‘Water’ You Doing Here? Prevent Flooding in the Home

With all the rain and precipitation this week, you might be wondering how to prevent flooding in your home and basement. Luckily, there are many things you can do to prevent issues like flooding, mold development, and pest infestation.

prevent flooding in home and basement

Flooding and water damage can cost you a lot of money, weaken your home’s foundation, and undermine the value of your home. Learn how to inspect your home for vulnerable spots and keep all that moisture from seeping into your home before it is too late and they start calling you Shrek because you live in a swamp.

It is fairly simple to prevent flooding and keep water out of your basement. You don’t have to create a moat or any significant foundation repairs or construction. It’s all about diverting water from your home’s foundation and sealing points of entry.

How to Prevent Flooding:

  1. Check your basement for leaks and cracks. Go around the inside of your basement and check for leaks and cracks. There may already be water leakage stains on the walls or near windows. It shouldn’t be too hard to find the areas in your basement that leak water. For cracks smaller than a 1/4 inch, use weatherproof caulk. For any leaks or cracks larger than 1/4 inch, use expandable foam spray. If you have any extra expandable foam spray left over, you may want to check out ThisOldHouse’s list of 10 Uses for Foam Spray.
    • If you find a leak that requires more than a caulking job, contact a professional right away to get it fixed.
    • Check your windows for rotting wood or disintegration near the frame. You may want to invest in a more waterproof material like aluminum or vinyl to prevent flooding through your windows.
    • While you are down there, look for signs of mold. Here is a good how-to Check for Mold.
  2. Check your foundation for leaks and cracks. This time, you’ll want to step outside and do an inspection of your foundation’s perimeter. Same as above, for cracks smaller than 1/4 inch, use weatherproof caulk; for those larger, use expandable foam spray. For most small cracks and leaks, a good caulking job will fix the problem; however, other repairs will require the work of a professional. Watch this video for sealing exterior leaks around your home:
  3. Inspect your downspouts and gutters for proper water diversion. It is important to make sure the water moves away from your foundation when it comes down from your downspout. You want the water to be released at least 4 feet away from your home.
  4. Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts. Before and after the fall season, you should inspect and clean your gutters to prevent any leaves or other debris from blocking the flow of water. Also check for leaks in your downspouts and gutters.
    • The blocked up and leaking water can run down your home’s siding, causing damage and ultimately entering your basement/foundation. You may need to do some repairs or replace your gutter and downspout system entirely.
  5. Check your sump pump. If you don’t know what a sump pump is, a sump pump is a device that pumps out any water that has accumulated in your basement. The pump directs the water into a subsidiary drain that travels away and downhill from your home to prevent flooding.
    • If you have a sump pump, check it every six months and make sure it has access to power. If you don’t have a sump pump, consider investing in one to prevent basement flooding.

BONUS TIP: buy and use a dehumidifier in your basement or any other area that sees moisture. The dehumidifier will help reduce moisture and prevent mold.

Stay off the roads if possible this week. And while you are at home, check your home for vulnerable leakage spots. Hopefully, these home flooding prevention tips will keep you and your home dry all year long. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call the experts at Boulden Brothers.

Boulden Brothers provides full sump pump installation and repair services in the Wilmington & Dover metropolitan area. Whether we did your initial sump pump installation or not, we have the skills and equipment to work on all makes and models of sump pumps. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of sump pumps or you need someone to take over the care of your current unit, call us today.

If you have any further questions on how to prevent flooding in your home, talk to the licensed, trained technicians at Boulden Brothers.

Visit us on our websiteFacebook, Twitter, and Google+ or give us a call at (302) 368-3848 for more information on maintaining a safe and efficient home. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.

Propane Uses, Benefits, Facts, and Incentives

Before you convert your entire home, learn about propane uses, benefits, facts, and incentives. Propane is a versatile energy source with many uses and benefits. Although most people only think of those small propane tanks for outdoor grilling, propane fuel is a smart choice for powering your pool heating, home heating, cooking, generator, fireplace, lighting, clothes drying, and automobile needs.

Propane Uses

First, some quick facts about propane:

  • Propane is a nontoxic, colorless, and odorless gas (a chemical odorant is added to indicate the presence of a leak).
  • 90% of propane is produced domestically (70% of the remaining supply comes from Canada & Mexico).
  • Propane is the most popular alternative fuel for transportation (over 4 million vehicles run on propane worldwide).
  • Propane is clean and emits low greenhouse gases, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and other pollutants (it is not considered a greenhouse gas).
  • Along with being environmentally friendly, propane is very efficient and cost-effective compared with other energy sources.
  • For homes, businesses, fleets, and farms, propane is a safe and cost-effective choice (propane will not cause damage to ecosystems and will only cause bodily harm if liquid propane contacts skin or if propane vapor is ignited after a spill. The U.S. government classifies propane as an approved clean fuel.

