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The holidays can be especially demanding on your home's plumbing system, and especially drains. With the extra demands brought on by holiday visitors and large meals, the risk of clogs increases significantly.

Here are some tips to avoid sewer and drain problems during the holidays.

1. Deep frying a turkey? Remember to never dispose of fryer grease down the drain! Even a floor drain. Instead, pour the cooled oil into a sealed container and freeze it before putting it in the trash.

2. Coffee ground should not be put down the drain or disposal. 

3. Make sure your kitchen and bath drains have a grate or screen to prevent debris like hair and other waste from building up in the drain pipe.

4. Rinse the drain with hot water to prevent oil and grease from accumulating.

5. If your drains are prone to clogging, consider a safe, environmentally friendly option for keeping your plumbing system working smoothly.

If all else fails to clear your clogged drain, Call Maitz Home Services. We're here to help.

Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

8 Electrical Safety Tips For Fall

As cold weather approaches and we spend more time indoors, now is a good time to make sure your home's electrical system is working safely. Here are some electrical safety tips for the home:

1. Check outlets for loose plugs, which can overheat and cause a fire.
2. Test ground fault circuits (GFC) outlets to ensure they reset properly when pressing the test button.
3. If there are young children in the house, make sure unused outlets have safety covers installed.
5. If you are frequently reseting circuit breakers, call an electrician to inspect the circuit and upgrade the electrical panel if necessary.
6. Make sure electrical cords are in good condition. Never use tape to fix a damaged electrical cord, always replace the cord.
7. Test smoke detectors and CO detectors
8. Check the wattage of light bulbs to make sure they are the correct wattage for the size of the fixture.

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


Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

What to Do During a Plumbing Emergency

Plumbing emergencies around the home can range from leaking pipes and backed up sewer lines to faucets that won't shut off. It's important that everyone in the home know the location of the water supply shutoff valve is for every plumbing fixture and appliance, and most importantly, the main water supply shutoff valve.

Water Shutoff Valves

When a plumbing fixture or appliance is leaking or malfunctioning, first look for a shutoff valve near the fixture and turn it clockwise to turn off the water supply just to the affected fixture.

Shutoff valves are usually located underneath the toilet or sink. Clothes washers will have two shutoff valves – one each for hot and cold water, which are usually located directly behind the washer.

If the problem is not with a specific fixture or appliance, or you cannot locate a shutoff valve for the fixture, locate the main shutoff valve to turn off the water to the entire home. The main shutoff valve will be inside where the main water supply pipe enters the house. Turn the valve clockwise to turn the flow of water off. If the valve is difficult to turn, have a wrench near the valve for emergencies.

Have a plumbing emergency? Call Maitz Home Services. Our professional plumbers will be there in minutes to help fix the problem.

The Differences Between Heat Pumps and Gas Furnaces?

With the increasing popularity of heat pumps in some areas of the U.S., many homeowners are asking if a heat pump is a good option for their Lehigh Valley area home. Here is an overview of how heat pumps differ from traditional gas furnaces.

The main difference between a furnace and a heat pump is that a heat pump can be reversed to either heat or cool a home. A heat pump consists of two parts: an indoor unit called an air handler and an outdoor unit that is similar to a central air conditioner – called a heat pump. A compressor circulates refrigerant that absorbs and releases heat as it travels between the indoor and outdoor units.

Depending on the season a heat pump exchanges the cool air with warm air, or the other way around. Even air that's seems cold can have heat energy. When it's cold outside the heat pump extracts the heat and transfers into the home. When it’s hot outside, it reverses the flow to work like an air conditioner, removing heat from your home.

When considering a heat pump it's important to understand that, unlike a gas furnace which creates heat, a heat pump can only exchange heat, and will be unable to deliver a high level of warm air that is required to heat homes in cold climates like the Lehigh Valley area.

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

Choosing the Best Air Filter For Indoor Air Quality

When it comes to choosing the right furnace air filter, there are many options available. The efficiency of furnace filters is measured on the MERV scale, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, which rates filter efficiency on a scale of 1-20.

On the low end of the cost scale and MERV scale with a rating of 1-3 are disposable fiberglass filters. Made of 1-inch thick fiberglass, these filters are designed to prevent larger particles of dust, lint, and other debris from damaging your furnace.

