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Your Baltimore Plumber: Signs You Need a New Water Heater

November 21st, 2014

water heaterWith cold weather here to stay and winter almost upon us in Baltimore, it’s more important than ever to have a hot water heater that you can rely on. Whether it’s for dishes, laundry, or a nice, steamy shower at the end of the day, you need a working hot water heater to go about your daily life. Most water heaters last about 10-15 years, and the last thing you want is yours going bust in the middle of winter. If the internal parts become corroded or surrounded by debris water heater efficiency begins to decline. Regular flushing can mitigate this but sooner or later your water heater will need to be replace. Farnen & Dermer, your Baltimore plumbers, are here with signs that you need a new water heater.

  1. If you aren’t getting any hot water, make sure your water heater is receiving power. Obviously, not getting any hot water is a strong sign of a water heater failure, but it could just as easily mean that a circuit breaker has been tripped, or that the pilot light went out.
  2. Pay close attention to your tap water from the hot faucet. If the water looks rusty when hot but not when it’s coming from the cold faucet, your water heater’s internal mechanisms are probably corroded and your heater will fail shortly.
  3. When examining your water tank, check for increased levels of sediment or muddiness in the water. Drain your tank by attaching a hose to the drainage bib, after turning the tank off of course, to get a closer look. Dirty water in the tank is another sign of imminent failure.
  4. If your tap water has a metallic taste or odor it could indicate internal water heater corrosion.
  5. Listen to your heater closely. While a water heater does make noise when functioning normally, unusually loud cracking or popping noises mean that the heating element inside the water heater is coming into contact with mineral or rust deposits.
  6. If you notice water leaking around your heater immediately shut down your unit, disconnect the electricity/ turn off the gas and allow the water to cool. Leaking water is a sure sign of a catastrophic water heater failure.

Worried about your Water Heater?

Call Farnen & Dermer. We’re more than happy to talk to you and help figure out if your heater needs repairs or a total replacement, as well as provide any additional plumbing, heating, or HVAC information and service. Farnen & Dermer is located in Baltimore, and we provide service, repair, and maintenance to customers throughout the state. The services we provide will not only ensure your water heater operates at peak efficiency; they will also keep your family warm during the winter, and your utility bills manageable.  If you have any questions about water heaters or wish to schedule an appointment, call us at (410)-902-0020. You can also use our online contact form. You will be contacted by a member of our support staff within 24 business hours.

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Winter Heating Safety Tips for Baltimore

November 13th, 2014

heatingBelieve it or not, heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths, and the vast majority of these fires occur during the winter months. Fortunately there are a few simple tips that should be easy for any Baltimore homeowner to follow during the colder parts of the year. Farnen and Dermer, your Baltimore heating professionals, are here with some helpful advice for anyone looking to make their home safe from fire.

The Three Foot Zone

One of the best rules of thumb to follow when heating your home during the cold Baltimore winter is to establish a three foot radius around any heat sources in your home. This includes furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, and portable space heaters. Keep anything that is remotely flammable outside of this area. It’s also a smart policy to keep children out of this zone.

Consult a Professional

A responsible Baltimore homeowner should never attempt to install heating apparatus themselves. While it’s tempting to save some money this way, the hazards are too great to attempt without training. Make sure to call a qualified professional to install any stationary space heaters, water heaters or central heating equipment. They’ll have a thorough understanding of the proper methodology to use for any major heating appliance and, if they’re familiar with Baltimore, they’ll know all the proper local codes too.

Preventative Testing

It’s always a good idea for any Baltimore homeowner to test their heating safety measures throughout the year, before winter arrives. This includes routine smoke alarm testing as well as having your chimney, HVAC system, and other heating equipment inspected by a licensed heating professional. If you have a fireplace, make sure the screen is sturdily affixed to the front, and that it is strong enough to repel sparks.

Need Help With Heating Safety this Winter?

