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Chimney liners – What you need to know

Chimney liners – What you need to know

If you’re planning to install a high-efficiency furnace, one likely item on your to-do list will be to line your chimney. Chimney liners aren’t just a good idea – they’re required to help maintain the proper performance of your chimney.

Gas-fired appliances need to vent to the outside to avoid a build-up of carbon monoxide. In the past, gas furnaces and water heaters used the home’s chimney to provide adequate ventilation. Newer, high efficiency furnaces may vent out the side of the home’s foundation rather than up the chimney. If they use the chimney for ventilation, the chimney as built may be too big to work properly with a newer gas furnace.

If you plan to vent any appliances through the chimney, a chimney liner may be in order. There are three good reasons to line an existing chimney. First, unlined chimneys actually constitute a serious fire hazard. Studies have shown that heat moves through (not up) an unlined chimney rapidly. This means the chimney can transfer heat from the masonry to adjacent woodwork inside the home. In National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) tests, an unlined chimney caused adjacent woodwork to ignite in less than 3.5 hours! In fact, the standards folks at NIST called unlined chimneys “little less than criminal.” Those are some pretty harsh words, but they can give you a lot to think about. If your chimney is unlined (which would be common for an older home), you may want to invest in a chimney liner even if you don’t intend to replace the appliances that use your chimney.

The second reason to line a chimney is to protect it from your appliances. Combustion is a messy process. It can leave behind some caustic by-products that won’t do your chimney any favors. Over time, these caustic chemicals can eat away at the brick, as well as the mortar that holds your chimney together. Which brings us right back to Reason #1 to line your chimney. If the mortar inside your chimney deteriorates, the chimney will become even better at transferring heat to the surrounding structures. This naturally increases the risk of fire. A liner can both slow and reduce the transfer of heat to nearby structures, decreasing the risk of fire.

The third reason to line your chimney is to ensure that it drafts properly. A chimney is like a big straw that draws exhaust gas from your home. It also drafts air into your home, which your gas-fired appliances need. Big chimneys don’t draft well. A chimney that’s exceptionally large might draft either ineffectively or perhaps not at all. That could cause carbon monoxide to build up in your home. A chimney liner can help size your chimney properly for your appliances and help ensure that your home and appliances are vented properly.

Most chimney liners are made from one of three materials: clay, metal or resin. Clay tiles are the most common type of chimney liner. While they’re the least expensive way to line a chimney, they may not perform well in adverse conditions. (“Adverse conditions” = chimney fire.) They also might not work well with new, high-efficiency gas fired equipment.

Metal liners are usually made from stainless steel or aluminum. Aluminum liners don’t perform as well as stainless steel liners do. In fact, they’re not recommended for high-efficiency applications. Stainless steel performs very well, but it can be expensive. Finally, you can choose a custom-fit resin liner for your chimney. A resin liner is “built in place” and form fits to your chimney. It is lightweight, resist etching and reduce heat transfer. They can also help improve the structural integrity of your existing chimney. Resin liners are permanent and they work well with all fuel types.

An alternative to lining your chimney is to vent your furnace, water heater, boiler and other appliances directly through the foundation wall of your home. This strategy will enable you to abandon your chimney altogether. You can leave an abandoned chimney in place, provided that you cap the holes previously used by your equipment. You may also want to cap the chimney at the top to prevent water, animals and other undesirables from entering the chimney. Before you abandon your chimney, you may want to have it inspected by a professional. If your chimney is in dangerous condition, it may be worth your while to either stabilize it or deconstruct it altogether.

While we don’t do chimney lining, we can recommend chimney professionals as part of a heating or water heater replacement project. Give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to set up a consultation!

Photo Credit: Ben Freeman, via Flickr.com

Trick or Treat: Exploding toilets are neither!

Trick or Treat: Exploding toilets are neither!

Just in time for Halloween, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has a scary story about exploding toilets! Nothing good happens when the words “toilet” and “explosion” find themselves in the same sentence. This is no exception.