Disposable pleated furnace filters are probably the most popular option. These filters are made from polyester or cotton paper and remove smaller particles like mold spores and mites, but should be changed frequently to avoid clogging and reducing airflow to the furnace. Pleated filters have a MERV rating of 6 and cost more than fiberglass filters.

The most effective furnace air filters are disposable or permanent electrostatic filters. With a MERV rating of 10 or higher, they offer highly effective filtration and are recommended for homes with persons with allergies or upper respiratory conditions.

Have questions about furnace filters and indoor air quality? Call Maitz Home Services we're here to help.


With the cold weather and heating season just around the corner, Maitz Home Services has put together a few fall energy saving tips that can help you keep a lid on rising energy cost.

Home Heating Energy Saving Tips

Insulate ceilings to R-38 levels if your attic has less than R-19. Caulk around windows, doors and anywhere air is leaking in or out. Apply weatherstriping around windows and doors. Wrap heating and cooling ducts with duct wrap.

Set the furnace thermostat at 68 degrees or lower, and the air-conditioner thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, if your comfortable. 3 percent to 5 percent more energy is used for each degree the furnace is set above 68 degrees and for each degree the air conditioner is set below 78 degrees.

Clean or replace furnace and air-conditioner filters regularly, following manufacturer's instructions.

Replace old windows with new high performance multi-pane windows.

Install shades, awnings or sunscreens on windows facing south and/or west to block summer light. In winter, open shades on sunny days to help warm rooms.

Close the damper when the fireplace is not being used. Try not to use the fireplace and central heating system at the same time.

Water Heater Energy Saving Tips

Set the water heater thermostat at 140 degrees or "normal." If you have a dishwasher. Otherwise, set it at 120 degrees or "low."

Use a water heater blanket.

Plumbing Energy Saving Tips

Install energy-saver showerheads.

Wash your laundry using a cold water detergent.

Fix defective plumbing or dripping faucets. A single dripping hot water faucet can waste 212 gallons of water a month. That not only increases water bills, but also increases the gas or electric bill for heating the water.

Wash only full loads in a dishwasher and use the shortest cycle that will get your dishes clean. If operating instructions allow, turn off the dishwasher before the drying cycle, open the door and let the dishes dry naturally.
Water leaks around the home can be more than a minor irritation, they can lead to expensive damage to your home and furnishings. Undetected water leaks can also cause mold to grow inside the walls of your home, which can cause health problems. While a leaking faucets can add up to many gallons of water over the course of a year, there are other ways water leaks can cost you much more.

1. Washing Machine Hoses

One of the most damaging water leaks that can occur in the home is a burst washing machine hose. If the washing machine is on the main floor or upstairs the damage can be even more extensive. Check the hose connections to make sure they are tight. If the hoses are over 5 years old, or show signs of cracking or buckling, they should be replaced. Consider installing braided stainless steel hoses, which can withstand more pressure than rubber hoses.

2. Leaking Toilets

Leaking toilets are often the most overlooked leaks in the home because they are the least likely to be noticed. To test for leaks add a few drops of food coloring to a gallon of water and pour it into the toilet tank. Without flushing the toilet if the coloring appears in the bowl there is a leak.

3. Water Heater Leaks

Water heaters that a beyond their life expectancy (typically 8-10 years) are most susceptible to leaks. Rust and corrosion inside the tank will eventually cause water to start leaking. To keep your water heater working reliably and reduce the likelihood of corrosion, flush sediment from the hot water tank annually.


Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Plumbing Noises Around the Home

A home's plumbing system will make a wide range of noises under normal operation. By understanding which noises are normal and which could be the sign of a bigger problem you can often prevent expensive plumbing repairs.

Whistling Sounds

Whistling sounds are often caused by a toilet fill valve that is leaking. You can often stop the sound temporarily by remove the lid of the toilet tank and adjusting the fill valve mechanism until it stops. The fill valve should be replaced to eliminate the leak.

Vibrating sounds

This is another sound often caused by a toilet's fill valve. When the gasket inside the top cap of the fill valve is old and worn, it becomes less flexible. When closed, the poor seal can cause vibrations in wall near the toilet. Check the fill valve by removing the tank lid and activating the fill valve from the arm. If the vibration stops, the fill valve is worn and should be replaced.

Banging Noises

If you hear banging noises when using faucets in the home it may be caused by improperly secured pipes behind the walls. If the piping is metal the problem may be caused by expansion and contraction when the pipes run through the joists or studs.

