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MASI is proud to offer and install products from  these,
and other, fine manufacturers:

Rheem Toto Rinnai
Burnham Aprilaire Unico
Moen American Standard
Viessmann Goulds Pumps
Sterling Kohler


Helpful Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Hints from MASI

We’ve tried to list some of the most common problems homeowners encounter with heating and air conditioning systems, and plumbing. If you have a problem not listed here, please call us. We’ll help you, and list the problem here in the future.

PLEASE NOTE: Remedies proposed here should be performed only by qualified individuals exercising good judgement and due care. In most cases, that means a professional, licensed plumbing professional. In some cases, licensed professionals are the only people legally allowed to perform tasks that may be discussed here.

The MASI number for all plumbing, heating and air conditioning
service problems and emergencies is 603-889-2331.

Clicking any of the bulleted links below will bring you to several questions and answers on that topic…


Q: Is there a way to avoid clogged toilets?
A: Sure! First, remember that a toilet is not a trash can. Except for toilet paper or women’s sanitary products, no other paper products should be put in your toilet. They will expand and cause blockage. Keep a wastebasket in the bathroom for everything else.
Your toilet is not a swimming pool, either. If you have small children, keep toys out of the bathroom and the lid down. [TOP]

Q: What causes clogs in my sink or shower?
A: Usually it’s human hair or soap scraps. Hair is a real problem, because it doesn’t degrade and builds up to lodge in the drainpipe.
Check the strainers at the sink or tub drain outlets occasionally, to make sure they are in proper condition and not clogged. Remember to remove hair the strainers catch after each use, too, otherwise hair will work its way into the drain.
To prevent soap clogs, throw soap in the wastebasket before it becomes a tiny sliver, and treat yourself to a new bar! [TOP]

Q: Kitchen Clogs… How do I avoid those?
A: Food is a big culprit in the kitchen. But most sinks have a strainer that keeps food from going down the drain. If your sink doesn’t have a strainer, it’s time to buy one.
Grease will pass through the strainer, though, and is a common cause for kitchen sink clogs. If you cook fatty foods, try to capture the grease in a cup or bowl rather than letting it go into the drain. When the grease hardens in the cup you can scrape it into the garbage. Also, after cleaning greasy pots and plates, fill the sink with warm, soapy water and let it drain, to reduce the grease build-up.
Now, many people think that a garbage disposer can handle anything. Not true! Sure, the disposer may do its job, but there is a drainpipe there, too. Things such as banana peels, potato peels and starchy foods get expand when they get ground up, and may clog the drainpipe as they exit the disposer.
Whenever using a disposer, make sure you do not pack food into it; that you run cool water while the disposer is on and let the water keeping running a bit after all the food is out of the disposer; and don’t let non-food items fall into the disposer. It’s also a good idea to keep thinks like peach pits and seeds out of your disposer, too. And keep the cover on it when it’s not in use, so nothing falls in by accident. [TOP]

Q: How about in my laundry area?
A: Aside from always cleaning the lint traps in your washer or dryer, you can also secure a piece of nylon mesh around your washing machine’s discharge hose. This will keep excess lint from running into the drain. [TOP]

Frozen Pipes

Q: How do I keep pipes from freezing?
A: Wrapping and insulating any exposed pipes is a good place to start. But you should also make sure any holes or cracks in the outside walls of your home are filled or caulked, because they can let cold air get to your pipes.
In really cold weather, keeping cabinet doors open under sinks can help get more warm room air to them. You can also open faucets just a little, to create a slight drip. This relieves pressure if there is a freezing problem, and if the drip stops, you know something has frozen, allowing you to get a remedy before you have a disaster.
You can also get electrical heat tapes. Be careful with these, and make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Also make they conform to UL 2049. MASI recommends heat tapes with a built-in thermostat. [TOP]

Q: My pipes have frozen. Now what?
A: First, we suggest you call MASI. Then, while you are waiting for us to arrive, you can try thawing out the pipe using a hair dryer or electric space heater (assuming there is no standing water where you are working). Do NOT use an open flame source, which may damage the pipe and/or cause a fire.
Keep the faucet closest to the frozen area open, and then use the hair dryer to gradually work your way back from the faucet to the frozen area. Or keep the space heater on in that area until the water begins to flow again. [TOP]

Q: What do I do about a frozen pipe that bursts?
A:  Any time a pipe bursts, you should turn off the shut-off valve that brings water into your home. If you are on a municipal water supply, this valve is usually near the water meter. If you have a private well, it located near the (usually) blue well holding tank.
If turning off the main supply valve doesn’t work, you can call the water company to come shut off your water at the curb or, if you have a well, you can turn off the electricity to your pump at the electric panel, throwing the circuit labeled for
your pump.

