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

What the SEER Number Means for your New Air Conditioner

Monday, September 8th, 2014

One of the benefits of replacing an aging and/or malfunctioning air conditioner is gaining better energy efficiency. The best way to assess how energy efficient your new system will operate is by first reviewing and understanding its SEER number. Just as a car shows energy usage information through MPG, an air conditioning system does the same with SEER. Your air conditioning replacement in Worcester County should offer you increased comfort, better performance and increased energy efficiency, and with help from a Basnett Plumbing & Heating expert, you can install a new AC that can achieve all of these things for you and your home.

What Does SEER Mean?

SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency rating and it appears on all air conditioning labels.

How Is SEER Calculated?

The SEER number is calculated by measuring the amount of cool air that the air conditioner puts out for every unit of energy it consumes. The scale for SEER is 1 to 23, with higher SEER ratings equaling better energy efficiency. One thing to understand about SEER numbers is that a higher SEER number doesn’t cool your home more than a lower one; rather, a higher SEER number will cool your home the same as a lower SEER number, but do it with less energy, so it will cost you less.

What Are Current SEER Standards?

Minimum SEER ratings are mandated by the federal government, and the current minimum for an air conditioner of any size is 13; this is a change from 2006, when the law had a minimum SEER of 10.

What Does This Mean for My AC?

First, when you purchase your new air conditioner, it will have a SEER of at least 13. However, you can purchase an air conditioning system with a higher SEER rating. Before you purchase, you want to determine what you’ll save monthly in comparison to how much you’ll spend on the purchase, because ACs with higher efficiency ratings are more expensive to purchase.

Energy.gov estimates that each SEER point higher can be as much as a 10% decrease in annual energy costs. As such, an AC with a SEER of 16 can save you upwards of 30% on monthly energy expenditures. However, you want to balance this savings with the cost to purchase to determine how long it will be before you recoup your initial out-of-pocket expenses.

Always Work With a Professional

Determining how SEER factors into your new air conditioning replacement in Worcester County can be confusing, so it’s best to work with a trained specialist who can help you. Call us today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation experts.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating has been helping customers install new AC systems since 1987, and we can help you with yours from start to finish.

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Lancaster Plumbing Tip: A Low Cost Way to Brighten a Kitchen or Bath

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Many older homes in Lancaster still have the original faucets, toilets, shower heads, and other plumbing fixtures installed by the builder. Like most contractor-grade components, those fixtures were  probably designed to be strictly practical, with very little styling or decorative flair.

Contractors aren’t architects or interior designers. They’re focused mainly on installing the infrastructure of the plumbing system – the water delivery and waste pipes. It’s not their job to pick out elegant or cutting edge fixtures. They also can’t predict the taste of a home’s future occupants, so it makes no sense to install distinctive fixtures that might be removed or, worse, contribute to a potential buyer’s negative impression of the home.

That means many homeowners spend years living with plumbing fixtures deliberately intended to be bland and unnoticeable. There’s nothing wrong with that, but consider how many times each day we use our bathroom and kitchen faucets. How many times per week do we take a bath or use the shower? The simple pleasure of seeing and touching an attractive, well designed faucet is a little perk that can help brighten the day.

Higher end plumbing fixtures can be pricey, but factor in how long most fixtures last and you’re only paying a few pennies or less per day. Plumbing fixture design has become much more consumer-driven. Companies must compete by offering an expanding variety of styles.  The new passion for cooking has increased the demand for professional grade kitchen faucets that can stand up to hard use, have pullout sprayers, and accommodate large pans. New shower head designs provide a more comfortable, invigorating spray. Sink faucets with elegant finishes of bronze, brushed nickel, or brilliant brass can liven a bathroom. Ergonomically correct handles are easier to use and more inviting to touch.

There are also practical reasons for replacing fixtures. With improvements in materials technology the interior seals of faucets and other fixtures are more resistant to mineral build up and corrosion that can cause leaks. Metal finishes are more durable and resistant to dulling from soap or detergent.

