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Customer Corner

by Holly Haining -Zulieve

What’s on your Priority List?

A person in the United States is expected to move 11.4 times in his or her lifetime.  Though I consider that to be overly ambitious (unless you are military) it speaks to the fact that life is a progression of ever changing needs that dictate what we look for in a living environment as we go along.  So it’s safe to say that when we are in our sixties, we look at a house through a completely different lens then when we were in our thirties.  For instance, in our sixties instead of asking the number of bathrooms, or if they feature granite countertops, we’re apt to consider the location of the bathroom (hopefully near the bedrooms).  Instead of being blinded by the beauty of a large garden landscape, we probably stop to consider how much work or the cost it would require to maintain.  Instead of worrying about the proximity of schools and shopping, we are more concerned with the location of the closest hospital.  Instead of requiring the ambiance of a fireplace, we may pay more attention to the homes central heating system, and whether or not it’s adequate to keep us comfortably warm, effectively and efficiently over the long haul.


The Wright’s go to Washington

MCES customers Sharon and David Wright knew they needed a more manageable home.   Their old house in Otis was very large and became far too much for the couple to care for.  The search for lower maintenance was satisfied in October of 2017, when the couple found and bought a house in Washington.  The quaint 1980’s Cape Cod reproduction fit a lot of their requirements.  For one thing, it is much closer to the VA Hospital in Togus where Sharon’s husband David must pay regular visits.  The 2 hour trip from their old house in Otis was impractical at best.

Heating System Considerations

Since the Washington house had no central heat (just a pellet stove), the Wrights were unable to leave for any extended period of time.  Luckily, Sharon and David had a previous experience with MCES when they lived in Waldoboro before moving to Otis.   At that time MCES foreman Tim Harriman just happened to be their neighbor.  When they needed service, Tim introduced them to MCES.  Soon after the move to Washington, Sharon invited Tim and his wife Kris over to see the new house.  During dinner and while getting reacquainted, they casually discussed the need for a central heat source to supplement the pellet stove.  Tim suggested they call the MCES office and ask Sales Manager Gina Philippon to provide an estimate.  After Gina assessed the couple’s lifestyle, their particular needs and considered the limited space in the basement where the heating unit would be located, she suggested a Maytag warm air furnace.  The Maytag system was the best overall fit for their needs and lifestyle.

There’s a solution for nearly everything.

Besides the central heat issue, the Wrights had a few other concerns which they posed to MCES.   Sharon had noticed brown sediment in the toilet every day and feared that it would continue to stain new fixtures.  A water test determined the water was high in manganese and iron, so Gina recommended installing a Water Right® Impression + Water Conditioning System.  MCES regularly recommends Water Right® products because they are considered the best equipment in the industry.  For the Wright’s situation, MCES installed the Impression Plus Series® that provides clear, soft water.  The system features an easy to read, backlit LED screen and user friendly console that allows the homeowner to monitor all operating functions. Now the Wrights enjoy water that is conditioned, won’t stain fixtures and is great to drink.





And then – there’s the issue of bathrooms.

The Wright’s house had the all too common issue of a bathroom located on the second floor with a deep bath tub and no shower.   Creating a safe and accessible showering area for the Wrights proved difficult due to the roof line and limited space.  According to Gina “It took weeks to find the exact right fixture and shower base.  Because of the space constraints we needed every tiny bit of space available to make this work. “  Gina conducted an extensive search for an exposed shower system rather than the normal valve that’s roughed in behind a wall.   An exposed system would save room and allow for just the right amount of space needed. Ultimately, Gina found a Hansgrohe brand shower valve unit that turned out to be the perfect answer.  It not only fits the space, but is also quite handsome.  Gina also took considerable thought to come up with just the right shower base to fit the odd space.

The Report Card….

