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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.

If you have rooms in you home that are always hotter or colder than other rooms, system zoning is an effective way to create a more comfortable home and increase overall cooling and heating efficiently.

What is HVAC System Zoning?

System zoning is pretty straightfowrard. Multiple thermostats are connected to a central control panel, which operates dampers within the ductwork of your home's forced-air system. Each thermostat constantly measures the temperature of its specific zone, then opens or closes the damper within the ventilation system according to the thermostat's temperature setting.

Not only is system zoning helpful for houses with widely varying room temperatures, it's also an excellent solution for heating or cooling individual bedrooms. If you have a usually empty room, simply shut the door and close the damper.

System zoning can also help you save money on your energy bills. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, system zoning can save homeowners up to 30 percent on a typical heating and cooling bill.

If you're considering installing a retrofitted zone-control system in your home, call Maitz Home Services. Our Home Comfort Specialists can evaluate you HVAC system and your comfort needs to recommend the perfect zoning system for your home.

With the warm weather just around the corner in Pennsylvania, many homeowners with older AC systems are weighing the benefits of repairing and maintaining their older unit versus purchasing a newer, more reliable system.

The old saying "if it ain't broken, don't fix it." makes sense for a lot things around the home, but for energy intensive systems like air conditioners, putting off a new system could be costing you more in the long run.

The EPA suggest that homeowners replace their air conditioner if it's beyond 10 years old. The reason is new air conditioners are much more efficient that system installed over 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.

Here are a couple of other reasons to consider replacing your old air conditioner.

1. Your air conditioner is in need of regular repairs and your energy costs are rising as it has become worn out and less efficient.

2. It's LOUD! Newer air conditioners operate at variable-speeds to cool your home more quietly in most situations.


Many homes in the Lehigh Valley region experience some degree of water seepage into basements and crawlspaces. Even a minor amount of water in the home can cause damage. Excessive moisture can also create an ideal environment for mold and mildew to grow, causing health concerns.

The answer to keeping water out of your home is having a sump pump installed in the basement or crawlspace to help keep the lowest area beneath the house dry by preventing water from accumulating. A sump pump is placed in a sump pump pit designed to allow water to collect below the floor level.  As the pit fills with water the pump will automatically turn on, moving the water out of the pit through a drain pipe that exits the hame and releases the water away from the foundation. The pipe has a check valve near the pump to keep the water from flowing backwards.

Testing Your Home's Sump Pump

Because sump pumps are usually hidden out of sight and work in the background, we often don't think about them until a problem arises. By checking your sump pump regularly you can ensure that it will be working when you need it most. To test your sump pump slowly pour a bucket of water into the sump pump pit. The pump should turn on a begin removing the water. If it does not turn on, ensure power is reaching the pump. If the pump still doesn't work, call Maitz Home Services to have the unit tested.
If your house was built over 15 years ago, it may not be up to speed with the latest electrical safety and convenience features.

Here are a few things to consider.

1. Frequently tripping breakers. This indicates that circuits are drawing more current than they can safely provide. It can also mean a dangerous electrical fault on one or more circuits.

2. Fading and flickering lights. Does running appliances like an air conditioner or dryer cause the lights to dim or flicker? 220 amp appliances draw a lot of current and should be wired on dedicated circuits. If smaller appliances such as microwaves are also causing problems, consider adding a 20-amp line to service them.

3. Overloaded outlets. If power-strips and plug-in additions are tangling up your outlets, your electrical system is likely working beyond its intended capacity. Adding circuits with duplex receptacles can restore neatness and safety.

4. Not enough outlets. If your home looks has extension wires running under rugs and furniture, your increasing the risk of an electrical fire and accidents.  Consider adding more outlets.

5. Get grounded. Many older homes have outlets without three-prong grounded plugs. This is a bigger problem than not being able to plug in an appliance - it could indicate that your electrical wiring system is not fully grounded, and could be a safety problem.

6. Water hazards. Wet locations such as kitchens, baths and laundry rooms now require outlets protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters GFCIs. Adding GFCIs will make your home code-compliant-and safer. If you already have GFCIs be sure to test them regularly using the reset buttons.

For all your home electrical needs, call Maitz Home Services. Our experienced, licensed electricians can ensure you have all the power you need to ensure your safety and comfort.

Choosing The Right Furnace Filter For Healthier Indoor Air

A furnace filter's main job is to keep dirt and debris out of the furnace. Their second function is to filter the air circulating throughout your home to reduce dust and allergens that can be harmful to your health.