Sources: NPGA and propane101

Propane Benefits:

  1.  Clean Energypropane produces less than half the greenhouse gases associated with coal-fired electricity power plants.
    • Propane Incentives: Since propane is so environmentally friendly, there are rebates and other incentives from both state and federal programs!
  2. Energy Efficient – propane is an efficient source of energy, reducing total energy costs and providing reliable cheap energy for all your business and residential needs. Depending on which and how many systems you are replacing, propane can reduce your energy costs by up to 70% and increase total efficiency and useful life.
  3. Safe – since propane is nontoxic, there are no harmful effects from a propane spill, except if it the vapor gets ignited following a spill. Because of its ecofriendliness, propane is a very popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts for its ease of transport and storage. Propane installers and service providers are licensed by the state and undergo rigorous training.

Propane Uses:

Although propane is used mostly for heating, this remarkable fuel is used for many other purposes as well. About 60 million people in the United States use propane for one reason or another. Find out all the other useful propane uses for your home or business:

Residential Propane Uses

  1. HOME HEATING – for homes, business, and farms, propane is a safe and cost-effective choice. According to the US Department of Energy, propane can save you about 50% on energy costs associated with electricity. Propane provides higher temperatures and a more consistent flow of warm air than electric heat pumps and can last over 20 years.
    • fireplace – along with home heating systems, propane can power your fireplaces as well. They are easy to maintain and clean up. Any gas fireplace can quickly and easily be converted to propane, inside or outside.
    • water heating - although the upfront costs are considerably more, propane water heaters typically use 50% less energy, making the long-term savings worth the short-term investment. Compared with an electric model, a propane water heater can save you 60% on your energy bills.
    • pool and spa heating – join the millions around the world that already use propane to heat their swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, saunas, whirlpools, and patio.
  2. APPLIANCES – you can buy propane refrigerators, gas ovens, freezers, clothes dryers, and more. Propane is an affordable, efficient, and safe choice for all your home’s major appliances.
    • lawncare – many lawn care fleets (lawn mowers, trimmers, leaf blowers, etc.) have switched to propane to lower fuel emissions and costs, while increasing performance. According to propane.com,  “For a limited time only, the Propane Mower Incentive Program amounts have been doubled — making the rewards of switching better than ever. Now through March 2015, you can earn $2,000 per qualifying new mower purchase or $1,000 per qualifying mower conversion.
    • clothes dryer – compared to traditional electric models, a propane powered clothes dryer costs about $50-$100 more upfront, but the lower price per gallon will make up for the larger upfront costs. This does, however, heavily depend on your home’s total energy use. Also, if you have more appliances running on propane, this will help lower your price per gallon. Call Boulden Brothers to see if switching to propane powered appliances is a good idea for you.
    • gas grills – propane is used to power most grills sold in the United States. Propane can also be used to power mobile home and RV appliances, generators, and greenhouse heaters.
    • gas lighting – give your landscape an old-fashioned look with outdoor gas lights. Propane is cheaper and better for the environment than electricity, and are ideal for more rural areas, where electricity is sparse or not available.
  3. TRANSPORTATION - This clean burning fuel is the superior choice for environmental protection emitting up to 24 percent less emissions and 17 percent fewer greenhouse gases than that of diesel and gasoline. You can convert your car, truck, van, bus, or any other gasoline powered vehicle to propane for long-term savings and superior performance.

If you are interested in converting your vehicle or entire fleet to propane, contact Boulden Brothers. Many school districts and companies have already converted their fleet to propane. See how converting your fleet can benefit your business or organization. According to pwmag.com, “vehicles that run on propane autogas emit 12% less carbon dioxide, 20% less nitrogen oxide, and up to 60% less carbon monoxide than gasoline vehicles.”

More propane uses:

Propane Uses

Source: need-media.smugmug.com

As you can see, propane is not just used for grilling. Across the country and around the world, business owners and homeowners have chosen to convert their heating, appliances, and vehicles to propane in order to reduce maintenance and operating costs, increase efficiency and useful life, and lower their impact on the environment.

For more information on propane uses/benefits and how you can start making your home propane-powered, visit our FAQ page.

Call Today: 302-368-2553 • Toll Free: 800-296-2553

Refer Boulden Brothers Propane to a friend, and you could earn FREE PROPANE!

We are continuing our tradition of supporting The Ronald McDonald House by giving a penny per gallon sold to the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, where we personally witnessed the love and support they give to family members of ill children. In fact, with your help, we recently gave them a check for over $5,900.

