Monday, September 30, 2013

Electric Water Heaters

            It is nice to have hot water in your home.  It is good for cleaning dishes, clothes, and us (people)!  It is also something that we don’t think much about unless it runs out some day.  There is nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of a shower or washing dishes and all your water has gone cold!  This is where water heaters come in.  There are many different types of water heaters, among them are electric, natural gas, and propane (lp) water heaters.  Today I want to focus on the electric category.

            The most basic and fairly common water heater in the US is the upright model.  The residential models usually come in 40 and 50 gallon capacities, tall and short models.  They heat water by filling up the tank, and once there is water inside the tank there are two heating elements that warm the water until they reach the set temperature on the thermostats. 

Among this type of model is also the direct vent electric water heater.  They are used in places where there isn’t much combustion air and have a vent kit to redirect the air.  They are used inside mobile homes, for example.  The difference between them and a regular unit is that they have a vent on top of them and need additional parts to vent it to the outside air.

When you have limited space available you may consider getting what is called a low boy water heater.  They can range anywhere from around 19 gallons in capacity up to 47 gallons.  They are designed to fit in tight spaces, so they are shorter than a regular tank.  There are also utility models that have smaller ranges of capacity so that they can be used only for appliances such as dishwashers and washers.  The gallon capacity goes as low as 6 gallons and as high as 30 gallons.

More recent on the market is the tankless water heater.  It is much smaller than other units because it is just as the name says: there is no tank (tankless). This means that the water is heated as it is turned on, instead of being stored in a tank and heated throughout the day.  These models are good when you want to be energy efficient; they are the “green” model.  The difference is that if you are trying to run your dishwasher and/or clothes washer while taking a shower at the same time, it may not be able to heat all the water that you need.  If this is a major problem, you can install a separate unit that is specifically for your appliances.

Whatever application you need hot water for, there are many options and styles available.  Electric water heaters are nice in the fact that you don’t have to worry about gas leaks and the pilot light going out, causing the water to not be heated.  Your electric bill will be a little higher, but it is a small price to pay when it comes to the safety of your home.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fireplaces Compared

            With the fall and winter seasons approaching, I have been thinking about ways that we stay warm.  Many people have central heat and do not have to worry about electrical wall units, space heaters, and other sources of heat.  On the other hand, there are many people who rely on other heat sources such as fireplaces.  Whether you already have a fireplace or are looking to get one, here are some differences and comparisons of the common fireplaces.
            Wood.  For centuries, wood burning fireplaces have been around and keeping people warm.  Many say that wood burning stoves put off the most heat and warm their homes efficiently.  It is usually pretty easy to obtain firewood to fuel the warmth needed to keep a family warm during the cold months.   However, to be able to get through these chilly seasons, it may be necessary to have a lot of firewood available.  If there isn’t a covered area to store the wood, it can become soaked and hard to use for the fireplace.  Then there is the maintenance of the fireplace; removing the ashes from the unit and having to worry about the chimney being clean and clear of debris.

            Electric.  Some people may prefer having electric fireplaces.  They are easy to turn on (just flip a switch) and are low maintenance; there is nothing that needs to be cleaned up after it has been used.  On the other hand, electric fireplaces consume a lot of energy and do not seem to put out enough heat for the cost.  In this sense, they are usually used in conjunction with other heat sources, such as a central heating system.  They can give value to your home and create a “cozy” feel to the home, but when it comes to warmth, they just fall a little short.

            Gas.  One of the most common types of fireplaces are those that are powered by natural gas.  These fireplaces seem to have all the benefits of both of the wood and electric fireplaces rolled into one unit.   There is little maintenance-other than occasionally replacing some parts (the best part of the electric fireplace).  And depending on the type and model, they can put out enough heat to warm a large area (the best of the wood fireplace).  Instead of using up wood or electricity, it is simply added on to the gas bill each month.  They come in many different styles and give the added value to the home.  One of the drawbacks is that of any gas powered appliance-it has the possibility of leaking gas.  This can be fixed easily by installing a gas detecting alarm.

            Pellet.  Fairly new on the market, these fireplaces use compressed wood pellets that are continuously loaded into the fireplace, creating heat that is long and steady.  They do not require much maintenance and are very efficient.  One of the disadvantages is that in order for the fireplace to work, you do need to buy pellets every once in a while.
            No matter what you decide, you can count on and trust Vermont Castings for a wide variety of efficient, high-quality products and parts.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Where to Buy Pumps and Pump Parts

            When it comes to plumbing, heating/cooling, and irrigation, there are many different types of pumps that can be used for each category of the industry.  With so many options available, it can be confusing and overwhelming to find a pump that fits your specific wants or needs.  This is why when I want to buy a pump or pump replacement parts, I go to Plumber’s Stock.
            On the website, I can search all sorts of pumps and find replacement parts when they are needed.  Not only do they have a large selection of pumps and parts, there are different areas and ways to make my search easier for me.
            For example, the other day I was looking for a transfer pump to help my neighbor install a sprinkler system in his yard.  I got on the website and at the top was a drop down menu that I put my mouse pointer over and then a list popped up.  I was able to go right down to pumps and click on it for easy access to the different options that were offered on the site.
            Once this page came up, I was able to click on “Transfer Pumps” which brought every transfer pump that is available through the site.  Also on this page there was a description of what the pump is, the different uses for it, other things to consider when buying the pump, and a section to contact the company if I had any other questions.
            Each product that was displayed could be clicked on to bring up a description of each pump and the cost for each one.  Many of each individual page have resources that are in pdf format such as instruction/installation manuals, specification sheets, and users manuals.  On the side bar, the results can be filtered even further by brand, use, type of product, and electrical voltage.

            This can be done for each and every type of pump that is on their website which include condensate, recirculation, jet/well, pond/garden, transfer, sump, sewage, ejector and gas powered pumps.
            When my wife and I decided to put a pond/fountain in our backyard, we went to the site and we were able to find everything that we needed under the “pond & garden’ section.  Things like the pump, pond liner, pond netting, filters, and fountain nozzles were all readily available.  We were even able to find decorative lights (that could go underwater) that came with different colors of lenses to make our pond look even more fancy!  I especially like the look that the red lens gives to our fountain at night.
            Anytime the subject of different pumps come up, I always try to tell my friends about Plumber’s Stock and the user-friendly navigation of the site.  I even offer to help them to get to the site and show them the in-depth descriptions and other helpful information that can be found on there.  Many of them have used it to get the pumps they need and told me how great they found it to be!