U.S. DOE New Water Heater Regulations April 2015

Don’t get caught in hot water this April after the new water heater regulations go into effect. As you may or may not know, the Obama administration released new energy efficient regulations and standards in order to “cut carbon pollution by nearly 300 million metric tons through 2030 — equivalent to taking more than 60 million cars off the road for one year — and will save homes and businesses more than $10 billion on their energy bills.”

April 16, 2015 New Water Heater Regulations and Standards

U.S. Department of Energy New Water Heater Regulations

The new water heater regulations go into effect April 16, 2015, which means that you only have a few more weeks left to make an important decision regarding your existing water heater.

Basically, the new water heater regulations will require changes for both manufacturers and installers of hot water heater systems. As a homeowner, this means that you will be footing the bill for the extra expenses.

The U.S. DOE regulations require the biggest changes for large water heaters, so if you have a tankless, solar, or small water heater, these regulations won’t affect you as much. The larger gas and electric water heaters (greater than 55 gallons) will need to improve their energy efficiency by about 47% and 30%, respectively.

Department of Energy Water Heater Standards

Source: mechanical-hub.com

The U.S. DOE claims that “the percent of households benefitting ranges from 59 percent to 90 percent.” While you will probably benefit from the savings over the lifetime of the the new water heater regulations for gas and electric water heaters, it won’t be by much. The savings never go over $97 dollars and in some cases can go as low as -$244.

Although we are not arguing against stricter energy efficiency requirements, it’s important to remind consumers of their different options and inform them of the higher upfront costs of a water heater maintenance, repair, or installation after the new water heater regulations on April 16th.

Read on for our recommendation!

Why You Should Replace Your Water Heater Now

Although the new changes will make your water heating (about 20% of your home’s total utility expense) more energy efficient, the upfront costs are significant.

Manufacturer prices are expected to increase from the current average cost to the dealer/ distributor of $157 to a range of $187– 292…

That increased price will end up landing on your bill. Not only will the manufacturer price increase, but the stricter installation requirements, which may require new vent piping, will rise significantly as well.

We recommend that you check your water heater right now if you don’t know how old it is. There should be manufacturer and installation information right on the tank itself. If your water heater is older than 10 years old or you’ve been thinking about replacing it soon, we recommend replacing it now!

It’s sort of like whether you want $100 now or 27¢ every day for a year. If you are like most people, you will want the $100 today. And with Boulden Brother’s energy efficient gas, electric, hybrid, solar, and tankless water heaters, you will probably save more replacing your water heater now than waiting until after April 16th.

Also, if your existing water heater is in a tight space, you might need to find a different place to put the new energy efficient water heater since the added insulation makes the unit significantly larger.

More Information On Water Heaters

Call Boulden Brothers today if you have any questions about the new water heater regulations or wish to replace your existing water heater. There’s not much time left!

Boulden Brothers knows how important to have a reliable and energy efficient hot water heater. If you want to save on water heater replacement or installation costs or have any questions about the new government regulations that go into effect this April, pick up the phone and call the home experts at Boulden Brothers – (302) 368-3848.

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

For more important home and utility information, stay in touch with us through Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Fix a Leak Week: Read Your Water Meter to Detect Leaks

This week, March 16-22, is Fix A Leak Week 2015. Started by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to raise awareness about household plumbing leaks and their negative impact on both the environment and your wallet.

The True Cost of a Plumbing Leak

As you can see from the infographic above, the average home could discretely be losing thousands of gallons of water every year.

According to the EPA:

  • The average household’s leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, or the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry.
  • Household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons annually nationwide. That’s equal to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes.
  • Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.
  • Common types of leaks found in the home include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. All are easily correctable.
  • Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills.
  • Keep your home leak-free by repairing dripping faucets, toilet flappers, and showerheads. In most cases, fixture replacement parts don’t require a major investment.

The EPA is right! You can spend about 10-30 minutes going around your home fixing leaks, such as worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, loose aerators, and other leaking plumbing fixtures.

Before you begin to seal your plumbing leaks, it’s a good idea to know if you even have them. Obvious signs, such as water and drips are clear enough, but you may have other leaks that you don’t even know about. To can detect leaks in your home by doing a simple test involving your water meter.

How to Read Your Water Meter to Detect Leaks

Step 1: Find your water meter!

There are several places that your water meter could be hiding. Although your water meter will most likely be located in an underground box near the front curb of your home, watch this video for some other possible locations:

Once you have found your water meter, you can pry the lid off with a long, strong screwdriver. Stand back because their might be some disturbed creatures trying to escape. If there are spiderwebs or other bugs, use your screwdriver to break them up. use a rag to clean off the water meter numbers and dials.

Pry Water Meter Lid

Source: prettyhandygirl

Step 2: Turn off all faucets and water-using appliances in the home.

Make sure that when you are reading your water meter for leaks that no water is flowing anywhere in or around your home. Double-check sprinklers, irrigation systems, washers, and ice-makers.

Step 3: Know how to read your water meter.

How to Read Water Meter

Source: horizonutilities

Your water meter is fairly easy to read. The three main components are your low flow indicator (looks like a star, triangle, or gear), sweep hand (usually a long red hand), and odometer (spinning numbers).  One complete rotation of the the sweep hand measures 10 gallons or cubic feet of water used. Once you know what each component of your water meter does, you can begin the leak detection test.