Visit our Propane Safety page for safety information and links for more in-depth propane heating studies. Visit our other blog post for more information on Propane Safety & Maintenance.
Here is a Google Map that shows you where Boulden Brothers Propane Refill Stations are located.
To contact us, you can fill out an online form or call us at (800) 296-2553. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for more useful information and how-to’s.

The Health Impact of Untreated Water

In our past post, we talked about some of the damage that hard water can cause on a home’s plumbing fixtures. Besides damaging fixtures, there are some negative impacts that untreated water can have on people. The main concern from a health perspective is the cumulative impact that chlorine will have on the body over a long term.

Just like chlorine has a gradual impact on plumbing, its effects on the body are not acute and instead result from prolonged exposure. For the first time, the federal government has recently spoken about the risks of high levels of chlorine in the water. When we visit homes as part of our plumbing checkup, we flush the water heater, check the anode, and test the quality of the water. This test sometimes indicates that a home’s water supply has more chlorine in it than a swimming pool.

The municipal water supply usually has high chlorine content because the quality of water is taken into consideration along with the age of the pipes. The older the pipes, the more likely it will be preferable to increase the level of chlorine for safety reasons. While chlorine is an effective way to kill microorganisms in the water, it’s best that it is removed once it reaches the home.

It’s very straightforward for homeowners to effectively deal with the chlorine in their water supply. Boulden Brothers can install a carbon filter, which is maintenance-free and useful for many years. The benefit of using a whole house system as opposed to buying a small filter that attaches to the faucet is the availability of great quality water throughout every water-using appliance in the house. The shower, tub, dishwasher, washing machine, and sinks will all have access to high quality water.

People often choose to drink bottled water because they dislike the taste of chlorine. A more cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution is to install a household carbon filter. Cooking with this clean, high quality water will make an immediately noticeable difference in the taste of food. Carbon filtration is a tried and true technology that has been around for quite a while. It has repeatedly demonstrated its effectiveness at removing adulterants from the water supply.

If homeowners think that they need a bacteria test in their water, it’s necessary to send a sample to a qualified laboratory for testing. The University of Delaware is one of several places that we can refer people. Once a laboratory test indicates that there is bacteria in the water, we have solutions for that at Boulden Brothers. We can install UV systems to kill any microorganisms in the water, and we can also provide chlorination systems as well. The first step is to get the water tested by an appropriate facility.

If you would like to learn more about installing a carbon filtering system in your home to remove chlorination, give us a call today.

My Heat Went Out! Furnace Troubleshooting Tips

With hundreds of cities reporting record low temperatures and many others still recovering from extreme amounts of snow, furnaces around the country are working harder than ever to provide much needed warmth to homes and families. This means that if your heating equipment is aging or hasn’t undergone regular maintenance, you could be at risk of your furnace breaking down when you need it most.

Furnace Troubleshooting Tips

When something we take for granted  suddenly breaks down, like our electric, plumbing, or HVAC systems, it can be difficult to know how to fix it. Well, that’s why we have trained professional technicians! There are, however, many easy furnace troubleshooting steps that a homeowner can take to prevent and fix common furnace problems.

Here are some furnace troubleshooting tips to help prevent your furnace from breaking down and avoid the hassle and expense of a service visit:

Furnace Troubleshooting Tips

  • The first place to look is your furnace’s air filter. Dirty filters are one of the most common and preventable maintenance problems in home furnaces. Leaving them unchanged for two months or more can cause a loss of inefficiency in the unit’s operation, leaving you with less heat, poor air quality, and could potentially stop your furnace from running entirely. Many modern, high-efficiency furnaces are sensitive to this problem and will shut themselves down before bigger issues occur, so if you can’t remember the last time you changed your filters now is a great time to get into the habit. Fortunately it’s a simple task for almost any homeowner. Some filters are meant to be cleaned with a hose, but most air filters are treated with a dust-catching oil which cannot be reused after washing. Follow the manufacturer instructions.
  • Next, check your thermostat. Make sure your thermostat is set to “Heat.” The switch can sometimes be accidentally switched to a different setting. Many assumed furnace troubles can be rectified with some thermostat troubleshooting. Dirt and other debris, for example, can build up inside of the thermostat’s housing and cause problems in older electromechanical models that use a physical coil of expanding and contracting metal to tell your furnace when it’s time to kick on. Corrosion and loose wiring within the thermostat housing can also keep it from closing the circuit. Do not remove the thermostat housing to investigate inside without first cutting its power. This is a good time to check if your thermostat has power to begin with. Check to see if your thermostat uses batteries, as they may need to be replaced. If not, you can interrupt power to your thermostat at your home’s fuse or breaker panel, which brings us to our next step.
  • If you’re sure your filter is clean, your thermostat is set and working normally but your furnace still doesn’t produce any heat it’s time to find your home’s breaker panel: your furnace may have drawn too much power and thrown its breaker switch. Even if your breaker box is poorly labeled, you can tell if any breaker switches have been thrown by looking for the one that’s out of place compared to all the others. To reset the breaker move the odd switch back to its proper position. If that doesn’t work, try switching it off completely and then back on.