CAUTION: If your basement is flooded because of a burst pipe and there is
any chance that electrical outlets or live electrical cords are submerged
between you and the shut-off, you should wait until a qualified MASI professional gets there to shut off the water, repair the break and pump out most of the standing water.

Overflows & Leaks

Q: What should I do when my toilet is overflowing?
A: When your toilet overflows right after you flush, it’s usually because the toilet is blocked. Shut off the water to it (under the tank) and then try using a plunger to unblock the toilet.
If your toilet overflows when you haven’t flushed, or your tub/shower drain backs up, the blockage is probably in a main drain pipe. The water comes out of the toilet or the tub when you run any water, because they’re the lowest parts in the drain system.
You can temporarily stop the overflow by not running water into any drain. Then call MASI as soon as possible, and have us unclog the drain line.
If you have a septic system, your septic tank may be full. If your septic tank has not been pumped within the last eighteen months, you should have it done to see if this is the cause of your problem.
If you’re on a municipal sewer system, the sewer line could be blocked, and sewage from your home and/or your neighbors’ homes is backing up into your home. Especially if your neighbors are having similar trouble, call your sewer department. Just be aware that, in most cities and towns, you are responsible for any blockage between your home’s main drain line and the municipal sewer connection. [TOP]

Q: What do I do if my water heater is leaking?
A: If it’s leaking at the bottom, there is probably a hole in the tank, and all the water can leak out. If you don’t catch the problem quickly, it could dump quite a bit of water.
First, turn off the supply to your water heater. The valve for that is usually pretty close to the top of the tank, on the cold water side. (The two pipe fittings on the tank’s top are usually labeled “hot” and cold”.
Then turn off either the power to you electric water heater (the breaker in your circuit panel that is labeled for the water heater); or the gas supply to your gas water heater. Do this at the main valve supplying gas to the water heater, not a the valve on the water heater itself.
Turn off all your hot water faucets, then hook up a garden hose to the drain fitting at the bottom of the water heater, running the open end to either a floor drain, sink drain or into your washing machine drain. Open the drain valve on the water heater, and then open all your hot water faucets. When the water is all drained out of the tank, close your hot water faucets.
Finally, you could also use a garden hose to drain water from the tank. Hook up your garden hose to the drain located at the bottom of your heater and run the other end to a low drain in your basement (like a floor drain or basement sink). Open all of your hot water faucets to let air into your system and the tank will begin to drain. When water stops flowing, close all of the hot water faucets.
Before calling MASI, write down your water heater type (electric, gas or oil), it’s size (number of gallons), make, model and serial number. That way, if your water heater needs to be replaced, your MASI plumber can bring the correct one with him to your home. Not all water heater leaks require the heater to be replaced. Sometimes you just need a fitting to be repaired or replaced. Your MASI plumber will know. [TOP]

ADVISORY: New Hampshire law now requires any natural or LP (propane) gas-fired water heater to be installed by a licensed gas installer. To avoid any potential harm or liability, you should have MASI’s licensed professionals do this work.

Q: What does it mean when I find a water spot on my ceiling?
A: If, during winter months the spot is near a wall where there is also a roof line, chances are you have water backing up under your shingles from a snow or ice dam. That could also be the case even if the water spot is further out in the room. Your best bet there is to call a roofing professional and discuss options correct the problem.
If the spot appears further toward the center of the ceiling, or under a spot where you know there is a toilet, tub or sink; or if you notice water dripping from a ceiling light fixture, you probably have a plumbing or heating leak. But water seeks its lowest level, so you may have to do some investigating in order to find the source of the leak.
Common problems include ill-fitting toilet wax rings, loose supply and drain fittings, and drain gaskets that have dried out over time. A simple test that may help you figure out where the leak is can be done by running one plumbing fixture at a time for a couple of a minutes, taking twenty minute breaks between each one, to see if water starts to drip. You’ll want to isolate the leak in case you have to open the ceiling to fix it. One hole in the ceiling is better than three or four.
Once you have figured out the source of the leak, try not to use that fixture
until you have solved the problem, or had a MASI plumbing professional
do it for you. [TOP]

Running Out Of Water

Q: What do I do if no water comes out when I turn on the faucet?
A: If you’re on a municipal water supply, your water company should give you warning of any planned service disruptions. If they haven’t, call them immediately if you are not getting water into your home.
With a private well system, there can be several reasons for losing water pressure or losing water completely. These may include:

  • Using up the store of water in your well by filling a pool or watering the lawn. Not using the water for several hours will probably fix the problem.
  • Your well’s water store may also be affected by prolonged dry spells, even if you have a deep well. In this case, you just have to wait out the fry spell.
  • You could be having pump problems. It may have lost its prime because air has gotten into the system. Your pump’s motor may have failed. Or you could have a clog.

