The Benefits of Whole House Generators in Bucks County, PA

Posted by Kevin Carney on January 22nd, 2015

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We have had our fair share of some very challenging weather over the last few years, and if there’s anything we learned from events like super-storm Sandy, it’s that extended power outages can happen at any time. Extended power outages aren’t just inconvenient; they can damage your whole-home systems and cost you money in lost food and water problems. But having a whole house generator in Bucks County, PA can change all that, and change it with an imperceptible, automatic switch.

How Does a Whole House Generator Work?

Whole house generators are much more powerful, stable and permanent than portable generators. First, a whole house generator is sized to carry the major systems of your home for a long period of time. They are installed outside your home in a highly weather-resistant cabinet and use fuels that are not affected by power outages such as natural gas and propane. Once the generator is properly sized and placed outside, it is connected directly into your home’s electrical panel. Most whole house generators are equipped with sensors that detect any interruption in electrical power to your home, and these generators automatically power your home through the electrical box when such an interruption is detected. When the power returns, the generator will switch back off.

Benefits of a Whole Home Generator

  • Convenience – with a whole house generator, you don’t have to worry about connecting, starting, fueling and monitoring the generator as you do with a portable generator.
  • Whole-home support – a whole house generator is designed to support all the major systems in your home, not just one or two. You can keep living comfortably with a whole house generator even though your grid power may be interrupted.
  • No issues with fueling – a whole house generator uses natural gas or propane to operate, and as such, the generator connects directly to the natural gas line or LP tank on your property; there’s no need to constantly re-fuel as there can be with portable generators.

If you are tired of the effect of unpredictable weather events and power outages, you may want to consider the installation of a whole house generator in your Buck County, PA, home.

Contact Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

Choosing a Sink with Bathroom Remodeling

Posted by Kevin Carney on January 15th, 2015

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The bathroom sink is the place that your day truly begins. It’s where you brush your teeth, wash your face, style your hair, and become prepared for the day ahead of you. That’s why selecting a new bathroom sink is one of the most important parts of bathroom remodeling, and why you should work with a contractor to help make your design plan come to life. A skilled contractor will modify the plumbing to help you realize your vision, but first you’ll have to choose from a number of different options for new sink designs.

The number of options you have when choosing a new sink is simply astounding. First, you may want to choose the design of the fixture itself. Do you want a standalone pedestal sink? Or would you prefer a vanity with lots of cabinet space? The design of the sink sets the tone for the style and functionality of the entire room. You should also have a plumber help you to decide how high up you want your new sink installed. Do you want it fairly low to make it more accessible to some members of your household? Or would you rather raise the sink a bit so that you can have more storage space underneath? Pipes may need to be lengthened, shortened, or moved around to suit your needs.

You’ll also want to choose the style of the bowl. You may decide on a vessel sink, a stylish option in which the bowl sits atop the countertop. Or you can choose a traditional bowl style with a drop-in sink design. In any case, you’ll want to choose a material that’s durable and decorative. Typically, you can choose between materials like laminate, tile, marble, and granite.

Finally, the faucet should be functional, and you will probably try to make sure it complements the design of the rest of the room. You may choose from center-set faucets with one or two handles, vessel faucets, and wall-mounted faucets. You’ll have to choose a finish such as stainless steel, brushed nickel, copper, or chrome. You can even decide to install a joystick design handle or a touchless sensor.

At Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling, we’ll help you with every step of the remodeling process. Call us today to discuss your new bathroom remodeling in Eagleville.

How Long Will My Home’s Water Line Last?