Even if these furnace troubleshooting steps haven’t brought your heat back you’ve ruled out some of the simplest and most common problems. Keep investigating and you should hopefully be able to determine if you need to call for an HVAC technician or are facing an issue you can fix yourself. For more troubleshooting tips, check out this list of 9 Easy Tasks You Can Perform Yourself.

Good luck with your DIY furnace troubleshooting and if all else fails, the friendly professionals at Boulden Brothers would be more than happy to help. Give us a call at  (302) 368-3848.

If you have any further questions on how to maintain your HVAC system, talk to the licensed, trained technicians at Boulden Brothers.

Visit us on our websiteFacebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more useful information and advice.

You can reach us at (302) 368-3848 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for all your plumbing, electric, propane, and HVAC needs.

Effects of Hard Water on Plumbing Fixtures

In past posts, we discussed the potential for poor quality water to cause damage to fixtures. Some houses have had untreated hard water for so long that the water pressure has diminished significantly. By the time Boulden Brothers are called to check the problem, cutting a small section of pipe reveals that more than half of the opening is obstructed by accumulated buildup. Hardness and iron had attached itself to the pipe walls bit by bit, year by year. It has gotten to the point that the pipes are effectively blocked up.

While this is a bit of an extreme example, people tend not to realize that it can happen in our area if hard water is left untreated. Another common issue we might see is excessive sediment buildup on the bottom of the water heater. Gas water heaters work similarly to a teapot that’s placed on a stove burner. (The water is warmed up by the heat applied to the bottom of the container.) When there is excessive sediment in the bottom of the water heater tank, it acts as an insulating layer, reducing the heater’s efficiency and requiring the unit to run longer. The sediment buildup is effectively reducing the lifespan of the water heater.

Toilets can also become damaged from hard water over time. When you flush a toilet, water usually travels from under the rim down into the bowl. Those small holes in the toilet rim tend to gradually become clogged. As a result, the proper amount of water isn’t released into the toilet bowl during a flush. Sinks and faucets will accumulate visible hardness buildup at the bottom of the drain or even in the aerator in the shower or tub. The most obvious sign of hard water is usually a difficult to clean buildup on glass shower doors or the bathtub.

Dishwashers that use hard water will end up accumulating a white residue, and it will be more difficult to thoroughly clean the dishes. Newer dishwashers even have water softeners built right in to combat hard water. These dishwashers have a compartment that holds salt for this exact purpose. Installing a water softener in the home will result in less detergent being used, along with cleaner dishes.

The damage caused to fixtures by hard water is gradual and sometimes easy for homeowners to ignore until it’s too late. That’s why water heater manufacturers recommend that the water heater is flushed on a regular basis. We suggest it is flushed every two years, but the water heater manufacturer usually recommends that it is done as often as every year. If you’re a BAM Club member with Boulden Brothers, membership includes a visit every other year to flush the water heater for you. We also check the sacrificial anode in the water heater that protects the corrosive properties of the water from directly attacking the walls of the tank.

The first step is to call Boulden Brothers to visit your home and test the water. We can then provide recommendations that will extend the life of the plumbing fixtures in the home. We deal with the core problem, which is the quality of the water coming into the house. Because the water supply in one home can be dramatically different from its neighbors, a qualified professional is will be able to make a case by case determination.

If you would like to learn more about how Boulden Brothers can extend the life of your plumbing fixtures, give us a call today.

Traditional v. Solar Water Heaters: A Buyer’s Guide

Solar water heaters get their energy from the sun – a free fuel. Many homeowners feel as though any kind of solar or alternative energy system is too expensive and more suitable for commercial establishments. Although it is true that upfront costs are often a lot higher for these systems, the amount you save on energy bills will offset the high initial costs within as little as a couple of years. Solar and other sustainable energy systems are quickly becoming standard solutions for many households.

Boulden Brothers - Solar Water Heaters

Because of the energy and cost-saving benefits of these systems, they will quickly become the mainstream solution to homeowner energy needs. Still, alternative energy sources like wind and solar power are more suited to different geographic locations. What works in Nevada may not work it Minnesota.

