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When buying a home most people hire a professional home inspector to inspect the house for potential problems and damage. However, when it comes to electrical systems many home inspectors don't always check the home as thoroughly as an experienced and licensed electrician would. Before signing a contract for the home, it's important to ensure that these electrical systems are checked and working properly.

1. Electrical Service Panel

A common problem with older homes is an undersized service panel. The electrical needs of a 1950s household were quite different from today's households. An undersize service panel will not only limit a home's functionality, it can cause safety problems. At minimum, the panel should be rated for 200-amps.

2. Worn Out Wiring

Fiberglass-insulated wires is commonly found in older homes and will fray over time and can be damage by rodents. Check where the wires pass through the walls and ceiling joists, these are the most common problem areas.

3. Ungrounded Circuits

Even if electrical receptacles have a ground prong a plug-in voltage tester should be used to make sure they are in fact grounded. The plug-in tester will also alert you if the polarity is wrong or if the circuit has other wiring problems like a lost neutral or a lost feed. All two-prong circuits should be upgraded to three-prong grounded outlets.

4. Dimming Lights

Check for light bulbs that are dim or blinking. Dimming bulbs are often a sign that there are voltage drops occurring in the circuit. Blinking bulbs mean there’s a loose connection somewhere.

5. Bad Wire Connections

Inspect junction boxes to ensure the wiring is well connected. Don't touch the wiring, just inspect it. If you spot potential problems, turn off the breaker before doing any work on the connections.

6. Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are required on every floor of the house, and they should be located right outside the bedrooms. If the detectors are not working, install new 9-volt batteries and re-test them to ensure they are functioning.

7. GFCI Receptacles

GFCI receptacles should be installed in areas that are near water, including bathrooms and the kitchen, the garage, the basement, and on the outside of the home – any place where an electrical system can come in contact with moisture.

8. Appliances

Check all appliances for proper operation and ask the current homeowner about any known issues or history of malfunctions.

9. Burn Marks

Look for signs of burning or scorching around receptacles, light switches and light fixtures. If scorch marks are visible, the circuit experienced a short at some time. Ensure that the circuit was properly repaired or the broken receptacle or switch was professionally repaired.

Need a professional electrical inspection? Call Maitz Home Services, we're here to help.



Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

How Does a Central Air Conditioner Work?

With our steamy hot Pennsylvania summers, a central air conditioner is not just a luxury, it's a necessity. Air conditioners work hard to keep our homes comfortable, but have you ever thought about how they work? Here's a brief overview.

Split Systems

A typical central cooling system is a split system, meaning it consists of an outdoor unit housing a condenser coil and compressor, and an indoor evaporator coil, usually installed in conjunction with an air handler inside the house.

The AC Compressor

The compressor pumps a chemical refrigerant through the indoor evaporator coil. As warm air inside your home blows across the evaporator coil, the heat energy is transferred to the refrigerant inside the coil. It's this transfer of heat that cools the air. The heat absorbed by the refrigerant is sent outside while cooled air is blown back inside. This condensing process also removes excess humidity from the air.

Air Ducts

A home's ductwork is designed to distribute conditioned air throughout your home, it also returns air to the air handler to repeat the process again.

Thermostat

The thermostat is the "brains" of the central heating and cooling system. Once the temperature is programmed, it maintains an even temperature. Some thermostats can be programmed to work on a schedule, saving energy when the house is unoccupied.

Have questions about your central air conditioner? Call Maitz Home Services, we're here to help.
Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Does Your Home Need a Dehumidifier?

During a typical Pennsylvania summer the air can be hot and muggy outside, which can mean excess moisture inside. Excessive indoor humidity is not just uncomfortable, it can lead to unhealthy mold, musty odors and condensation that can damage wood surfaces and paint.

In today's tight, well insulated homes, excess moisture can make your air conditioner work harder to keep the air cool and dry. To help keep the air dryer, a dehumidifier can be an effective solution.

How does a dehumidifier work?

As warm, humid air is blown across a cold coil by a fan, moisture condenses into liquid, which can be removed through a drain pipe. The dry air then passes over a warm coil and is added back into the room. Dehumidifiers are controlled by an instrument called a dehumidistat, which turns the unit on and off depending on the amount of moisture detected in the air. The level of moisture is controlled by a dehumidistat, which turns the unit on and off. A dehumidifier's capacity is measured in pints of water removed every 24 hours.