In any of these cases, you should turn off the electricity to your pump so that you will not damage the motor. Then call MASI to have us come and properly diagnose your problem. If it’s a pump or motor problem, we can solve it quickly. If storage or flow is the problem and weather changes or waiting don’t solve it, you will probably need to call a well drilling company for the solution. [TOP]

Heating System Problems

Q: When my oil burner is on, it smells funny. Why?
A: The oil nozzle may be partially plugged, so the oil sprays irregularly, leaving some of the oil unburned. You are probably smelling the unburned oil that is building up. You need a new oil nozzle, and probably a new oil filter, since that is supposed to keep the nozzle from getting plugged in the first place. MASI can fix this for you, and it doesn’t take long or cost very much. This problem can lead to delayed ignition, so don’t wait.

Q: Is there anything special I should know about gas furnaces?
A: There are little quirks in all technologies. The most common ones to look out for with your gas furnace are:

  • Sometimes, electric ignition components can lock up, just like your computer does. If your system stops, try turning the power switch off for a few minutes. You can locate the service switch on the side of the furnace, or the switch with the red switch plate at the top of your basement stairs.
  • Some furnaces have a pilot light, which can be blown out through by down draft on a very windy day. Or it could go out due to an interruption in the gas supply. If you have a furnace with a pilot light that is out, follow the directions on the instruction plate on your furnace for re-lighting the pilot.
  • If the pilot does not stay lit, it your thermocouple could be defective. If you’re handy, you can remove it, take it to a MASI store and get an identical replacement to install yourself.
  • If your fan motor is running but you’re not getting any heat, it may be that the fan belt is broken. You can replace these yourself, too.
  • It’s also possible that the pilot flame is not large enough or directed so that it heats the thermocouple enough to turn the burners on. This is a problem best solved by your MASI heating professional.

Of course, if you’re not handy or not sure how to do something, you can always call MASI and have us come take care of any problem for you.

ADVISORY: New Hampshire law now requires any natural or LP (propane) gas-fired furnace or boiler to be installed by a licensed gas installer. To avoid any potential harm or liability, you should have MASI’s licensed professionals do this work. [TOP]

Q: What should I do if my heating system stops working on a cold day?
A: Before you call MASI, let’s go over a couple of simple things you can check to make sure there isn’t a simple solution to problem:

  • Make sure your thermostat is set correctly. Sometimes digital thermostats reset themselves for no apparent reason; and older spring thermostats can get stuck.
  • If you have an oil-fired or LP gas system, make sure you have oil or gas in the tank.
  • Make sure the electricity to your heating system is on. Sometimes the switch (the one with the red switch plate on your furnace or at the top of your basement stairs) gets turned off by accident. If it’s on, then maybe a fuse has blown or circuit breaker has been tripped.

If you find any of the above to be the case, and correcting the problem gets your heat back on, you’re all set. Otherwise, call MASI, and we’ll send a technician out as soon as possible to diagnose the problem and provide a solution. [TOP]

Q: My gas furnace keeps cycling on and off, but I not getting enough heat. Why?
A: Gas systems tend to have short cycles, but if you are not getting enough heat, it may be a symptom one or more problems:

  • Dirty filters may be blocking the air flow and causing the short.
  • The fan belt could be loose and the fan is not turning fast enough to remove heat from the furnace, so the furnace overheats and shuts off. Your home won’t heat up enough between cycles.
  • Your limit switch could be defective and cutting out the burner too early.
  • You may have the wrong size furnace for the space you are trying to heat, or not enough distribution.

MASI can fix any furnace problem. We can also make sure all your system’s capabilities and dimensions are correct. [TOP]

Q: My furnace is pretty noisy. What’s going on?
A: If your oil-fired furnace makes a loud bang when it first kicks on, you could have a dangerous delayed ignition problem. Call MASI immediately, so we can come and take care of the problem for you.
If any heating system makes a racket when its running, there are several things that could be wrong:

  • The bearings in the fan that blows warm air through your vents could be worn and need replacement.
  • Debris may have worked its way into the system through the vents and is moving around in the ductwork or blower fan chamber.
  • Rarely, solder may have come loose in a hot water system and is getting caught up in the circulating pump.
  • Any motor, such as the burner motor or the circulating pump motor, may have bearing that need to be replaced.