At Farnen & Dermer were more than happy to talk to you and help you winterize the plumbing in your Baltimore home, as well as provide any additional plumbing, heating, or HVAC information and service. Farnen & Dermer is located in Central Maryland, and we provide service, repair, and maintenance to customers throughout the state. The services we provide will not only ensure your heating unit operates at peak efficiency; they will also keep your family warm during the winter, and your electric bill manageable.  If you have any questions about how to winterize your plumbing or wish to schedule an appointment, call us at (410)-902-0020. You can also use our online contact form. You will be contacted by a member of our support staff within 24 business hours.

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Tips for Avoiding Winter Plumbing Leaks in Baltimore

November 5th, 2014

plumbingA burst or leaky pipe is a hassle to deal with at any time of the year but none more so than during the winter. The changing seasons, temperatures, and weather conditions have the power to make what would normally be a relatively quick fix, a systemic and incredibly expensive problem to deal with. Fortunately Farnen & Dermer, your Baltimore plumbing experts, are with some advice you can use to stop these winter plumbing problems before they start.

Protect Your Pipes From Freezing

When the temperature drops it’s all too easy for the water in your pipes to freeze, which can easily cause them to burst, rendering your plumbing unusable and potentially causing thousands of dollars in flooding damages. Start protecting your pipes today by wrapping them in a layer of insulation, purchasable from most hardware stores, that has been cut to fit your pipes. Alternatively, you could consider calling a trusted Baltimore plumber, who can insulate your pipes quickly and affordably, while keeping an eye out for signs of systemic problems.

Fix Existing Leaks Now

If you have, or suspect you have, any leaks in your plumbing already, don’t wait around until the problem increases in size and scope, get it taken care of now. Check your kitchen, bathroom, and utility closet faucets for standing water or leaks. If you discover one, contact a reliable Baltimore plumber immediately, before the cold weather makes your problems even worse.

Drain Your Hot Water Heater

Oftentimes, sediment can build up in a hot water heater over time, eventually causing rust to form. Rust can then make its way into your drinking water causing you a boatload of health problems. Once a substantial portion of your water heater has rusted, it’s done for and you’ll have to shell out a lot of money for a replacement. Call a plumbing professional in the Baltimore area to have your hot water heater inspected for rust damage.

Need to Prepare Your Plumbing For Winter? Call Farnen & Dermer

At Farnen & Dermer were more than happy to talk to you and help you prepare your Baltimore home’s plumbing for winter, as well as provide any additional plumbing, heating, or HVAC information and service.

Farnen & Dermer is located in Central Maryland, and we provide service, repair, and maintenance to customers throughout the state. The services we provide will not only ensure your heating unit operates at peak efficiency; they will also keep your family warm during the winter, and your electric bill manageable.  If you have any questions about preparing your plumbing for winter or wish to schedule an appointment, call us at (410)-902-0020. You can also use our online contact form. You will be contacted by a member of our support staff within 24 business hours.

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Portable Space Heater Electrical Safety in Baltimore

October 27th, 2014

portable space heaterWith cold weather upon us in Baltimore, and winter fast approaching, usage of electrical appliances is increasing particularly with regards to portable space heaters. It’s easy to see why these appliances have become so ubiquitous: they’re relatively inexpensive and can provide heat to a small room saving you the expense of turning on the heat for the whole house. However, if used improperly portable space heaters can be very dangerous. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year can be attributed to portable space heaters. Farnen & Dermer, your Baltimore plumbing, electrical, and HVAC company, is here with some tips on portable space heater safety.

Keep Them Clean

One of the most overlooked, but vital, aspects of portable space heater safety is cleanliness. Dandruff, dust, and debris can be potent fire starters if left unchecked. We recommend cleaning portable space heater fans at least twice a year when not in use, and every couple of weeks when in regular operation around your Baltimore home.

Three Feet Rule

Keep any portable space heaters at least 3ft away from any flammable materials including furniture, draperies, or long carpeting. A vast percentage of portable space heater fires in Baltimore are caused by placing the heater too close to flammable materials.