With the heating system installed and the water treatment in place, once the electrical work is completed, the upstairs bathroom will be completely finished. Technician Eric Morgner installed all of the plumbing, including the water softener and furnace.  Technician Brian Warren installed the electrical and lighting and reworked some of what was there to make it safe and more convenient.  When asked to grade her overall experience with MCES thus far, Sharon offered these comments “Things have gone well and people show up in a timely manner. Gina has been great in making these transitions happen and the technicians have been very pleasant and polite.” Though the furnace has been very recently installed, Sharon says she has had to use the furnace a few times, and is happy with the performance.

Water Availability Following A Disaster – Are You Prepared?

Written by Kerri Pawlina of A&L Laboratory

In New England, we are relatively safe from natural disasters occurring but it’s not impossible for one to hit and potentially cut you off from clean drinking water.

How ready are you and your family if this happens? Preparation is key to survival.  First, you should determine your water needs. Store at least one gallon of water per person which would last about three days; this number can vary based on age health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.

Water should be sealed and stored in a dark cool place. If the disaster outlasts your stored water supply, it may be necessary to treat water at home prior to drinking.  There are several ways you can do this to help assure your water is potable; boiling, chlorination and distillation.  Before you start with any of these methods, you must first let the water sit and allow any suspended particles to settle to the bottom or strain them through a coffee filter or layered cloth.

Boiling is the safest method of treating water.  Bring water in a large pot to a rolling boil for one full minute; let the water cool before using.

Chlorination is another method to help kill any microorganisms that might be present.  Using only unscented household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0% sodium hypochlorite add 1/8 teaspoon per gallon of water, stir and let it stand for 30 minutes. There should be a slight but apparent bleach smell, if there is not then repeat the dosage and let it stand for another 15 minutes.  If you still do not smell bleach discard and find a different water source.

Distillation is the most complex way to treat your water at home.  This process involves boiling your water and collecting only the vapor that condenses.  Fill a pot halfway with water.  Tie a cup to the handle on the pot’s lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down, making sure the cup is not sitting in the water, boil for 20 minutes.  The water collected in the cup from the lid is distilled.

All of these methods will kill harmful microorganisms; distillation however will also remove other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals.

Prepare before the unthinkable happens, it could save your life!

Arsenic Levels in Maine Water


Is your well safe? ~ By Gina Philippon

Several news outlets have been reporting recently about the concern of elevated levels of arsenic in Maine water supplies.  While this is frightening, it can be treated relatively easily.

What is Arsenic?

Arsenic is a tasteless, odorless, colorless metalloid element with an atomic number of 33.   It is a naturally occurring element but some rocks and minerals have a higher concentration than others.  Due to the health issues that arsenic exposure can cause, in 2001 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reduced the acceptable levels of Arsenic in drinking water from 50 ppb to 10 ppb.  Some of the health issues from arsenic exposure include diabetes, vascular disease, skin, lung, bladder and kidney cancers and lower intelligence levels in children.


According to the United States Geological Survey, New England has some of the highest concentrations of Arsenic in the continental United States.  Here in Maine, the trouble areas are south-central Maine, the Midcoast and Downeast.  While the Maine State Drinking Water Program enforces maximum contaminant levels in public water supplies, there is no administrative authority having oversight for private wells.  In Maine, 40% of the population gets its drinking water from private wells and that number is much higher in rural areas.


Do you have Arsenic?

Owners of private wells should have their water tested every 3-5 years.  Tests should be performed at a State Certified Lab but a homeowner can draw the sample to submit for testing.  MCES has test kits available at no charge for A&L Laboratories in Auburn and Maine Coast Lab in Wiscasset.  A test for strictly Arsenic may be as low as $25.00 and a comprehensive analysis including bacteria, pH, alkalinity, nitrates, chlorides, hardness, iron, manganese and radon along with the arsenic could be in the $100.00 range, a small price to pay for this important knowledge of your water quality.


What to do about it:

There are several ways to remediate Arsenic from a private well.  These include point-of-use reverse osmosis systems. Though inexpensive, an RO system will only provide a small quantity of treated water at a single tap.  RO systems force water through a selective membrane with microscopic pores sized to allow only water molecules through, mechanically filtering the larger contaminant molecules.  RO units typically waste up to 2 gallons of water for every gallon of treated water produced.  These are not a good option for low production wells and water temperature will affect production.


