SPS Mechanical Inc. Blog: Archive for January, 2015

Why Do I Need a Backflow Preventer?

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Backflow is what happens when a sudden pressure drop sucks undesirable liquids into the home’s water supply, such as a sewer line. Anywhere that has plumbing connections to multiple different liquid sources can have a backflow problem under the right circumstances. This can obviously pose quite a health risk, depending on the other source of liquid. In the interest of solving this problem, many public water supplies are equipped with backflow prevention devices. Read on to discover how backflow can happen, why it’s such a health risk, and how a backflow preventer can keep you safe.

What Causes Backflow?

Backflow is caused by a sudden change in pressure in your water line, whether due to frozen or ruptured pipes, temperature increases, or any one of a dozen other factors. There are actually two different kinds of backflow. Back pressure is when the pressure in your water system increases for some reason, exceeding the level of pressure in the supply. Back siphonage is when the pressure in the water supply is lowered below the pressure in your water system. Either way, the result is the same: the system stops drawing water from the supply and instead begins to suck fluid in from another source. Connections between two different liquid supplies and a water system are called “cross-connections,” and all such connections are at risk for backflow.

Why is it a Problem?

Backflow is an issue because a lot of the liquid supplies the water system might accidentally intake are not safe for human exposure, and certainly not human consumption. Taking a shower and suddenly being drenched with sewer water is not at all healthy, but having sewer water coming out of your taps is even worse. Backflow can contain pesticides, poisonous minerals, human waste, and all sorts of other things that pose an extreme health risk to people. For this reason, backflow preventers are necessary.

What is a Backflow Preventer?

A backflow preventer is a device that is designed to do just that: prevent backflow. This is often done by simply providing an air pocket between your water system and the supply. This pocket prevents backflow by providing an impassible gap between the water system and the contaminated supply. It is highly recommended that you install a backflow preventer if you have any cross-connections in your water supply.

If you’d like to know more, call SPS Mechanical Inc. We provide professional backflow preventer services throughout Sewell.

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How Often Is Duct Cleaning Necessary?

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Sadly, if you asked most homeowners this question they’d likely respond “never.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Ducts are very vulnerable to a number of different problems that can and will occur without proper cleaning at least once every two or three years. Let’s examine those problems that can affect your ducts, and how duct cleaning can solve for them.

Airborne Pollutants

The air inside your home is actually full of microscopic particles. Not all of these particulates are harmful, but there are more than a few varieties that can be. Dust and pollen, along with insect dander, are lung irritants that can set off allergy attacks in people. Also common are several forms of viruses and bacteria, which can infect and sicken people who are exposed to them. Mold spores are also present fairly often, which can cause illness. These pollutants have an ideal habitat inside your ducts, as they are dark and often undisturbed by the occupants of the house. They build up over time until your heater or air conditioning system is turned on, at which point all those pollutants are blown out of the vents and circulated throughout your house.

Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning is conducted to remove these airborne pollutants from your home, to increase your indoor air quality. Depending on the type of ducts, the HVAC technician can either suck the debris out of them with a special vacuum or brush them out with a set of brushes. Once the ducts are sufficiently cleaned, a chemical solution is occasionally applied to kill off any remaining germs or other biological contaminants.

Duct cleaning is often paired with duct sealing, to make sure that the ducts are both clear and properly insulated. The average forced air heating system loses about 30% of its heat to leaks in the ductwork, so it’s quite important to seal any leaks that are found during the cleaning process.

If you haven’t had your ducts cleaned in a few years, schedule an appointment today with SPS Mechanical Inc. and let us take care of it. We provide professional duct cleaning services throughout the Cherry Hill area.

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Plumbing Installation Ideas for Your Kitchen

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Often, when kitchen appliances like sinks or garbage disposals need repair, homeowners begin to consider whether or not it would be cheaper just to replace them. That depends largely on your individual situation, how old the appliance is, what condition it’s in and so on. If you do decide to replace part of your kitchen, however, let us recommend a few additions we think you’ll like.

Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals are a great way to make your after-dinner clean up much easier. If you don’t have one, you should consider calling us over for an inspection and recommendation on which garbage disposal will fit your needs best. If it’s time to replace your old disposal, we’ll be sure to install one that performs even better. There are also several additions that can be made to improve the operation of the disposal you already have. A grease trap is highly recommended, if you don’t already have one. Grease traps will prevent grease and other oils from solidifying in your drain lines and clogging them up.

Give us a call even if you want to remove your garbage disposal completely. No use keeping it if you don’t intend to use it. We’ll remove it quickly and safely, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Water Filtration

In many areas of the country, hard water is a plague upon peoples’ houses. Hard water is called such because of its high mineral content. Over time, that mineral content gets deposited on the inside of pipes, forming lime scale that eventually blocks the flow of water. A water filtration system is a good idea if your home happens to have hard water issues. We could install a filter on your kitchen faucet, to remove that nasty taste from your drinking water. Honestly, though, you would garner a much greater benefit by having it installed in the main water line. That way, your whole home can benefit from cleaner water.

If you’re renovating your kitchen, call SPS Mechanical Inc. We provide plumbing installation services throughout the Sewell area.


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Why Radiant Floor Heating May Be Your Best Choice for Winter Comfort

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Imagine not having to wear slippers, socks or shoes on your floor during the winter because they are nice and warmed up from your home’s radiant heating system.

This is just one of the benefits a radiant floor heating system can offer you. As with other heating systems, there are some choices to be made in regard to radiant heating in Woodbury, and one of the best ways to determine what options are best for you and your home is to work with a trained professional. The experts at SPS Mechanical, Inc., have been installing multiple types of heating systems since 1987, and we bring our expertise and experience to every job we do. If you are ready for a new heating system, call us today!

Two Types

When it comes to radiant floor heating, you have two choices: electric or hydronic. Each can heat your home effectively, but each delivers heating differently.


Electric radiant floor heating uses electric cables to generate heat. The cables can be embedded in wet cement to create a radiant slab (known as a “wet installation”), laid out in a serpentine pattern directly onto sub-flooring, or be part of a mat which has electrically-conductive plastic. Heat is generated when the cables are electrified, and the floor acts as a radiant slab that heats your home.


A hydronic radiant floor system uses hot water or steam to heat your home, so with this type of system it is necessary to have a boiler. Hydronic radiant heating systems use flexible, durable PEX tubing to distribute the hot water or steam that is generated by the boiler. These tubes can be installed directly onto subflooring or installed via a wet installation. The hot water or steam flows through the tubing and when the water cools, it returns to the boiler for the next heating cycle.

Why Is Radiant Floor Heating a Good Choice?

  • Good for allergy sufferers – with a radiant heating system, there is no swirling dust from forced hot air, which is great for allergy sufferers.
  • Gentle, comfortable heat – the heat from a radiant system heats objects, not the air, so the quality of the heat is comfortable.
  • Quiet system – other than the short time the boiler operates (if you have a hydronic system), a radiant heating system is very quiet.

If a radiant heating system seems like a good fit for your home, call SPS Mechanical, Inc., today!

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

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