Installing a new, attractive faucet won’t provide a total kitchen or bathroom makeover, but it will provide a spark that brightens the room and makes everyday living just a little more fun.  For more information about how to improve your Lancaster plumbing, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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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 Plumber’s Guide: How to Fix a Slow Drain

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Ever fill up a bathroom bowl or kitchen sink with water and then wait forever for the water to drain? A clogged drain can take forever to free up and is often the source of frustration and a loss of precious time as you get ready for work or play.

The solutions to fixing a slow drain in Littleton can be very simple or complex, requiring a little patience or expertise to a major service or repair bill. Let’s hope the solution is the former and not the latter. And here are some suggestions.

If your bathroom sink is draining slowly, remove the stopper and inspect it for any “cling-ons” – namely hair. One of the most common clogs can be hair wrapped around the shaft of the stopper. Remove the hair, replace the stopper, run some hot water and check to see how quickly the water drains down. If that simple fix doesn’t work, dig a little deeper.

Hair can be tangled in the flange or the horizontal rod and clip, further down the pipe. You may need to dig out the hair or debris with a long object like a screwdriver or wire hanger. Don’t bring out the “big guns” like a snake or auger if something simpler will do the trick.

Once the debris is cleared, you may even want to use a small hand plunger to force air down the pipe and remove any other residual debris that may be slowing down the water flow. These steps should clear up the problem. A liquid or granulated drainer cleaner may also break up the clog. Running hot water can do the trick, too.

If these solutions don’t work, a slow drain could be the result of a more serious problem. At that point you may want to use a snake on the problem or call a professional Littleton plumber to fix it.

If your kitchen sink drains slowly, the problem could be a build-up of food or grease in the pipes. Once again, using a plunger or chemical drain cleaner may solve the problem. But don’t discount the fact that something may be blocking the pipes, like a piece of bone or a child’s small toy (if you have a mischievous toddler). A visual check of the problem might be the simple solution to the slow drain “mystery.”

If you are at your wit’s end and the water drainage continues to be a problem, call a professional Littleton plumber like Basnett Plumbing & Heating.

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Westford AC Tip: Air Conditioning Condensate Problems

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The beauty of air conditioning in Westford is that we don’t have to do anything to live in a cool climate even when it’s boiling outside.  Programmed to adjust automatically, modern thermostats make it even easier.

It is very inconvenient therefore (not to mention uncomfortable) when our unit is not functioning properly forcing us to pay attention.  Suddenly over-heated, our first inclination may be to call for help, but often the repair can be accomplished easily or avoided completely.

Air Conditioning 101

The process of conditioning air to a cooler temperature involves rapid evaporation and condensation of chemicals called refrigerants.  These are compounds having properties that allow them to change from liquid to gas and back at low temperatures.

When the liquid evaporates and transforms into gas it absorbs heat.  Compressed tightly together again, the matter condenses back into liquid with a residue of unwanted moist heat that must be released to the outdoors.

Over the course of handling the air to cool it, air conditioners are able to filter dust and dehumidify the air as well.  This release of moisture is why air conditioners have drains.

Condenser Coils

As the heat is removed from the gas, it forms condensation that must be drained from the system.  Tiny particles accumulate along the path, prone to shifting and resettling until they become lodged and can form a significant enough blockage to hamper the efficiency of the unit.  If the drain line becomes blocked, the unit drips or overflows the pan and works its way back into the house, causing damage and potentially mold.

This is when panic is inclined to call for the cavalry.

If you have any problems with your Westford AC, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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Your Littleton HVAC System and Ventilation

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The vent system in your home is vital to the operation of your Littleton HVAC system. Without successful ventilation, your home won’t have the necessary clean air to keep you and your family healthy. So, what does proper ventilation require and how can you ensure your home has it? Here are some quick tips.

