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Around the Home Blog

Maitz Home Services

Tuesday, 27 June 2017 19:49

5 Tips to Conserve Water Around the Home

During the summer month's water use around the home increases with lawn watering, car washing and other water entensive activities. By using water more wisely and ensuring that your home's plumbing system is in good shape, you can help conserve water, while aslo saving on your water bill.

1. Fix leaking faucets and pipes

That small drip from a leaking faucet washer can waste as much as 20 gallons of water per day. Leaking outdoor faucets and pipes can waste hundreds of gallons.

2. Don't use the toilet as garbage disposal

Flushing paper waste like facial tissue and other items that could go into a wastebasket can save up to 7 gallons per flush.

3. Repair leaking toilets

To see if your toilets are leaking, put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes without flushing, have the toilet fixed.

4. Install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators

These inexpensive devices are simple to install and will result in significant water savings with hardly any noticable difference in water pressure.

5. Check for hidden leaks

After you have repaired all detectible water leaks in faucets, toilets, show heads, etc., it's a good idea to check for hidden water leaks. Simply read your water meter then wait for a two-hour period during which no water is being used. If the water meter has changed, you have a leak.
Tuesday, 11 April 2017 02:07

Why Isn't My Water Heater Hot Enough?

If your water heater is not getting hot enough or not staying hot for long, there are a number of possible causes.

1. The Dip Tube Is Broken
Cold water enters the water heater through the dip tube where it is forced to the bottom of the tank for quick heating. When the tube is broken the water remains at the top of the tank, where the hot water outlet is, causing it to return cold water with the heated water.

2. Sediment Has Built Up at the Bottom of the Tank
Over time, minerals in the water can build up at the bottom of the water heater tank where the burner is located. This causes a gradual reduction in heating efficiency that will make the water heater work harder and eventually resulting in less hot water. Flushing the tank annually will prevent sediment build up.

3. The Heating System Is Malfunctioning
Most water heater problems occur with these systems:
  • Thermal switch
  • Thermostat
  • Heating element
A licensed plumber should inspect the water heater and repair the pasts as needed.

4. Hot Water Heater Is Too Far From Where It's Needed

If the water eventually heats up, the problem is sometime a hot water tank that is too far from where it's needed. In the cold months in particular, pipes will cool the hot water before it reaches the faucet where it's needed. Insulating the pipes can help reduce heat loss.

5. The Water Heater Tank Is Undersized

If you have recently noticed that your water heater suddenly seems to supply less hot water, or runs out suddenly, it could be that your water heater tank is too small to keep up with demand. Installing a larger tank or tankless water heater will ensure that you have all the water your household needs.
One of the best ways to reduce your cooling bill during the summer months is to reduce the sources of heat and humidity inside the home that can make your air conditioner work harder to cool your home. Here are some of the most common sources of heat and humidity inside the home.

1. Lighting - Older incandescent light bulbs lose as much as 90% of their energy as heat loss. By upgrading to more energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs, you won't just reduce the heat, you'll save electricity as well.

2. Kitchen - Kitchens are a major source of heat and humidity inside the home. When the weather is hot, consider cooking outside on a grill, or use a microwave instead of your oven or range. 

3. Laundry Room - Clothes dryers generate a lot of heat and humidity. Consider hanging clothes outside on a clothes line. An exhaust fan installed in the laundry room will help to vent the hot, humid air outside.

4. Dishwashers - During hot weather washing dishes in the sink will reduce heat and humidity. If you run the dishwasher turn off the heat dry and let the dishes air dry instead.

New air conditioners built within the past few years are designed to operate so quietly you will hardly know they are running. So when you hear unusual noises, it is usually the result of a lack of maintenance or a symptom of a part that is about to fail. By staying alert to the sounds of a malfunctioning air conditioner you can fix the small problems before they lead to a major failure.

When your air conditioner is working normally it will often make some noises. Subtle thumping and whining sounds are normal. By becoming familiar with the normal operating sounds that an air conditioner makes, you will be able to more easily recognize unusual sounds that could be cause for concern.