The great thing about solar water heaters is that they work well in any climate. All you need is an unshaded area facing south (sometimes west as well). Solar water heaters may be a good investment – they are cost-effective while helping to protect the environment. Still, it is a significant investment and worth researching the options available. Here is a list of things you should check out before purchasing a solar water heater.

If you are unsure about whether or not a solar water heater is right for you, you’ve come to the right place. If by the end of this blog, you are still questioning the decision, pick up the phone and talk to a professional at Boulden Brothers – (302) 368-3848. We will evaluate all of your options and give you unbiased advice as to what you should do.

Solar Water Heater Repair

Solar Water Heater FAQ

How Solar Water Heaters Work

How Solar Water Heaters WorkThe above diagram gives a graphic representation of how solar water heaters work:

  • Solar collectors, or panels, harness the sun’s energy and use it to heat up air or water.
  • There is always some kind of storage. For pool heating systems, the pool itself is “storage.”
  • Cold water passes through the solar collector first, which preheats the water.
  • It then passes through the conventional back-up water heater (these are simple systems that do the job).
  • Sometimes the back-up water heater is connected with the storage tank, bypassing the separate heating unit in a two-tank system. Here is an example of an Active Indirect One-Tank System:
  • Active Indirect One-Tank Solar Water HeaterTo provide hot water, pumps are used to circulate water through your system and into your home.

Is a Solar Water Heater Right for Me?

The first thing most people want to know is “How much?”. For a quick answer, expect to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for a solar water

The answer, however, is more complicated than how much the upfront costs are. Don’t be surprised when you see your water heating bill drop 50%-80%. You also won’t be subject to the rise and fall of fuel prices.

Besides having more predictable gas or electricity bills, you will also be helping to promote technologies that are good for the environment. Replacing your standard water heater (useful life of 10-15 years) with a solar water heater (lifespan of about 20 years) will “offset the equivalent of 40% to 100% of the carbon dioxide emissions of a modern passenger car” (U.S. DOE).

One thing to consider when shopping around for a solar water heater is if you have an unshaded area on your site that faces in the southern direction. A professional solar water heater expert at Boulden Brothers can evaluate your property for solar panels/collectors.

Whether you’re ready to schedule a consultation now or you simply have questions or concerns about how a solar hot water heater can be integrated into your home, we would love to hear from you. We have live operators standing by 24/7 at (302) 368-3848.

Depending on how much sun your site receives, whether temperatures frequently drop below freezing, and other factors will contribute to the decision of which type of solar heating system you choose.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Different Water Heaters:

Hot Water Heater Comparisons

Source: energy.gov

Types of Solar Water Heaters

Once you have decided that a solar water heater is right for you, you will want to decide which solar water heater system is right for you:

  • Direct Solar Water Heater - uses a pump to cycle water through the solar panels/collectors to preheat the water; this can become a problem if the temperatures outside are frequently below freezing.
  • Passive Direct Solar Water Heaters – circulates water or heat-transfer fluid through the system without using pumps or electricity. These systems are great during power outages but suffer in freezing climates.
  • Thermosyphon System – warm water rises and colder water sinks in this system, creating the need to place the solar collectors below the storage tank so that
  • Indirect Solar Water Heater - uses a pump to circulate friendly antifreeze through the solar collectors and heat exchanger. These systems are popular in areas that are prone to freezing temperatures.

Of these choices, an indirect heating system is the most popular choice for homeowners in the Newark/Wilmington area since temperatures often drop below freezing. The eco-friendly antifreeze in an indirect solar water heater system is not affected in the same way that water is.

Solar Water Heater Sizing:

Another factor you will want to consider is how large your solar water heater needs to be to accommodate your home. You will need a tank large enough to provide as much hot water as you’re likely to use in an hour on any given day, and it also needs to keep that volume of water at the appropriate temperature until you need it.

Although it may be tempting to install a solar water heater on your own because it doesn’t have many moving parts, this would be a bad idea. Professional solar water heater installers will know how to estimate your hot water needs and by working with them, you will have the best, most efficient solution for your home.

A professional Boulden Brothers technician will know exactly where to install your new solar water heater system and will take care of all the local and state building codes and permits, so you won’t have to worry about anything. We will give you information about government tax breaks and rebate information so you can get all the savings you are eligible for.

Hiring the professional solar water heater installers at Boulden Brothers will ensure that the installation goes perfectly or you get your money back.

Reference: U.S. Dept. of Energy

Boulden Brothers knows how important it is to have reliable hot water. We regularly install and maintain solar water heaters for customers all overt the Wilmington & Dover metropolitan area and would be more than happy to do the same for you.

With our indirect solar water heater systems, you will never have to worry about fluctuating fuel prices or freezing water pipes again.