Posted by Kevin Carney on January 8th, 2015

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Having an older home or fixer-upper can be a very rewarding experience, but there is always a concern about the water lines coming into the home. Water lines are quite study, but they do age, and if you have a property that has been around since 1950 or before, you could be looking at a water line that needs replacing. Following are some average lifespans from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for the different types of metals used for main water lines:

  • Brass – 40-70 years
  • Copper – 50 years
  • Galvanized steel – 20-50 years
  • Cast iron – 70-100 years
  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride) – indefinite
  • Lead – 100 years

So how do you know if your water pipe has blown? Here are some common signs:

  • Yard puddling – water main lines run under the ground and directly into your home; if a leak has developed in the area of your yard, the ground surrounding the leak will become saturated and the water will rise to the surface, creating very soggy areas or puddles.
  • Very high water bill – if you notice a sudden, big increase in your home’s water bill and haven’t increased your water usage, you may have a water main leak.
  • Significant decrease in water pressure – have you noticed that all the faucets and showerheads seem to have a lot less pressure when the water comes out? A significant drop in pressure means a leak has developed somewhere, and if the water pressure loss is across the board, then it’s likely to be a problem with the main water line to your home.
  • Water discoloration – are you noticing that your water has become brown, or that dirt is in it? This can indicate that soil is getting into your water from a break somewhere in the water line.
  • Water around foundation of your home (slab) – if your home sits on a slab, and your main water line is embedded in the concrete of the slab, a leak can still develop. Because the pipe is encased, the leaking water may escape to the outside of the foundation, where it will puddle.

If you have concerns that the main water line to your home may be aging, or you think you may have a leak, call Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling today.

Are Foul Odors from a Drain a Sign that I Need Sewer Repair?

Posted by Kevin Carney on January 2nd, 2015

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The sewer line is the pipe that runs from your drains underneath your property to carry wastewater from your home into the municipal sewer. When there’s a problem with the sewer line that helps to evacuate sewage into the sewer, you’re responsible for handling any repairs up until your sewer line meets the sewer main. This means that, unfortunately, you’ll have to deal with finding a solution for the foul odors that sometimes go along with sewer repair.

A sewer line in need of repair will often, sadly, bring unpleasant smells along with it. But is this always the case? And are foul odors always a sign of a sewage line issue? We’ll address these questions on today’s guide to drainage problems and sewer repair in Lower Gwynedd.

Sometimes, odors are a sign that your sewer line has sprung a leak. However, if the leak is underneath your property, it’s unlikely that you’ll smell it in the drains. Rather, sewage will leak outside, possibly causing your yard to smell instead. If the leak occurs in a drain line behind the walls, an odor is likely to penetrate your home. If there is a major clog in your sewer line, sewage may backup into the drains, a probable source of unpleasant drain odors. Smells may also be contributed to sewer lines that are improperly vented, which means your plumber will have to install new vents.

Here’s something to ask yourself when you notice a smell from only one of the drains: when was the last time you used it? If it’s been a while since you’ve turned on the faucet or fixture that empties into that drain, there may be a very simple solution. Try simply running the water. The P-trap underneath a drain, the curved section of pipe that fills with water to prevent you from smelling the odors emitting deep from the sewer pipes, can dry out if left unused for a long time. Simply running the water can restore the amount of water necessary to block out the smell.

Call Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling to learn whether drain cleaning, leak detection, or sewer repair in Lower Gwynedd can keep away foul odors and any additional plumbing system unpleasantness.

12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

Posted by Kevin Carney on January 1st, 2015

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Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at Carney Plumbing, Heating & Cooling hope you have a great start to the year and a fruitful 2015.

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

Posted by Kevin Carney on December 25th, 2014

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“No two snowflakes are alike.”

This is a statement nearly every schoolchild has heard at least once, either while crafting unique snowflakes with a sheet of folded paper and some scissors or while learning a lesson on the science of snow. While even most scientists don’t quite understand what causes a snowflake to form such complex and beautiful columns and points and branches, one thing is for certain, the composition of snowflakes guarantees that no two will ever be identical.  However, it is possible for two snowflakes to appear to be nearly exactly alike.

A snowflake begins to form when a piece of dust catches water vapor out of the air. Water is created when two hydrogen molecules attach to an oxygen molecule. The two hydrogen molecules are angled from one another in such a way that they form a hexagonal shape when they come together during the freezing process; thus, a snowflake begins as a simple hexagonal shape or as layers of hexagons called diamond dust. The emergent properties that follow from the original hexagon are what differentiate one snowflake from another, as the humidity, the temperature in the air, and many other factors (some of which remain unclear to scientists) allow each snowflake to form in an entirely unique way with a seemingly endless variety of shapes.

