Archive for January, 2014

Electrical Question: How Do Smoke Detectors Work?

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Smoke detectors have been a standard part of homes for long enough now that homeowners rarely think about them. However, it’s important to make certain they receive proper installation, updates, maintenance, and repairs so they continue to keep you and your family prepared for emergencies.

If you’ve ever been curious about how smoke detectors do their job, we have some answers for you. If you are interested in updating your smoke detector to one of the newer models, have a talk with our electricians at HB Energy Solutions. For all things electrical in Southern Vermont, they are the right people to come to.

The basics of the smoke detector

The most common kind of smoke detector in homes today is the photoelectric model. These devices use a beam of light that can determine when there is excessive smoke in a room. Smoke particles scatter light, which then deflects from the main light beam and onto a sensor. The sensor then activates the horn to signal there is too much smoke in the room. Photoelectrical sensors are excellent at detecting the most common kinds of household fires, which smolder and produce large amounts of smoke: a good example would be a mattress fire.

Another type of smoke detector is the ionization detector, which is better at detecting the smaller amount of smoke that comes from fires that are mostly flame. These detectors contain a radioactive element called americium-241 (in a small enough amount to be harmless) inside an ionization chamber, where a battery runs voltage through two metal plates. The americium produces alpha particles that ionize the oxygen and nitrogen in the chamber, and if smoke enters the chamber to interrupt the current of ions moving toward the plates, it sets off the alarm.

There are dual sensor smoke detectors that combine the features of both if you would like s wider range of options for smoke detection. In general, we recommend the photoelectric model for most homes.

Maintain your smoke detector

No matter what kind of smoke detector you have guarding your house, you need to know it is working properly. You should test your smoke detectors once a month and replace the batteries whenever the low-power warning sound comes on.

Hard-wired detectors need electricians

Many smoke detectors are hard-wired into the walls, so for proper installation or replacement you will need an electrician to handle the job. Call us at HB Energy Solutions and speak to our smoke detector experts. They can handle any installations or problems with your electrical system in Southern Vermont in order to keep your family safe.

How Professional Plumbers Detect Leaks

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Leaks, along with clogs, are one of the main problems that can afflict your home’s plumbing. But where clogs are obvious from the moment they start, leaks can be trickier to detect. Most leaking occurs in places where the pipes are hidden from sight, and a small leak between piping joints, or “pinhole leaks” that occur along patches of corrosion, will not have immediate effects that you will be able to see. It’s often not until the leaking begins to cause more extensive damage that they become obvious—and even then, you probably won’t see all the leaking that is occurring throughout the plumbing.

This is the reason it’s important to have professional plumbers do leak detection when you suspect trouble with your plumbing. Leaking spreads rapidly if left without repairs; trust to plumbers and their leak detection services to find all the spots where leaks have started and find how to stop them.

HB Energy Solutions has helped repair plumbing in New Hampshire for 21 years, and we’re ready to help you with your leaky plumbing.

Professional Leak Detection

When you notice damp spots or discoloration on your walls, warping floorboards, or an unexpected water bill increase, you should call a plumber for leak detection.

When the plumber comes to your home, he or she will use advanced technology to locate the leak without needing to rip through wood, plaster, or stone to reach the pipes. One of the main tools that plumbers use to do this is video pipe inspection equipment. These devices have miniature cameras and lights set at the end of a long flexible cable. The cable snakes down through drains and deep into the pipes to locate where damage is occurring and allowing leaks to happen. This lets the plumber pinpoint where repairs are needed.

Another important part of the leak detection toolkit is listening devices. Listening discs work in a manner similar to a doctor’s stethoscope, except they specialize in hearing through surfaces such as drywall and wood. A deck plate can be used to listen through concrete and bricks.

For pipes that lay beneath your lawn or garden, a plumber can use soil listening devices, or place a dye into your water system that will make a much more visible mark where the leaking is occurring.

Leak detection combines these advanced tools with the skill and experience of a trained plumber to use them and properly interpret their information. Don’t trust leak detection to amateurs; it’s important that you locate all the leaks in your plumbing so you’ll prevent the problem from growing and eventually threatening to damage your house.