If you have questions or want to learn more about how a solar hot water heater can be made a reality in your home, give Boulden Brothers a call today. (302) 368-3848

Your Satisfaction is 100% Guaranteed!

Three Common Well Water Issues

In our previous post, we talked about the prevalence of chlorine in the municipal water supply and how it can be harmful to the household. For homeowners who obtain their water from a well, there are three common issues that they may experience:

Hard Water – This means that the water contains excessive calcium and magnesium, which leads to white crusty residue on fixtures. This is mostly visible as hazy spots on dishes, glasses, the shower wall, and chrome fixtures. There are usually no negative health effects from consuming hard water because the body regularly processes calcium and magnesium.

Hard water does, however, negatively affect the fixtures in the home. It also requires you to use more soap, and it removes much of the moisture from skin. Soft water keeps the skin feeling silky smooth and soft. It can also cut the amount of detergent needed by half. There is the potential for significant savings in terms of cleaning products used in the house.

Iron in Water – Most people recognize the distinct taste of iron if they have been in an area that has iron in the water. Aside from an odd flavor it also leaves behind a rust-colored residue, especially on white fixtures. There are often homes that can’t do white laundry without it becoming a light pink color due to the high iron content in the water. The consumption of small quantities of iron does not have a negative health impact.

Acidic water – Well water is often slightly acidic, slowly eating away at the inside of plumbing fixtures.

The first step in determining what (if any) issues are in the water supply is to call Boulden Brothers to perform a test. The test resembles a high school chemistry kit, and it uses tried and true technology to determine the quality of the water. We can easily detect how much iron, hardness, or acidity the water contains. From there, we can recommend one of the many options that would best suit your situation.

Water softeners will remove the calcium and magnesium, along with low levels of iron. If the level of iron in the water is high enough, we will need to install an iron removal system. In most cases, however, the softener will be adequate. For acidic water, we would likely recommend a pH neutralizer. A neutralizer actually introduces a small amount of hardness to the water, so the water will travel through the neutralizer first, and then through the softener. A reverse osmosis system will remove everything from the water, so it is a great option for people with specific medical needs.

The downside to installing a reverse osmosis system is additional water consumption. Since the water is being forced through a reverse osmosis membrane, water that cannot be pushed through the filter is wasted and sent down the drain. Additionally, a reverse osmosis system can make the water slightly acidic. People who deal with heartburn, ulcers, or other similar conditions may prefer an alternative that does not introduce acidity to the water.

Overall, the professionals at Boulden Brothers will be able to give you a range of solutions to improve your household’s water quality. If you would like to learn more about the treatment options available for your well water, give us a call today.

6 Ways to Lower Utility Bills for 6 More Weeks of Winter

Learn How to Lower Utility Bills

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Monday, prognosticating another 6 weeks of winter. Whether or not you believe his prediction, it’s never too late to make some small, and not so small, changes to your home to significantly lower utility bills.

Here is the breakdown when it comes to your utility bill:

lower utility bills

Source: Energy Star

Although, these numbers do vary by quite a bit, heating is almost definitely your biggest expense. Although it seems the warm weather will never arrive, these tips for saving on heating will help with your cooling costs as well.

1. Install a Programmable Thermostat

Are you heating and/or cooling your home when no one is around or people are asleep? If you are, you could be wasting a lot of money. If you are diligent enough, you may be able to raise the thermostat setting when you wake up, lower it when you go to work, raise it back up again when you come home, and turn it down again before going to bed, but what is the likelihood of that happening everyday?

Programmable Smart Thermostat

source: nest.com

In addition to saving you money, you and your family will experience added comfort from a programmable thermostat  since it will automatically raise the temperature before you wake up and before you come home from work or school.  This way, there is no delay period, and you can experience the comfort of your HVAC system when exactly when you  need it.

Don’t turn your system off completely when you leave the home. We recommend setting the thermostat to 68 degrees  or lower when away from your home. For every one degree you turn your temperature down, you will save about 1% on  your heating bill.

There are even apps that you can download so you can monitor and adjust the temperature of your home from a  remote location. If you are thinking of purchasing a “smart thermostat, here are some reviews of the top contenders, including Nest, Hive, Tado, and more.

Boulden Brothers technicians are professional installers of all thermostat makes and models.

2. Insulate Windows and Doors

Lock any windows and doors not being used, as the tightness gets rid of any drafts. Consider putting Window Shrink Film over any windows that you don’t plan on opening all winter. Make sure to attach it to the frame of the window and not the window itself and use a hair dryer to create a taut air seal. If you followed the directions carefully, you shouldn’t even be able to tell it is there from a distance.

Also, remember to replace any worn weatherstripping with a fresh set. The same goes for caulking your doors and windows. You want to remove the old before installing the new.