Install the Right Parts from the Start

Proper ventilation should result in even air pressure in your home to avoid problems with gas pilot lights. It should also be as energy efficient as possible and provide clean air through proper filtration and cleaning of the air that comes in. The best way to ensure your home has the ventilation needed to stay comfortable and safe for your entire family is to check the total size of the home and then measure the concentrations of certain pollutants like dander, pollen and smoke. A Littleton HVAC contractor can provide these services for you.

Energy Loss

Another major ventilation issue to keep in mind is energy loss. Ventilation tends to remove heated or cooled air from your home, forcing your furnace or air conditioner to work harder to replace it. As a result, you pay more for energy and it’s never quite comfortable inside.

To avoid this problem, ask about an energy recovery ventilator. These devices are designed to transfer heat from one environment into another. So, in the winter, heated air inside is kept inside and in the summer, cooled air is kept inside. The result is a much lower energy bill without a disruption to your ventilation sources.

Supplements to Ventilation

Proper ventilation should not only provide fresh air, but it should also ensure your home has clean air. The air outside may be fresher, but it can be filled with pollutants like pollen, dander and smoke. These should be removed before they get inside and into the lungs of your loved ones. To do this, you need a full sized air cleaning system that removes particles from the air down to 0.3 microns.

HEPA filters can do this, as will electronic air cleaners which can ionize and remove smoke and gas particles.

If you have any questions about the ventilation in your home, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call!

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Littleton Plumbing Q/A: Why Does My Sink Backup When I Run the Washing Machine?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Every now and then something strange happens to your Littleton plumbing that is simultaneously baffling and frustrating. Gray water from your washing machine backing up into your sink is one such problem and for many homeowners it can be an ongoing source of annoyance.

Why does this happen? To start with, know that your sink and washing machine drain lines tend to run congruent to each other. This means they combine at some point on the way to the main sewer line. So, if there is a problem after they combine, it can affect both systems.

 How to Fix the Problem

First, you must pinpoint the problem. More often than not, a washing machine backup will occur in one or more sinks during or after the drain cycle of your washing machine. This may not happen every time or it may get progressively worse. It depends on why it is happening in the first place.

If the sink doesn’t back up on its own when you do the dishes or run the faucet, the clog is probably deeper in the pipes and only responds to the large volume of water being drained from your washing machine. In either case, you probably have a clog in the drainage pipe after the two combine.

Do NOT use any chemicals to clear the clog. Not only do chemicals cause damage to your pipes, which can lead to cracks and leaks later, they are not always effective at actually removing the problem – they simply minimize it in the short term.

To solve the problem, you’ll either need to plunge the sink and hopefully clear out the clog or have someone snake the line to pull the clog out of the drain pipe. If you cannot clear it on your own, it may be a good time to call a Littleton plumber for a more in-depth attempt to fix the problem.

For any plumbing repairs in the MetroWest Boston area, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call!

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Westford Heating Tip: Dangers of Not Changing Your Furnace Filter on Time

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Of the many ways to heat a home in Westford, forced air systems are the simplest in function and the easiest to maintain.  They are so simple, in fact, it is easy to forget they need attention at all, but there are dangers to not changing your furnace filter on time that have a real and painful cost in efficiency and dollars.  Even health risks arise when filters have been neglected too long.

Contracting with a company like Basnett Plumbing & Heating ensures consistent maintenance and oversight to allow home owners the comfort and relaxation you deserve in your own home.

Back to Basics

Usually in the basement or a central location, a furnace heats air to a temperature set by the thermostat.  Over the years, technological improvements have enabled furnaces to be much smaller and fit into closets instead of the large and gangly monsters of old that could fill an entire basement.

By a fan in the furnace, the warm air is circulated through filters into a system of ducts to be distributed to grates in the wall or registers on the floor.  A second grate and duct system returns cooler air back to the furnace to be reheated.

The Dangers of Not Changing the Filter

When the system is properly maintained, it is clean, efficient and produces comforting heat on demand at the touch of the thermostat or consistently throughout the day and night.

