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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.

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.
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