Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Quakertown’

The History of Geothermal Energy

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Geothermal energy is nothing new – it just gets more ink because of its increasing use to naturally heat and cool buildings in Quakertown and around the county, leaving a smaller carbon footprint and providing for an efficient, more cost-saving method to achieve indoor comfort.

History shows that geothermal energy dates back over 10,000 years when American-Paleo Indians used hot springs for bathing and heating, possibly even as a source for healing. And geothermal energy is not just a North American “thing” either. The oldest known hot springs spa was built in the Qin dynasty in China in the 3rd century B.C.

Romans used the water from hot springs for their public baths. Geothermal water was also used by the Romans for treating skin and eye diseases. Minerals found in hot springs water has been long believed to have healing qualities. Geothermal water was also used to heat the buildings in Pompeii. Subsequently, building heat was obtained from under floor systems.

History notes that France is home to the world’s oldest known geothermal district heating system. The system in Chaudes-Aigues has been in use since about the 14th century. And starting in 1960, France began using geothermal heating for homes in other areas. Up to 200,000 homes in France are heated by geothermal means.

History also shows geothermal energy use during the late 18th century near Pisa, Italy. Geothermal energy had been used to extract boric acid from the Larderello Fields through the use of steam. In 1904 at Lardello Fields, steam was successfully used to generate power for the first time. At the time, geothermal energy was seen as the power of the future.

In the U.S. in 1892, the first district heating system in Boise, Idaho was powered directly by geothermal energy, and was soon copied in Klamath Falls, Oregon in 1900, where geothermal water was pumped under sidewalks and roads to help prevent freezing and ice build up. In New Mexico rows of pipe were placed underground to keep soil warmer for agricultural purposes.

A deep geothermal well was used to heat greenhouses in Boise in 1926.

For the residential market, an inventor built a “downhole heat exchanger” in 1930 to heat his house. The heat pump, which was invented in 1852, was patented to draw heat from the ground in 1912. However, it was not until the 1940s that the geothermal heat pump was successfully launched. Records show that the first commercial heat pump was put into use in Portland, Oregon in 1946. The first residential open loop system was installed in 1948.

In the 1960’s, the first large scale industrial geothermal energy power plant was constructed, producing 11 megawatts of geothermal electricity. From the 1960’s to the present day organizations and governing bodies have been set up to manage, research, and develop new and improved geothermal energy sites and technologies.

Today, there are many geothermal power plants in working order in the U.S. and across the globe.

Continue Reading

Things to Look for When Buying a Heating System

Friday, October 21st, 2011

If you are in the market for a new or replacement heating system in Abington and don’t know much about heating systems, you are not alone. Many homeowners are in the same boat as you. And many of that number put their trust in their local, professional, and qualified heating and cooling contractor to find the right furnace for their homes.

Before calling for an estimate, there are some things you can do to “prepare” yourself for one of the most important purchase you can make. Here is a checklist of things you should look for when buying a heating system.

Know your energy alternatives. There are lots of options today when it comes to heating your home. Gone are the days when the choices were so cut and dried. Check with your heating and cooling contractor for suggestions.

  1. Know what size your furnace should be. Furnaces are not “one size fits all.” The size of the furnace is determined by its Btu (British thermal unit) rating. For example, a one-story ranch home on a crawl space requires less heating capacity than a two-story colonial with a basement, thus it would require a furnace with a smaller numbered Btu rating. A home with a great deal of heat loss through windows and doors may require various furnace sizes. And don’t forget about insulation. Insulation can affect the furnace size, too. Again, check with your heating and cooling contractor for recommendations.
  2. How much room do you need for your furnace? Some homes have mechanical rooms for furnaces and water heaters while others utilize attics, basements, or crawlspaces for furnaces. If you think you need a big furnace to heat a big home, think again. Furnace manufacturers have been downsizing their heating equipment for years, while maintaining the same heating capacities. One example are wall hung boilers, which utilize water and electric as heating sources and are installed on a wall, making the unit easy to locate and easy to service – while at the same time being off the floor and out of the way.
  3. Will your heating system be “plug and play?” New furnaces can take the place of the ones they are replacing by using the same space. But sometimes a replacement unit may need some altering to fit into an existing duct system. It is almost a given that a new plenum (the part attaching the furnace to the ductwork) will have to be fabricated. But the new furnace may also require some other modifications to an existing duct system. You should understand this ahead of time and be prepared to pay additional costs.
  4. A box is a box is a box. As a rule, most heating systems are made the same. In some cases, one furnace manufacturer may produce several different brand names. The best “brand” is the heating and cooling contractor who installs and services your heating equipment. Do your homework ahead of time and find a qualified and professional contractor. Ask friends and family for recommendations. This is may be the most important thing to look for when buying a heating system

