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When smoke is visible coming from your oil-fired boiler, you may have what's known as "puffback". Puffback is the explosion of un-burned oil in the combustion chamber. If the quantity of oil is high enough, it can cause damage the boiler, the flue vent and can cause soot to enter the home.

There are several reasons that un-burned heating oil fuel can exist, including:

  • Leaks in the oil supply line. This is often visible as oil drips that occur when the equipment is not running.
  • Oil burner shutdown. Incomplete heating oil combustion can also occur if the "shut-down" phase of oil burner operation is not working properly.
  • Lack of Maintenance. Regular maintenance is important to prevent boiler problems such as a dirty oil spray nozzle, which can lead to a build up of unburned heating oil.
  • Improper boiler installation. In some cases installation problems such as a too-short chimney could cause inadequate draft, leading to sooty burner operation and poor heating.
Have questions about your oil-fired boiler? Call Maitz Home Services, we can help.


Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Electrial Outlet Safety Checklist

Faulty outlets are a common cause of electrical fires and electrocutions in the home. Outlets can present a danger for a number of reasons, including:

  1. Old, Ungrounded Outlets. In older homes it's not uncommon to still find ungrounded outlets, or outlets that have old wiring with connections. Old outlets should be replaced with new, grounded outlets to reduce the risk of fire and electrocution.
  2. Worn Out Outlets. Over time outlets can become worn out from use, especially if cords are not unplugged properly (always unplug from the grip at the end of the plug, never yank on the cord). When inserting a plug into an outlet it should feel snug, not overly tight or loose.
  3. Improperly Installed or Damaged Outlets. Improperly wired receptacles can be dangerous and are a common cause of home electrical fires. Wiring should always be performed by a licensed electrician. If an outlet cover is cracked or feels warm to the touch, have the receptacle inspected by an electrician.
  4. Outlets That Are Not Childproof. If there are young children in the home, don't rely on plastic outlet covers, they can easily be removed by a curious toddler. Have tamper resistant receptacles (TRR) installed. They will deactivate the outlet when a foreign object is inserted.
  5. Outlets in wet locations that do not have GFCIs. Outlets in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and outdoors should be equipped with a ground fault interrupter (GFI) to prevent electrical shock if exposed to water. Test the GFI by pressing the "test" button located on the outlet, it should deactivate the outlet immediately.

By inspecting your outlets for any of the conditions above you can protect your home and family from the risk of accidental electrocution or fire. If you need help, Maitz Home Services is here to answer all your electrical questions.


Whether you're considering buying an older home or renovating an old bathroom or kitchen in your current home, it's important to understand some of the unique problems that older plumbing systems can present. Pipes, sewer and drain lines and plumbing fixtures will often require upgrades to operate reliably. Before buying an older home, it's a good idea to have a professional plumber inspect the home to ensure it is up to code and all system are operating safely.

Pipe Inspections

Prior to the early 20th century, lead pipes were common in American homes. Because lead can leach into the water supply, they should be replaced. In the 1960s, galvanized steel was a popular pipe material. because they have a lifespan of around 40 years, they should be replaced to prevent leaks. Polybutylene plastic pipes were popular in the 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s. Because they can become brittle and are prone to breaking, they should be replaced.

Sewer and Drain Lines

One of the most common problems with older sewer lines is tree root intrusion. Once a sewer line has been damaged, it's only a matter of time before it completely fails. For this reason, older homes should have regular sewer and drain line inspections.

Other areas that should be inspected in older homes include:

  • Roof vents 
  • Floor drains
  • Toilets
  • Water heaters
  • Disposals
  • Washing machine hoses

 Need help upgrading plumbing systems in your older home? Call Maitz Home Services. From water heaters to sump pumps and showers, we can help with all your home plumbing needs.


Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Solving Slow Filling Toilet Problems

The slow filling toilet can be a real headache. It's one of the most common plumbing problems and can have several causes. With normal water pressure a toilet tank should refill in about three minutes.

If the toilet tank is slow to fill, first check the shut-off valve located behind the toilet. If work has been done on the plumbing system recently it may not have been reopened fully. Make sure it is all the way open for maximum flow. Next, try cleaning the pump and valve inside the toilet tank. Mineral buildup can cause the parts to stick in the open position or prevent the valve from closing tightly. If the toilet has an older-style ball cock assembly, we recommend that it be replaced with a new fill valve and float cup design.

If none of the above fixes work, call Maitz Home Services. We can can solve all your plumbing problems quickly.


It's that first cold night of the season and you go to turn on the furnace... and nothing happens. Before calling for service, check the following items:
  1. Is there power? - Even though it may be gas powered, a furnace requires electricity to run, so check the power to the unit at the circuit breaker panel. If a circuit is tripped, switch it back to the ON position. Note, if the circuit trips again, DO NOT RESET IT MORE THAN ONCE, this is a safety measure to prevent an electrical fire in the event of a malfunction. Have an electrician inspect the system.
  2. Is the thermostat turned to the HEAT position? Try turning the temperature up several degrees to see if it turns on.
  3. Is the condensate pan clogged? During normal operation water will drain from the air conditioner or furnace into a drain pan. If the drain for the pan is clogged the pan will fill up and trigger a float switch, preventing the operation of the furnace. If the float switch is up (activated), you will need to clear the obstruction to allow water to empty and then reset the switch.
  4. Is the furnace filter dirty? An extremely dirty and clogged filter will cause the furnace overheat, which will cause it to shut down as a safety precaution. Install a new filter.
  5. Is the pilot light lit? This only applies to older gas furnaces. Most newer units have electric ignition. If your pilot light is out consult your owner's manual for the correct way to light the pilot.
  6. Check the fuel supply. If there are other gas appliances in the home, such a gas range or fireplace, check that they are functioning.
If none of the above steps works and the furnace still won't turn on, call Maitz Home Services. We can repair all makes and models of furnace.