Plug Into Outlet

Not all cords are created equal. Portable space heater safety guidelines suggest plugging your space heater directly into an outlet to avoid using an extension cord that is not safely rated to carry the consistent current, or stand the heat that a portable space heater produces.

Check for Recalls

Some portable space heaters, particularly older models, have been subject to recalls. Check online listings to make sure that your portable space heater has not been recalled.

Read Instructions

When setting up a new heater make sure to read any included instructions, follow any warning labels, verify that your Baltimore home’s electrical grid, and the wires you’re plugging into are rated high enough to safely carry the required current to your portable space heater.

Want to Know More? Need Safe Electrical Maintenance?

Call Farnen & Dermer. At Farnen & Dermer were more than happy to talk to you and help with a portable space heater, or other electrical safety issues and maintenance in your Baltimore home, as well as provide any additional plumbing, heating, or HVAC information and service. Farnen & Dermer is located in Central Maryland, and we provide service, repair, and maintenance to customers throughout the state. If you have any questions about portable space heater safety or wish to schedule an appointment, call us at (410)-902-0020. You can also use our online contact form. You will be contacted by a member of our support staff within 24 business hours.

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Winterize Your Plumbing

October 20th, 2014

winterizeTaking the precautions to winterize your plumbing is an essential step every Baltimore homeowner must make to keep their house warm and comfortable during the harsh winter months. Frozen pipe-water can quickly turn from an inconvenience into a downright disaster, with expensive repairs attached. So read on as Farnen &Dermer explain the necessary precautions to adequately prepare your plumbing for winter.

Fix Leaks

The first major step towards winterizing your plumbing is to fix any leaks. Even tiny leaks can turn destructive if your pipes freeze so take the time to examine any exposed pipes, particularly those outdoors for signs of leakage. A frozen pipe with a leak will not only worsen, but will also damage the surrounding plumbing. You can examine insulated pipes for signs of leakage by squeezing the insulation and looking for signs of dampness.

Insulate Pipes

Wrapping and exposed plumbing in pipe insulation will not only effectively winterize them by preventing damage from freezing but will also save energy on your water heater bill. Check your attic and basement for uninsulated pipes and get to it! There’s no need to worry about the costs as plumbing insulation is inexpensive.

Winterize Hose Bibs

Protect you’re the external faucets outside of your Baltimore house by disconnecting any hoses and draining them of any water. This ensures water trapped in the house wont freeze inside the bib and damage the pipe. Then make sure to drain the bib itself, turn off the bib shut off valve (if you have one, not all Baltimore homes do), and wrapping the bib in insulation or a hose bib cover.

Drain Sprinkler System

Leaving water in your Baltimore home’s sprinkler system is sure way to make sure that it won’t be functioning come springtime. Make sure to drain the system by turning off the water and turning on each sprinkler valve.  You can additionally winterize it by wrapping any exposed piping or covering sprinkler heads with insulation.

Know Where Your Water Main Is

In the event of an emergency, for example if your pipes have frozen despite other precautions, you need to be able to quickly shut off the water main to prevent pipes from bursting. An experienced plumber can help you show where this is and explain how and when to shut it off.

Farnen & Dermer

At Farnen & Dermer were more than happy to talk to you and help you winterize the plumbing in your Baltimore home, as well as provide any additional plumbing, heating, or HVAC information and service. Farnen & Dermer is located in Central Maryland, and we provide service, repair, and maintenance to customers throughout the state. The services we provide will not only ensure your heating unit operates at peak efficiency; they will also keep your family warm during the winter, and your electric bill manageable.  If you have any questions about how to winterize your plumbing or wish to schedule an appointment, call us at (410)-902-0020. You can also use our online contact form. You will be contacted by a member of our support staff within 24 business hours.

Start following Farnen & Dermer today on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Annual Water Heater Maintenance

October 14th, 2014

Water heater maintenanceWhether you realize it or not, your Maryland home’s water heater is an appliance you rely on every day. Whether it’s making your morning shower pleasantly warm, or washing your dishes, a water heater performs invaluable takes for us on a daily basis, while running relatively unnoticed in the background. That is until it breaks down. When a water heater goes down a calm, easy day can swiftly become a chaotic mess. So keep your water heater in shape with these annual maintenance steps from Farnen & Dermer.

