New EPA Rule Aims to Get the Lead Out

New EPA Rule Aims to Get the Lead OutA proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency would modify the current definition of lead-free plumbing products. Congress passed new legislation that prohibits the use of plumbing products that contain more than 0.25% lead. Lead can still be found in small amounts in piping, fixtures and fitting, but the new legislation further reduces the permissible lead level for plumbing used in drinking water systems.

Unfortunately, the statute also creates exceptions to the lead-free requirements for some plumbing products that are not intended for use in drinking water systems. According to the EPA, these exemptions make it necessary to clearly distinguish between products that are intended for use with drinking water and products that are not intended to carry potable water.

Lead free plumbing parts would be labeled

The EPA’s new regulations would require plumbing manufacturers to positively identify plumbing products that meet or exceed the new regulations, and to certify that their products conform to the regulations. According to the EPA, the purpose of the new required label is to reduce the likelihood that non-conforming plumbing products – those that are exempt from lead content requirements – will be used in drinking water systems.

Currently, there is no mandatory federal requirement for testing to verify that plumbing products are lead-free. Many off-the-shelf products are – in fact – lead-free, but they may or may not be labeled as such. Eight third-party testing firms currently certify plumbing products as being lead-free. Their tests confirm that “lead-free” products are actually lead-free. Each of these testing firms has its own lead-free certification mark. Under the proposed regulations, all certified lead-free plumbing products will use a uniform labeling system to identify lead-free products. Unlabeled products will be assumed to be non-conforming.

The EPA’s public comment period on the proposed new lead-free designation is open until April 17, 2017. If you would like to review the proposed regulations, or make a comment on the changes, you can visit the EPA website.

If you have lead plumbing products in your home, or you’re not sure, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing at (617) 288-2911. We can inspect and replace plumbing components with certified lead free plumbing products.

Photo Credit: Richard King, via Flickr.com

Win on Game Day With Slow Cooked Chicken Wings!

Win on Game Day With Slow Cooked Chicken Wings!You can’t possibly get through Game Day without having some chicken wings. The great news is that they’re super easy to make in your slow cooker.

Here’s the basic recipe and sauce combinations to tempt your tastebuds while you enjoy the Big Game! Read on through to check out our wings contest, and enter for a chance to score a container of BioClean enzymatic drain cleaner.

Slow cooker chicken wings

• 1 dozen thawed chicken wings
• Sauce*

1. Arrange the wings in the slow cooker.
2. Cover with the lid.
3. Cook for 2 ½ hours on high.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the sauce ingredients together.
5. Pour over the chicken wings and cook for at least 30 minutes.

*Try one of these sauce ideas:

Buffalo style: Mix 1 12 oz bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, 1 1 oz. packet of powdered ranch dressing mix. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.

BBQ Ranch: Mix 1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, 1 packet of powdered ranch dressing mix. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.

Sweet style: Mix Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle Sauce, ½ jar of peach preserves.
OR Mix 1 bottle of Honey BBQ Sauce, ½ jar of orange marmalade

BBQ & Soda: Mix your favorite BBQ sauce, and six ounces of your favorite soda – Coke, Cherry Coke, Dr. Pepper and Root Beer all test well. (Don’t use diet soda!) If you’re feeling adventurous, try a SWEET (not dry) ginger ale and a little chunked or crushed pineapple.

Remember: when you’re cleaning up, don’t throw the cooked sauce down the drain. Fats and oils are especially good at clogging kitchen drains. Instead, transfer the leftover cooking liquid to a sealable plastic container and dispose of it in the trash.

If your drain or disposal can’t keep up with Game Day action, head over to our YouTube Channel to see how to get your clogged drain or disposal moving again.

ENTER OUR WINGS CONTEST!

Take a picture of your Game Day wings no later than February 7th and share it with us. We’ll choose our favorite image. If your photo is chosen, you win can of BioClean enzymatic drain cleaner!

Photo Credit: Stu Spivak, via Flickr.com

Boston DIY Plumbing Workshop

Don't Miss This DIY Plumbing and Heating WorkshopPlumbing and heating are two of your home’s most important systems. When they don’t work correctly, they can jeopardize the comfort and safety of your home. The good news is that homeowners can manage many common problems that can arise with heating and plumbing systems, thanks to an excellent DIY plumbing workshop coming up this weekend.