One of the concerns we hear from homeowners when deciding between a conventional tank-style water heater and a tankless, or on-demand water heater, is whether the tankless unit will get the water hot enough. The short answer is yes.

Most tankless water heaters have a thermostat that can be adjusted between 100° to 140°, depending on the brand and model. By comparison, most tank water heaters have the temperature set around 120°.

The key to ensuring the water heater can supply a consistent 120° or higher is the climate and number of sources the tankless water heater will need to supply. It is critical that a tankless water heater is sized based on a household's needs. If the unit is too small for the amount of flow it’s being asked to produce it may work fine for a shower, but not work as needed when a washing machine and a shower are in use at the same time.

Tankless water heater ratings are based on the rise in water temperature they produce. The colder the temperature of the incoming water supply, the lower the maximum temperature of the heater. This means in a colder climate like the Northeast, you’ll need a larger tankless water heater than someone living in a warmer climate, like Georgia.

Have questions about which water heater is right for your home? Call Maitz Home Services. We're here to help.

Installing low-flow toilets is a great way to conserve water and reduce your water bill. By using about half the volume of water as a standard toilet, you can save around a gallon and a half of water per flush. That adds up to thousands of gallons of water saved every year.

Many states and municipalities now require low-flow toilets on new homes or when replacing a toilet when remodeling a bathroom. For most homeowners, the process is simple and straightforward, but what if your home is 50 years old or older? Can your plumbing system handle a lower flow toilet?

The key to whether a low-flow toilet will function in an older home is the waste drain pipe slope. The waste pipe beneath a toilet needs a slope of between 1/8-in. and 1/4-in. per foot for the water to carry solid waste to the sewer. If it's too steep or not steep enough, the flow of water could allow waste to collect, causing a clog.

In some older homes the slope may not have been carefully planned. Since older toilets had plenty of flushing power with 3 gallons of water to work with, it may not have been a concern.

If you have an older house, here are some things to be aware of if you decide to install low-flow toilets.

  • If your current toilet backs up occasionally, even when solid waste isn’t being flushed you may have a clogged waste line. Have the waste and sewer line inspected prior to installing a low-flow toilet.
  • When the toilet is lifted off the floor for other maintenance, use a flashlight to check the drain for standing water in the waste line. Even if it’s just a small amount, it could be a sign that you have a negative pipe slope.

If you're concerned that your older plumbing system may not be able to safely handle a low-flow toilet, consider installing a unit with a pressure-assisted flush that uses water pressure to charge a compressed-air tank inside the toilet tank. When flushed, it will use the compressed air to drive water out of the bowel fast, forcing it down the drain and into the waste line with enough force to remove solid waste.

Have questions about low-flow toilets? Call Maitz Home Services. We can help answer all your plumbing questions.

Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Have You Checked Your Sump Pump Lately?

The sump pump is one of those plumbing systems that most homeowners don't think about. A sump pump is designed to turn on automatically when the basement begins to flood. If it malfunctions and doesn't turn on, it can cause expensive damage to your home. By following a few simple maintenance steps you can reduce the chances that your sump pump will fail when you need it the most.

IMPORTANT: Before removing the pump always disconnect the unit from the power supply, and reconnect it after cleaning.
Quarterly Sump Pump Maintenance

1. Clean the pump screen or inlet opening. If your sump collects the discharge from an washing machine, cleaning will be required for often.

2. Pour enough water into the sump pit to cycle the pump and ensure proper functioning.
Annual Sump Pump Maintenance

Remove and and clean the pump. Clean the pump pit also. Do not lubricate or perform any other maintenance unless the pump's instruction manual says to do so. Ensure that the float arm is able to smoothly move up and down to active the pump.

Have sump pump questions? Call Maitz Home Services, we can help.

 

With the heating season just around the corner, now is the time to be thinking about ways to save energy and increase comfort in the home. Adding insulation to your home offers several advantages.

1. Save Energy
With home heating costs increasing over 40% during the last 12 years, one of the best ways to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to rising energy costs is to insulate your home.

2. Improve Comfort
Along with sealing leaky windows and doors, attic insulation will help your home's heating and cooling system maintain even temperatures year round.

3. Prevent Ice Dams
Ice dams form when heat escaping from a home's roof cause snow on the roof to melt, as it refreezes it can create a "ice dam" that can cause water to backup and seep into the home.
Combined with attic air sealing, insulation can help to prevent the formation of ice dams in the winter by preventing heat from escaping through the roof. 

Finding the right location for your thermostat is important. An improperly placed thermostat will give you false readings, reducing comfort and wasting energy. To ensure your thermostat is in the right location, follow these simple rules:

  • Place the thermostat on an interior wall
  • Place the thermostat near the center of the home
  • Don't place the thermostat near heat registers or vents
  • Avoid walls that receive direct sunlight
  • Avoid areas near the kitchen, where cooking will generate heat

By following these simple steps you can ensure your heating and cooling system are affected by false thermostat readings.

Need help with your thermostat? Call Maitz Home Services. We're here to help.

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