Certain (mostly) commercial toilets that use a pressure-assisted flush unit are at risk of explosion. The Sloan Series 501-B Flushmate II pressure assisted flushing system could rupture, causing damage to the toilet and user injury. Sloan, the manufacturer, recalled a similar device – The Series 503 Flushmate III – in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

Flushmate II products manufactured from Sept. 3, 1996 to Dec. 7, 2013 are on the CPSC’s no-flush list. The manufacturer says it has received notice of nearly 1,500 incidents of the device bursting while in use. 23 people have sustained largely non-serious injuries, although one person required surgery on their foot. In addition to the recall of US units, the company is also recalling Canadian units for the same issue.

The failure occurs at the time of flushing. A weld seam can burst while the unit is at full pressure. This can cause the tank lid to lift, dislodge and shatter. Consumers have reported both impact and shatter injuries related to the failure.

Consumers may have purchased the affected units between 1996 and 2015 at Home Depot, Lowe’s, online or through national retailers. The units were also pre-installed in toilets made by American Standard, Corona, Crane, Kohler and Mansfield.

In the meantime, don’t use a toilet equipped with an affected system. Read the complete Flushmate II recall notice, and contact the manufacturer for a replacement.

Seriously, there’s (probably) no reason to be afraid of your toilet. If it bothers you though, call us at Boston Standard Plumbing at (617) 288-2911. We service all commercial and residential toilets.

Even ones that explode.

Happy Halloween!

Photo Credit: Phil Kalina, via Flickr

How well do you know your kitchen sink?

How well do you know your kitchen sink?

You probably spend more time at your kitchen sink than you spend thinking about your kitchen sink. The kitchen sink is a hub of activity and a vital part of any household. It can also be a hub of unpleasant activity that can cause problems in your happy home. Today, we’re going to take a few minutes to look at your kitchen sink and how to care for it.

Your kitchen sink is most likely mounted to a countertop. Most kitchen sinks are made from stainless steel, porcelain-coated cast iron, resins, acrylic, copper or some kind of stone (or stone composites) like quartz, granite, or marble. The durability of the material is important because sinks can be bacterial reservoirs. The less durable the material, the more often you’ll need to replace your sink to avoid problems that bacterial growth can cause.

Underneath your sink is the sink drain. A sink drain consists of the pipe that run from the drain hole that’s visible in the sink to the main drain in the house. Directly under the sink, you’ll also see a p-trap – a curved piece of pipe. The p-trap is an essential element of any drain. The p-trap retains a bit of water, which forms a seal. This seal prevents gases from further down the drain from escaping into the house. The plumbing code requires p-traps in drain lines. If your sink doesn’t have a p-trap, or your p-trap is damaged, you’re going to encounter some really unpleasant smells.

Many kitchen sinks also feature a garbage disposal. A dishwasher may also be integrated into the garbage disposal or sink drain. No one disputes the utility of either a garbage disposal or a dishwasher, but they can also be a source of problems for your kitchen sink and drain.

Kitchen sink do’s

Do clean your sink regularly. Cleaning the sink surface can help reduce bacteria and odors, remove food particles and prevent staining. If you stack dirty dishes in the sink, clean the sink after washing the dishes. Also clean the sink if unprepared foods – raw meat, eggs, etc., come into contact with it. Sanitize the surface with bleach to kill bacteria and remove stains.

Do use the right cleaning products on your sink. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for caring for your sink, based on the materials it’s made from. Surface scratches can eventually lead to a breakdown of the sink surface. This can promote rust and surface cracks, or encourage staining.

Do look for leaks. Your faucet can leak, sending a stream of clean water into the sink. Your drain can also leak. Unlike the faucet, the drain leaks dirty, potentially hazardous water. Drain leaks can be sneaky, so periodically check the drain for leaks. Signs include scale build-up, obvious water accumulations or water stains, and mold or mildew growth under the sink. Drains can leak if the sink mounting flange is not set well, or the plumber’s putty underneath it is deteriorating. Couplings around the drain stem and p-trap can also deteriorate or loosen.

Periodically, check the drain couplings. Especially if you have a dishwasher or garbage disposal, make sure your drain couplings are tight. Vibrations from these machines can loosen the joints in your drains and cause leaks – or worse – a cruddy flood.

