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Most people don't think about their water heater until the day the hot water stops flowing. By doing a few routine annual maintenance tasks you can extend the life of your water heater while also helping it work more efficiently.

Because most water heater tanks are made of steel coated with a thin layer of glass, the lining will eventually crack and begin to rust. To head off corrosion a metal "anode rod" is used to increase the life of the tank. The anode rod is a magnesium or aluminum rod that encapsulates a steel core. The rod is screwed into the top of the tank and suspended in the water. An electrochemical process causes the exposed steel of the rod to react with the corrosive elements in the water. By causing a primary corrosive reaction inside the tank the rod sacrifices itself to help protect the steel tank from corrosion, greatly extending it's life.

Inspecting and Replacing the Anode Rod

One of the most important plumbing maintenance task is to ensure the anode rod is still working inside the tank. The rod can be accessed from the top of the water heater by unscrewing it and sliding it out. If the rod has significantly eroded away it should be replaced with a new rod. Replacing a worn out rod is far less expensive then replacing an entire rusted out water heater!

Flush the Tank

When sediment builds up at the bottom of the water heater tank it can reduce heating efficiency and shorten the life of the unit. Flushing the tank annually will keep the tank clean.

Need help maintaining your water heater? Call Maitz Home Services. We're here to help.

Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Home Electrical Safety Tips For Fall

As the cold weather settles in and we begin to spend more time indoors, this is a good time to be aware of the electrical hazards around the home during the heating season. The Electrical Safety Foundation International offers the following tips.

1. Safely store warm weather tools like lawn mowers and trimmers. Check cold weather tools, such as leaf and snow blowers, along with their power cords, for unusual wear and tear.

2. Repair or replace worn tools or parts right away.

3. Unplug and safely store battery chargers that won't be in use again until spring.

4. Use only weatherproof electrical devices for outside activities.

5.Protect outdoor electrical devices from moisture. Make sure electrical equipment that has been wet is inspected and reconditioned by a certified repair dealer.

6. Keep dry leaves swept away from outdoor lighting, outlets and power cords.

7. Make sure electric blankets are in good repair and certified by an independent testing lab such as UL, CSA or ETL. Power cords should not be frayed, cracked or cut.

8. Do not tuck your electric blanket under mattresses or children, and do not put anything, such as comforters or bedspreads, on top of the blanket while it is in use. Never allow pets to sleep on an electric blanket.

Power failures can be more than an inconvenience, they can cause expensive damage your property. When the power goes out you lose heating and air conditioning, well pumps, refrigeration, and sump pumps - which can lead to basement flooding during severe storms.

With the frequency of power outages in the Eastern U.S. related to the increasingly intensity of storm systems and an over burdened electrical grid, a backup power generator is becoming an essential appliance for many homeowners.

It's hard to appreciate just how important a home generator is until the power has been out longer than a few hours. Generators sell out quickly before and during emergencies, so why wait until the next major power failure to consider buying one?

Types of Home Backup Generators



The two main types of residential generators are portable and permanent standby. If you plan to power a few lights, your refrigerator and a furnace, a less expensive portable generator may provide enough power. But keep in mind that you will need to ensure you have enough fuel on hand before the power goes out.

If you intend to run your lights and air conditioner, along with a well pump, sump pump, a freezer and other major appliances a permanent standby model is the best option. Permanently installed generators are connected directly to your home's utilities, when the power goes out they automatically start up to provide power for extended periods of time.

Professional Residential Generator Installation



When considering a generator for your home it's important to hire an experienced electrician who understands the types of generators available and can match the system to your home's existing power needs. At Maitz Home Service we have installed hundreds of residential generators throughout the Lehigh Valley area.

With an Maitz Home Services generator installation, you will have the peace of mind knowing that you are getting the right generator for your specific needs and professional service for the life of the unit.
Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

How AFCIs Keep Your Home Safe

AFCIs are electrical devices installed in place of regular circuit breakers found in a home's electric service panel. The service panel is usually located in the basement or garage and distributes electricity throughout the home to switches, outlets and appliances. When an electrical overload or short circuit overload occurs, the circuit breaker trips, preventing damage or an electrical fire.

Extra Protection With AFCIs

AFCIs provide protection against electrical hazards known as arc faults. An arc fault is a electrical problem caused by damaged or overheated electrical wiring or appliances. Without AFCIs, arc faults may be hidden from plain view until it is too late.

