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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.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) 2,400 children in the U.S. are treated for injuries caused by electrical outlets. To gauge the level of risk in the average home with small children, the ESFI conducted a survey of mothers with young children regarding the importance of Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRRs), which have been required by the National Electrical Code since 2008 to prevent these injuries. The results show that much more education is needed.

  • Nearly 1/3 of parents with young children do not have their outlets childproofed.
  • 86% of parents who childproof their outlets use plastic outlet caps.
  • 40% agree that plastic outlet caps could be removed by toddlers
  • Over 1/3 are unaware if their child’s daycare provider or school childproofs their electrical outlets.
  • 44% of respondents are not familiar at all with TRRs.
  • 61% of respondents who have TRRs have them due to previous installation before they moved.

Why are TRRs preferred over other outlet protection devices such as caps or sliding outlet covers?

  1. 100% of all 2-4 year olds were able to remove one type of plastic outlet cap within 10 seconds in a study by Temple University.
  2. Outlet Caps may pose as a choking hazard.
  3. TRRs provide permanent security against the insertion of objects other than cord plugs into the energized slots.

If your concerned about the safety of your electrical outlets, give Maitz Home Services a call, we can help upgrade your outlets to tamper resistant receptacles.


The type of sewer pipe material your home has will depend on its age. Older homes often have clay or cast iron pipes, while newer homes are most likely to use plastic. However, as older sewer lines are replaced, it's becoming more common to find plastic lines in oder homes.

Clay Sewer Pipes

Clay is one of the oldest pipe materials still in use today. It's main advantage is that it's inert and resistant to chemical degradation. The downside of clay sewer pipe is its porous surface, which makes it a magnet for tree roots. It is also more brittle than some other pipe materials.

Cast Iron Sewer Pipes

As with clay pipe, cast-iron sewer pipe is more commonly found in older homes, although it is still commonly used today. The main advantage of cast iron is it's long lifespan and strength. A 4" diameter sewer pipe can withstand almost 5,000 pounds of pressure per linear foot. By comparison, a plastic sewer pipe can be damaged by a person standing on it! Cast iron's main disadvantage is weight.

Plastic Sewer Pipes - PVC and ABS

Plastic sewer pipe is made from either ABS and PVC. Its smooth surface provide excellent carrying capacity of waste and makes it resistant to tree root intrusion. It must be installed carefully however, as plastic is not as strong as other materials and can bend or collapse if not sufficiently supported with sand or gravel.

Orangeburg Sewer Pipes

Orangeburg is a pipe material you're unlikely to encounter these days, and for good reason. Made from celulose wood fiber held together with adhesive and impregnated with liquefied coal tar, Orangeburg pipe was lightweight and easy to work with, but was also weak and prone to failure, which has resulted in many sewer lines being replaced over the years.

Have question about your sewer line? Call Maitz Home Services, we can help.

If you're suddenly noticing a sewer odor in your home, there are several possible causes ranging from minor and easy to fix, to more serious problems. Here are some things to check first:

1. Check the floor drain trap. Without water to block the sewer gas from escaping, odors will enter the room. Pour water down the floor drain to refill the trap.

2. Check the clean-out plug inside the floor drain. Remove the grate that covers the drain and make sure there's a plug inside the drain bowl. If the plug is missing, sewer gas will be able to bypass the water trap. A replacement plug can be bought at most home supply stores.

3. Unused toilets. When toilets are unused for a long period of time the water in the trap will eventually evaporate.  Flushing the toilet will refill the trap.

4. Worn toilet wax ring. The wax ring seals the toilet flange to the toilet base. If the wax ring cracks, sewer gas can escape from the pipe beneath the toilet. If the ring is worn or broken, the toilet will need to be removed and a new wax ring installed. If the toilet is loose on the base, shims can be used to ensure the toilet doesn't shift and break the new wax ring.