Step 4: Observe the water meter readings

After triple-checking that no water is being used in or around your home, observe the sweep hand – if it is moving, you have a leak. Next, inspect the low flow indicator – if it is moving, you have a leak.

The low flow, or leak, indicator moves slowly for small leaks and faster for larger ones. Very small leaks may not be picked up by your water meter. If you think you have a leak, but your leak indicator and sweep hand are not moving, write down the odometer reading and come back to your water meter in about 30 minutes to re-record the odometer reading. If the difference between the two readings is greater than zero, you have a small leak to take care of.

If you are having trouble locating your water meter or finding and fixing your leaks, don’t hesitate to give the plumbing experts at Boulden Brothers a call. We are experts in leak detection and plumbing repairs and replacements. A live support team is available 24/7 for whatever problem you have – (302) 368-3848.

If you have a running or leaking toilet, read:

How to Fix a Leaking Toilet

For more tips on finding and fixing leaks in your home, this is the best resource we found: SmartHomeWaterGuide.org

It can be a huge inconvenience when a leak springs. No matter what type of plumbing services you need, Boulden Brothers is the best choice in the Wilmington & Dover, DE area. We know bathrooms and have the skilled plumbers on staff to tackle any installation, maintenance, or repair job.

If you have any further questions on how to detect and fix leaks 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 Green, energy-efficient home. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.

How to Fix a Leaking Toilet

Fixing a running or leaking toilet is a pain in the you-know-what, but we all have to do it at some point or other. A running toilet is sort of like a bad comedian; it just doesn’t know when to stop. Whether it’s running sporadically or constantly leaks into the bowl, your toilet is wasting a lot of water and is more than likely keeping you up at night. Depending upon the size of your leak, you can lose between 7 and 500 gallons of water a day from a leaking toilet. That means that a standard leaking toilet will cost you on average about $70 a month, or $840 a year.

In most cases, it is possible to fix a running toilet without needing the expertise of a licensed technician. However, before tackling such a task, it’s important to do your research.

Before diving in, first turn off your water (silver knob located on the wall behind your toilet) and then cover the basics. Get to know your toilet. In order to figure out which part of your toilet is leaking, it’s important to know what and where each component is. You may be wondering if the water in your tanks is dirty. Well, it’s not! The water in your tank is clean, so it’s perfectly all right to adjust parts without having to wear protective gloves.

Fix a Leaking Toilet

Source: apartmenttherapy.com

A. Toilet flush lever

B. Rubber flapper blocking the tank water from descending into the bowl. It is connected to the toilet flush lever above.

C. Pump that refills the tank after it empties.

D. Ball float that raises and lowers with the water level to tell the pump when to go and stop.

E. The overflow tube, which sets the high water level in the tank.

So now that you know where each part is located, it’s time to figure out where exactly the problem is.

How to Fix a Leaking Toilet

1. Turn off the water - Turn off the water to your toilet by tightening the little silver knob behind the toilet, next to the wall.

2. Open the lid to the tank and flush – Watch as the water goes down the toilet valve at the bottom of the tank. Hopefully you can see the problem right away, whether it is an object getting in the way of the flapper closing or the toilet chain getting stuck or caught on something.

3. Check the fill valve - Having an inadequate amount of water in your tank will cause the toilet to run. Also, check your fill valve to see if it is on all the way. If it is not on all the way, turn it and your tank should begin filling up to the water line.

4. Test the flapper - Use a stick or your finger to push down on the flapper. Listen for the water to stop running. If the water doesn’t stop, then you have a flapper that hasn’t been sealed properly. We recommend replacing it.

5. Adjust/Replace the ball float - If your ball float is in bad shape or waterlogged, you will need to replace it.

If your ball float is in working order, pull the float up to see if the water stops running. If this stops the flow, adjust its level so that the tank will stop filling once the water is roughly an inch below the top of the overflow tube.

If the float happens to be around the valve post, try pinching the metal clip and move the float down on the wire.

If the float is a ball on an arm, locate the small screws on top of the valve and turn them. Tighten the screw with your screwdriver to lower the ball float and vice versa.

6. Adjust/Replace the toilet fill valve

To remove the old valve, flush the toilet and using a sponge, soak up the remaining water from the tank. Then, disconnect the water supply line, unscrew the fill valve locknut and take out the old fill valve.

To install the new fill valve, follow the manufacture’s instructions and tighten the locknut a half past hand tight. In order to connect the fill tube, attach one end of the new fill tube to the valve nipple. Attach the other end to the enclosed angle adapter. Fasten the angle adapter onto the overflow pipe.

If you cannot locate the source of your leaking toilet problem or have run in to more serious troubles, don’t hesitate to give Boulden Brothers a call. Whether you need a replacement part or an entirely new toilet, we can will take no shortcuts to ensure that everything is running smoothly again.

It can be a huge inconvenience when something in your bathroom plumbing goes wrong. No matter what type of plumbing services you need, Boulden Brothers is the right choice if you are located in the greater Wilmington & Dover, DE area. We know bathrooms and have the skilled plumbers on staff to tackle any installation, maintenance or repair job.

If you have any further questions on how to fix or prevent a leaking toilet, 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 Green home. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.

‘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.