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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.
 
During the spring and summer months water usage around the home surges as outdoor watering, car washing and other activities increase with the temperature. Now is a good time to inspect your home's plumbing system inside and outside to ensure you are not wasting water from leaks or having problems with your home's sewer and drain line. Here are a few plumbing maintenance tips:

1. Fix Leaks - Inspect shower heads and faucets for leaks. A single dripping faucet can waste hundreds of gallons of water in a year. Check toilets for leaks by adding several drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If the tank is leaking, colored water will appear in the toilet bowl.

2. Test Your Sump Pump - Test the sump pump by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pump pit. The pump should turn on immediately, remove the water, then turn off.

3. Sewer & Drain Maintenance - Check that all drains have strainers to prevent debris clogging the drain lines. Schedule a sewer line inspection. A video sewer line inspection will help to find the small issues before they become a major problem.

4. Make Sure Plumbing Systems Are Regularly Used - Exercising faucets and water valves under sinks and toilets will prevent them from sticking from underuse.

5. Maintain Your Water Heater - Drain a few gallons from the water heater tank to remove sediment, which reduces heating efficiency and can shorten the life of the water heater. Check with your water heater manufacturer's instructions for your specific make/model.

6. Have Your Sewer Line Inspected - Over time sewer lines are suitable to damage from tree root intrusion and ground movement. A video sewer line inspection can help find the small problems before they result in major damage.



According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical Pennsylvania home will consume 40 percent of it's energy budget just for heating and cooling. To reduce these costs as much as possible, Maitz Home Services has put together some tips on you can significantly decrease your energy use while also keeping your home cool and comfortable during the hot summer months ahead.

1. Seal Leaks Around Windows and Doors - You find air leaks around windows, doors and outlets by holding a candle flame while running your home’s fans. Weather-stripping is an inexpensive and easy step that will prevent the cool air from escaping.

2. Replace Incandescent Bulbs with CFL or LED Bulbs - Conventional incandescent bulbs emit a lot of heat. You will keep your home cooler with energy-efficient light bulbs while saving electricity over the long term.

3. Use Curtains and Blinds - Keep south and west facing curtains and blinds closed on hot days and open during the evening.

4. Change Laundry Routines - Hang clothes outside to dry on warm days.

5. Unplug Electronics - TVs, DVD players, and computers that are turned off can still suck power out of outlets and generate heat. Unplug electronics that are not in use.

6. Use a Programmable Thermostat - Program the thermostat to turn air conditioning off when the household is away to help save up to 10 percent on your cooling costs.

7. Insulate Attic Access Points - Insulated covers are available for attic doors, hatches and pull-down stairs. Adequate insulation can cut heating and cooling cuts by 10 percent or more.

8. Ventilate Attics - Ventilation fans help prevent the sun’s heat from building up in the attic.

9. Check the Ducts - Sealing and insulating the home’s duct distribution system enhances the cooling system’s efficiency.

10. Schedule Maintenance Cooling System Maintenance - Arrange for regular maintenance to keep your air-conditioning system operating at peak efficiency and prevent unexpected breakdowns.

Water will expand when heated, and the excess pressure inside the water heater tank needs to be released. In the past, the water in the tank would simply flow back into the municipal water supply where it came from. Today, the water main is designed to prevent this backwards release of pressure, also known as backflow, by means of a check valve. The check valve prevents water inside the house from returning to the water supply where it can contaminate the supply of fresh water.

A water heater expansion tank is simply another small tank attached to the water supply pipe of the water heater. The expansion tank is designed to handle the thermal expansion of water as it heats up in the water heater, preventing excessive water pressure. If water pressure gets to high it can damage valves in plumbing fixtures, joints in supply pipes and the water heater itself. Expanding water from the water heater flows into the expansion tank, relieving water pressure in the system.

What if a water heater doesn't have an expansion tank?

Most homes that have a check valve on the water main do not have an expansion tank, since it wasn't required until recently. This may or may not cause excessive pressure buildup, depending on the specific design of the plumbing in the house.

If you are noticing that washers in plumbing fixtures are deteriorating rapidly, or water is dripping from the relief valve on the water heater, it may be wise to add an expansion tank. It can be low cost insurance against more costly damage to your home's plumbing system.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy In the typical Pennsylvania area home, 40 percent of energy consumed is for heating and cooling. To reduce these costs as much as possible, we have put together a few tips on you can significantly decrease the amount that you spend to keep your home cool while still being comfortable.

1. Seal Air Leaks - Locate air leaks around windows, doors and outlets by burning a match stick while running the home’s fans. Weather-stripping is a simple and affordable fix that can cut up to 15 percent or more off cooling costs.

2. Switch to CFL or LED Lights - Conventional incandescent bulbs emit a lot of heat. You will keep your home cooler with energy-efficient light bulbs while saving electricity over the long term.

3. Use Curtains and Blinds - Keep south- and west-facing curtains and blinds closed on hot days and opened during cool evenings.

4. Laundry Strategies - Wash clothes in cold water to help keep the home cooler. Hang clothes outside to dry on warm days.

5. Unplug Electronics - TVs, DVD players, and computers that are turned off can still suck power out of outlets. Unplug electronics that are not in use. Use smart strips to make this easier.

6. Programmable Thermostats - Program the thermostat to turn air conditioning off when the household is away to help save up to 10 percent on your cooling costs. Make sure that the thermostat is located on an inside wall, away from drafts.

7. Insulate Attic Access Points - Insulated covers are available for attic doors, hatches and pull-down stairs. Adequate insulation can cut heating and cooling cuts by 10 percent or more.

8. Ventilate Attics - Ventilation fans help prevent the sun’s heat from building up in the attic.

9. Check the Ducts - Sealing and insulating the home’s duct distribution system enhances the cooling system’s efficiency.

10. Scheduled Maintenance - Arrange for regular maintenance to keep your air-conditioning system operating at peak efficiency.

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