Plumbing and Heating Workshop


Joseph Wood, owner of Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating will be on hand to deliver a great classroom-style DIY plumbing workshop designed just for homeowners who want to know how to maintain and repair issues like plumbing leaks and drain clogs, and perform routine maintenance on heating systems.

In addition to repair and maintenance tips, Joseph will share advice for homeowners who want to reduce their water consumption without sacrificing performance. He will also address questions and concerns about pipes and pipe replacement, heating and cooling system replacement, rebates and incentives for system improvements, and offer preventative maintenance strategies. Joseph will also show attendees how to spot more serious plumbing and heating issues that require professional attention.

The DIY plumbing workshop is also a great opportunity for anyone who’s considering a career in plumbing or heating and cooling. The next decade will see tremendous growth in employment for trained, licensed plumbers and heating and cooling professionals. As an apprentice, you’ll begin working immediately and developing the skills you’ll need to earn your plumbing license.

Joseph has been working in plumbing, heating and cooling for more than 20 years, and owns Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating in Dorchester. Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating has been recognized annually since 2010 with an Angie’s List Super Service Award. Boston Standard has also been recognized by the Better Business Bureau and the Best of Boston for its outstanding service.

The DIY plumbing workshop takes place Saturday, November 5 from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM at Boston Building Resources, 100 Terrace Street in Boston. Please visit the Boston Building Resources website to register for this workshop. The registration cost is $25. We hope to see you there!

Photo Credit: clement127, via Flickr.com

Training and licensure for plumbing

Training and licensure for plumbingPlumbing is considered a “skilled trade.” To become a skilled trades worker, you must complete a training program that combines classroom learning with on-the-job learning. Plumbers are licensed by the state. Each state manages its own licensing program, but the licensing requirements in all states are similar.

Initially, a plumber in training is known as an apprentice. An apprentice works closely with more experienced plumbers to gain on-the-job experience. Apprentices also receive classroom-based instruction. Currently, Massachusetts state law requires 110 hours of classroom instruction combined with 1,700 hours of on-the-job training per year for five years. Between school and work, that’s about 35 hours per week. Apprenticeships are paid positions, so you get paid while you’re working/learning the ropes. You can be hired as an apprentice without being enrolled in classes, but you’ll need to start your classroom studies within 9 months of hiring.

You can work as a licensed apprentice for 10 years, but if you want to remain in the plumbing trade, you’ll need to earn a journeyman license. To do that, you take a test, after having completed all of the apprenticeship classroom and work requirements.

Journeyman plumbers and master plumbers

Following the completion of the apprentice requirements, a plumber can be licensed as a journeyman. This is a different level of licensure that recognizes your work experience and classroom training. A journeyman plumber will still work closely with a master plumber on more complex plumbing jobs. With a journeyman license, plumbers can gain the additional work and classroom experience required to become a master plumber. You can work as a journeyman plumber indefinitely, as long as you maintain your journeyman license.

You must be licensed as a journeyman plumber for at least one year before you move on to the next step – a Master Plumber’s license. Master plumbers have completed all of the training and education requirements of the job and work without supervision. As a master plumber, you can work for yourself or you can continue to work for someone else. Additionally, master plumbers can supervise and train apprentice and journeyman plumbers. You can also specialize in any number of plumbing-related trades including commercial, industrial and medical plumbing, gas-fitting or steam-fitting.

Periodically, you’ll need to renew your Master Plumber’s license. Most states, including Massachusetts, have continuing education requirements for journeyman and master plumbers. You’ll need to complete these continuing education requirements to maintain your license.

If you’re considering a career in plumbing or HVAC, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to discuss your career options and let you know how you can get started in the trade.

Photo Credit: Daniel Oins, via Flickr.com

Is a career in plumbing for you?

Is a career in plumbing for you?When you think of the term “plumber,” you might think of someone who fixes water pipes or unclogs drains. Water is a big part of a plumber’s job, but plumbers do a lot more than fix pipes. In this series, we’re going to explore plumbing as a career, what it takes to become a plumber, and what kind of opportunities are available in plumbing and related trades.