The Sounds of a Malfunctioning Air Conditioner

Air conditioners have many parts; there are fans, hoses, belts, compressor motors, coils and other components that work together to move cool air throughout your home. As air conditioners age belt often become loose, leading to thumping sounds. A clogged air filter reduces air flow and can cause the unit to whine as it cycles on or off. Loose hardware on compressor parts can lead to rattling sounds.

Preventative maintenance is the best way to minimize the likelihood of air conditioner repairs. An AC tune-up includes the following steps that keep your air conditioner operating quietly and reliably:
  • Inspection and lubrication of all moving parts
  • Inspection and replacement of worn belts and hoses
  • Replacement of dirty air filters
  • Ensuring that the unit cycles on and off properly
  • Inspection of electrical connections
  • Inspection of refrigerant levels
Have questions about your central air conditioner? Give Maitz Home Services, we can help with all your home cooling needs.
If your noticing ice around your air conditioner's condenser coil, or the unit has stopped operating because of freezing, there are a few possible causes. 

1. Lack of air flow. An air conditioner works by taking the heat from inside the home and blowing it over the evaporator coil located outside the home. This split-system enables the heat exchange performed by the refrigerant to take place. Without the exchange of warm air the temperature of the coil will continue dropping, increasing the likelihood of a freeze up.

2. Low refrigerant levels. As the level of refrigerant drops, so does the pressure inside the system. When a smaller amount of refrigerant is forced to expand the same amount, it lowers the temperature.

3. Low outside temperature. If an air conditioner is run when the outside air is too cool, the pressure inside the unit can drop, causing a freeze up. This can occur at temperatures of around 62 degrees.

4. Malfunctioning mechanical systems. A damaged refrigerant line, broken fan, even a clogged up air filter, can cause the evaporator coil to freeze up.

Have air conditioner problems? Call Maitz Home Services, we can help diagnose the cause and offer solutions to fix the problem.
Tuesday, 21 March 2017 18:40

Help! My Air Conditioner Won't Turn On

It's the first hot day of the season and you go to turn on your air conditioner... and nothing happens. Before calling Maitz for service there are a few things you can check yourself.
  • First, check that the thermostat is set to "Cool" and not been unintentionally switched to the "Off" or "Heat" setting.
  • Turn the thermostat temperature down a few additional degrees to see if it turns on. 
  • Check that the external safety switch is set to the on position. The switch will be located on an exterior wall near the AC condensing unit.
  • Check that the circuit breaker that controls the air conditioner compressor and air handler are set to the “on” position. If a circuit breaker has tripped, reset the circuit breaker. If the circuit breaker trips again, do not try to reset it. Have Maitz check the unit to determine the cause of the problem.
If your air conditioner still won't turn on, call Maitz Home Services, we have fully stocked trucks in your you neighborhood with technicians who can quickly diagnose the problem and getting your air conditioner running again.
Tuesday, 14 March 2017 17:54

Preventing Sewer Line Damage

As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining your home's sewer line (also called the lateral) that runs from sewer main in the street that is owned by the city. By performing regular sewer line maintenance and fixing the small problems before they lead to major repairs like a backed-up sewer line, you can extend the life of the sewer line.

So what causes sewer line damage? The most common problem we see is tree root intrusion. Tree roots are drawn to the water and nutrients inside the pipe. If a sewer pipe develops even a small gap or crack, you can be sure that tree roots will find a way in where they will eventually obstruct the flow of waste and potentially break open a pipe joint.

There are several ways you can prevent sewer line problems.

1. Watch what you put down the drain. Never pour grease, paint or other thick liquids down the drain. Even if a product says it's "flushable", play it safe safe and throw it in the trash rather than flushing paper towels, disposable diapers, feminine hygiene products, q-tips and other items down the toilet.
2. Schedule a sewer line inspection. A video camera inspection can locate defects such as cracks, bad joints, leaks, as well as obstructions like tree roots.
3. Install a back flow valve. Many cities require that new homes have a back flow preventer installed to prevent wastewater from re-entering the house.
4. Keep the sewer line up to code. Never connect storm drain systems like french drains or sump pumps to your home's sanitary sewer system. It illegal in most cities and can allow mud to clog the sewer line.

