5 Reasons Why High Efficiency Boilers Need Annual Service

Today’s new high efficiency boilers are all the craze due to their energy saving potential. Manufacturers such as Burnham, Viessmann, Navien, HTP just to name a few, all have their flagship condensing boiler that are 90% efficient and above. These systems offer many benefits to customers, but also need more maintenance than older boilers.

1.) This is what the inside of a heat exchanger looks like and where the combustion takes place. The brown residue is the byproduct of the extreme temperatures which generates the heating of the water.

Boiler cleaning

2.) Due to the extreme heating and cooling of the heat exchanger, condensation begins to form. The condensate trap needs to be cleaned annually to prevent clogging.

heat exchanger

3.) The next byproduct of the condensate is that it is very acidic and can cause pipes to rot if not drained properly. New boilers need to be equipped with neutralizing tubes which help balance the condensate’s pH level and allows for safe drainage.

condensate tube

4.) Flame sensors and igniter rods need to be replaced every few years due to the day to day wear and tear from the boiler firing. Without a working flame sensor your boiler will not turn on.

flame sensor

5.) The air intake pipe or vent could be clogged causing your system to occasionally stall out or lock out which will leave you without heat or hot water.

air intake

Think about scheduling your annual service with your plumbing contractor sooner than later, so your not left scrambling on a cold winter night because your boiler isn’t working correctly.



Homeowners and Contractors To Be Affected By New Water Heater Regulations in 2015

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently passed new regulations that will be bring about major changes in the water heater industry for both homeowners and contractors. Effective April 16, 2015 the DOE will require higher energy factor (EF) ratings on all residential water heating products including gas-fired, oil-fired, electric, tabletop, instantaneous gas-fired and instantaneous electric. The new tankless water heaters that have become popular among some homeowners already meet the new requirements.

Water Heater Standards

Homeowners will see the most significant change on the install costs of the new equipment, with the yearly energy savings helping offset the higher initial costs. A water heater is going to be taller and wider than what they have been in the past. In order to improve the energy efficiency the manufacturers have to add insulation to the top, bottom, and sides allowing for less energy loss. Similar to the new high-efficiency condensing boilers, water heaters are going to have multiple components now, such as venting materials and condensate pumps, which means they will require more yearly maintenance. The install cost increase is due to higher materials costs and the possible need to relocate their current water heater because of size restrictions and louder operational noise. The most upsetting part is after the whole process to install the larger, noisier, more expensive water heater, the new water heaters are likely to have lower hot water deliverability.


gas water heaterwater heater new standards

Contractors will have to adjust to the new regulations as well as homeowners. Water heater manufacturers are preaching that training will be essential for all the new products, so installers will have a better understanding of installation options and benefits for the customer. Due to the larger and heavier water heaters, installation will no longer be a practical job for one person. The plans for the new gas-fired models include venting and drainage systems which means the current location of the existing water heater may not work, and may need to be moved significant distances.

If you have an older water heater that is on the verge of reaching its lifetime, it may be a good idea to start thinking about replacing it to avoid any new equipment headaches. Supply houses are already starting to run out of existing model water heaters to make way for the higher efficiency models. High efficiency boiler equipment has become extremely popular in the plumbing and heating industry and it was only a matter of time before the water heaters followed suit.




Driveway Radiant Heating

Here is a recently completed project, where we installed hot water radiant heating under the homeowners driveway.

First step is to lay the foam panels over the prepared driveway.

driveway radiant 2

After you lay the panels over the driveway, it is time to install the radiant tubing that is run in several loops.

driveway radiant 5

Next step is to put three-quarters to an inch of sand over the tubes to keep all the tubing in place.

driveway radiant 6

Now it is time for the driveway pavers.

driveway radiant 7

driveway radiant 8









Here are some of the completed photos of the project. As you can see from the aerial shot, due to excessive flooding in the area, a drain halfway down the driveway was installed to direct water away from the garage.

driveway radiant 9

driveway radiant 8









Not having to shovel during first storm of the year, Priceless.
driveway radiant 10

Bathroom Remodel Through Pictures

This is a second floor room, that was used as a storage closet by the previous owners. The home has one full bathroom on the first floor and the new owners wanted to add another full bathroom on the second floor.

Bathroom Remodel Day 1 - Demo Day

When the room was down to the studs, we took all the room measurements and designed a render to show the homeowners. This helps them visualize what the bathroom will look like when the remodel is complete.

Render top view

Once the design phase is complete, the next step was to rough in all the new water lines and drain piping required for the new bathroom.

Rough plumbing

After all the rough plumbing is installed, the carpenter comes in to build a wall to frame in the shower & niche. Shower niches come in all different sizes to allow for shampoo and soap storage.


Now that the bathroom is starting to take shape, it is time to install the shower base, sheetrock and cement board, before finally plastering and tiling the walls. The shower is going to have a shower head and handheld. Handhelds are becoming increasingly popular with new homeowners because it helps them when cleaning the shower area. The cast iron shower base shown here is a Kohler 30 inches wide by 5 feet long. The tiles in the shower area are 12″ x 12″, while the floor tiles used were 12″ x 24″.

Kohler BaseShower Seat








We had to box in the existing pipes in the wall, which allowed us to get creative and build a shelf to add some more useful space. We decided to extend the template of the granite longer than the vanity on the left side over the shelf to give the homeowner another foot of counter space. The granite used for this bathroom was Arctic White.


The photo below is the finished product of the bathroom. Some of the products seen in the photo are: Fleurco shower door, Toto Entrada Toilet, Omega 36″ x 18″ vanity base, Grohe Single Lever Faucet. Due to the previous room not being heated we also had to include a three-foot piece of electric baseboard.