Carrier Whole Home Dehumidifers

A whole house dehumidifier is designed to work in conjunction with your home's heating and air conditioning system by monitoring and controlling the level of humidity. It operates quietly and is easily maintained by cleaning a filter.

Have questions about controlling excess humidity in your home? Call Maitz Home Services, we're here to help.
Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Spring Home Plumbing Maintenance Tips

After a long, cold winter, spring is almost here. Now is a great time to inspect your home's plumbing systems to ensure they are functioning properly. By fixing the little issues now, you can prevent more costly problems down to road. Here are a list of plumbing systems to inspect.

Inspect Plumbing Fixtures

  • Look for drips and leaks on faucets and repair washers and seals as needed
  • Clean mineral deposits from faucets and shower heads by soaking them in vinegar overnight
  • Turn off and then turn on water supply valves under sinks and toilets to excercise the seals and prevent them from sticking


Check Drains

Make sure that all sink drains have strainers to prevent hair and debris from clogging drain lines

Pour a bucket of water into infrequently used drains (including floor drains) to fill traps and prevent odors. Slow floor drains should be professionally cleaned to ensure they will carry away water quickly in the event of a flood.

Sump Pump

Test your sump pump for proper operation. Pour approximately 5 gallons of water into the basin of your sump pump. Pour slowly until the sump pump turns on and begins to pump out the water. Do not pour in more water than the basin will hold. Expect the sump pump to begin pumping out water when the water level reaches approximately 8 to 12 inches below the surface of the basement floor.

Washing Machines

Washing machine hoses should be inspected for leaks or bulges. If the hoses are older than 10 years, they should be replaced. Consider using braided stainless steel hoses rather than rubber hoses.

Toilets

Check your toilets for cracks or leaks. Add several drops of food coloring to the tank. If color appears in the bowl after 30 minutes, it has a leak that should be repaired.

If the toilet handle has to be held down in order to flush properly, or jiggled to stop from running, you may need to replace the tank parts.

Water Heaters

Check the temperature setting on the water heater. It should be set no higher than 120°F to prevent scalding and reduce energy use.

If you have a tank water heater, drain several gallons from the water heater tank to flush out sediment that can cause corrosion and reduce heating efficiency.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters should be flushed to remove mineral deposits. Always check with your water heater manufacturer for specific instructions regarding maintenance of your specific make and model.

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

If you have drips coming from your faucets, shower, bathtub and other sources, they could be adding up to hundreds of gallons of wasted water every year. Leaks are most commonly found with faucets and shower heads that have worn washers and seals. Having those drips repaired is relatively inexpensive and will add up to savings on your water bill over time.

Here are some facts about how much water leaks are wasting in the U.S. every year:

  • The average household's leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, or the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry.
  • Household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons annually nationwide. That's equal to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes.
  • Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.

How much water are those drip around your home potentially wasting? Find out by using our water drip calculator.

Enter number of drips per minute into the box below and then click Calculate.
 
 

 
Gallons per Day
Gallons in a 30 day Month
Gallons lost in a Year
Remodeling Your Kitchen? Here Are Some Helpful Plumbing & Electrical Tips

When remodeling an old kitchen there are many choices to make about design, finishes, fixtures, colors and materials. Upgrading your plumbing fixtures and electrical systems are probably also high on the list. This may include new faucets, sinks, disposals, electrical outlets and lighting fixtures. Here are a few upgrades to consider when remodeling your kitchen.

LED Lighting

Typical incandescent bulbs are rated to last between 1,000 to 2,000 hours. Many LED bulbs are designed to last between 25,000 to 50,000 hours. This long life can be a real advantage if your kitchen has high ceilings, making the replacement of light bulbs a hassle.

LED bulbs use much less electricity than other bulbs and produce very little heat. They are also resistant to shock and vibration. So while the price of LEDs is considerably more than standard incandescent or CFL bulbs, in the long run the advantages may be worth the expense.

Touchless Faucets

Touchless faucets work by sensing movement under the faucet and starting and stopping the flow of water without using knobs or handles. This not only frees your hands so you can cook and cleanup faster, it means there's less chance of spreading germs throughout the kitchen.