However, in 1988, a scientist named Nancy Knight claimed to have located two that were the same while studying snowflakes as part of an atmospheric research project. And it appeared to be so; when put under a microscope, the emergent properties looked nearly identical. But while it is feasible that two snowflakes can appear to be exactly alike on the outside, they are never identical on an atomic level. Deuterium is an atom that appears attached to about one in every 3000 hydrogen molecules in the air. Because there are millions of atoms that make up a snowflake, the random assortment of deuterium in any two snowflakes—even in two that so very closely resemble one another—simply cannot be the same.

Here at Carney Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, we’d like to remind you to grab a cup of cocoa and relax with your family this holiday, perhaps by crafting some unique snowflake creations of your own. We wish you a very happy holiday season, from our family to yours!

How Will Oil to Gas Conversion Benefit My Heating?

Posted by Kevin Carney on December 19th, 2014

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If you’re one of the few homeowners that still uses oil in your heating system, you may want to consider making a switch to natural gas. Oil is expensive, takes up space in your home, and tends to be far less efficient at heating a home than natural gas. Let’s take a look at some of the ways an oil to gas conversion can help your heating system.

Oil is Expensive

Compared to natural gas, it costs almost half-again as much to heat a home with oil on an average year. You aren’t really getting any extra benefit for that cost, you’re simply paying more money for a fuel that comes with a bunch of disadvantages and doesn’t even heat the home as well as other options. No homeowner wants to pay more money for no reason. That’s why it’s advisable to convert your heating system to natural gas.

Oil is Inconvenient

Oil must be stored by the homeowner who uses it. This means that it has to have physical space dedicated to it, either in your home or somewhere nearby, where it can be readily available if needed. Oil must also be stored carefully, not next to anything remotely flammable. Contrast this with natural gas, which is piped directly into the heating system with no need for additional safety or storage concerns.

Natural Gas is Versatile and Effective

Compared to oil, natural gas has quite a lot going for it. It is the most widely used fuel source in the country, and that makes it quite a bit cheaper than oil. It’s a more efficient fuel source, which makes it better for actually heating your home, as well as saving you money. It’s also safer than oil, with no need for you to store large quantities of flammable fuel in your home just in case there’s a cold day. For all these reasons, you should seriously consider converting your home heating system to run on natural gas instead of oil.

If you’d like to know more, call Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling. We provide heating services throughout Blue Bell.

The Dip Tube and Water Heater Repair

Posted by Kevin Carney on December 18th, 2014

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If you’re trying to take a shower, and you get drenched with ice cold water when you were expecting hot, it’s not hard to figure out what the problem is. Your pilot light for your water heater has likely gone out. If you’re getting lukewarm water, however, the problem can be a little harder to diagnose. Outwardly, everything could seem to be working fine. Inside your water heater, however, you have a problem. Let’s take a look at what a dip tube is, and why you might need yours replaced.

The Dip Tube

The dip tube is a tube inside your water heater responsible for separating the cold incoming water from the hot outgoing water. It’s a little like a heat exchanger in that way. The dip tube is connected directly to the cold water inlet, and extends almost to the bottom of the water heater. When cold water flows into the water heater, the dip tube directs it to the bottom of the tank. Once there, the cold water naturally separates from the warm water rising to the top of the tank. This also helps the cold water to heat faster, as it is closer to the burners.

A defective dip tube will corrode and crack over time, causing cold water to disperse throughout the water heater tank and mix with the warm water. This is what causes the water to come out of your faucet tepid. So, how do you tell if your dip tube is responsible for your water heater issues? First, check to see when it was made.

Between the years of 1993 and 1997, the vast majority of water heater manufacturers were using plastic dip tubes from one supplier. The problem is that these dip tubes were highly flawed, and have a tendency to disintegrate over time. This has the added problem of scattering plastic pieces throughout the system, which can clog filters and cause damage.