Continue Reading

The Technology of Video Pipe Inspection: Some Pointers

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Let’s face it – technology is the answer for everything, from Souderton to Maple Glen. If it’s mechanical, it has been affected by technology. The world of plumbing is no exception. Technology now makes it possible for people to look inside the piping in their home – to get the “inside story” on why a pipe is blocked up or why water is flowing too slowly. A trained expert can use video pipe inspection technology to quickly diagnose a problem in order to find a solution.

So what types of technology are available today? Before we get to that, remember that technology is fluent. By the time you read this blog there may be something new to make this material outdated. The best way to keep up with the latest technology of video pipe inspection is to talk to your local plumbing professionals and check out updates on the Web.

The technology you will see in your home can be viewed live or via digital recording. The camera and its scope can grab a birds-eye view of the pipe without the need to unscrew fittings and elbows and without having to make a mess of things.

Plumbers making a service call who use video inspection will usually show homeowners some live pictures from inside their pipes or use a digital reproduction in their sales presentation. In either case, the camera doesn’t lie and repairs are quickly supported by video evidence.

Here are some of the components involved in the technology of video pipe inspection. First and foremost is the camera itself, which usually will have high definition image display, recording, and playback capabilities. Images can be stored on flash cards for downloading onto other computers or to the Web. The lens of the camera is mounted into the head of the scope, which could be made of fiber optic or fiberglass material. The scope or “snake” comes in a variety of lengths. Images from the camera can viewed on monitors of various sizes in color or black-and-white.

Other options may include audio capabilities for a plumbing professional to record what the camera sees and explain the problems and solutions to homeowners via voiceover technology.

According to one plumber who utilizes this type of technology, video pipe inspection provides “an assessment of pipe’s structural integrity, detection of blockages, breaks or defects, still image/video footage for client use, and first-time mapping or updates.”

If you want to utilize the latest technology to diagnose pluming problems in your home, call your local plumbing professional and ask for a video pipe inspection.

Continue Reading

Water and Energy Saving Tips

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

The cost of the heat, air conditioning and water supply to your Solebury home continues to rise – it’s no wonder you want to cut your bills so much. But, how can you do that without cutting into the creature comforts and conveniences you’ve gotten used to over the course of the last few decades? Here are a few simple energy and water saving tips to make your life easier.

  • Patching Leaks – Two of the biggest wasters of water are dripping faucets and leaky pipes. The amount of water wasted by a single drip every second could provide for multiple baths per year – it adds up fast. Not only are leaky faucets and pipes easy to fix; they tend to develop into bigger problems as time passes.
  • Drains and Flushing – If you put a piece of toilet paper in the toilet used to clean an eye or wipe the counter, don’t flush. It’s a waste of water. If you notice some extra toothpaste in the sink, don’t rinse yet. You can always use the water from brushing your teeth or washing your face to clean it out. Multi-task and minimize how much water goes down the drain to save water.
  • Fully Loaded – A partially filled washing machine or dish washer is a huge waster of water. Fill it up and wait to run the device until it’s at the brim – the same amount of water is used no matter how much is in the device.
  • Compost vs. Disposal – A garbage disposal wastes a tremendous amount of water (if you want it to run properly). So, instead of churning the disposal up, create a compost pile and save a great deal of water/energy. If you have a septic tank, a garbage disposal is especially bad for your home as it can fill the tank up quickly with solids.
  • Lower Water Flow – Don’t crank your faucets up to the max just to get a glass of water or to check for hot water. It’s a waste of energy and it’s often unnecessary, especially when waiting for water to hit the right temperature.

If you’re interested in getting the most out of your home’s water supply, there are hundreds of little ways to save water that will add up over time. These are just some of the easiest ways to get started. If you need more tips, contact your plumber.