Do check the water shut-off valves periodically. Local shut-off valves are notoriously cheap. Check your valves periodically to make sure they can still shut off the water. If the valve shut-off spins continuously, replace it.

Do use cold water in the disposal. Hot water just allows grease to congeal farther down the drainpipe.

Kitchen sink don’ts

Don’t put grease down the drain.

Grease hardens when it cools and it makes a pretty effective stopper. Unfortunately, a grease plug usually doesn’t form in a convenient, easy-to-reach place. And unless you throw a bunch of grease down the drain at once, a grease plug forms slowly over time. To dispose of grease, pour it into a tin can and freeze or refrigerate it until it hardens. Then toss it out. You could also pour the grease into a plastic bottle or jar with a lid and trash it.

Choose what you dispose of carefully. If you have a garbage disposal, don’t put coffee grounds down the drain. Coffee grounds combine with other things in your drain (like grease), and turn into an impossibly hard substance. Also on the no-fly list: eggshells. Same problem; same result. In fact, avoid putting fats, oils, stringy vegetables, potato peels, pasta, rice, beans and non-food items down the disposal. Pasta, rice and beans all swell in water, so they take up a lot more room in the drain. If they collect in a place that’s normally wet, (even in their ground-up state), the diameter of your drain pipe will shrink.

Don’t use chemical drain cleaners in the kitchen sink. Chemical drain cleaners are really hard on your pipes. They’re also dangerous to you! To keep your drain clean and clear, you can put a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar down the drain. Let it sit for a few minutes and then wash it down the drain with hot water. You can also use an enzymatic drain cleaner to clear out the kitchen drain.

Don’t ignore drips and leaks. Even a small leak can do a lot of water damage.

If you have a household plumbing problem you’d like us to take care of for you, contact us at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to return your sinks and drains to good working order!

Photo Credit: espensorvik, via Flickr

Water Heater Maintenance Tips

Water Heater Maintenance Tips

If you have a tank water heater in your home, chances are good that your only genuine contact with it is your daily shower. Most people don’t realize that water heaters require regular maintenance. Performing regular maintenance on your water heater can not only extend the life of the tank, but also ensure that you have trouble-free operation for years.

You might think of your water heater as being a giant kettle that sits in your basement or in a utility closet. The water inside never heats up enough to boil (hopefully), but the tank always keeps heated water ready to go. Your water heater is a little more complicated than that, which is why it requires regular maintenance.

If you have a conventional tank water heater, you’ll want to become familiar with the maintenance routine for your tank. If you have an older tank in service, and you’ve never performed routine maintenance on it, beginning a maintenance routine may not get you very much. The trick to prolonging the life of a hot water tank is to begin maintenance on the tank when it is brand new and continue the routine throughout the tank’s life. Knowing how a water tank operates will show you why this is the case.

A conventional water tank has an energy source – either electricity or natural gas. (Water heaters can also operate on propane or fuel oil.) It has a water inlet for the cold water supply, and a water outlet for the heated water. The tank also has a thermostat to control the water temperature, and a pressure relief valve. A gas water heater will have an exhaust vent at or near the top of the tank and a gas burner at the bottom (outside) of the tank. An electric water heater will have one or two heating elements inside the tank. The tank itself is lined with glass. There’s a drain valve at the bottom of the tank, and the tank is insulated to improve energy efficiency.

Tanks also have a “sacrificial anode” which is a magnesium rod that sits in the water and controls the rate of corrosion in the tank. If the magnesium rod weren’t there, the tank itself would begin to corrode immediately. Because its job is to corrode, the rod deteriorates over time. Once the rod has deteriorated, the tank will begin to corrode rapidly. Replacing the sacrificial rod periodically will extend the life of your tank. The tank warranty provides a good rule of thumb for changing the anode in the tank. If your tank has a 6-year warranty, change the rod every 5-6 years. If it has a 9 year warranty, change it every 7-9 years. With a 12-year warranty, change the rods every 10-12 years.