Electrical arc faults are among the leading cause of residential electrical and fire-related injuries. For this reason, The National Electrical Code has required that they be used to protect almost every circuit in the home since 2008.

Have questions about your home's electrical system? Call Maitz Home Services. We're here to help.

With rising energy costs many homeowners are asking if geothermal energy could be a more cost effective way to heat and cool their Pennsylvania home. Geothermal heating and cooling offers many advantages over conventional electric, gas and oil based systems, but also has a few disadvantages.

Geothermal is not a new technology, it operates on the principle of heat exchange and the fact that the temperature underground is a relatively consistent 55F. Pipes are installed underground to circulate water throughout the ground. The water returns to an energy pump inside the home which uses the temperature difference to extract the energy from the water.

During the hot summer months, cooling with 55F water is more efficient than with a conventional AC condensor using electricity to chill 90F air. During the cold winter months, making heat from 55F water is far more efficient than heating 15F air with conventional fuels.

Disadvantages of Home Geothermal Systems

The main disadvantage of residential geothermal systems is the up front cost. Depending on the conditions for drilling the average residential geothermal energy system will cost $10,000-$20,000. It's an investment that can take 5-10 years to pay off.

Another disadvantage is the geothermal pump needs a conventional power source, although it uses minimal amounts of energy.

Advantages of Home Geothermal Systems

The main advantage of residential geothermal systems is it's a truly renewable energy source that will never run out and is virtually cost free. Geothermal is also among the greenest ways to heat and cool your home, with an extremely small carbon footprint.

Geothermal energy is also extremely reliable. Because the temperature of the ground will be very consistent, energy costs and output will be reliable from the minute the system goes online and for many years down the road. Compared this to the variability of wind and solar energy and even fossil fuels which can fluctuate in price dramatically, geothermal is a safe bet for home energy savings.

Have questions about whether geothermal is right for your home? Give Maitz Home Services a call, we're here to help.
Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Electrical Cord Safety Tips

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) every year in the U.S., about 4,000 injuries associated with electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms. Half of these injuries involve injuries from people tripping over extension cords. In addition, approximately 3,300 home fires are started by extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring roughly 270 more. How can you reduce the risks associated with electrical cords and keep you and your family safe? Here are some tips from the ESFI:

Never overload extension cords or allow them to run through water or snow on the ground.

An extension cords should not be used for permanent wiring.

Do not run cords through walls, doorways, ceilings or floors. If cord is covered, it may result in a fire hazard.

Do not use an extension cord for more than one appliance.

Multiple plug outlets must be plugged directly into mounted electrical receptacles; they cannot be chained together.

Make sure the extension cord or temporary power strip you use is rated for the products to be plugged in, and is marked for either indoor or outdoor use.

The appliance or tool that you are using the cord with will have a wattage rating on it. Match this up with your extension cord, and do not use a cord that has a lower rating.

Never use a cord that feels hot or is damaged in any way. Touching even a single exposed strand can give you an electric shock or burn.

Never use three-prong plugs with outlets that only have two slots for the plug. Do not cut off the ground pin to force a fit. This defeats the purpose of a three-prong plug and could lead to an electrical shock.

Use extension cords with polarized and/or three-prong plugs.

Buy only cords approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or ETL-SEMKO (ETL).

Remember, over reliance on extension cords is an indication that you have too few outlets to meet your needs. Call Maitz Home Services to have additional outlets installed.

A broken garbage disposal can be a real hassle, causing expensive plumbing and drain problems. By following a few simple guidelines, you can keep your under sink disposal working smoothly for years to come.

Garbage Disposal Maintenance

You can keep your disposal clean by adding a little dish soap to some cold water and leting the garbage disposal run for a few seconds after washing dishes. It's also important to run your disposal regularly to keep the moving parts in good condition. An unused disposal can corrode and accumulate debris.

Tips For Using Your Disposal

Run a full stream of cold water - This helps hold greasy waste together so it can pass through the disposal more easily.

Some hard foods are safe to put down the disposal - these include the smallest chicken and fish bones, egg shells, etc. These harder particles will help clean the inside of the disposal.

Do not fill the chamber with food and then turn on the disposal. Always turn the water and disposal on before adding food gradually to the disposal.

Only food waste should be put down a disposal. Paper, metal and plastic can damage the unit.