The furnace filter is designed to remove dust from air as it passes through your furnace. The longer your furnace filter is in place the dirtier it becomes. The increase of particles caught in the filter creates resistance to air flow through the filter and reduces efficiency.

To make up for the loss of flow through a dirty filter, the heat exchanger, usually a gas or oil fired flame, must work harder to produce the same amount of heat to the space.  This becomes costly financially and causes undo wear and stress on the equipment, requiring a partial or full replacement much sooner.

Additionally, operating above ideal designed conditions, cracks in the chamber may appear from the over load which can allow carbon monoxide, a toxic gas, to be released into the duct work.  This gas in large quantities in the home can cause headaches, nausea, and in extreme circumstances, even death.

Regular Maintenance

To avoid problems and excessive strain, remember to change the filters at the beginning of each new heating season.  An annual maintenance check-up and thorough cleaning by a qualified company like Basnett Plumbing & Heating ensures a safe and comfortable season of warmth with no need to worry about the dangers of not changing filters in your Westford furnace.

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Concord Heating Repair Tip: Things to Try Before Calling a Professional

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Your Concord home’s HVAC system can seem like very daunting and complex equipment, so you might not want to work on by yourself. While it’s true that HVAC equipment can be complicated and needs the attention of a skilled professional more often than most homeowners would like, there are still ways for the DIY-ers out there to work on their HVAC systems before resorting to calling in the pros.

There are some common culprits when it comes to most HVAC problems and malfunctions, so if something goes awry in the operation of your equipment, there are some basic measures you can try to get things back on track.

If any of these work, you have saved the cost of the repair and get the satisfaction of a job well done:

  • Turn all switches – indoors and outdoors – off, then back on again. Do the same thing with the pertinent circuit breakers. Sometimes the system just needs a hard reset to jolt it back to life.
  • Check your thermostat. Is the temperature set where it is supposed to be? If it is too high or too low, the HVAC system will stay on too long or shut itself off too quickly.
  • Make sure your system is in the right mode for the season. It may sound obvious, but for whatever reason, sometimes things wind up in heating mode during cooling season.
  • Check your filters. Clean and/or replace them as necessary. (You do this once a month anyway, right?)
  • Inspect the vents around your home to see if any are blocked, clogged or excessively dirty. Vents that don’t properly circulate the air can cause all kinds of problems within an HVAC system.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the things that can go wrong with an HVAC system, but it is at least the usual suspects for the most simple and common problems that many Concord homeowners encounter. After trying these out, if you are still experiencing difficulties, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today to have one of our expert technicians diagnosis the problem.

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Boiler Tips from Reading: Basic Boiler Maintenance

Friday, January 20th, 2012

The boiler in your Reading home is a sensitive piece of equipment that needs routine maintenance and repairs. Regularly maintaining your boiler is especially important for safety reasons. Many boiler malfunctions and accidents are due to neglecting some of these basic tasks.

Even if you’ve just installed a new boiler, the safety valves and settings should be checked by a professional on a regular basis to prevent a breakdown or hazard. We recommend that you schedule a boiler inspection and cleaning at least once a year. Call Basnett Plumbing & Heating if you have any questions about boiler maintenance.

A service technician will measure the pressure, drain and remove sediment buildup, test the efficiency ratings, and make sure your boiler is set at the right temperatures. Regular maintenance can also help you determine whether or not you need a boiler replacement. By keeping track of performance levels, you will be able to tell when it’s time for an upgrade.

Other tasks performed during an annual maintenance visit include cleaning and lubricating all the components, checking for any leaks or clogs, and testing gas boilers for any carbon monoxide intrusion. If you have any gas appliances in your home, you should always have carbon monoxide detectors and test them once a month.

Boiler pressure is something that you can check often on your own. If you aren’t sure how to read the pressure gauge, or if you aren’t sure what the right pressure should be, just call one of our technicians to walk you through this process.

Always call Basnett Plumbing & Heating if you have any problems with the boiler in your Reading home. We are here to help and answer any questions you may have.

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