Factors other than the passage of time can affect how rapidly the sacrificial anode deteriorates. Inspecting the rod annually can better help you determine when to replace your tank’s rod.

As a side note, the deterioration of the sacrificial anode is the reason you should never consume hot water from the tap. The water becomes contaminated by the water heater and is no longer fit for consumption.

Over time, debris from the anode, minerals and corrosion build up at the bottom of the tank. If you don’t drain the debris out periodically, it will form a “blanket” at the bottom of the tank and decrease the tank’s heating efficiency. The sediment can also escape the tank and collect in your water fixtures. Draining the tank from the bottom periodically will remove the sediment. Some people prefer to run a gallon or two of heated water from the bottom of the tank regularly to keep the sediment level in check.

Your water heater also has a temperature and pressure relief valve. This valve will open if the temperature or the pressure in the tank becomes too high. You can test the valve by pulling the trip lever on it. If the valve is operating correctly, it should relieve a little water or water vapor from the tank. You may also hear a little rush of air escaping the valve. If none of these things happen, the temperature and pressure valve may have gone bad. It’s important to replace the T&P valve. Without it, your tank could experience a dangerous increase in pressure, which could lead to an explosion.

If you’d like more information about water heater maintenance, or if you would like to replace your existing water heater, please call us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911.

Photo Credit: Cole Camplese, via Flickr

5 tips for maintaining your plumbing fixtures

5 tips for maintaining your plumbing fixtures

If you live in the United States, your home has a modern plumbing system, thanks to regularly updated plumbing codes and laws. Without proper maintenance, however, a home’s plumbing system can deteriorate. That can put your family and your home at risk. Here are five tips to keep your plumbing fixtures in good working order. These can also help you spot problems while they’re still manageable.

Keep your drains clear.

Every plumbing system has two sides: the clean side and the dirty side. Drains fall on the “dirty” side of the system, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep them clean. One of the best ways to keep your drains clean is to monitor what goes down them. Soap, hair, food particles, grease and other biological agents can combine to form clogs. Preventing hair, grease and food from making their way down the drains can go a long way toward preventing clogs. If your drains do begin to run slowly, snake them out manually to remove any accumulations. Avoid using chemical drain cleaners. Instead, try an enzymatic drain cleaner like Bio-Clean to keep the drains flowing freely. Some people also swear by a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to kill organic material that may grow in your drains.

At least once every 5 years, have your sewer connection videoscoped. This can help you discover breaks and tree root invasions in your sewer line. While no one wants to see a break in their sewer connection, taking care of the problem outside beats having a sewage backup inside!

Know and test your plumbing system.

On the clean side of things, inspect your pipes annually. Test the local shut-off valves to make sure they still work. Shut-off valves are notoriously cheap, so giving them a little regular exercise will help keep them in good shape. If a shut-off valve self-retired while you weren’t looking, replace it immediately. If you can’t count on it to work in an emergency, it’s not of much use! Also test your main shut-off valve. While this valve is unlikely to break, moving it periodically can help ensure that you won’t need to manhandle it to shut off the water supply in an emergency.

Flush your water heater.

Debris, scale and rust particles can build up at the base of your water heater. Most water heaters have a drain near the bottom that you can open for maintenance. The debris settles at the bottom of the tank, so opening the tank and tapping off a gallon or two can help remove this sediment. Some manufacturers recommend this procedure monthly. Others say it’s ok to do it annually. However often you do it, do it. Also, you can extend the life of your water heater by having the sacrificial anode replaced on schedule. If you don’t, once the sacrificial anode is gone, your tank will begin to rust.

Don’t ignore signs of trouble. Plumbing problems rarely arrive completely unannounced. If you see signs of plumbing problems, act. Symptoms of trouble can include leaks, smells, drips, reduced or increased water flow and damage to surrounding walls, floors and ceilings.

Put a trash can next to your toilet.

You might wonder how putting a trash can next to your toilet can possibly help your plumbing. Some people use their toilets as a substitute trash can. They flush just about everything from cigarette butts to grease down the loo. That’s an excellent recipe for big plumbing problems! The only things that should ever go down your toilet are human waste and toilet paper. Throw everything else – including Kleenex, diapers, tampons, sanitary pads, cigarette butts, “disposable” or “dissolvable” wipes, paper towels and whatever else you can think of – in the handy trash can you’ve placed next to the toilet.