Other than the case of delayed ignition in an oil-fired system, none of these other problems is dangerous, but you should call MASI to get them fixed as soon as possible, to avoid more-costly future repairs, and to make sure you’re never without heat when you need it. [TOP]

Air Conditioning Problems

Q: Why isn’t our central air conditioning system keeping us cool enough?
A: The five most common problems that diminish the cooling capacity of your central air conditioning system are:

  • You have plantings and vegetation placed too close to the outdoor condenser unit, so that not enough air is allowed to circulate around it.
  • You have registers closed off, so that not enough air moves through the system, causing the cooling coil to frost over, and diminishing cooling capacity.
  • You have a clogged air filter.
  • You have a loose fan belt.
  • Your system is low on refrigerant.

The solutions to the first two problems are easy to see and easy to fix. The other problems are pretty easy to fix, too, but should usually be done by a qualified MASI technician.
The professionals at MASI can also make sure that your air conditioning system is correctly sized, that you have enough return air ducting. If the simple fixes above don’t do the job, call us.

Q: Why would my central air conditioning system be making strange noises?
A: Well, you probably have a problem, but are you hearing an outside noise or an inside one? If outside:

  • Leaves or grass could be obstructing the cooling fins on the condenser unit, making it labor harder than it should have to.
  • If nothing is blocking the cooling fins, the condenser may be burned out and need to be replaced.

The same blower fan that circulates air from your furnace is employed to circulate cool air from your air conditioning systems, so, if you’re hearing the same kinds of noises that we have described regarding the blower fan for your furnace, you probably have one of these problems:

    • A loose fan belt, which needs to be tightened or replaced.
    • The bearings in the fan motor are worn and need to be replaced. [TOP]

    Keeping Your Heating System Running Smoothly

    Manufacturers recommend that you have your heating equipment completely cleaned and tuned every year, and there are good reasons for this. Yearly tune-ups can reduce your fuel bill. They also help spot and correct problems before they become big, and even help extend the life of your systems.
    MASI offers a Preventive Maintenance Plan that provides a complete annual cleaning and tune-up of your heating system. You also then get special discounted rates and top priority service in any emergency.
    In addition to getting annual tune-ups, there are simple things you can do that will help keep your home heating system running right:

      • Don’t block air inlets and outlets, including radiators, with furniture, drapes, clothing, or your cat.
      • Check your furnace filters every month or two during the heating season, and replace them if necessary.
      • Clean the blower fan blades once a year and keep the area around the furnace free of dust, lint and litter.
      • Once a year, inspect your heating ducts for leaks. You can repair them yourself with duct tape.
      • Insulate heating ducts and water or steam pipes that pass through unheated areas – attics, crawl spaces, basements – with duct insulation or unfaced insulating blankets.
      • Dust acts as insulation and wastes heat, so vacuum or dust radiators, convectors, or baseboard heating units regularly.
      • Air in the lines inhibits circulation, so bleed the air from hot-water radiators once a year. Just open each radiator valve, hold a cup under it and keep it there until water begins to come out.
      • Be alert to trouble signals such as soot collecting at the burner, strange odors, and surging water in a boiler. These may indicate malfunction or improper adjustment.
      • If your home has hot and cold spots, or if one area of your home is getting more heat than it needs, your system probably needs to be balanced. A MASI heating technician can do this for you. [TOP]

      Getting the Most Out of Your Air Conditioning System

      Manufacturers highly recommend that you service your air conditioning system every year, to keep it running smoothly. This process can also spot small problems, and extend the life of your system.
      MASI offers a Preventive Maintenance Plan that provides a complete annual cleaning and tune-up of your air conditioning system. You also then get special discounted rates and top priority service in any emergency.
      In addition to getting annual tune-ups, there are simple things you can do that will help keep your home air conditioning system running right:

