Red Rock Mechanical, LLC Blog: Archive for January, 2015

The Facts about Water Hammer

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Have you ever been disturbed by a loud knocking noise in your pipes? When this happens while you are comfortable resting at home, it may come as a bit of a shock. In fact, when homeowners believe that paranormal activity has occurred in a home, they often list knocking on the pipes as one of the reasons. But this noise actually has a far more probable explanation: water hammer.

Get the facts about water hammer in today’s post, and be sure to schedule plumbing repair in Essex, VT with the friendly technicians at Red Rock Mechanical at the first sign of pipe problems.

“Water Hammer” Describes a Particular Plumbing Event

Many people use the word “water hammer” to describe any strange noise in a plumbing system, assuming it’s a fairly universal term. But it turns out that water hammer is actually a specific event caused by changes to your plumbing system or an imbalance in the pipes. Water hammer occurs when there is a sudden change of pressure. If water is forced to stop suddenly, a wave of pressure forces it to change direction and knock against the pipes. This may happen because of a waterlogged air chamber or a valve that shuts too quickly.

Water Hammer May Severely Damage the Pipes

This change in momentum can actually cause some detriment to your pipes. The vibration that follows from the pressure wave may knock fittings loose and could even force a pipe to burst. This will result in costly renovations, an enormous mess, and the potential for mold growth.

What Works In Some Plumbing Systems May Not Work for Yours

Although many plumbing systems are fitted with air chambers that work to provide a cushion of air to protect against water hammer, these may become waterlogged and will need to be purged. In other cases, there are not enough protective features in your plumbing to safeguard against water hammer, and a technician may recommend any of several solutions. A new air chamber may not be possible because they are quite large, so your technician may prefer to install an arrester part. Sometimes, plumbers choose instead to install slowly-shutting valves or even new pipes.

Your best bet is to call an expert, like the plumbers at Red Rock Mechanical, to check out your pipes and decide on the optimal course of action for plumbing repair service in Essex, VT. Call us today!

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This Is Why a Heater Must Be Properly Sized

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

A lot of people think of heaters in terms of “bigger is better.” This is true, in the sense that larger heaters do have a greater heat output. It is not true, however, that a larger heater is always a better option. After all, if you follow that logic you end up with a commercial heater larger than your basement. In all seriousness, though, a heater absolutely must be properly sized to fit the home in which it is being installed. Let’s take a look at what can happen if you pick the wrong sized heater, either too large or too small.

Too Large

A heater that is too large tends to provoke one major problem, by putting out more heat than the rest of the system is used to. That major problem is short-cycling. Short-cycling is what happens when your heater rapidly turns itself on and off throughout the day. This is caused by the heater’s limit switch, which is designed to monitor the internal temperature of the heater. When the heater’s internal temperature gets above the safety limit, the limit switch shuts the system down to prevent it from overheating. After the heater cools off, it starts up again and provokes the same reaction. This locks the system into a never-ending cycle of on and off that wastes energy and damages the system. Now, the oversized heater isn’t actually overheating, but its heat output is high enough to provoke the limit switch anyway.

Too Small

A heater that is not large enough for the home it’s supposed to be heating will still have a much shorter lifespan, though not from short-cycling. Instead, an undersized heater will simply run indefinitely in an attempt to heat a space that it does not have the output to adequately service. The stress of constantly being on will wear down the heater much faster than one which is properly sized, eventually causing the system to die an early death and require replacement.

If you aren’t sure what size heater to install in your home, call Red Rock Mechanical and let us know. We offer quality heating installation in the Montpelier, VT area.

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How to Tell You Need New Toilet Installation

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Of course, you use your toilet every day, but you probably try not to think much about the fixture itself until it needs a good scrubbing or when something goes wrong. In today’s world, a D-I-Y mentality leads homeowners to believe that they may be able to fix a broken toilet with a few supplies from the hardware store and a little bit of skill and hard work. But there are many circumstances under which it may turn out you simply need a new toilet, which a trained technician should install.

Always leave major plumbing installation in Stowe, VT to the professionals, like the certified plumbing experts at Red Rock Mechanical.

Signs that a Toilet Has Passed Its Prime

If you notice any of the following signs, a simple repair most likely won’t do the trick. While professionals may be able to find a way to fix some common ailments, the following signs likely indicate that replacement is necessary.

  • Cracks in the Tank or Bowl: If you notice a crack developing in the tank or bowl of your toilet, the risk of a broken toilet and water leaking all around your bathroom is simply not worth it. No amount of sealant can prevent the risk of a flooded bathroom and a major water leak.
  • Frequent Repairs: If you find yourself frequently making repairs on your older toilet, new installation may be your best option. Replacing the toilet today is likely to actually save you some money over time.
  • Wobbling: A toilet should never wobble, as it means there is a potential for leaking and even the possibility of a damaged floor. You should have a technician come and check out the problem to make sure the damage isn’t too extensive. While it may just be that you need a new wax seal, it could also be that your toilet is compromised.
  • Old Age: Finally, old age often indicates that it’s almost time for a toilet to go, especially when you consider the money-saving benefits of a new toilet. New low-flow toilets flush with ease using high pressure instead of exorbitant amounts of water like older toilets did, cutting your toilet’s water usage in half.

Call Red Rock Mechanical today to speak with an expert about toilets and any other new plumbing installation in Stowe, VT that you’ve been considering.

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3 Ways to Improve Your Heating for the Rest of the Winter

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Everyone looks for ways to stretch their heating during the winter, both in terms of cost and effectiveness. While most people are content to simply keep doors and windows closed to keep as much heat in as possible, there are a number of better ways to ensure that your heating system is operating at peak efficiency. Let’s examine some of the best ways that you can improve your heating for the winter.

Schedule Preventive Maintenance

The best way to make sure that your heating system provides maximum heat output is to have it serviced at least once a year. The prime time to do this is usually during the fall, right before you start using the system more heavily. If you haven’t scheduled it yet this year, however, winter should do just fine. Having preventive maintenance done at this time of year ensures that your system is prepared for the stress of daily use during the winter, saving you the money and stress of repairing it when it breaks down.

Get Your Ducts Sealed

Forced air systems lose an incredible amount of heat each year to leaks in their homes’ ducts. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates this loss at about 30% of total heat, on average. This means that almost a third of the energy you paid for could be going to waste instead of heating your home. Since ducts are largely out of sight, and the leaks are often small, you probably won’t be able to find them yourself. Call a professional to examine and seal your ducts for you, and you’ll be able to significantly cut down on heat loss during the season you need it most.

Replace Your System

If your heating system is more than 15 years old, it’s probably a good time to consider replacing it. Even if you don’t have any mounting issues with the health of your old heating system, replacing it with a new one is almost guaranteed to increase the efficiency of your home’s heating.

If you’d like to know more about how to improve your heating, call Red Rock Mechanical. We provide professional heating services throughout Burlington, VT.

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

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

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 Red Rock Mechanical hope you have a great start to the year and a, uhm, fruitful 2015.

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