When you run into a plumbing problem that you want help with, contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We specialize in both residential and commercial plumbing in the Boston area.

Photo Credit: Bill Wilson, via Flickr

WaterSense and lowering your water bill?

WaterSense and lowering your water bill

WaterSense is a program developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency to identify water-efficient products. The EPA first introduced the WaterSense label in 2006, and applied it to toilets and plumbing fixtures. To earn the WaterSense label, a product must use at least 20% less water than the EPA’s baseline fixtures. According to the EPA, Americans have reduced their water consumption by nearly 3 trillion gallons using WaterSense certified products.

The list of WaterSense rated products includes toilets, sink fixtures, toilet valves, flushing urinals, showerheads, irrigation controllers, spray sprinkler bodies and commercial pre-rinse spray valves. The Department continues to develop standards for water-saving products available to residential and commercial customers.

Why is saving water so important? Although water covers the majority of the Earth’s surface, only about 1% of the water on our planet is fresh. By reducing water consumption, we can reduce the amount of energy needed to treat and transport water. We can also save money!

Laundry and showering are the two biggest water consumers in your house today. Conventional toilets can use between 50-70 gallons per day. As a rule of thumb, the average person in the United States uses about 100 gallons of water per day. Reducing consumption by just 20% can save hundreds of dollars in water costs per year.

Being water efficient lowers your water costs

Start saving in the bathroom. Not surprisingly, the bathroom is where you’ll use most of your water. Installing a low-flow toilet, a low-flow showerhead and a water-saving bathroom sink fixture will make a noticeable dent in your water bill. Cutting your shower time to 5-10 minutes can also put money back in your pocket. The latest low-flow toilets perform exceptionally well and use only about a gallon per flush. Keeping your conventional commode – which could use 3.5 gallons or more per use – is literally flushing money down the toilet.

Clean up your laundry. If you have an old, top-loading washing machine, think about replacing it. A new, high-efficiency washing machine uses just about 25% of the water your old top-loader does. If you do 20 loads per week using your old top loader, you’ve used about 1,000 gallons of water. If you do the same 20 loads in a high efficiency washer, you’ve used about 250 gallons of water. A new washing machine will pay for itself in about 2 years, in the form of lower water bills.

Leaks. We have nothing good to say about water leaks. A leaking toilet, faucet or pipe can raise your water bill hundreds of dollars over the course of a month. A leaking or broken shower diverter is another excellent way to throw your money away. We won’t even mention the amount of damage a water leak can cause to your home. Leaks don’t fix themselves. Truthfully, they can only get worse over time. If you have a leak, or suspect one, fixing it immediately should be a high priority. It will save money and prevent more extensive damage to your home.

Outdoor water usage and your water bill

Outdoor watering. If you water your lawn or landscaping, you can find water-saving irrigation products that reduce your water consumption. You can also use rain barrels, which collect water from rainstorms for “free” landscaping irrigation. Use water timers to control usage and make sure your sprinklers are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways.

Your swimming pool. If you have a swimming pool, you may also have an automatic pool filler. Evaporation of pool water can seriously increase your water consumption. Keep an eye on your pool filler. If you’re losing a lot of water to evaporation, consider using a pool cover to limit your water loss. Depending upon the size of your pool, they can be a little expensive, but they’ll easily pay for themselves.

If you’d like more information about water-saving toilets, showerheads or faucets, or you have a water leak that needs to go, call us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Whiteland, via Flickr

Why it's not too late for cooling system maintenance

Why it's not too late for cooling system maintenance

Summer is already more than one-third over, but it’s not too late to perform cooling system maintenance. Ideally, you perform maintenance before the summer season begins, so you can maximize the efficiency of your cooling unit. If summer’s gotten ahead of you, it doesn’t mean that you have to sit this season out.