Call Maitz today and schedule a sewer line camera inspection. You'll rest easier knowing your sewer system is working safely and reliably.
Roughly one-third of the homes in the U.S. are over 50 years old, and older homes are statistically at higher risk of electrical fires. The main reason older homes can be more dangerous is many were built with electrical systems which are no longer safe. Deterioration due to aging, improper installation and modification, a lack of modern safety devices, combined with today's electrical intensive households all combine to increase the risk of electrical fires.

By understanding what outdated wiring looks like, you can learn of your home is at greater risk. Depending on the age of the home, you will find one of three kinds of wiring.

Grounded Electrical Systems

Homes built in the 1940s through the present will have grounded electrical systems. Grounding is a critical safety feature that is designed to reduce the chance of shock or electrocution in the event of a short circuit. Grounding wires are connected directly to the earth through a metal grounding rod or a cold water pipe. Should a short circuit or an overload occur, any extra electricity will find its way along the grounding wire to the earth.

Aluminum Wiring

As the price of copper soared, aluminum wiring became more common in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the receptacles and switched of the time we not designed to work with aluminum wire, resulting in bad fitting connections and a greater risk of fire. If your home has aluminum wiring that was installed in the 1960s or 70s have Maitz perform a safety inspection to ensure it is safe and up to code.

Knob & Tube Wiring

The earliest type of wiring found in homes built in the 1800s through the 1930s, knob and tube wiring is an open air system that uses ceramic knobs to keep wires away from combustible framing. These suspended wires were directed through ceramic tubes to prevent contact with the wood framing and starting a fire. Knob and tube wiring is a fire hazard because it's not grounded and is more exposed to damage from old and faulty modification.

If your concerned about your home's electrical system, call Maitz. We can inspect your wiring, service panel and other electrical components to ensure they are safe and meet all safety requirements.
With spring weather just around the corner, now is a good time to schedule your annual air conditioner inspection and tune-up. Keeping your central air conditioner maintained will not only ensure that it runs reliably all season long, but will save you money. Even a small amount of dirt build-up can reduce efficiency, making your cooling system work harder to keep your home cool. This not only increases your utility bill and the likelihood of a breakdown, but can reduce the lifespan of your air conditioner. Here are some facts to consider:

“A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool – wasting energy and leading to expensive repairs and/or early system failure...A buildup of .042(1/20) inches of dirt on the heating or cooling coil can result in a decrease inefficiency of 21%.” – EnergyStar.gov

“1/8th of an inch of dirt and dust build-upon the blower wheel can reduce airflow by up to 30%”  – Texas A&M Study

In addition to keeping your air conditioner clean, a Maitz A/C tune-up includes lubricating moving parts, checking coolant levels, the blower motor, belts, electrical systems and much more. So call us today to schedule your AC tune up and rest assured that your cooling system is operating reliably and at peak efficiency all season long.


The EPA has been working to remove lead from drinking water for decades, yet it can still exist in trace amounts in municipal drinking water, or come from sources inside the home.

If your home was built prior to the 1980s, it's likely to have lead solder connecting the copper water pipes. Lead found in tap water often comes from corrosion of plumbing fixtures or the solder connecting the pipes. Today's plumbing fixtures must pass rigorous tests and be certified to contain levels of lead that are below safety thresholds.

Some major U.S. utilities use lead pipes to supply water from to homes and businesses. Because the pipes have been in use for a long time, they have formed a natural oxidation barrier that prevents lead from leeching into the water. Utilities will often add lime or orthophosphates as an additional barrier to prevent lead from getting into drinking water.

If you're concerned about lead in your home's drinking water, regular testing can help ensure that levels are safe to drink. In addition, EPA has an online guide called “How to Identify Lead Free Certification Marks for Drinking Water System & Plumbing Products” that can help you choose the right plumbing fixtures for your home.

 

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