When Is the Right Time for Heating Maintenance?

January 22nd, 2015 by Michael Henderson

When it comes to maintaining your heating system, most people don’t think of scheduling maintenance in the middle of winter. But if your system hasn’t been maintained in twelve months or more, any time is the right time to schedule a heating maintenance appointment in Drexel. While most people like to schedule maintenance for their heaters in the fall, the bigger priority is to schedule the appointment, not wait for the perfect time of year to do it. The experts at Wm. Henderson Plumbing & Heating Inc., are available for maintenance, repairs and even replacement, so if it’s been a while since we’ve seen your heating system, call us today.

Why Is Maintenance Important?

Your heater works really hard all winter to provide your home with heat, and then it sits for several months and accumulates dirt and dust. Then, it turns back on again and has to work with last year’s wear and tear and this year’s dirt and dust: it’s not a good combination for your or your heater. During a maintenance appointment, one of the main tasks is to thoroughly inspect your system for wear and tear. If any is found, like frayed wiring or a worn fan belt, these things are repaired. Dust and dirt can make operation of components difficult, so another important task performed during a maintenance appointment is cleaning. Performance and safety tests are run to ensure the system is operating at the efficiency level it should be and that it does so safely. Other benefits include:

  • Better energy efficiency – a system that is clean, adjusted and properly lubricated is one that runs well and can achieve the energy efficiency it’s supposed to.
  • Better comfort – there’s no worry that your heater can’t reach your set temperature because it has gotten a full tune-up and is ready to go.
  • Lubrication – depending on your heating system there may be multiple moving parts that need lubrication in order to work correctly; during maintenance, all parts that need lubrication are serviced.
  • Prevents repair – the thorough inspection your system receives allows the technician to detect any developing or existing problems, which helps get you ahead of repair problems.

Fall is a great time to schedule repair, but maintenance is an ongoing thing.

If your heating system in Drexel hasn’t had maintenance yet this season, contact Wm. Henderson Plumbing & Heating Inc., today.

Problems that May Occur with a Commercial Boiler

January 15th, 2015 by Michael Henderson

Commercial boilers are powerful heating systems, with the ability to keep an entire office building warm no matter what the outdoor temperature. Boilers are built tough because they often handle a large heating load. Even though these units are meant to last for many years, there’s always a chance that a problem can surface with any electro-mechanical system. When you notice any of the following problems with your commercial boiler, it’s important to call for commercial HVAC repair in Wynnewood as soon as possible.

  • Little Heating: If you’re not getting the heating power you desire from your commercial boiler, it can mean a major problem, or the repair may be as simple as cleaning off a few parts. Dirty burners can cause limited heating, but so can a major repair need like a leak or an imbalance in pressure. Even if the lack of heat seems bearable, you should call an expert for service as soon as possible to keep the issue from worsening.
  • Uneven Heating in One Area: If there is not enough heating in one office, a single floor, or any particular area of the building, it’s likely a problem with the zone control system. A technician should adjust the settings of any zone according to that floor’s particular needs, but sometimes the structure of the room requires higher or lower settings for whatever reason. If, for example, an office on the second floor has carpeting, while other areas have tile or hardwood floors, the settings may need to be adjusted so that more heat moves into that room only.
  • Leaks: This problem is rare, but it’s definitely one to look out for. If you notice water leaks from your boiler, it indicates a pretty serious problem that should be addressed immediately. This could have to do with the expansion tank, the pressure relief valve, or it could be a sign of rust and corrosion, an unfortunate possibility with older boilers that almost always results in replacement.

We have enough experience to diagnose and repair any heating problem that interferes with the way you do business.

Call Wm. Henderson Plumbing & Heating Inc. for boiler maintenance to help prevent problems such as these from occurring, or to schedule commercial HVAC repair in Wynnewood.

Isn’t the City Responsible for Replacing the Sewer Line?

January 8th, 2015 by Michael Henderson

It’s one of those home repair nightmares you hope you don’t have to deal with: sewer line replacement. Not only is it serious work, it can be fairly costly. But as the homeowner, are you liable for the replacement of a faulty sewer line? Most of the time, yes, you are. Utility company responsibility typically ends once the lateral or side sewer line begins on a particular property, but to be sure about your town’s guidelines, it’s important to make a call to your area’s Public Works Department or Sewer Department. Should you need sewer replacement in Broomall, call the experts you can count on: Wm. Henderson Plumbing & Heating Inc.

So how do you know if you are having problems with your sewer line? Here are some telltale signs:

  • Slow drainage/no flushing – the sewer line serves as the exit pipe for all the wastewater from your home. If there is a break, you may see slow drainage from all the drains in your home or your toilet may stop flushing.
  • Sewer odor – a broken sewer line can release foul odors, which you may smell in the air around your home or even coming from drains.
  • Yard puddles – as the wastewater escapes from your sewer line, it makes its way to the surface and can create sogginess and/or puddles in your yard.
  • Gurgling from drains and toilets – if you find that toilets and drains are gurgling after using a water appliance like a dishwasher, this can be indicative of a clog or break in the sewer line.