There are many filter designs and rating systems. Basic filters remove larger, heaver particles from the air but allow smaller dirt particles to pass through. Large particles include ariborne lint, pollen, and mold spores. Medium particles include dust and animal dander. The smallest particles include smoke and smog that can be under 0.3 microns. By comparison, a human hair ranges from 3 to 200 microns.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers has devised a rating system for filters. They use numerical values ranging from 1 to 12, with the higher number capturing more of the dust.
lungs Furnace filters remove particles from the air that can affect the lungs.

Manufacturers often use uses the Filter Performance Rating (FPR), which is based on the ability of the filter to capture particles from 0.3 to 1.0 microns. These sub-micron particles are most likely to be inhaled, where they can cause problems in the lungs. This rates filters in a range from 300 to 1600.

Types Of Furnace Air Filters

Fiberglass or cellulose pad - usually held in a cardboard frame capable of protecting the equipment; catches most of the larger dust particles which tend to block the heating and cooling coils; low cost but least effective in removing small particles.
 
Washable/reusable filter - uses a flat plastic or metal foil pad; can be washed with a hose and reinstalled; some can be sprayed with a tacky coating material to increase their ability to catch small particles; should be washed monthly; may last 3 to 5 years.
 
Pleated polyester filter - provides more filtering capacity than a flat filter; many are made with electrostaticallycharged fibers that attract small particles; lasts up to 3 months.
 
Deep-pleated, high-efficiency air filter - about the same size as the ordinary filter but 4 to 6 inches thick; do not fit in standard filter holders and require a special box in the duct system; electrostatically charged fibers can be used in the filtering media.
 
Electronic filter - about the same size as the box for a deep-pleated filter; requires electricity to operate; air is directed through a high-voltage grid which applies a positive charge on particles in the air stream; particles are attracted to a negatively charged element; should be washed monthly; removes small smoke particles; high initial cost and maintenance are disadvantages as is the cost of repair if the power unit fails.

How effective are furnace air filters?

The effectiveness of various filter types in removing sub-micron particles is:
  •  Fiberglass up to 2%
  •  Washable/reusable up to 6%
  •  Thin pleated up to 11%
  •  Deep pleated up to 25%
  •  Pleated electrostatic up to 49%
  •  Electronic up to 94%
House pets are one factor that affects the lifespan of a furnace filter.

Air filters capture many of the allergens that aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms. Pollen, molds, and dust are common in any household and can be reduced by using a furnace filter.

The filter will also keep your heating or air conditioning system coils cleaner, which can save up to 15 percent on your energy bills.

Are Smart Thermostats a Smart Investment?

Mobile technology has connected virtually every aspect of our lives and put a world of information at our fingertips. As our homes are becoming more and more connected, the thermostat is also become more hi-tech and capable. But how do the new smart thermostats work, and are they a good investment that will save you money?

Traditional thermostats adjust the indoor air temperature by working as a simple control input for a home's heating and cooling system. You simply set the temperature and the device keeps your home within that range near the thermostat's physical location.

With the arrival of programmable thermostats homeowners could tailor the temperature of their home by programming the thermostat to turn on and off based on the day and time when the house would be occupied. This meant the heating or cooling system could be off when you were away from home.

Today's "smart" thermostats take the programmable thermostats to the next level by learning a household's routine and allowing hoeowners to monitor and change the temperature remotely using mobile applications. They can also provide real time feedback on energy consumption, weather forecasts and even adapt the temperature based on conditions like humidity levels.

The Nest Thermostat

One of the first smart thermostats to market was The Nest thermostat. It combines sleek design with a bright full color display to provide homeowners with useful information, combined with convenient remote apps designed to help cut energy consumption. The Nest is a learning thermostat that senses if a home is occupied, whether the air is suddenly getting humid, and other factors that allow it to custom tailor the indoor environment.

Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat

Honeywell's Smart Thermostat offers convenience and style, letting you monitor your home's temperature and the weather. It features:
  • Simple set-up that adjusts temperatures to fit your daily life. Onscreen Help" button answers questions as you go
  • Know about extreme indoor temperatures. Stay up-to-date on local weather conditions.
  • Smart Response gives you the right temperature at the right time
  • Choose a color scheme that blends with your home's decor or adds contrast
  • Free app with no monthly fee
  • Simple set-up with one touch weather and smart alerts

Is a Smart Thermostat The Right Choice For Your Home?

Because smart thermostats can cost hundreds of dollars more than basic programmable thermostats, it's important to understand the potential benefits and drawbacks. If your household routine is more or less consistent, a programmable thermostat may be all you need. If you are on an irregular schedule with a large household that is always coming and going, a smart thermostat may provide real benefits by taking over the management of the heating system on a real time basis, rather than a preset schedule.

Beyond energy savings, a smart thermostat adds value by showing energy use, local weather forecasts and so forth. If you are a renter, or move frequently a smart thermostats is a portable device that can easily be taken with you.
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