Continue Reading

Things You CAN Do Yourself around the House: A Guide From Abington

Monday, September 19th, 2011

If you own a home in Abington, there are a lot of fun ways you can stay on top of regular maintenance without spending hundreds of dollars to hire a contractor. Sure, there are some tasks only a contractor should perform, but there are plenty of others you can take care of with a little spare time on the weekend.

  • Fixing Leaks – Unless it’s in a main line or in your sewer, you can usually fix a leak or clog in your pipes by yourself. Replacing a faucet, snaking a line, or taking apart a fixture should still be done with the help of manufacturer’s guidelines, but as long as you turn the water supply off correctly, you should be okay taking things apart and making quick repairs.
  • Yard Installations – Short of digging it up (always have it checked for gas and electricity lines), you can do pretty much anything on your own in the yard. This includes composting, landscaping, adding a barbeque pit or upgrading your back porch.
  • Painting – Feel free to paint anything in or around your home without the help of a pro. Just make sure to use proper ventilation and to ensure that you remove any old paint carefully. If you’re not sure about the age of your paint, it should be tested for lead before you chip it clean, especially if you have children.
  • Replace Appliances – Old appliances can be removed and replaced relatively easily as long as you have someone to help you get rid of the old ones. Also, if you have a gas stove or other appliances that run on gas, always have them checked by a professional. Never unplug gas lines without someone there to ensure the gas supply to your home is off.
  • Tiling – Tiling is something anyone can do, but make sure you’re ready for the time commitment. Especially if you plan on putting tiles on a wall, it’s easy to make a mistake and ruin good tiles or good walls. Also, proper sealing around water fixtures like a bathtub or sink is vital. If you’re not sure, call a plumber to help.

There are a lot of ways you can have fun and fix up your house without paying for a professional’s help. But, remember not to take on jobs that are too much for you. If you aren’t sure how to complete a task or you want a second opinion, never be afraid to call a professional in for some help. Even if they just check your work, it will save you money and you get the satisfaction of having done the work yourself.

Continue Reading

Why Is it Essential to Have a Reliable Well Water Pump?

Friday, July 29th, 2011

If you rely on a well for your home water needs, it is absolutely essential that you can depend on your well water pump at all times. The simple fact is that without a reliable well water pump, you will not have any guaranteed access to running water in your home, and that is a situation that you will want to avoid at all costs.

For this reason, it is important to take certain factors into consideration when you are having a well water pump installed. To begin with, you want to make sure that the unit you choose is high quality and has a reputation for durability and reliability. There are many good well water pumps out there, but there are also some that may not quite measure up. Make sure you thoroughly examine your options and consult with a professional before you make your final decision.

Another important thing to remember is that you need a pump that is big enough to accommodate the water needs of your household. You could get a great, top of the line product, but if it is not big enough, you will have endless problems with your water supply. A smaller system will also have to work harder to keep water flowing into your home and is likely to wear out faster as a result.

The power that the well water pump you choose has needs to match up with the depth of your well. If you have a very deep well, you will need a more powerful pump to get the water up and into your home. Of course, both larger and more powerful pumps tend to be more expensive, but it is worth it to pay the extra up front than to have a chronically insufficient water supply to your home.

There simply is no substitute to having a well-sized, high-quality well water pump installed for your home. This is a purchase that will impact your quality of life for many years going forward, so it is worth taking some time to evaluate your options and collecting professional opinions so you can be sure you are going with the best product.

Continue Reading

Scald Free Showers and Bathtubs: Scald Prevention Methods

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

One of the worst things that can happen to you in a shower is when a sudden blast of scalding hot water strikes you unexpectedly. This is a problem for many people and usually happens when someone turns on the cold water at another tap in the house. When that occurs, the cold water that you were using to regulate the temperature in your shower becomes temporarily unavailable and the hot water takes over.

This usually does not last long, and even if it does, you will likely jump out of the way quickly. But for the moment you are underneath that scalding hot water, some serious damage can be done, particularly to older people or young children whose skin is not as thick as that of an average adult. Also, in trying to get out of the way of the hot water in a slippery bathtub, many people have accidentally fallen and injured themselves more seriously.

