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Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Maitz Winter Plumbing Checklist

Cold winter weather is right around the corner so Maitz has put together a plumbing checklist to help you ensure that your home's plumbing system is prepared to withstand the freezing temperatures ahead.

1. Make sure all outdoor hoses have been disconnected and are stored for the winter.

2. If your home has an indoor shutoff valve for the outdoor water supply, close the valve and turn on the outdoor faucets to drain out the water.

3. If necessary, turn up your water heater temperature to retain hot water during colder weather. The water temperature should never exceed 125°F to prevent scaling.

4. To prevent frozen pipes, ensure that there are no cracks or gaps in your home's foundation that could allow cold outside air to pass over water pipes.

5. If the weather gets extremely cold, letting faucets trickle water will keep the water flowing and reduce the risk of frozen pipes.

6. Flush your water heater to removed sediment that can reduce heating efficiency and cause corrosion of the tank.

Need help getting your home's plumbing system ready for cold weather? Call Maitz Home Services, we can help with all your plumbing needs.

Over the past decade or so gas furnace technology has advanced considerably, with AFUE efficiency ratings now exceeding 95 percent. Many furnaces manufactured in the 1990s had efficiency ratings in the 60 percent range. One of the main reasons for this dramatic increase in efficiency is modulating gas furnace technology.

Traditional single or two-stage furnaces operate at fixed rates and will often exceed the preset temperature before shutting off, resulting in wide temperature swings. A modulating furnace is able to adjust it's gas input, inducer speed, and blower airflow to operate at 1 percent increments from 35 to 100 percent, providing more accurate control over temperature. While it may run more often, it can do so at a lower rate than a two-stage furnace.

The advantages of modulating furnaces include increased comfort, reduced operating costs and quieter operation. With a two-stage furnace you may notice a change in temperature right before your furnace turns on and right after the furnaces shuts off. With a modulating gas furnace, the temperature change will be imperceptible.

Have questions about high efficiency gas furnaces? Give Maitz Home Services a call, we're here to help.

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.

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