Cooling units can lose efficiency quickly when they become dirty. They can also lose efficiency when their moving parts become worn. Keeping the air filter in your unit clean is one easy way to help your cooling unit work more efficiently. Having a trained technician inspect, clean and rehab your cooling system is another way to maximize your savings.

Cooling system maintenance special offer

Boston Standard Company is offering a $159 precision AC tune-up until August 15, 2018. This is a great opportunity to catch up on cooling system maintenance issues that may prevent your unit from performing at its peak.

Our tune-up special includes a complete system cleaning. This helps ensure that your cooling unit provides superior cooling at the lowest possible cost. We’ll also evaluate the coolant in the system. That means checking for leaks and making sure that your coolant still delivers high-quality cooling as it ages.

Our tune up also includes a complete inspection of your unit’s electrical system. This helps to avoid any nasty surprises that could arise following a Boston winter. We’ll also evaluate the blower motor and belt to ensure trouble-free use during the season.

It’s never too late to start saving money. Even if you didn’t get a pre-season maintenance check done before the warm weather arrived, we can still help! The sooner you commit to a cooling system maintenance plan, the sooner you can start saving.

A high efficiency cooling system will do more for you than keep your home comfortable. Cooling systems will also keep your home drier. That will be a plus this summer; forecasters are predicting a wet second half of the summer for Boston. Keeping your home drier will help avoid conditions that support mold and mildew growth.

A professional AC tune up will help save money, no matter when you choose to have it done. If you would like to take advantage of our $159 AC Tune-Up special, call us at (617) 288-2911 to schedule a visit. Mention HEAT2018 to claim this special price.

Photo Credit: Terry Ross, via Flickr

6 ways to stop your toilet from sweating and 1 tip that won't help

6 ways to stop your toilet from sweating and 1 tip that won't help

A sweating toilet is more than a nuisance. Water from the toilet drips onto the floor and can ruin a bathroom floor in short order. Why does your toilet sweat in the first place, and what can you do to stop it?

The water that collects on your toilet tank is condensation – moisture that’s been pulled out of air in your bathroom. As it turns out, your toilet is a natural dehumidifier. The moisture forms on the surface of the tank because the tank water is colder than the surrounding air temperature. The difference in temperature causes the air to release water and voilà, one sweaty, drippy toilet!

Changing the environment in your bathroom to discourage this process can reduce or eliminate a sweaty toilet. It can also help preserve the condition of your bathroom floor. So what exactly can you do?

How to stop your toilet from sweating

Get rid of the water in your bathroom. First, you can take steps to ensure that the air in your bathroom doesn’t have a whole lot of water in it.

  • Install (or use) an exhaust fan when you take a shower.
  • Take shorter, cooler showers to discourage the migration of water into the air.
  • Dry the shower walls after you’ve taken a shower.
  • Open the door to the bathroom when you finish your shower.
  • Use a portable dehumidifier to dry out the bathroom after a shower.
  • Consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier to keep your entire house comfortable.
  • Don’t open the bathroom window if it’s humid outside. Letting humid air in just makes matters worse.
  • An air conditioner is a great dehumidifier. If you have air conditioning, use it.

Warm up your toilet. Not kidding here! Insulating your toilet tank can prevent water from condensing on the surface. You can line the tank with an insulating kit, or you can cover the entire outside of the tank with a tank cover. If you can prevent the cooler tank from meeting up with the warmer air, condensation won’t occur. If you’re willing to spend a little extra, you can also purchase a new, insulated tank for your toilet.

Warm up the water in the tank. Also not kidding. You can install an anti-sweat valve that mixes a little warm water in with the cold when the tank refills. As long as the water temperature gets close to the air temperature in the room, no sweat!

Reduce the amount of water in the tank. The less water you have in the tank, the less the tank will sweat. Installing a low-flow toilet not only saves water, but also reduces the amount of condensation a tank can generate. If you can combine a low-flow toilet with an insulated tank, your bathroom floor will stay drier.