Believe it or not, plumbing is one of the key components of any modern society. Plumbers build and maintain systems that bring fresh water into buildings, and remove wastewater safely. Plumbers also work with pipes that carry gases to and from buildings. As such, plumbers often work in both the plumbing and heating/cooling trades.

Plumbing can be specialized

Plumbers can specialize in commercial or residential work, or they can do both. Specialty plumbers include pipelayers, pipefitters, gas fitters and steamfitters. These plumbers work exclusively in specialized commercial and industrial construction and require additional training.

Plumbers work in people’s homes, and in commercial and industrial spaces. They can work exclusively for one employer, or they can work on multiple job sites on short-term assignments. Plumbers may or may not belong to a union. Many master plumbers are self-employed, and provide plumbing and related services to individuals and businesses in their communities.

Because a plumber’s work can affect people’s health and safety, plumbers require special training and licensing to do their jobs. The state licenses plumbers. Each state manages its own licensing program, but all states have similar licensing requirements. The type of license a plumber has determines the kind of supervision he or she works under. To become a licensed plumber, you must complete a training program that combines classroom learning with on-the-job learning. You must also update your license periodically with additional training and education.

Plumbing involves clean water, dirty water and gas

Plumbers can work on any portion of a water system. On the “clean” side, plumbers may install or replace pipes and fixtures, locate and repair leaks, install water heaters, water filters and repair water pressure problems. They can also install gas service lines. In homes, natural gas (or propane) lines are likely to be the only gas lines you might see. In commercial spaces, plumbers may install fire suppression systems, natural gas lines, lines for compressed air, welding gases, or other gases (like anesthesia or oxygen) in medical facilities.

On the “dirty” side, plumbers work on drains, sewers, plumbing ventilation, septic and sump systems. They may also install dry wells or other catchment systems to manage rainwater runoff and “grey water.”

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems often require plumbing and ventilation, so it is common to find plumbers working in HVAC operations. In addition to installation of furnaces, boilers, chillers and cooling systems, plumbers perform scheduled and emergency HVAC maintenance.

Plumbing can be a 24-hour job

As a profession, plumbing requires some level of physical fitness because the job often involves climbing, crawling, lifting, working with your arms over your head and in small spaces. In addition to the physical demands of the job, plumbers are problem-solvers. The most successful plumbers can diagnose and repair existing systems, and develop creative, individualized solutions for difficult situations.

Some plumbers work exclusively during the day, but most residential plumbing services offer some type of 24-hour service. Plumbing emergencies are just that – emergencies! They must be addressed immediately because plumbing problems can put people’s health and safety at risk. The same is true with heating and cooling problems. Additionally, some commercial work may only be done when the business is closed. As a result, plumbing isn’t considered a traditional “9-to-5” job.

If you’re considering a career in plumbing or HVAC, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to discuss your career options and let you know how you can get started in the trade.

Photo Credit: Duncan c, via Flickr.com

Heat Pump Water Heater Rebates and Credits

Heat Pump Water Heater Rebates and CreditsIf you’re thinking about replacing your electric water heater, now is a great time to take advantage of an excellent rebate opportunity from MassSave. If you install a qualifying heat pump water heater and you receive your electrical service from a MassSave program sponsor, you can take advantage of a $750 rebate.

Until December 31, 2016, you can also take advantage of a federal income tax credit of $300 on your heat pump water heater purchase. That means you can reduce the cost of installation of a heat pump water heater by $1,000 just by acting right now.

Heat pump water heaters keep saving

The savings don’t stop there. A heat pump water heater can reduce your annual energy spending by more than $300! There’s no reason not to take advantage of this exceptional rebate-and-credit offer.

Heat pump water heaters aren’t appropriate for every space because they extract heat from the surrounding air. Heat pump water heaters work best in spaces that remain at a temperature of 50° F or higher. They also need about 750 square feet of space to work. Heat pump water heaters aren’t approved for use in utility closets, even if the closet has a louvered door.

Worried about not having enough hot water on a cold winter morning? Most heat pump water heaters are hybrid devices. They work first as a heat pump, but have an electric backup system to ensure that your hot water is always hot!

If you’d like more information about heat pump water heaters, this excellent rebate opportunity through MassSave, or you’re trying to figure out whether a heat pump water heater is a good choice for your home, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 to schedule a consultation. This rebate program and the associated tax credit are both time limited offers, so don’t wait!