Causes of Sewer Line Breaks

There are a number of reasons your sewer line can break:

  • Tree roots – one of the most common reasons a sewer line breaks is from tree roots. Tree roots are very strong and can crush a sewer pipe, particularly if it is an aging pipe.
  • Paper hygiene products – maxi pads, tampons, diapers – all of these products create large clogs that can cause the piping to break because they do not break down. Disposing of paper hygiene products in your garbage can save you money in the long run.
  • Age – sewer lines are durable, but they do not last forever. If you live in or are purchasing an older home, you may want to ask about the sewer line to find out how old the piping is.

A sewer line break is a serious repair and should only be handled by experts who understand and know the work.

If you suspect you may have a broken sewer line, call Wm. Henderson Plumbing & Heating Inc., today to ensure that the issue is properly addressed. 

The Importance of Replacing an Older Chimney Liner

January 2nd, 2015 by Michael Henderson

The chimney of your home helps to vent combustion gases to the outside so that they do not enter the house and contaminate the air that you breathe. But the material used to construct masonry chimneys is generally ineffective in doing so alone. Most local fire codes mandate the use of chimney liners in homes in order to provide proper ventilation and protect the chimney construction materials as well as your safety. Additionally, if you have an older liner, a technician may recommend replacement upon inspection.

Older chimney liners may develop cracks and holes that allow the masonry chimney to wear down, or worse. A masonry chimney may wear down rather quickly as combustion materials cause it to corrode, leading to costly home renovations. But a more dangerous possibility is if these combustion fuels leak into your home, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning and other potential health risks. Furthermore, an unlined chimney or a worn down chimney liner can be a major fire hazard.

This is a more likely possibility if you have an older tile liner. Ceramic tiles are perhaps the most popular form of chimney liners used in existing homes, but are not recommended for new installation. That’s because ceramic tile is not effective at absorbing heat and may not be able to contain and distribute it throughout the chimney. This causes the tile to crack and split apart. With proper maintenance, it may be possible to prevent this or detect problems early on, but many installers prefer a more durable chimney liner made of aluminum or stainless steel.

Another possible reason to replace a chimney liner is if it is the wrong size for your home. Chimney liners must be properly sized to the heating system and your home in order to make sure gases vent efficiently and completely. The benefit of a well-built chimney liner is that it can meet any venting needs, so long as a technician makes plenty of measurements to size it for your home. If a technician determines your current system is not properly venting gases, they’ll likely recommend a new one. Furthermore, a new one may be necessary if you upgrade your heating system in any way and the venting requirements change.

New stainless steel or aluminum chimney liners in Havertown installed by Wm. Henderson Plumbing & Heating Inc. can help to ensure your safety and comfort at home for many years to come. Give us a call today!

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

January 1st, 2015 by Michael Henderson

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 WM Henderson Plumbing and Heating Inc. hope you have a great start to the year and a fruitful 2015.

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

December 25th, 2014 by Michael Henderson

“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 WM Henderson Inc., 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!

Common Problems with Ductless Mini Splits in the Heating Season

December 19th, 2014 by Michael Henderson

Ductless mini-splits are becoming quite the popular home heating option for homeowners who are dissatisfied with other systems. They’re energy efficient, cost-effective, and flexible. However, ductless mini-splits have some problems, just like any machine. Let’s take a look at some specific issues that affect ductless mini-splits during the heating season.

Dearth of Thermal Energy

Ductless mini-splits may look very different from other heating systems, but they actually have a lot in common with heat pumps. They use the same method of evaporating and condensing refrigerant to move heat from one place to another, rather than relying on combustion to create heat. Just like heat pumps, though, ductless mini-splits rely on the air around them to provide heat.

When the temperature outside drops, the air holds less thermal energy. Therefore, when the ductless mini-split tries to siphon heat from the air, it has less to draw on. This isn’t a problem unless the temperature drops quite low, but when that does happen the ductless system struggles to provide enough heat.

Icing Over

As previously mentioned, the outside unit of the ductless mini-split collects heat by siphoning heat out of the air. It does this by evaporating the refrigerant flowing through a coil inside it. When the refrigerant evaporates, it draws heat out of the surrounding air and into the coil. There are two other results of this process. The first is that the surrounding air gets colder. The second is that condensation forms on the coil and casing as it heats up. The condensation then freezes in the cold air and forms ice on the unit.

This isn’t normally a problem, as ductless mini-split systems are designed with a defrost cycle to melt any ice on the outside unit. If the defrost cycle is malfunctioning for any reason, however, the unit can become covered with ice and stop drawing heat from the air. To avoid this, pay attention to the outside of your system when it’s cold out. If there is ice on it, and it seems to be increasing instead of going away, you should call a professional.

If you’re having problems with your ductless mini-split, call Wm. Henderson Plumbing & Heating Inc. We provide heating repair throughout Broomall, PA.

Why Is There Soot on My Furnace?

December 18th, 2014 by Michael Henderson

If you have a furnace, especially a gas-burning furnace, you may one day find soot visible on the outside of the unit. Though this may alarm you at first, don’t panic. Soot isn’t necessarily a bad sign, depending on where you find it. Let’s take a look at some of the places you’re likely to find furnace soot, and what it means.