Dial Down the Temperature

Water heater’s often come factory set at higher temperatures than you’ll actually end up using. To save some money and extend the longevity of your water heater, turn down the heat to lower level. To check the temperature setting you’ll need to locate the temperature gauge which will either be a knob on the gas valve or, on an electric water heater, a thermostat behind a panel. Lower the temperature to around 115°-120°F. This lower setting will prevent overheating.

Test Your T&P Valve

Another crucial part of water heater maintenance for your Maryland water heater is checking the temperature and pressure relief valve. Keeping this piece of your water heater in top shape is crucial to maintaining the safety of your water heater. To test the valve simply lift the lever up as far as you can, then release. You should hear the sound of water being drained from the tank. If not, the valve has gone bad and should be replaced immediately.

Perform a Mini-Flush

The final part of your annual water heater maintenance should be performing a mini-flush. A mini-flush will remove some sediment from the bottom of the tank and will prevent rust and corrosion while improving your water heater’s efficiency. To perform a mini-flush place a bucket of water near the tank’s drain valve. Some drain valves operate with a handle, others have a slot that requires the insertion of a flat-head screwdriver. Simply open the valve, drain a few gallons of water, and then close.

Farnen & Dermer

At Farnen & Dermer were more than happy to talk to you and help you with routine water heater maintenance in your Maryland, as well as provide any additional plumbing, heating, or HVAC information and service. Farnen & Dermer is located in Central Maryland, and we provide service, repair, and maintenance to customers throughout the state. The services we provide will not only ensure your heating unit operates at peak efficiency; they will also keep your family warm during the winter, and your electric bill manageable.  If you have any questions about Water Heater Maintenance or wish to schedule an appointment, call us at (410)-902-0020. You can also use our online contact form. You will be contacted by a member of our support staff within 24 business hours.

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Preventing Heating Oil Theft in Maryland

October 6th, 2014

With winter approaching those with oil-based heating systems should be on the lookout for an unusual but all-too-prevalent type of crime: heating oil theft. With heating oil costs growing every year, the valuable resource has become an increasingly tempting target for thieves. Heating oil theft should be of special interest to the elderly or those with physical limitations, who will often be targeted for their inability to directly intervene if they notice someone siphoning from their tank. Here are a few important precautions to take to guard your Maryland home against heating oil theft.heating oil theft

Location

While it’s obviously convenient for refills to have you tank situated close to the road, it’s equally convenient for thieves. When placing a heating oil tank by your Maryland home, try to balance convenience with security from heating oil theft, and choose a location that will make thieves think twice about venturing that far away from their vehicle.

Visibility and Monitoring

Keeping your tank out of prying eyes is one of the best defenses against heating oil theft. Ideally, you should situate your heating oil tank somewhere that is easily visible from your house, but difficult to see from the road. You may want to consider installing motion-activated lights to act as a warning system for any potential trespassers near the tank.

You can also take steps to monitor the contents of your tank. Tank gauges can be outfitted with special sensors and alarms, which can broadcast straight to your phone, computer, or a household alarm to let you know of any sudden decreases in tank volume, protecting your Maryland home against heating oil theft and warning you of any potential leaks.

Security

Another important defense against heating oil theft in Maryland is a good quality tank lock. While most heating oil thieves will use bolt cutters to make mincemeat out of a standard padlock, tank locks are a much more intimidating and difficult affair. You can also consider planting defensive shrubbery or, if aesthetics don’t bother you, surrounding the tank in fencing and barbed wire. Heating oil theft is almost always a crime of opportunity and every thief will be looking to target the least protected tank, making visually apparent security an effective deterrent as well as impediment.