Finish Remodel 2

Please feel free to contact us with any questions on an upcoming home remodel.

Mass Save Early Boiler Replacement Rebates

Mass SaveMass Save is currently offering homeowners a great way to update their outdated home heating system to a newer, energy efficient model. Homeowners with a boiler that is over 30 years old are eligible to receive up to $4,000. If you have a 12+ year old furnace heating your home you are eligible for up to $1,000. You need to schedule a home energy assessment before September 30, 2014 and have the equipment installed by October 31, 2014 to be eligible. Get your energy assessment out of the way before the fall rush and miss the deadlines because of a late start. This rebate is good for any fuel source gas, propane, oil, but does not cover converting from one fuel to another. Remember to check the Mass Save website periodically, they give you great rebate options for a variety of energy efficient home improvements.

Shower Remodel

Shower area after demo

Shower area after demo

Remodeled Shower Area

Shower area nearly complete

Here is a recent project we are nearly finished with in Peabody. Client recently purchased a house that had an old bathroom on the third floor that was unfinished. The problem was finding enough space to put the shower. The roof eave of the old house was causing design problems and limiting the amount of space in the bathroom. The room needed to be extended back a few feet, luckily after removing the old sheet rock (where the stool is in the picture on the left) there was the perfect amount of space needed for a three foot by four foot shower. The tiles used in the shower are 24″ x 12″ stacked on top of each other rather than in the usual brick pattern. Contact us with any remodeling or plumbing questions about your upcoming project.

Costs of Heating Your Home



Gas MeterOil Company


Electric MeterPropane Tank

According to government forecasts higher heating costs are ahead for the upcoming winter months, which are considered October 1, 2013 through March 3, 2014. The four ways to heat your home are natural gas, heating oil, electricity, and propane. Natural gas is slated to be the cheapest overall this year, costing homeowners about $679, which is about 13% higher than last year. Next cheapest would be electric heat which would cost homeowners about $909 which is only a 2% hike from last year. The estimated cost for propane is much higher than electricity at $1,666. Finally, oil will be the most expensive fuel again this winter, with an estimated cost of $2,046, which surprisingly is a 2% decrease from last years’ highest recorded prices. Oil prices have risen 35% from 2008-2009. Heating oil could fluctuate dramatically due to high demand of specialty fuels around the world, especially if the winter turns out to be colder than expected. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), 42% of home energy costs go to heating and cooling. National Grid has been offering programs on converting your system from oil to gas, as well as insulation incentives to help weatherproof your home, keeping the heat you pay for in you home.

Seven Facts About Hydro Air Heating Systems

Hydro Air is becoming a popular choice for new construction because of the flexibility it offers, allowing heating and cooling out of the same vents. Here are seven facts you should know before making a decision on your home heating system.

1. The heating system is a combination of a hot water boiler and hot air vent system.

2. Heat is distributed throughout the house using a duct system.

3. Contractors will need to install a gas or oil fired hot water boiler, along with necessary duct work throughout the house.

4. The air is not as hot or dry as in hot air systems because no combustion is taking place.

5. Hydro Air be used in conjunction with other heating systems, such as using radiant heat for the first floor and hydro air in the second floor bedrooms.

6. The same duct work can be used for cooling if an A/C unit is attached.

7. System will cycle on and off less lowering temperature swings from room to room.

Contact your local plumbing or heating contractor to get a better idea of what heating system will be most efficient for your home.

Seven Reasons to Consider Radiant Heating for Your Home

Hydronic Radiant

Radiant heating is considered by many to be the Cadillac of heating systems. Found mostly in new construction and additions because it has to be installed underneath the floor.

Here are seven reasons to help you decide if radiant is a good choice for your home:

1. Heat works more from the ground up, allowing temperatures to be 3-5⁰ F higher on the floor than the ceiling compared to other heating methods.

2. The system allows for a more flexible room layout since there is no baseboard or vents for homeowners to design furniture around. Also has the benefit of being installed in a concrete slab allowing you to heat your garage or basement floor.

3. There will be no disturbing noises in the heating system. The only sound will come from the boiler usually found in the mechanical room or basement of your home.

4. Radiant is a more green heating option because it has a record of reducing energy usage due to lower indoor temperature settings and allowing boilers to operate at lower temperatures, which in turn prolongs the boiler lifespan.

5. Considered a cleaner system than forced hot air because of dust particles, that are blown through the vents of the hot air system.

6. There are two main types of radiant; electrical and hydronic. Electrical is the more common to retrofit single rooms or bathrooms. Hydronic uses water forced through tubes places in special panels that run under the floor.

7. The heat is not run along the outside walls, reducing the heat loss and allowing the system to be run for a shorter amount of time before reaching desired temperatures.

Hopefully this article will help you in deciding if radiant is the right heating source for you in your next project. This is the first part in a series of posts that will be discussing different heating methods for your home. Topics will include: oil vs. gas vs. propane, hydroair systems, forced hot air, forced hot water baseboard, and are high efficiency boilers worth it? Any questions about heating systems of your own please post below or contact us through our website.

Viessmann Offers Supplemental Rebate

Viessmann is offering up to a $500 rebate for homeowners purchasing a new Vitoden 200 residential boiler. The offer comes because the High Efficiency Viessmann boilers are 94% AFUE, which only allows for a $1000.00 rebate from certain utilities. While if a homeowner were to purchase a 95% AFUE boiler they would receive a $1,500.00 rebate. Here is a link to the Viessmann website where it further describes the offer and gives the homeowner the rebate forms to fill out. The rebate is valid March 11,2013 through December 31, 2013.