Get rid of the tank. Some manufacturers make tankless residential toilets. They’re not cheap, and they typically use an electric pump to move water in and out of the toilet. (Pro tip: during a power outage, a tankless electric toilet won’t work.) If you can’t get rid of the tank, consider using a low-profile toilet. The closer your toilet tank is to the floor, the cooler the surrounding air is. (Remember, heat rises.) Keeping your toilet tank on the down-low can help reduce big differences between the bathroom’s air temperature and the toilet tank’s water temperature.

Check the flapper valve. If your flapper valve at the bottom of the tank is leaking, the toilet will regularly take on a lot of fresh, cold water to replace the water that leaked out. If you stop the leak, the water in the tank can reach room temperature.

Use a drip tray. This is the one tip that will do absolutely nothing to prevent your toilet tank from sweating. You can put a drip tray down on the bathroom floor behind the toilet. Your toilet will still sweat like crazy, but the condensation won’t ruin the floor. You’ll have to empty the tray regularly, but we think that beats replacing the floor.

If you would like more information about installing a low-flow toilet, a tankless toilet or an insulated toilet tank, Boston Standard Company can help. We can also help with leaking toilets, and whole house cooling and dehumidifying solutions. (We don’t empty drip trays, though.) Give us a call at (617) 288-2911 to schedule a consultation.

Photo Credit: Edward Dick, via Flickr

Preparing for the worst from hurricane season

Preparing for the worst from hurricane season

Hurricane season typically runs from June 1 to November 1 each year. Hurricanes can form anytime the conditions are right, but summer and fall are considered “prime time” for superstorms. Although many hurricanes fall to the southeast and through the Gulf of Mexico, New England isn’t immune from them. If a hurricane strikes, what should you do to protect your plumbing?

What to do before a hurricane

Shut off the water! If you evacuate, take a moment to shut off the main water valve to your home. You can also open your taps to help drain the pipes. If the storm damages pipes in your home, you can at least minimize any fresh-water flooding.

Check your sump pump. Your sump pump could save your home from serious flooding. Or not. An electric sump pump can’t bail you out if you lose power. If you have a generator, make sure your sump pump makes the list of must-have services. Some sump pumps can work without electricity. If flooding is a serious concern, or you often lose power during storms, consider installing a non-electric sump pump to keep the water moving.

Clear drains. If you have storm drains on or near your property, make sure they’re clear before the storm hits. The storm will bring a lot of debris along with it, and the drains may clog quickly and often. Starting with a clear drain, however, may help clear some early runoff and lessen flooding around your home.

What to do after a hurricane

Check your sump pump! After a storm, make sure your sump pump is still on duty. If it failed, get it replaced as quickly as possible.

Clear debris from storm drains. Keep storm drains clear on and around your property. This allows water to abate more quickly and lessens the likelihood of post-storm flooding. You may have to clear the drains several times following the storm.

Don’t turn your water on immediately. The storm may not have affected your plumbing directly, but the municipal water supply may have been contaminated. Wait until the water authority gives the all-clear to begin using your taps again.

Have your plumbing inspected. Major storms can cause the ground to shift, uproot trees and damage foundations. The added weight of the water also puts enormous pressure on underground pipes. This can cause severe problems for the plumbing inside and outside of your home. Following a hurricane, have your sewer pipe inspected for cracks, breaks and collapses. Also, look for signs of water leaks outside your home, including sinking ground, persistent puddles, and unusual “soft” spots. Leaks can also cause a loss of water pressure, the sound of running water, and cracks in driveways and foundations. New problems with dampness, mildew and mold growth, and high water bills are also symptoms of plumbing damage.

Look for toilet troubles. Hurricanes can dump a lot of dirt and debris into the sewer system, which can cause plumbing performance problems. If your toilets don’t flush as well as they did pre-storm, your sewer connection could be in trouble. The storm could have damaged the municipal sewers, which can set you up for backups and sanitary sewer overflows. If a sewer inspection of your pipes is clear, notify the municipality of your troubles.

One last piece of hurricane advice

Be patient! Plumbers are in high demand following major storms and hurricanes. It’s common for plumbers to be booked 24/7 in the immediate aftermath of a hurricane. Consider signing up for an emergency services contract. This agreement can ensure that you have preferred access to plumbing, heating, and cooling services around the clock.

Contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911 for your plumbing, heating, and cooling needs. We offer emergency service contracts for plumbing, heating, and cooling.

Photo Credit: Adam Pieniazek, via Flickr

Heating, Cooling and Plumbing Product Recalls You Should Know About

Heating, Cooling and Plumbing Product Recalls You Should Know About

Product recalls are a fact of life. There are a few residential heating, cooling and plumbing products that currently make the list. Product recalls can be voluntary on the part of the manufacturer. Additionally, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has the power to issue mandatory recalls. Typically, products make this list because they’re defective, mislabeled, or prone to dangerous misbehavior. If you have one of these products in your home, stop using them immediately!

Heating and Cooling recalls

Goodman Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps. Goodman Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners (PTAC) are marketed under the Amana brand name. The company recalled these air conditioning and heat pump units due to a fire hazard. The outdoor fan unit can overheat, leading to a fire.

According to the recall notice, affected models include those beginning with EKTC15, EKTH15, PMC15, PMH12, PMH15, PTC15, PTH12, PTH15, UCYB15, and UCYH15. The recall affects only units with the first four digits of the serial numbers in the range between 1001 and 1709.You can find the model number and serial number on a label behind the front cover of the unit. The company reports that there have been nine fires in affected units to date, and one case of smoke inhalation. The company sold the affected units between January 2010 and January 2018.

3.5KW and 5.0KW models of the same product were also recalled in 2013 for defective power cords.

General Electric PTAC and dehumidifier units. General Electric has issued recall notices for several PTAC and dehumidifier units. The recall notices date back to 2011-2016 and affect several products. The recall notices provide specific information for identifying affected products.

E-Heat Envi Wall Heaters. E-Heat issued a product recall for a small number of wall mounted heating units in March 2018. The company sold the affected units between July 2015 and August 2016. The affected units may have defective wiring that can cause the unit to overheat, smoke or melt. If you have an affected unit, the company advises you to stop using it immediately and contact them for repair or replacement instructions.

Water Heater and Boiler Recalls

American Standard Water Heaters. A small number of American Standard GSN and GN model water heaters may have a manufacturing defect that improperly seals the flange between the combustion chamber and the burner. The defect could allow outside air into the combustion chamber and poses a fire hazard. Affected GN model units have serial numbers beginning with: F15 / G15 / H15 / J15 / K15 / L15 / M15 / A16 / B16. Affected GSN model numbers have serial numbers beginning with: E15 / F15 / G15 / H15 / J15 / K15 / L15 / M15 / A16 / B16 .

If you have an affected product, please stop using the water heater immediately. Move all flammable materials away from the water heater and call the company at (888) 883-0788 for further instructions.

US Boiler residential boilers. US Boiler issued a product recall for three specific residential boiler models in 2014. The affected boilers could produce excessive carbon monoxide emissions under certain conditions. No injuries have been reported to date. The affected boiler models begin with ESC, SCG or PVG. If you believe you have an affected boiler, please contact the company for further instructions. The company also advises that you install a working carbon monoxide detector near all sleeping areas in your home.

Thermostat recall

White-Rodgers Thermostats. White-Rodgers recalled about 750,000 thermostats manufactured between 2006 and 2013 under a variety of brand names, including: COMFORTSENTRY, DICO, Emerson, Frigidaire, GemStat, Geocomfort, Hydron, Maytag, Module, Nutone, Partners Choice, Rheem, Ruud, Sears, Tetco, Unico, Water Furnace, Westinghouse, White-Rodgers or Zonefirst. Consumers may have purchased the thermostats from hardware or home improvement stores. Additionally, the thermostats may have been installed by heating and cooling contractors as part of a system replacement or upgrade. Alkaline batteries included with the thermostat could leak and damage the unit, leading to a fire. The company has received seven reports of burn damage to the unit, with no injuries reported.

It’s important to act on product recalls as quickly as possible to protect yourself and your family from injury or loss. If you’d like more information on heating and cooling products, water heaters or boilers, please contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to discuss a range of options for your home.

Photo Credit: Goodman

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