Call Farnen & Dermer

At Farnen & Dermer were more than happy to talk to you and help you protect your Maryland home from heating oil theft, as well as provide any additional plumbing, heating, or HVAC information and service. Farnen & Dermer is located in Central Maryland, and we provide service, repair, and maintenance to customers throughout the state. The services we provide will not only ensure your heating unit operates at peak efficiency; they will also keep your family warm during the winter, and your electric bill manageable.  If you have any questions about Heating Oil Theft or wish to schedule an appointment, call us at (410)-902-0020. You can also use our online contact form. You will be contacted by a member of our support staff within 24 business hours.

Start following Farnen & Dermer today on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Source: Surlingham.org

Benefits of a Backup Generator for your Maryland Home

October 2nd, 2014

We’re all familiar with the inconvenience of getting home and finding out that your fridge has thawed all over your kitchen floor thanks to a power outage. With a harsh winter coming up and fall winds already kicking in, it’s not unreasonable for any homeowner to be worried about the security of their home’s electrical system, which makes this a great time to consider purchasing a standby backup generator for your Maryland home. While it may seem a costly investment up front, the benefits and potential savings far outweigh the initial costs.backup generator

Comfort

One of the biggest, and most overlooked advantages to having a standby backup generator is the assurance that no matter what happens to your Maryland home, you will have power and utilities. It can be easy to take the amenities of heating, cooling, computer and television usage, while everything is functioning perfectly. But all it takes is one errant gust of wind near a power line, and everything could be swept away. A backup generator ensures you peace of mind against such occurrences, and continued comfort during times of crisis.

Reduce Costs

Having a standby backup generator can save you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars during a power outage. When your power goes out there’s the immediate risk of all the food and beverages in your refrigerator spoiling, and of the unfrozen water leaking all over your floor. A hotel stay, especially at the last minute can cost upwards of $200 just for one night and vacating your home during an extensive outage places it at the mercy of thieves and looters. During the winter, if power goes out and your heating system fails, water could freeze in your plumbing system and burst your pipes, necessitating expensive repairs. A standby backup generator can keep you safe from having to pay for all of these misfortunes, protecting your wallet and Maryland home simultaneously.

Payments Plans and Insurance Benefits

Many insurance companies offer something called a “loss-mitigation credit” on their home insurance policies. Homes protected with a standby backup generator are often extended this discount, since many insurance companies consider standby backup generators as tools that reduce the chances of certain claims being filed by preventing the potential damage a Maryland home could suffer during a power outage.

Call Farnen and Dermer

Farnen & Dermer carries a variety of reliable emergency standby backup generators and we are an authorized dealer for Briggs & Stratton. Hooking up a generator to your home usually takes a few hours, and when we are finished you can rest easy, knowing that your home has standby protection. If we are replacing an old generator we will remove it at no cost, and make sure it is properly disposed.

Having electrical work done on your home or business – whether it is installation or repair – does not have to be a stressful process. We have been in business for more than 100 years, and as a family owned and operated business, our goal is to provide excellent, reliable service to our clients.

If you have any questions about standby backup generators or wish to schedule an appointment, call us at (410)-902-0020. You can also use our online contact form. You will be contacted by a member of our support staff within 24 business hours.

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Source: ProudGreenHome.com

Solving Common Heater Problems

September 26th, 2014

common heating problemsThere’s no denying it now. Cold weather is on the way, and if the Farmer’s Almanac is to be believed, this winter will be a particularly cold, snowy one. A properly working heater is going to be a necessity in your home this fall and winter season. Knowing how to troubleshoot for any problems that you may encounter is important! While some problems will require you to call an expert anyway, there are some things (such as changing a filter) that you can do on your own to improve the flow of heat in your Baltimore home.

What are the Most Common Heating Problems?

Lack of maintenance can be a big problem for your furnace. There may not be anything wrong with your furnace, but it may still need a tune up. If your electric bill is higher than you would like or your furnace isn’t blowing hot air, you may need to have someone come in to take care of your furnace and make sure that everything is up to date and taken care of.