Do not pour oil or grease down the drain. This may work for a period of time, but will eventually build up and clog the drain.

Grinding lemon peels can help reduce odors coming from the disposal.

Need help with your garbage disposal? Call Maitz Home Services, we're here to help.

Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Keeping Your Water Heater Working Safely

We often don't think about our water heater until the hot water stops flowing. Water heaters today are highly efficient and reliable plumbing systems. They also employ safety features to prevent scalding and other hazards. Here are some of the dangers that hot water heaters are designed to reduce.

Excess Hot Water Pressure

The temperature and pressure relief valve are designed to prevent dangerous pressure build up. When the water pressure or temperature inside the tank reaches a certain level, the valve is designed to prevent damage to the unit and your home's plumbing.

Hot Water Scalding

If you have elderly persons or children in your home preventing your hot water from getting to hot is critical. A temping valve on the water heater is designed to reduce the danger of scalding, but it's also important to never set your water heater above the recommended setting.

Bacteria

If the temperature of the water is kept too low bacteria such as legionella, which caused Legionnaire's disease, can grow in water heaters. The best way of preventing dangerous bacteria from growing in your hot water heater is to ensure the temperature always stays above 122° F.

Backflow

Backflow occurs when drinking water and dirty water mix. It most often happens when the pressure in the system changes and waste water is drawn back into the fresh water supply. To prevent backflow contamination water heaters use a one-way valve and in some cases a pressure overflow tank to prevent contamination.

Have questions about your water heater? Give Maitz Home Services a call, we're here to help.

Electrical receptacles have come a long way since the original 2-prong outlet. Today's outlets are designed to protect you from electrical shock while providing connectivity with electronic devices. Here are some of the new receptacles available.

1. Grounded Receptacle

The grounded three-prong grounded receptacle was introduced in the late 1960s. The ground reduced the risk of electric shock and prevented damage to sensitive electronic devices.

2. Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRR)

TRRs have a built-in shutter system to prevent objects other than a three prong plug from being inserted. They provides better protection than "child proof" outlet covers.

3. Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) Receptacle

In situations where electrical appliances can come in contact with water, AFCIs prevent electric shock by immediately shutting off power when it detects that the electricity entering the circuit is different from the returning supply.

4. Surge Suppression Receptacle

Surge protection outlets protect sensitive electrical equipment from power spikes. While most people think of lightning as the primary cause of surges, most harmful electrical surges happen inside the home itself when large appliances, like HVAC systems, power cycle.

5. USB Receptacles

As the popularity of devices that charge through a USB (Universal Serial Bus) connections grows, many homeowners are finding that having dedicated UBS charging throughout the home is a great convenience.

Need electrical upgrades for your home? Call Maitz Home Services. We're here to help.

During the hot, humid summer months your central air conditioner condenser creates a lot moisture as the warm air blows across the coil. Normally the moisture is collected in the drain pan where it can drain away, but in some cases the water can collect in the system and create mold problems.

Mold in HVAC Systems

Mold is commonly found in varying amounts in all central air conditioning systems. Over time small amounts of mold can grow to levels that can decrease air quality and lead to health problems.

Some of the health problems associated with mold in the home include:
  • Sinus congestion and runny nose
  • Itchy, red, watery eyes
  • Respiratory problems and difficulty breathing
  • Throat irritation
  • Sneezing

Preventing Mold in Central Air Conditioners

Drain pans, which can hold standing water for long periods of time, are an ideal location for mold to grow. Pipes that contain bends and curves can collect stagnant water and cause mold to grow. Often when there is mold growing inside the unit it is also visible on the inside of air ducts.

While it may be easy to identify mold growing on or near your air conditioner, removing it is more complicated than simply cleaning the surfaces where mold is visible, you must find the source of the problem to stop the mold from reoccuring.

The cause of mold is excess moisture. This is usually a symptom of water leaks and defects in the AC unit. A professional HVAC technician should be able to locate the cause of excess the moisture and recommend solutions.

Keep the AC Drain Clean

To avoid mold issues check the condensation drain for clogs regularly. If the drain gets clogged, the standing water can harbor bacteria, which eventually dies and turns into mold. Once you’ve removed the mold from the system, you’ll need to make sure it doesn’t return by regularly maintaining the unit to keep the air ducts clean.

Have questions about your air conditioner and mold? Call Maitz Home Services, we can help keep your air conditioner free of mold.

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