        • Make sure the area around your outside air conditioning condenser is always clean and free of debris. Trim back foliage, if necessary, to allow for adequate air flow to your unit. Trees or shrubs nearby you outdoor condenser can, however, shade the unit. It will then run cooler and use as much as 10 percent less electricity.
        • Make sure that air inlets and outlets are not blocked by furniture, drapes, clothing, or the family dog.
        • Don’t set your thermostat at a cooler than normal setting when your first turn the system on. Your home will not get cooler any faster, but you will waste energy.
        • If you keep the shades and drapes on the sunny side of your home closed, it will stay cool easier. Oh, and it goes without saying that windows and doors should be closed.
        • Dirty air filters can increase your AC system’s energy consumption as much as 15 percent. Check your unit’s air filter once a month and clean or replace filters as needed.
        • A programmable thermostat fir your air conditioning system has all the same energy-saving effects that it does for your heating system. And keeping the thermostat set as high as you can while remaining comfortable can save a considerable amount of energy and also prolong the life of your system.
        • A ceiling fan creates enough air movement in a room to make it feel about four degrees cooler, which allows you to set the air conditioning thermostat a little higher than you normally would.
        • Keep condensation lines clear and clean. To keep the condensation line clear of mold and mildew, pour a small amount of household bleach into the line.
        • Make sure your system is not leaking coolant. If necessary, have a MASI professional check this for you.
        • Make sure there are no lamps or other heat sources near the thermostat while your air conditioning system is running. They may “tell” the thermostat it’s warmer than it really is.
        • Delay heat-generating activities – cooking, laundry, dishwashing – until the cooler evening hours, and turn off the cooling in unused areas such as storage rooms. [TOP]

        Choosing the Right Plumber

        Q: How can I avoid having a bad service experience?
        A: Here are some simple steps you can take to make sure that the service people coming to your home will deliver the results you are looking for:

        • Make sure the company employs trained, licensed professionals, like we do at MASI. You may initially save a little money working with someone who does plumbing work on the side, but it could cost you in the long run. Plumbers are a lot like doctors –  it takes eight or more years to become a licensed plumber, and the good ones get constant training and keep up with the latest trends and products.
        • Make sure you are working with people who have been in business for awhile. If they have, they probably know what they’re doing. MASI has been in business since 1964.
        • Reputation and references make a difference. MASI, for example, is a member in good standing of the Nashua, Milford and Merrimack Chambers of Commerce, and the Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Contractors Association. We also have an excellent credit rating and good standing with all major component suppliers.
        • Licensed and insured is a must. MASI is licensed in the state of New Hampshire and carries millions of dollars in liability and Workers’ Compensation insurance. We know what we’re doing, and we make sure that you don’t have to worry about any problems that may occur.
        • See if the company offers any warranties and guarantees. Not just the manufacturers’ warranties, but also guarantees that installation is done correctly. MASI has all that covered.
        • Get it in writing. MASI puts all its estimates in writing and guarantees that all work will be performed to meet or exceed code requirements.

        Q: What do I have to watch out for when I ask for estimates?
        A: With MASI, you don’t have to watch out for anything. But there are lots of tricks that some contractors use to get the business, and then they’ve disappeared by the time you realize something is wrong.
        The corner that gets cut most often is specifying a heating or air conditioning system that is too small for the job. It will be less expensive, too. But it won’t get the job done, and you won’t notice until that really cold or really hot day. By then, it’s too late.
        Cutting corners on ductwork is a big problem, too. Ductwork that is not big enough, especially return air ductwork, forces your system to work much harder. It can easily reduce efficiency by up to 50 percent!
        Because we do a lot of bathroom remodeling with our sister company, Splash, we also encounter plumbing situations that boggle our minds… Multi-head shower systems that are fed by undersized supply pipes; 30-gallon hot water tanks that are expected to put enough hot water into a huge whirlpool tub; or additional fixtures on a system without any additional venting. Some of it is pretty ugly.
        There are standards for sizing systems, ductwork, supply and drain lines, and everything else in your home. Make sure companies submitting estimates to you know them, and estimate correctly.
        Make sure you’re getting estimates from companies that have insurance coverage, too. Without it, when something goes wrong or someone gets hurt while working at your home, you may be found liable to cover the damages.

        Q: When can I trust a suggestion for extra work?
        A: Technology advances all the time. And in New England, it’s not uncommon to see furnaces and other equipment that’s older than the homeowner. So suggestions for upgrades are often not out of line.
        If your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old, chances are excellent that there is a higher-efficiency model now available. Same with your water heater. If it needs to be replaced, the extra expense of installing energy-saving technology will pay off in the long run.
        MASI technicians are also trained to notice not just the problem you may have called is for, but also potential problems with other systems in your home. You may call us about a problem with your furnace and never have noticed that your water heater is leaking. While we’re in your basement, let us look around. It could save you time, trouble and money. And there will never be any high-pressure sales tactics. Just an honest explanation of what we find and suggestions about remedies. [TOP]