Check out this video for re-caulking your windows and doors:

For openings greater than a quarter of an inch, use Expandable Foam Spray. For any gaps less than a quarter of an inch, use weather-proof caulk.

3. Check Your Furnace Filter and Air Vents

Set a reminder on your phone or computer for the first of every month to check and/or replace your furnace air filters. Have a large backup supply of filters so you don’t have to run to the store every time. Most filters need to be replaced every 30-60 days.

Another thing you should check are your supply and return vents. Make sure these openings are completely unblocked. Check under rugs, behind furniture, and drapery to see if any vents are being blocked. Not only will this cause unwanted pressure in your duct system, causing air leaks, but it will also prevent warm air from coming into your rooms or cold air from being able to escape through the returns.

4. Take Advantage of the Sun

The sun’s energy is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Even on the coldest of days, the sun’s rays can supply your home with substantial amounts of heat.

When the sun is out, make sure you open the curtains or blinds. Conversely, if the sun is down or hidden, close your blinds for added insulation. Consider purchasing “thermal drapes/curtains” for extra insulation.

5. Get Your Ducts In a Row

Taking care of your air ducts is important for energy savings and improved indoor quality.

You can tell if you have dirty air ducts that need cleaning by sticking a flash camera into one of your air registers and taking a couple snaps. If it look anything like this, you’ll want to schedule duct cleaning as soon as possible, especially if you have family members with respiratory issues:

Also, don’t fall for cheap air duct cleaning scams. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is:

In addition to checking your ducts for dirt, dust, and debris, you want to go around your home and seal all of your air ducts’ seams and connections with mastic sealant or HVAC Foil Tape (NOT duct tape, ironically).

This can potentially save you 20% on your heating and cooling costs, so yeah, you should do it.

6. Benefit From Rebates, Warranties, and Other Incentives

Your utility company might also offer free programmable thermostats and any subsidies for major repairs, like roof and boiler replacement.

Often, state, local, and federal programs are available to homeowners who make significant improvements to their home’s energy efficiency.

Here are some programs available for Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania residents.


Although it won’t save you money or energy, it definitely saves lives to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed outside of every sleeping area in your home.

Over 60% of all home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors.

If you have any further questions on how to save energy and lower utility bills this winter, talk to the licensed, trained technicians at Boulden Brothers.

Visit us on our websiteFacebook, Twitter, and Google+ or give us a call at (302) 368-3848 for more information on saving money and energy. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.

The Impact of Chlorination in Municipal Water

Not only does the quality of water affect its taste, but it also has a large effect on plumbing equipment. Our clients usually obtain municipal water from the City of Newark or Artesian Water. Otherwise, clients obtain their water from private wells. For households with municipal water supplies, the water tends to be somewhat hard (containing calcium and magnesium). Another concern aside from hard water is an excessive amount of chlorination. While chlorine ensures that the water is safe to drink, sometimes drinking water has more chlorine in it than the water found in a swimming pool.

Unfortunately, excessive chlorine in water has negative effects. Even though it eliminates microorganisms, studies have linked chlorine to cancer and other health problems. Additionally, chlorine can be very harsh on plumbing fixtures and pipes, potentially reducing their lifespan. Plastic items (such as the components on the inside of a toilet) rapidly deteriorate when exposed to high amounts of chlorine.

It’s actually rather straightforward to combat high chlorine levels in the water supply. If we were to install a carbon filter in the house, every tap in the entire home would dispense water that tastes like it came from a bottle. Even if you don’t mind the additional cost and environmental impact of consuming bottled water, you might not have considered how easily chlorine is absorbed into your skin.

Every time you take a bath or shower with warm water, your pores open up and chlorine is absorbed with minimal resistance. This may sound unbelievable, but there’s an easy demonstration that we are glad to do whenever someone requests it. By simply taking a small cup of water and testing it with a chlorine strip, we can first show that there is a positive indication of chlorine. Then, a finger is used to swirl the water for around fifteen seconds. When we test the water again, the results will show a negative indication for chlorine.

Where did the chlorine go? Your skin absorbed it. The skin is very porous and chlorine is easily absorbed, so water with high chlorine content can be detrimental even if you choose not to drink it at all. If this water is used for bathing and doing laundry, the household would greatly stand to benefit from installing a carbon filter. The safe chlorinated water from the city is still traveling all the way to the home. Once the water reaches your home, however, the chlorine can be removed with the household filter.

There are many other commercially available products that use the same carbon filtering technology—some are built into pitchers, while others attach to the faucet. Even so, they only provide quality water at the appliance they are attached to. When we install a central system, the entire home gets the benefit of chlorine-free water. This means that all the plumbing fixtures are protected from shortened lifespans. While this technology is similar to other options, it’s applied at a higher level so the entire home will benefit.