Other possible causes of sewer odors include a broken or cracked sewer line or, less often, a loose connection joint in an interior wall. If you've checked the other possibilities above, it's time to contact your plumber to hunt down the cause.

Have sewer and drain line questions? Call Maitz Home Services, we can help will all your sewer and drain problems.


 

Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Troubleshooting Outdoor Faucet Problems

It's a hot, humid summer day and you're all ready to fill the kid's inflatable pool with water, but the outside spigot is not working or has low water pressure. Here are some things to check when the outside faucet stops flowing.

Shut-off valve

If it was turned off during the winter, did you remember to turn the water shut-off valve back on?

Worn Washer

Check to see if the rubber washer has worn out. Sometimes the washer will disintegrate and block the flow of water. Replace the washer if necessary.

Loose Seal

If the seal is not tight, the handle may be too loose to open the valve. The solution is to tighten the collar nut.

Water leaks

Has your water bill been higher than usual? There may be a leak further up the line. Have a plumber check the system.

Hard Water

High mineral content in the water can eventually build up and block the flow of water. If the clog is near to the opening you may be able to clean it out yourself, but if it’s farther down the line, it's time to call a plumber.

Low Water Pressure

If you have checked the other possible causes above, the problem is likely related to low water pressure. Your plumber can help you identify the cause and recommend solutions.

Need help with outdoor plumbing? Call Maitz Home Services, we can help.

 

Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Choosing the Right Fan For Your Home

Fans play an important role in maintaining comfort and indoor air quality in your home. The several types of fans that serve different roles, they are:

Whole-House Fans

This type of fan is designed to circulate air throughout a home's ductwork. It is sometimes confused with an attic ventilator fan (see below), which exhausts hot air from the attic to the outside through an opening in the roof. In some cases, a whole house fan can take the place of a home's air conditioning system by circulating air during times of the year when it's not too hot, particularly when combined with ceiling fans.

Bathroom Exhaust Fans

A bathroom exhaust fan is designed to remove stale, humid air from bathrooms, laundry rooms and other enclosed spaces with high humidity. They improve air quality and reduce the likelihood of mold and mildew growth. When installing an exhaust fan it's important to ensure that the fan is ducted to the exterior of the house and not just into an attic.

Attic Fans

Also called an attic ventilator, attic fans regulate the heat level of a home's attic by exhausting hot air. They are usually controlled by a thermostat that automatically turns the fan off and on, or less frequently by a manual switch. An attic fan can be gable mounted or roof mounted.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are a popular choice for improving airflow in rooms, as well as serving as lighting fixtures and enhancing room decor. While a ceiling fan doesn't actually lower the temperature, it circulates the conditioned air where it's needed most and provides evaporative cooling.

Need a fan for your home? Give Maitz Home Services a call. We're here to help.

Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Home Electrical Safety Tips For Spring

With the arrival of spring, many Allentown area homeowners will be looking to tackle home improvement projects With the warm spring weather comes home improvement projects around the outside of the home. So it's a good time to think about electrical safety to reduce the risk of accidental injury.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (EFSI) recommends the following simple safety rules:
  • Ladders—even those made of wood—that come into contact with a power line can prove fatal
  • Keep all ladders at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines
  • Unplug outdoor tools and appliances when not in use
  • Inspect power tools and appliances for frayed cords, broken plugs and cracked or broken housing. Repair or replace damaged items
  • Water and electricity do not mix. Avoid damp conditions — including wet grass — when using electricity
  • Ensure that all outdoor outlets are equipped with Ground Fault Interrupters (GFIs)
  • Do not use power tools with an extension cord that exceeds 100 feet in length
  • Use extreme caution when cutting or drilling into walls where electrical wires or water pipes could be accidentally touched or penetrated
  • When using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner or a pressure washer, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid electric shock
If your home needs electrical work, it's best to let the professional electricians at Maitz Home Services do the work for you. We can handle any size electrical project, from installing new outlets to complete rewiring.


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