Photo Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, via Flickr.com

Air source heat pump rebates for commercial spaces

Air source heat pump rebates for commercial spacesThe Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCNC) has expanded its air source heat pump rebates to commercial/non-residential buildings to help support the Commonwealth’s clean heating and cooling initiative. Businesses, non-profit organizations and public buildings that plan to install fewer than 20 single head heat pumps or 20 tons of cooling capacity are now eligible to participate in this exceptional rebate program.

Air source heat pumps offer clean heat

The program provides residential rebates of as much as $2,500 and commercial rebates of as much as $12,500 for small-scale air source heat pump rebates. Additional rebates may be available for public, non-profit and affordable housing organizations, as well as income-based rebates for owners that qualify.

Unlike previous program rules, system owners will apply for these rebates directly. To apply, the system owner will need to provide the paid-in-full receipt, within 90 days of system installation.

If you run a large commercial operation, you’re not out of luck! You can also apply for rebates under the Commercial Scale Air Source Heat Pump Program. This program is designed to support multi-family buildings, businesses, non-profits and public projects installing more than 20 units or more than 20 tons of cooling capacity. For these large installations, rebates of up to $93,750 are available. Additional funding is also available for non-profit, public and affordable housing projects.

These programs offer an exceptional opportunity to replace old, inefficient heating and cooling systems with money-saving, reliable and quiet year-round heating and cooling options. They also offer a cost effective option for switching from oil, propane or traditional electric heat to a cleaner, more efficient heating and cooling technology.

If you would like more information about air source heat pumps, or about how you can participate in MassCEC’s Air Source Heat Pump Rebate program as either a residential or commercial client, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll fill you in on all of the program details, and help you learn about qualifying options for clean heating and cooling for your home.

Photo Credit: 401K 2012, via Flickr.com

Should you invest in a WiFi thermostat?

WiFi thermostats have been gaining ground in the US marketplace for a few years. Today, many manufacturers offer WiFi enabled options for controlling the temperature in your home. Is now the time to invest in a WiFi thermostat?

Choosing a WiFi thermostat

Nest Labs has received a lot of attention for its Wi-Fi thermostat, but Nest, which was founded in 2010, isn’t actually the first WiFi enable thermostat on the market. That honor goes to Ecobee, a Toronto company that was founded in 2007. Ecobee is now on its third-generation device.

Aside from Ecobee and Nest, Honeywell, Trane, Schneider Electric, Lux/Geo, Emerson, Aprilaire, Venstar and a host of others offer WiFi enabled thermostats. Generally speaking, WiFi thermostats – when used properly – can reduce your energy expenditures by about 20%-25%. Since heating and cooling account for the majority of a home’s energy consumption, it’s fair to say that you can realize significant savings using a WiFi thermostat. How much you save will depend upon how much you consume.

If you’re purchasing a new heating and cooling system, chances are good that the manufacturer makes a WiFi enabled thermostat. Going with a thermostat that’s made by the manufacturer of your equipment virtually eliminates the issue of compatibility.

If you’re going with an after-market product, you’ll need to do a little research on your candidates to verify that a particular product works with your heating and cooling equipment. You may need additional wiring to support WiFi operation. You’ll also need to verify that a product is compatible with your household wireless router. Finally, you’ll want to know that the product you select works with the mobile devices you use. iOS is the most popular mobile platform, followed by Android. Windows is less popular, so if you carry a Windows phone or a Windows mobile device, you will want to make sure a compatible app is available so you can control your thermostat while you’re away.

If you’re good with technology, WiFi thermostat installation can be a do-it-yourself project. If you’re not good with technology, or your system needs additional wiring to support the thermostat, you may want to go with professional installation and setup.

Right now, customers of Eversource, National Grid, Columbia Gas, Liberty Utilities and Berkshire Gas can purchase certain WiFi thermostats at a discount through the MassSave program and have them professionally installed at no cost! In addition, you may be eligible for rebates of up to $100 on WiFi thermostats not available through MassSave’s discount purchase program.

If you’d like more information about WiFi thermostats, or would like to have one installed through MassSave, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to help you select a WiFi thermostat that’s right for you, and get it up and running!

