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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.

With the hottest weather of the summer right around the corner, air conditioners will be put to the test. If your air conditioner stops working and won't turn on, here are a few things to check.

1. Check that the the thermostat is set to "Cool" and has not been unintentionally switched to "Off" or "Heat".
2. Check that the thermostat is set low enough to turn on the unit.
3. Check that the safety switch located on an exterior wall near the condensing unit is set to the "On" position.
4. Check that the circuit breaker that controls the air conditioning compressor and the circuit breaker that controls the furnace blower or air handler, are in the “On” position. If a circuit breaker has tripped, reset the circuit breaker. If the circuit breaker cannot be reset, do not try to reset it again. Have a qualified technician check the unit to determine the cause of the problem.

If the air conditioner still won't turn on, call Maitz Home Services, we have fully stocked trucks in your neighborhood ready to quickly solve any air conditioner problem.


The 4 Most Common Air Conditioner Problems With the hot weather right around the corner in Pennsylvania, this is a good time to schedule your annual air conditioner maintenance. Many of the most common air conditioner problems are simply the result of lack of maintenance and not having the AC unit regularly inspected.

1. AC Refrigerant Leaks

There are two reason an air conditioner can be low on refrigerant, either it was not sufficiently charged when it was installed, or it has developed a leak. Your technician will look for and fix any leaks in the system and refill the unit with refrigerant. It's important that the amount of refrigerant match the manufacturer's recommended amount to ensure optimal cooling performance.

2. Clogged Furnace Air Filters

When filters become dirty and clogged the AC unit must work harder, and the compressor or fans are likely to fail prematurely.

3. Dirty AC Coils

AC coils on the outside of the home should be cleaned to prevent the accumulation of dirt and debris.

4. Air Conditioner Electrical Component Failure

Compressor and fan controls are subject to wear over time, especially when the air conditioner turns on and off frequently. Corrosion of wires and terminals is another common problem in many systems, so the electrical connections and contacts should be inspected annually during AC system maintenance.

By regularly maintaining your air conditioner you will keep your air conditioner running as efficiently as possible, while saving money on unexpected breakdowns and repairs.

With hot weather just around the corner, many homeowners are weighing whether to repair their aging central air conditioner or invest in a new unit. The old saying "if it isn't broken, don't fix it." isn't always so clear cut when it comes to central air conditioning systems. While that old AC unit may be running just fine, it may be using a lot more energy than newer systems. The reason is many new air conditioners are variable speed, meaning that instead of just cycling on and off, they operate at low or high speed depending on demand.
 
The EPA suggest that homeowners replace their older air conditioner if it's past 10 years old. The reason is new air conditioners are far more efficient that system available a decade ago. How much can you expect to save on your energy bill? With a newer, high efficiency system you could save up to 56% on your cooling costs.
 
Ultimately, for most homeowners the decision to replace their air conditioner happens when the unit breaks down during a heat wave. By planning ahead and making the decision to install a new air conditioner before the old unit is beyond repair you can avoid the inconvenience and expense of an unexpected repairs while enjoy the cost savings of today's high efficiency air conditioners.
 
Have questions about air conditioners? Call Maitz Home Services, we're here to help.

Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Solving Uneven Cooling Problems

A common air conditioning concern we hear from homeowners is "one room is always too hot". If you have noticed that some rooms in your home are too warm while other rooms are comfortable, there are several things to check.
  • Ensure that air vents are not blocked by furniture or other objects 
  • A central cooling system works best if all vents are open and doors are open to allow air to circulate evenly 
  • Check the air ducts for excessive dirt and debris. If necessary, have the ducts professionally cleaned to restore airflow. 
  • Your home should be properly insulated to prevent cool ari from escaping. Inadequate insulation in your attic is a priary cause uneven cooling problems. 
  • Install ceiling fans. Many times the solution to uneven cooling is just inadequate air circulation, especially in rooms with high ceilings. 
  • Air duct leaks. It's not uncommon for air ducts to have significant gaps and holes that can let air escape. Taping the gaps or having professional duct sealing performed will help the conditioned air reach the farthest reaches of the home more easily. 
Have questions about your central air conditioner? Call Maitz Home Services, we're here to help.

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