So what can be done about these sudden and unexpected blasts of hot water? Well, recent developments in shower and bathtub technology have made it possible for scald free shower and bathtub fixtures to reach the market. These products are designed to maintain a consistent temperature in your shower no matter what type of water or how much is being used elsewhere in the house.

These scald free showers can compensate for the dip in cold water pressure that occurs when someone flushes a toilet in another bathroom or turns on the water in the kitchen. This is accomplished by the addition of a diaphragm that can immediately adjust to any variations in either hot or cold water pressure. With this technology in place, you will never need to worry about being scalded in the shower again.

Of course, these scald free shower heads and bathtub fixtures can cost a bit more than their conventional counterparts. But they are well worth it, especially if scalding water is a problem in your shower on a regular basis. You need to be able to keep yourself and your family safe in the shower and scald free showers are the best way to do that.

Continue Reading

How Bad Is the Air in Your Home?

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Every day you hear about another awful contaminant that can get into your home’s air supply. Radon gas. Carbon Monoxide. Nitrogen Dioxide. Smoke. Mold. The list gets longer with each passing year and many homeowners are understandably worried. However, before you run out and by the newest lineup of filters, purifiers, and UV lights, stop and think about just how bad your indoor air actually is.

When Was Your Home Built?

Homes built in the last 10-15 years tend to be well ventilated and may even have air quality systems already in place. It’s those built in the late 1970s and early 1980s that tend to have the worst ventilation (assuming they have not been updated since then).

This kind of poor ventilation can be dangerous, but usually only in that you have less fresh air and more indoor allergens and contaminants. Specifically, you’re most likely to suffer from things like pet dander, dust, pollen, and dirt in the air. On their own, these are not dangerous, but without fresh air to circulate them outside and ensure you get a steady, clean supply of air to breathe, they can make you ill.

How Bad Can It Get?

While it’s rare, some homes suffer from more advanced contaminations. The most common is mold. Mold grows primarily in dark, damp spaces. If your humidity levels get too high in the summer, the ductwork in your house is perfect for mold and it will blow the spores directly into your air, putting everyone at risk.

You should also be wary of exhaust fumes from your appliances that may not get properly removed from the house. Both of these problems can be fixed with regular duct and exhaust cleaning.

Outdoor contaminants can also make it into your indoor air. Things like exhaust and smoke, gas, radon, or other outdoor pollutants should be tested for when you setup a new indoor air quality system. There are filters and purifiers that will remove almost all of these contaminants, but they are not always required, so you should check before making a decision.

Ultimately, the odds are that your home suffers only from some stale, dusty air. But, it is very important to keep everything clean and test it regularly to make sure nothing worse develops. Poor air quality is about more than just comfort – it’s an honest health issue.

Continue Reading

The Beauty of Zone Heating

Friday, January 21st, 2011

While it might not technically be a necessity, there are a lot of reasons why you might want to look into having a zone heating system installed in your home. Whether you’ve been using the same home heating system for a long time or are looking to have a new one installed, there’s never a bad time to have a zone heating system put in.

Most people think that the only thing that affects their home heating and cooling bills is the energy efficiency of their furnace or heat pump. However, that’s simply not always the case. Certainly, the more efficient your furnace or heat pump is, the lower your energy bills will be. But that doesn’t mean they’re as low as they could possibly be.

After all, if you don’t have a zone control system installed, you’re paying to heat your entire house every time you turn on the heat. Depending on the size of your house, that could mean you’re heating anywhere from two to 10 rooms or more that are unoccupied at the time. In fact, you could be paying to heat an entire empty wing of your home. And while you’ll pay less than you would if your heating system was less efficient, you’re still paying more than you need to.

With a zone control system, you can heat your home much more efficiently because you can control which areas of the house get the heat and which ones don’t. You can set multiple different temperatures for the different zones of your home, which allows you to keep the occupied areas warm while not forcing you to waste energy to heat unoccupied spaces.

Aside from the economic benefits of only heating the areas of your home that you need, zone control systems also can put an end to some of those contentious thermostat wars that go on in so many households. If the members of your household can never agree on what a comfortable temperature is, they can simply each set their own temperature for their own area of the house.

That way, everyone is happy and no one has to suffer uncomfortably. After all, you paid a lot for your state of the art home heating system. It’s only fitting that you should be able to get the most possible out of it.

Continue Reading