Photo Credit: ecobee

Air Conditioning: A marvel invention

Willis Carrier is the “Thomas Edison” of air conditioning.  During one of the hottest years on record, the mechanical air conditioner was born. In 1902 the United States was in the middle of a massive heat wave, this made the dangers of being outside for too long, very real.

Temperatures would continue to rise, but thanks to Willis, the world was changed with his invention. The original reason for mechanical air conditioning? To keep moist air out of printing plants in order to keep magazine pages from wrinkling!

Carrier had been born in 1876 to an old New England family—including an ancestor who was hanged as a witch in Salem—and attended Cornell University, He then took a job with a heating outfit. The research Carrier had produced saved his company $40,000 a year per year and he was given control over a new department to experiment with the engineering that would help him design his first air conditioner.During his tenure there, he met Irvine Lyle, a salesman who later became his partner in Carrier Corp., a company that succeeded in marketing the air conditioner to Americans in the 1950s. Today, Carrier Corp is known as United Technologies.

Throughout the years air conditioning units have lost it’s air of luxury, Today, almost 90% of U.S. homes have air conditioning, and international demand for cooling systems are staggering. Air conditioners bring much needed relief to more than 3 billion people who live in the tropics and subtropics, according to a

Most people approve of, and enjoy the air conditioning unit’s ability to provide relief from heat and a comfortable space in the home,not everyone is on board with Carrier’s invention. Environmentalists who are concerned about global warming have called for cutting back on the use of air conditioners. While they recognize the invention’s public health benefits, to them, the environmental effects are worth limiting usage. With record-breaking temperatures expected for the coming decades, air conditioning likely isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Cooling Efficiency – What Do The Numbers Mean?

Cooling Efficiency – What Do The Numbers Mean?Cooling efficiency plays a big role in the comfort of your home. The more efficient your cooling system is, the more comfortable your home will be. As an added benefit, you’ll also save money because an efficient cooling system doesn’t work as hard as an inefficient one.

A confusing set of measurements – EER and SEER – describe cooling system efficiency. What are these numbers and what do they tell us? The efficiency of any system compares what you get out to what you put in.

EER. The Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) compares the cooling output in BTUs to the energy input in Watt-hours. It tells you how much energy a cooling system uses over one hour using precise temperature and humidity conditions. Unfortunately, Mother Nature does not usually give us these ideal conditions, so that limits the value of EER.

SEER. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) tries to overcome some of the shortcomings of the EER. Where the EER only looks at how a cooling system will perform over an hour under ideal conditions, the SEER tries to predict how a cooling system will work over the course of a season. Looking at efficiency over a longer period of time sometimes can give a better picture of efficiency. At the same time, efficiency varies with the conditions. SEER also has some significant shortcomings.

EER and SEER don’t tell the whole story

So why use EER or SEER at all? EER and SEER will never tell you how much a particular cooling unit will cost to operate over an hour or a season. Even so, the measurements give you a way to compare one unit to another. The higher the EER or SEER, the more efficient the unit is, and the less it will cost you to operate.

Condensers can become clogged with leaves and other organic growth. Contaminants like stray garbage and dryer lint can also come into play. Sometimes, people do not consider the position of the dryer exhaust when they place their outside cooling unit. Dryer lint is a good insulator, and can really change a system’s cooling efficiency.

As a condenser becomes dirty, it becomes harder for the cooling system to transfer heat from the refrigerant to the outside air. That leaves more heat in the condenser, which makes the system work harder. It draws more energy, runs longer and doesn’t cool as well.

Efficiency is a big component of the overall cost of cooling. Mathematically, efficiency is simple – power out over power in – but in real life, many variables determine how hard a cooling system has to work. You can’t control things like the outside temperature or humidity, but you can control some things – like how clean your cooling system is.

A dirty system loses efficiency quickly. As the system becomes less efficient, the cost to operate it rises. Changing the filters regularly, having your cooling system professionally inspected and cleaned, and performing regular maintenance can help your cooling system operate at its rated efficiency.

If you would like more information about how to improve the efficiency of your cooling system, please contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We can help you maintain your cooling system efficiency, and help you take advantage of its peak efficiency.

Photo Credit: seven twenty five, via Flickr.com