Another common cause of banging noises is "water hammer". This occurs when there is high water pressure in your plumbing system. Water flowing in one direction does not want to stop moving. When you turn off a faucet, the water still has considerable force to be absorbed by the pipe. If the pipe is against a stud or joist, it will bang against the wood. Having a water hammer arrestor installed can eliminate the banging noises.

Rumbling Sounds

Rumbling sounds are often heard when a water heater has excessive sediment build up. When water is trapped in this sediment and starts boiling the heat is not transferred out of the flue as efficiently, causing turbulance and noise.

Carefully draining a few gallons of water from the water heater tank using hose attached to the drain valve can remove much of the sediment that has collected at the bottom of the tank.

Whether you're giving your home a complete makeover, or just planning on upgrading your fixtures or appliances within your living quarters, it's a great time to also consider upgrading your electrical system.

Do you have receptacle outlets overburdened by multi-plug strips? Are your lamps and fixtures connected to extension cords? Does every three-prong plug need a two-prong adapter? These and other warning signs indicate a real need for electrical improvements. Here are a few points to consider:

1. Is your service adequate?

Many older homes still operate with outdated 60-amp electrical service, and sometimes with just a few fuses or circuit breakers to protect the entire system. Newer homes often have 100-amp service panels, but even this minimum requirement set by many current codes may fall short of your present or future needs. Consider upgrading service to 200 amps.

2. Is your service sized for extra demand?

If you're installing a major electrical appliance, like an electric wall oven, a microwave oven, a double-wide refrigerator or central air-conditioning, think about the additional power it may need. While a salesman or installer might tell you that your system can handle the load, be smart and ask your electrician for a second opinion.

Electricians often install 14-AWG wiring during renovations, which is adequate for most home uses. But heavier 12-AWG copper wire is a better choice because it's more energy-efficient and you won't have to upgrade all over again if you install appliances or fixtures with greater electrical loads. The cost difference for upgrading to 12-AWG copper wire is minimal. If you're adding a room extension or building a new home, it's a good idea to install 12-AWG wire (or larger, depending on the needs of each circuit).

3. Consider special electrical needs.

Different rooms in a home serve different purposes—an important consideration when you're planning improvements, especially where electrical work is involved. Family rooms, home offices and home theaters generally need more circuits, more outlets, and built-in or plug-in power-surge protection. Outlets in kitchens, baths, garages and outdoor areas require ground-fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs. And you don't have to wait for a major renovation to add protection—you can install many safety devices yourself, such as outlet caps, switch guards and wire shields in nurseries and children's playrooms.


Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

3 Thermostat Tips For The Cooling Season

The thermostat is the brains of your home's heating and air conditioning system. In order for the thermostat to provide the best balance of comfort and efficiency, it must be programmed for each climate and adjusted to a home's comfort needs.
 
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your thermostat during the cooling season.
 
1. Program Your Thermostat

It's not uncommon to find homeowner's using their programmable thermostat as a simple on-off switch for their heating and cooling system, never realizing the potential for energy savings and increased comfort that the device is capable of providing.
 
Programmable thermostats work by shutting off systems when your home is empty, so you are not wasting money heating and cooling an empty home. They do this by running according to a schedule that you program based on the hours that you are home.
 
By scheduling the thermostat to heat and cool around your schedule you will see immediate savings on your energy bill
 
2. Optimize temperature Settings

To program a thermostat for the best mix of comfort and energy efficiency, we recommend setting your thermostat as follows:
 
In the summer -
  • Set the thermostat at 78 degrees when you’re home
  • Set it at 85 degrees when you’re away
  • Set it at 82 degrees when you’re asleep
In the winter -
  • Set the thermostat at 68 degrees when you are home
  • Set it at 60 degrees when you are away
  • Set it at 60 degrees when you are sleeping
In the spring and fall these temperatures can be adjusted based on the greater degree of temperature changes from day to night.
 
3. Consider Humidity Levels
 
Humidity plays a large role in home comfort. While it may be only 80 degrees outside, it can feel like 95 when the humidity levels are high.
 
Some thermostats offer humidity control, enabling more energy-efficient cooling and heating.  Systems that operate at variable speeds can also help control humidity levels by drawing air across the coil slowly to remove more moisture when starting up.
 
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