating and air conditioning performance on those hot, sticky nights and bitter winter mornings. Unfortunately, a lot of homes in the Sudbury, MA area simply are not very duct friendly, meaning that the installation of a central heating and air conditioning would either be an involved, costly venture or compromise the historic qualities of the home. A Unico high velocity system from Basnett Plumbing & Heating is a great solution to this very predicament.

Traditional air duct systems are big and bulky. When installed during the construction of a home it is not that big an issue. However, if you have an older home without this type of ductwork system your home may not even be able to accommodate a retrofit. That is where Unico high velocity systems come in.

Rather than use large, bulky air ducts to distribute heated and cooled air throughout a building, high velocity systems use small, flexible ducts. The size and flexibility of these air ducts allow them to be threaded between walls and ceiling panels, eliminating the need for costly, disruptive construction and remodeling.

There are other benefits to these high velocity systems in addition to their versatility and the ease of their installation. The smaller air ducts that they use help to reduce the occurrence of air drafts. They also reduce temperature variations between different rooms in your home, allowing for even and comfortable heating and air conditioning performance. During the summer months the cooler air from these ducts will help to minimize the development of humid conditions in your home. These systems are also very efficient and can help cut down on the high energy costs incurred when using multiple window units.

For more information about Unico high velocity systems. contact Basnett Plumbing & Heatingg. We are happy to make your home in the Sudbury, MA area more comfortable to live in. Remember, just because your home is old or does not have preexisting ductwork, it does not meant that you should sacrifice comfort to preserve the building.

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When to Schedule Heating Repair in Weston, MA

Monday, November 19th, 2012

If you are a homeowner, you have probably been told time and time again that you should call for professional heating repair service as soon as you notice a problem with your home heating system in Weston, MA. Of course in order to do this you must first be aware of that problem. Many homeowners do not understand the warning signs that their home heating system is in need of repair. Unfortunately, the longer that necessary repairs are put off, the more serious the damage to your heating system is likely to be and the more expensive those necessary repairs become. Don’t let minor, common problems with the heating system in your Weston, MA home worsen to the point that they cause serious damage to your heater. Call Basnett Plumbing & Heating the moment that you are made aware of a problem with your heating system.

Here are some warning signs that your heater may be in need of repair service from a local, professional service provider.

As a basic rule, you should consider any irregularities or inconsistencies that develop with your home heating system to be cause enough for a call to the professionals. There are a number of common changes you may notice with your heater that justify a maintenance visit and may require repairs. If, for instance, you have made no changes to your home heating habits yet notice an increase in heating costs, you have an efficiency problem. There are a number of causes that could be behind this inefficiency, such as leaky ducts, a faulty thermostat or insufficient or damaged installation. Whatever the cause, professional repair service is necessary get your heater working efficiently again.

You may also notice that your heater simply is not providing the consistent heating performance that it once did. This is one of the most common warning signs that there is a problem with your heater requiring professional repair service. As your heater ages it will lose some of its efficiency, but most modern heaters have long life expectancies and the loss should not be substantial over a short amount of time. If you notice uneven heating or the development of cold spots throughout your home call for professional repairs immediately.

Even something as simple as odd odors emanating from your air registers or unfamiliar noises developing during the operation of your heating system may indicate a more serious problem that will require professional repair service to rectify. The only way to be sure is to call your  Weston, MA heating contractor. Only then can you be sure that your heater is in good working condition.

If you notice any of these situations in your Weston, MA home, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating for the service you need to get your heater back on track. Our repair services will ensure your comfort this winter. Call today to schedule a visit.

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Littleton MA Plumbing Question: What is a Faucet Aerator?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

A tap aerator or faucet aerator is located on the tip of water faucets which are used indoors such as kitchen and bathroom sink faucets.  Their purpose is to spread the water stream into a number of smaller streams, in essence adding air to the water stream.  This saves the amount of water which comes out of the tap at one time while also reducing the amount of backsplash which occurs when the faucet is turned on.

Utilizing faucet aerators can be one of the most inexpensive ways to save money on water consumption and save energy with your Littleton MA home’s plumbing system.

There are two main types of faucet aerators, some which use metal or plastic screens to separate the water, and some which do not use screens. One advantage to those without screens is that they eliminate problematic clogging which occurs on screen aerators due to sediment buildup.  There are also aerators with off-valves and swivel aerators which allow users to direct flow to wherever the water spray is needed.

There are three main flow-types seen today. The needle method creates a circular pattern of small, single streams of water with no water-flow in the very center.  The aerated method created a tubular flow with air mixed into the water, creating a single stream of bubbly water.  The laminar method has no air mixed in which makes for a single stream of water with no bubbles.

Many aerators are designed as more economical low-flow aerators which optimize the water flow while still providing optimal water-flow performance.  In kitchens these low-flow options decrease flow from 2.2 gallons per minute to 1.5 gpm or 1.0 gpm, saving anywhere from 32% to 54% of water-usage.  On bathroom faucets the water-flow is decreased from 2.2 gpm to 1.0 gpm or even 0.5 gpm saving from 77% to 84% of water usage.  When engineered properly, low-flow or economic aerators can provide increased perceived water pressure while in actuality helping to save water.

When purchasing new faucet aerators, ensure that you find the proper type (male or female) and the proper size (regular or small).  There are dual-thread options for those who do not know whether a male or female aerator is necessary.  Also, look at the tap aerator’s price in conjunction with how much savings it can provide in water usage annually and see how little must be spent on each faucet in order to save hundreds of dollars.

For more information about how to improve your Littleton MA home’s plumbing, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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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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Littleton Plumbing Queston: What Size Water Heater Do I Need for My Home?