Another method of treatment is the ion exchange method.  In plain terms, it is a brine regenerated water softener.  These systems move water through a resin bed which is charged with ions from dissolved salt.  The benefits are that it is a point-of-entry conditioner and also removes mineral hardness, iron, manganese and sediment from the water.  Disadvantages are if the system fails all of the arsenic trapped in the resin bed can be returned to the water supply and the other constituents in the water compete with the arsenic for resin space reducing effectiveness.


A relatively new and promising method to remove arsenic is an iron oxide filter.  Unlike the ion exchange conditioners, the iron oxide filter granules have a large amount of surface area and have an affinity for arsenic, so much so that they are effective at removing both AS3 and AS5.   These filters can be installed as a smaller inline cartridge for a single fixture or as a point-of-entry for whole house filtration.  The disadvantage is that the media must be replaced on a regular basis and the presence of other contaminants can reduce effectiveness.


Call the office at Mid-Coast Energy Systems today to discuss testing and remediation options for arsenic or any other nuisance issues that you have with your water.  Nothing is more important than pure, clean, safe water.


Unused Wells –

Turn on the faucet and the water is there.  Modern well pumps and pressure tanks make rural living as convenient as urban living when it comes to your water supply.  Water quality is a concern without a centralized point of treatment as with municipal water supplies.  Most nuisance well water quality conditions are easy and inexpensive to treat but what happens to that water when it sits in the well, unused for months or years?


The recent economic downturn had a negative effect on the real estate market leaving many homes unoccupied for extended periods.  Owners from out-of-state who have summer homes in Maine, shut down their Maine homes for the winter.  These wells sit stagnant, unused for months and in some cases – years.


IRON:  Well water with a high iron content can cause staining of laundry, dishes and plumbing fixtures.  The same water supply when left stagnant will turn to rust.  Seasonal residents can return to their lovely summer homes in Maine to find their well water running brown out of the faucets for hours or days until it clears up.


BACTERIA:  Coli-form bacteria infestation is common in unused wells.  Unlike its cousin e Coli, Coli-form is easy to remediate.  A good dose of chlorine either from specialized well tablets or a jug of bleach will kill the bacteria.  Some infestations are persistent and require permanent treatment from chlorine injection or ultraviolet filters to keep the Coli-form from multiplying.


If you are buying a home that has been unoccupied a State Certified Laboratory must test the water and provide you with the results.  If you are opening your seasonal home for the season a bacteria analysis may be a prudent step to take as a part of the opening process for you.  Stop by the MCES showroom to pick up a water test kit.  Knowledge is power and knowing what is in your water is very powerful!

5+ Ways Water Quality could be Ruining your Plumbing

Got a plumbing Problem? It could be your water.



Conditions that manifest in water supplies are a major health concern, however you may not realize

 that bad water could also harm your plumbing & equipment. 

Common problems caused by poor water quality:

1.) Mineral hardness can cause problems in hydronic
heating systems, cause soap scum to build up in drains, and leave scale stains on faucets.

2.) Iron can clog faucet aerators and cartridge filters, and discolors plumbing fixtures. Iron, manganese and other metals in a water supply can create a metallic taste and odor.

3.) Municipal water supplies may add chlorine to the water system, leaving an objectionable taste.

4.) Low pH can be corrosive to copper pipes, leaving bluish stains on fixtures and causing pinhole leaks in pipes.

5.) Hydrogen sulfide may be liberated into a smelly gas when it comes into contact with magnesium anodes in water heaters.


   All of these conditions can be treated. Bring a sample into the office and let us test it for you.

     For a comprehensive analysis including testing for bacteria, Radon, arsenic or other heavy metals, test kits are available in the office at no charge. The kit contains specimen bottles, instructions on how to catch a sample, a fee schedule and mailing label.

If in doubt about your water, stop in and pick one up today.