For all your kitchen remodeling plumbing and electrical needs, call Maitz Home Services. We're here to help.
The U.S. Department of Energy has put into effect new regulations that require all manufacturers of water heaters to meet a higher energy factor (EF) rating. Based on the new requirements, there will be significant changes to water heaters manufactured after April 15, 2015. This includes gas, oil, electric water heaters. Tankless water heaters already meet the new requirements.

How do these changes affect you?

Some of the changes that may affect you as a consumer are:
· Higher priced units – up to 35% more expensive.
· Larger units – 2” tall and 2” wider, and in some cases units may be even larger.
· More complex installation requirements
· Possible significant home remodeling costs if your water heater is located in a small space like a closet or attic.

These new regulations are being made to improve the efficiency of water heaters, which will result in lower energy costs for homeowners.

Should I Wait, Or Upgrade Now?

According to manufacturer’s suggested service life, the average lifespan of a water heater is about 8-12 years. Homeowners with water heaters 10 years old or older need to seriously consider replacing it now, before the regulations go into effect and costs go up.

Maitz Home Services will answer any questions you may have about the new regulations, evaluate your current water heater and provide you with options on the next steps. Then, if you decide you want to install before the new regulations take affect we’ll reserve your water heater from our inventory.

For more information, visit:
U.S. Department of Energy
AO Smith
American Water Heaters
State Water Heaters

When buying a new home there are countless things to check to ensure there are no hidden surprises. One of the most important is the home's furnace. Taking the time to ask questions and inspect the unit can save you potential headaches down the road. Here are some steps to take:

1. Turn on the furnace and listen for noises. Squeaks and rattles could indicate a mechanical problem, lack of maintenance or just be symptomatic of an older furnace that is showing its age.

2. Ask the real estate agent for the age of the furnace. A gas furnace will typically last 15-20 years. Also, keep in mind that older furnaces can be more expensive to operate.

3. Check the unit's EnergySTAR® rating. If you're lucky the label will still be attached to the unit. If not, the unit's serial number can be used to contact the manufacturer for efficiency information.

Finally, for your peace of mind, it's a good idea to have the home's heating and cooling system inspected to identify any potential problems that could end up costing you money in repairs or higher utility bills.

Have questions about heating systems? Call Maitz Home Services. We're here to help.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, deaths related to household fires caused by children are highest during the holiday season, with the number of children injured or killed by fires more than doubling this time of year.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) offers these tips for keeping children safe.
  • Keep young children away from holiday lights, electrical decorations and extension cords to prevent electrical shock and burn injuries. 
  • When visiting family and friends, make sure that the home is safe for young children. Look for and eliminate potential dangers around electrical outlets, candles, and exposed electrical cords. 
  • Avoid hanging Christmas tree lights, ornaments, metal hooks, and other small decorations on the lower limbs of the tree where they could easily be reached by a small child. 
  • Never leave a child unattended while cooking or when a stove is within reach. 
  • Never use space heaters in rooms where children are unsupervised. Children may stick their fingers or other objects through the protective guards, causing burns or shock. 
  • Replace electrical toys with battery-operated alternatives for children under ten years old. 
  • Avoid buying toys that might be flammable, and be sure all electrical toys bear a safety label from a nationally-recognized testing laboratory such as UL, CSA, or ETL. 
Learn more about holiday electrical safety at holidaysafety.org.
Having hard water in the home can cause many problems, from minor annoyances to potentially expensive damage.

Here are five hard water problems a water softener can prevent.

1. Wasted soap and detergent.
The minerals in hard water, primarily calcium and magnesium, combine with soap and detergents creating a "curd" that requires additional soap to clean away. Softened water reduced the amount of soap needed and rinses off more easily.

Soap scum rings in the bathtub and stains on glass shower enclosures. That same hard water and soap curd that makes soap less effective also clings to surfaces and resisted rinsing away.

2. Streaks on glassware, silverware and dishes.
If you're seeing unsightly spots and ring when emptying the dishwasher, you have a hard water problem. Adding additional detergent and using an extra rinse cycle can help, but adds to the expense of cleaning dishes.

3. Skin and hair that is not clean and soft feeling.
During drier winter conditions hard water can aggravate dry, cracked skin and make hair dull and more prone to damage.

4. Hard water builds up scale deposits in all water-using appliances and clogs hot water pipes.
Finally, hard water can damage appliance like water heaters, humidifiers and coffee makers, to name just a few.

Have questions about hard water in your home? Call Maitz Home Services. We're here to help.

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