Monday, August 6th, 2012

When installing a new water heater in your Littleton home, it is important to get one that is the appropriate size. Of course, one that is too small will not handle the capacity you need, so you will be stuck with water that is not quite hot enough.

You may think to just buy one that you are sure can more than handle the capacity you need, but there are drawbacks to this strategy. A water heater that is “too big” will also draw more power, resulting in waste and unnecessarily high bills. Plus, it will cost more up front than you really need to spend.

The trick is to get a water heater that is the correct size for your needs. For a conventional water heater with a tank, the metric you will need to refer to is the unit’s first hour rating, or FHR. To determine the necessary FHR, you first need to determine during which hour of the day your home uses the most water. Typically, this is either first thing in the morning or later in the evening, when most people are bathing. Once you know this, determine what the water usage is during that hour based on average usage for each task. For example, let’s say a typical morning in your home consists of:

  • 3 showers (average of 12 gallons each)
  • 1 food preparation (5 gallons)
  • 1 hand dishwashing (4 gallons)

That’s about 45 gallons of hot water needed during that hour, so you need a unit with an FHR somewhere in that ballpark. The U.S. Department of Energy has a good worksheet to use for these measurements, which includes average usage rates for common household hot water tasks.

If you are looking at getting a tankless water heater system, the process is a little more complicated. The important figure to know in that situation is the maximum temperature increase possible for a particular flow rate. That means adding up the flow rates for all the various appliances you may use at once, then figuring out how much you need to increase the temperature.

If you find any of this confusing, consider a professional consultation with Basnett Plumbing & Heating during the selection process. That will ensure you get the water heater that is right for you.

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MetroWest Plumbing Guide: Stop Sink Clogs Before They Start

Monday, July 9th, 2012

A clogged bathroom sink can disrupt your morning routine. A clogged kitchen sink can make preparing dinner a frustrating task. Stop those annoying plumbing problems before they happen in your MetroWest home by understanding how clogs occur. The main culprits are grease, hair, and food.

Hydrophobic and Hydrophyllic

In the world of chemistry, substances that dissolve in water are hydrophyllic. Salt and sugar are the most obvious examples. Substances that don’t dissolve in water, such as grease, oil, and organic solvents, are hydrophobic. They will quickly cling to any available surface that allows them to separate from water. Grease and oil from different sources will clump together rather mix with water.

When grease and oil are poured down a sink, they coat the inside of the drain pipe. Water will not remove them. Soaps and detergents are effective cleaners because they have both hydrophobic and hydrophyllic properties. They can pull some of the grease and oil away from the walls of the drain and into the  water, but the base layer of grease stuck to the pipe will not move. Over time, the grease stuck inside the drain accumulates. Hair and food debris gets caught in the grease. Eventually, the clot becomes large enough to stop the water from moving. No matter how much water you flush down the drain, the grease clot stays put.

Hair and Food

We all know we’re not supposed to flush things down the drain, but when we use a bathroom sink for routine grooming, it’s almost impossible to prevent an occasional hair from falling into the drain. When cleaning the dishes after meals, a small amount of food waste inevitably makes its way into the kitchen sink drain.

Over time, the strands of hair and bits of food accumulate in the U-shaped portion of the drain called the trap. Once an object becomes snagged inside the trap, it becomes an anchor for other objects to grab hold of. A clot of hair,  food particles, and other debris slowly accumulates.

Preventing Clogs

Most MetroWest homeowners know that cooking grease should never be poured down a sink. But they may not realize that many foods, even lean foods like chicken or fish, give off small amounts of grease or fat when they cook. Scraps of food ground up in the garbage disposal can release grease that clings to the walls of the drain. For any busy kitchen, it’s nearly impossible to prevent some grease or oil from making its way into the drain. To help prevent a grease build up in the kitchen sink, add some dish detergent whenever you put cooking liquid, food scraps, or plate scrapings into the sink. Follow up with lots of hot water. For bathroom sinks, when you see a hair fall into the sink, try to wipe it away with tissue before it slides down the drain.

If you do get a clog in your MetroWest  plumbing, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call!

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Groton Furnace Pointers: Fuel Types

Monday, January 9th, 2012

In most cases, you’ll have a choice concerning what type of fuel you’d like your Groton home’s furnace to burn. For most people, this choice comes down to propane, oil or natural gas. The one you choose could significantly impact the cost of heating your home for many years to come, but it’s usually a pretty clear cut decision.

One thing to remember is that most furnaces that burn natural gas can also burn propane. If you don’t yet have a propane tank but are considering getting one, you might not have to make a final decision just yet. Although it’s generally better to set up your furnace for one type of fuel and then leave it that way, you will likely still have the option of converting later on if you should choose to.

If you do have access to natural gas, though, that’s probably going to be your best option. Furnaces that burn natural gas or propane are generally much more efficient than any other type of furnace on the market. You can get them with annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings as low as 80% and as high as 97+%, so that ensures that you’ll be able to find the one to fit your specific situation.

If you’re facing particularly harsh and frigid winters, you’ll want to choose the most energy efficient option available to you and that’s pretty much always going to be a natural gas furnace. Of course, when you’re looking to decide between natural gas and propane as a fuel source, you’ll just want to compare the relative cost for each in your area. For some people natural gas is cheaper, while it’s propane for others. And since your furnace will operate at the same efficiency no matter which of these fuels you choose, you just need to choose the cheapest.

Oil is certainly an option as well, but if you’re looking for a very high efficiency furnace, you’re not going to find one that burns oil. That doesn’t mean that an oil burning furnace might not be a good investment for you. If you don’t have access to natural gas in your area and your heating load isn’t that high, oil might be a perfectly economical choice for you.

If you do opt for a super high efficiency furnace, but don’t have access to natural gas lines, propane is probably the way to go as opposed to oil.

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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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