The furnace pilot light can also be a problem. If the pilot light isn’t lighting consistently, you may only be getting heat sometimes, or not at all. The fix usually doesn’t require much, but you will need a maintenance tech to come out and take care of it. We advise against turning furnace maintenance into a DIY project – dealing with heat and fire can obviously be dangerous.

Maintaining your filter is more important than you think. Poorly maintained air filters can result in low air quality in your home, which can result in illness or allergy problems. Additionally, a clogged filter may cause your heater to blow out less-than-hot air or even cause problems with the fans or ducts. One of the few things that we recommend doing on your own is changing the filter. It’s a simple and quick fix that won’t cost you much.

What to Do if You’re Having Heating Problems

For big issues such as a pilot light that won’t work or a broken thermostat, it’s best to call in the professionals. They’ll be able to diagnose the problem and let you know if there’s more to it than you originally thought. Moreover, it’s a good idea to have a professional perform routine maintenance on your HVAC until at least twice per year anyway.

If you have any questions about HVAC maintenance, heating problems, or wish to schedule an appointment, call us at (410)-902-0020. You can also use our online contact form. You will be contacted by a member of our support staff within 24 business hours.

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Source: All Weather Heat & Cool

Precautions for Heating Your Home

September 22nd, 2014

With the winter months fast approaching, you, and homeowners like you around the country, are doubtlessly preparing for the weather while worrying over the rising costs of energy. According the US Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for over 50% of energy use in a typical home, and many homeowners have tried to combat this expense by using fireplaces or other heating methods that have attached safety risks. Here are some ways you can continue heating your home while cutting costs, alongside proper heating precautions to take to maximize safety. heating your home

Insulate

Insulation minimizes heat transfer, helps control moisture, and generally acts as your home’s coat against the winter elements. Brining your insulation up to code can be a very cost-effective way of increasing energy efficiency, saving up to 20-30% on energy costs. However before insulating, make sure to seal all ductwork and plumbing which can increase your energy savings even further.

Tame that Thermostat

Another way of heating your home while still saving greenbacks is to consider turning your thermostat down when you’re not actively using your home. Try turning it down just ten degrees when you’re at work or sleeping and watch the savings roll in. If you get a programmable thermostat you can set it to heat start heating your home while you’re getting back from work, so the house is warm the moment you set foot inside, and you’re still saving money.

Watch your Hot Water

Water heaters are often factory set at 140 degrees, scalding hot temperatures that most people can do without. Try turning it down to 120. Many people find this equally as comfortable and it will shave fat off your bill. You can also save even more by insulating your water pipes, and wrapping your heater in a thick insulator sleeve.

Plug Holes

Every home has gaping holes through which hundreds of dollars of heat escapes regularly and few people seem to take notice. They’re typically known by other names, chiefly: windows and chimneys.  That’s right, from something so simple and essential to every home can spring some of the biggest energy waste. Double-pane thermal windows limit heat transfer out, while still allowing warm sunlight in. While Chimney’s do come with built in dampening systems, they are often inadequate. You can mitigate this energy loss by installing glass doors on your fireplace, or putting in a woodstove to bring in even more heat.

Other Concerns

When heating your home it may seem like a good idea to bring in a space heater, if you’ll be spending a lot of time on one room and don’t want to waste the energy heating the whole house. However, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, portable space heaters contribute to 57,300 fires and 270 deaths caused by home heating every year. To avoid this hazard steer clear of anything with an exposed and touchable heating element. Oil-filled or quartz-based portable heaters can make for safe alternatives.

Need Help?

The changing of the seasons is the best time of year to consider your HVAC needs. At Farnen & Dermer were here to help.When you have a maintenance plan with Farnen & Dermer, you will receive preferred service whenever a problem does occur with your system. We’ll cool you down or warm you up promptly and efficiently!

If you have any questions about heating your home or HVAC  maintenance or wish to schedule an appointment, call us at (410)-902-0020. You can also use our online contact form. You will be contacted by a member of our support staff within 24 business hours.

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Source: Bankrate