If you would like to learn more about installing a carbon filtering system in your home to remove chlorination, give us a call today.

Propane Safety for Winter Storm Preparedness

Brrr…it’s cold out there! Although we didn’t get the snow that meteorologists predicted for winter storm Juno, temperatures are dropping and some snow is predicted on Super Bowl Sunday into Monday. Low temperatures, high winds, and precipitation can be expected every winter, but propane troubles shouldn’t be. Get familiar with these Propane Safety Tips for Winter.

Propane Safety For Winter

If your family uses propane for heating your home and running appliances, it is important that you know how to keep safe from potential propane dangers. Use these before, during, and after the storm tips to ensure propane safety for winter and lower fuel costs.

Propane Safety Before the Storm:

  1. Collect a list of emergency phone numbers for easy access. This includes local numbers for the Police and Fire Departments as well as your Propane Retailer. Post these on the fridge so everyone in your family knows where they are.
  2. Create an emergency safety and evacuation plan for your family and stick it next to the emergency contact numbers on your fridge. This will include instructions for locating and turning off your propane supply, as well as instructions for turning off the water and electricity.
  3. Make sure you have a good supply of propane in your tank. During inclement weather conditions, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to deliver your additional propane. Have a qualified  service technician inspect and service your propane system and appliances. This will ensure your propane system is safe and efficient, giving you piece of mind and saving you money and fuel.
  4. Locate your propane tank and mark it with a flag, pole, or other object for easy identification. This will prevent snowblowers and plows from accidentally causing damage to your tank and possibly a fatal injury.
  5. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors outside of every sleeping area in your home.
  6. Do NOT store propane in an enclosed area. Store them upright and in a dry and well-ventilated area away from any source of ignition.
  7. Propane gas contains an additive that gives the naturally odorless gas a pungent, unpleasant smell, sometimes described as rotten eggs or a decaying animal. Make sure everyone in your household knows what propane gas smells like.
    • If you smell this gas at any time, make sure to do the following right away:
      • put out all open flames and do not turn on any appliances, lights, or phones. Only if it is safe, open windows to allow for ventilation.
      • evacuate the area as soon as you can and call your local propane dealer once you are safely away from the gas leak.
      • find your main propane gas supply valve and turn it to the right to close it. Call Boulden Brothers Propane if you need help turning your propane supply off – 800-296-2553 - and contact us again when turning your gas back on.
      • Do NOT return to your home until a qualified propane technician or emergency personnel tells you it is safe to do so.
    • For added safety measures, consider installing propane gas detectors. This is especially important if propane is used in a little-used room or if you have  Speak with your local propane company on what you can do to add security to your home.

 Propane Safety During the Storm:

  1. Listen to local news stations and weather reports for the best course of action. During winter months especially, make sure you have enough propane in your tank.
  2. Clear snow and ice away from your propane tank, regulators, vents, piping, tubing, and valves. Use a broom instead of a metal shovel to avoid damaging your propane system’s parts.
  3. Additionally, check all outdoor vents, chimneys, and flues for proper ventilation and reduce your risk for CO poisoning.
  4. If you feel as if your safety is at stake, turn off your main gas line immediately and call your local propane dealer.

 Propane Safety After the Storm:

  1. Look out for downed power lines and other damage around your home. Use a flashlight if it is too dark to see, never a candle or open flame. The ground can be energized up to 40 feet away. Do not go anywhere near a downed power line and call 911 or your local fire department immediately.
  2. If you notice any movement, shift, or damage to your propane gas or gas lines, close off the main gas valve and call your local utility company or propane dealer immediately.

If, for any reason, you suspect damage to your gas leak or damage to your propane tank or appliances, turn off the main gas supply valve on your tank and wait for your qualified propane technician to perform a complete inspection, including leak detection tests. Do not turn the gas back on until your system has been inspected.

Click here for more information on Propane Safety and Maintenance for WinterFor a full propane safety manual, check out Amerigas’s pdf Safety Brochure.

We are continuing our tradition of supporting The Ronald McDonald House by giving a penny per gallon sold to the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, where we personally witnessed the love and support they give to family members of ill children. In fact, with your help, we recently gave them a check for over $5,900.

Visit our Propane Safety page for safety information and links for more in-depth propane heating studies. Visit our other blog post for more information on Propane Safety & Maintenance.
If you have more questions, visit the Propane FAQ page.
Here is a Google Map that shows you where Boulden Brothers Propane Refill Stations are located.
To contact us, you can fill out an online form, call us at (800) 296-2553, or send us a message on Facebook and Twitter.