Incomplete Combustion

First, you must understand where the soot is actually coming from. No matter where you find soot on or around your furnace, it always comes from the same place: the burners. As a furnace burns fuel to create heat, especially natural gas, there are remnants left over after the process is completed. This is called “incomplete combustion.” One of the combustion byproducts is carbon, the primary ingredient in soot, which is sent up the heat exchanger and out of the house. However, if there is a problem with your furnace’s venting, you may start to find soot in other places. This is where it can become a problem.

Burners

Soot that collects on your furnace’s burners can build up to the point where it starts to impede their ignition. A dirty burner may not burn as intensely as it should, lowering your furnace’s heat output. If it’s dirty enough, the burner may not light at all.

Pilot Light

Just like the burners, the pilot light can become caked with soot over years of use, or if the combustion byproducts are being improperly vented. If you’re using a standing pilot light, this can be particularly troublesome, as it can prevent the light from igniting or staying lit. If your pilot light seems to be having trouble burning, especially if it is a primarily yellow flame instead of blue, you may want to check the pilot assembly.

Ducts

This is the biggest issue. If soot is found near where the furnace connects to the ducts, the heat exchanger may be leaking. This can cause combustion byproducts like soot to mix with the air in the house. Carbon monoxide can also be released in this fashion, which is highly toxic. If you see soot in this area, turn the heat off and call a professional right away.

If you’d like to know more, contact Wm. Henderson Plumbing & Heating Inc. We provide heating repair throughout Broomall, PA.

Be Sure to Schedule Prompt Commercial Plumbing Repair

December 12th, 2014 by Michael Henderson

Your commercial plumbing system is vital to the operation of your business. Whether you need a complex plumbing system to accommodate the amount of water usage and wastewater at your large commercial kitchen, or if the plumbing is primarily used for the office break room, your ability to conduct business is still severely limited whenever there is a plumbing problem. When you notice an issue like a leak or clog, you may decide to wait to call for services so that your property can continue running for a while longer. But this is problematic as you may develop far larger issues on your property if you wait too long for commercial plumbing repair in Wynnewood.

This is true of both leaks and clogs, as either can develop into quite a complication. Even a small leak originating from a pipe beneath the sink can cost you a lot of money in water bills (and it’s generally hazardous for your employees nearby). A small drip from a faucet can still waste water—up to 20 gallons every day! Leaks from water and drain pipes or from appliances like water heaters must be taken care of right away, not only to save money, but also to prevent structural damage or sewage leaks that lead to dangerous contaminants on your property.

A clog can be just as big of an issue, even if it seems like only a minor inconvenience. Slow or stopped drains can indicate an impending sewage backup, as wastewater moves back up through the drains of your business since it cannot move into the sewer. The change in pressure can even lead to a burst pipe, allowing sewage to leak beneath your property or on public property. And if the city finds your business responsible for a public health hazard, you can be fined.

Commercial plumbers are trained in the best practices to conduct work quickly and stay out of the way so that business as usual can return as soon as possible. Whether it’s an overflowing toilet, a leaky sink, a burst pipe, or a busted water heater, call Wm. Henderson Plumbing & Heating Inc. We have experienced plumbers trained specifically on larger properties who specialize in commercial plumbing repair in Wynnewood.

Choose a Contractor that Uses Video Camera Pipe Inspection for Drain Cleaning

December 4th, 2014 by Michael Henderson

When you have a major drain clog, it can be frustrating to go without one or more of the sinks or showers in your home. Generally, you’ll have to avoid the fixtures you use every day to keep wastewater from filling up in the tub or the bowl of the sink. Sometimes, a simple home plunger can get rid of the blockage fast, but other times, people resort to buying liquid drain cleaners and trying their luck with those. Here at Wm. Henderson Plumbing & Heating Inc., we’d like to warn you that drain cleaning is not a job for most homeowners. Chemical drain cleaners can be damaging, and we recommend choosing a professional who uses video pipe camera inspection before and after drain cleaning.

Drain Cleaning: A Job for Professionals

Store bought drain cleaners are simply not a solution for clogged drains. Experts consider drain cleaning chemicals to be some of the most hazardous substances available for the average consumer to purchase. They can cause injury to the skin or eyes and can even damage the lining of the pipes. Besides, these chemicals are fairly ineffective dissolving a large number of potential blockages.

Professionals instead use professional grade drain snakes (also known as drain augers) to latch onto sources of clogs and completely remove any debris stuck in the pipe. Some plumbers instead use a hose to blast clogs into the sewer. But the best plumbers supplement drain cleaning with video pipe inspection technology.

Why Video Camera pipe Inspection Is Important

Video camera pipe inspection involves the use of a very long cable with a small camera attached to the end. As the camera is fed through the drain pipes, the professional can view a live feed to determine the exact location of a clog. This is vital in helping a professional to choose the right tool to use for the safest, most efficient removal. Using a video camera also helps a plumber to find any leaks in your pipes you may not have known about, which could help save you a lot of trouble in the future.

Call Wm. Henderson Plumbing & Heating Inc. for friendly, professional service and drain cleaning with video camera pipe inspection in Ardmore.