If your heater was not made during those years, but you still have an issue, call Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling. We provide water heater repair services throughout Radnor.

How Do Electronic Air Cleaners Work?

Posted by Kevin Carney on December 12th, 2014

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The air that you breathe in your home every day may not be as clean as you think it is. Sure, you vacuum and dust whenever you can, but this sometimes just kicks up dust and sends it back into the air. But what about your home air conditioning and heating system’s filter? Most ducted HVAC units contain a filter that can eliminate particles from the air as it passes into your unit. But this filter is only effective at straining out larger particles. A typical home air filter can only remove particles about 5 micrometers in length, while more efficient home air filters with a higher MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating may remove particles of 1 micrometer.

This means that your filter may miss hazardous particles in the air that can aggravate allergies or other respiratory symptoms, such as mold spores, smoke residue, and bacteria like legionella. An electronic air cleaner, when installed by a professional in conjunction with your HVAC system, can help to eliminate over 99% of the contaminants that would otherwise pass by. So how do these highly effective systems work?

Electronic air cleaners depend on an ionization process to give a charge to particles in the air. There are two basic types of electronic air cleaners to help improve indoor air quality in Quakertown: electrostatic precipitators and ion generators. It can be difficult to tell whether these systems are operating properly due to their quiet operation, so you’ll want to have a professional install and test it first.

Electrostatic precipitators charge particles as the air is sucked into the unit. Particles are given an electrical charge from ions moving back and forth in the system, and these particles then accumulate on two flat plates in the unit which have the opposite charge. You usually have to clean these plates every month to three months, depending on usage.

Ion generators are a little different, instead sending out ions to charge particles all around a room. Particles receive a charge so that they can cling to surfaces around the room such as a curtain or the walls. This way you won’t have to worry about breathing in contaminants, and they’ll likely be taken care of during your next home cleaning spree.

The professionals at Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling can help you make sure you’ve gotten the right type of unit to protect your indoor air quality in Quakertown.

Will a Heating Tune Up Really Save Me Money?

Posted by Kevin Carney on December 4th, 2014

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It’s an oft-asked question: does maintenance really save me money? The answer is yes. We’ll explain more below about how and why a heating tune-up in Pipersville can save you money, but more importantly, if you haven’t scheduled maintenance yet this year, it’s time to do so. It’s recommended that you schedule your heating system for maintenance every 12 months; if it’s been longer than that since your last maintenance appointment, call Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling today and schedule a maintenance appointment with one of our experts.

What Happens During a Routine Maintenance Appointment?

A maintenance appointment doesn’t involve a simple once-over of your system. Instead, it is a full tune-up complete with inspection, cleaning and adjusting as needed. Small repairs are made, and if a large repair is discovered, you’ll be notified about the problem and given the opportunity to schedule repair to correct it. Here is a general overview of what to expect from a routine maintenance appointment:

  • Thorough inspection of entire system
  • Cleaning of components
  • Changing of air filter, if needed
  • Lubrication of all moving parts
  • Safety testing
  • Electrical testing
  • Performance tests
  • Visual inspection of ductwork
  • Small repairs (frayed wires, belt changes)

How Does Maintenance Save Money?

Maintenance can save you money in the following ways:

  • Increases energy efficiency – your system was made to operate at a certain level of energy efficiency. When it is dirty, dusty and worn from last season, it can be very challenging for your heater to achieve its normal level of efficiency. The tune-up your system receives during a maintenance appointment allows the system to operate optimally, which helps it reduce its energy usage.
  • Helps prevent repair – the thorough inspection allows the technician to detect any existing or developing problems; additionally, the small repairs that can occur during a routine maintenance appointment help get you ahead of small problems that can become bigger ones. Reducing the level and incidence of repair of your heater can help you save money.
  • Extends life of equipment – stress causes your system to prematurely age; a system can easily come under stress when it is dirty and worn out. Maintenance keeps your heater in good working order season after season, which helps extend the life of the equipment.

It is almost officially winter – have you scheduled your heating system in Pipersville for a tune-up yet? If not, contact Carney Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning today!