Call HB Energy Solutions today for expert leak detection for your plumbing in New Hampshire.

Should I Upgrade My Fuse Box?

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Fuse boxes are functional home items that people usually take for granted. Homeowners only worry about their fuse boxes when a power outage occurs or a circuit breaker gets tripped. Because fuse boxes don’t get much attention, they often don’t receive updates or replacements when they should. Chances are high that the fuse box in your home is outdated and needs an upgrade. In this post we’ll address why you should consider improving your home’s fuse box.

For excellent Southern Vermont electrical technicians, call HB Energy Solutions. 

Fuse box upgrades and replacements

If you are having frequent blown fuses and tripped circuit breakers, you probably need to have an upgrade on your fuse box’s circuits and wiring. The first step to take is to have an electrician inspect your current fuse box to see if there are any repair issues that will fix the problem. The electrician will have advice about possible improvements, or if you should schedule a full replacement.

(One option you might look into if you have continual trouble with power surges blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers is to install a whole-house surge protector, which does a more efficient job protecting your system from abrupt voltage increases than standard power strips.)

The most common fuse box upgrade is to change over from older fuses to circuit breakers. Although both have advantages and disadvantages, circuit breakers are much more convenient. For older fuse boxes, an electrician can add extra circuits that allow you to have grounded circuits for advanced technology like computers, plasma TVs, etc. Older fuse boxes were not built to handle these extra loads.

For very old fuse boxes, you may need to have all branch circuitry wiring replaced. In most cases, having extensive work like this done, or replacing the whole system, is important for your safety, since a faulty fuse box can turn into a fire hazard. Upgrades will also be necessary if your box no longer meets local codes. Your electrician should be familiar with these codes and know what repairs to make, or if a replacement is the better way to go.

So if you’re asking the question, “Should I upgrade my fuse box?” chances are strong that you do. You should at least call for an inspection to make sure you do not have a potential fire hazard.

For Southern Vermont electrical repair and installation, look to HB Energy Solutions. We offer full service. One call does it all—24 hours a day. We will figure out what your fuse box needs and deliver it.

Why Furnaces Are Great Heating Options

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Chances are good that you’ve spent the greater part of your life inside homes that were heated using a furnace. Furnaces have always been popular choices for home heating, and they’ve been around for a long time. Over the years, they have become more effective and efficient than ever before. The basic concept of how furnaces operate has stayed the same, but many components have undergone modifications over the years to produce the models that now warm our homes, schools, and businesses. Here are a few more reasons why we think furnaces are good option for your New Hampshire heating.

Contact HB Energy Solutions for more information about the benefits of a furnace and to learn what sort of heating system will work best for you this winter.

The Benefits of Furnaces

  • Flexibility: Furnaces come in an astonishing variety of models and types. They can be sized to fit almost any home, and they can use many different fuel sources (with natural gas, electricity, propane, and oil). It’s rare that an installer can’t find a furnace type that will supply a home with just what it needs to keep warm through to spring.
  • Efficiency: Once upon a time, furnaces were energy-drainers, wasting a lot of their fuel as they converted it to heat. But those days are far in the past—most current furnaces earn the U.S. Energy Star label for their high AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) ratings and are competitive with other heating systems. Gas furnaces are especially efficient at converting most of their fuel into heat.
  • Effectiveness: Unlike the popular heat pump, which can suffer a drop in heating effectiveness during extreme cold temperatures, furnaces can provide powerful heating no matter the temperature outside.

Should You Install a Furnace?

That was our pitch for furnaces. But now we have to temper it: a furnace might not be the best choice for your home. There are many individual factors to consider when you start looking for a heating system to install. If a furnace is a good choice, you still have to decide the kind and size to have installed.

This is where professionals come in. HB Energy Solutions can help you make the right choice for the heater that will provide you with maximum comfort at a price that fits your budget. We feature quality brands and take pride in our installation speed and skill. When you want the best heating in New Hampshire you can get, contact us.