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Electrical Safety Tips for The Holidays

December 10th, 2014

With the holiday season upon us in Baltimore, heaters are pumping away, and lights are wrapped around the house. Right now, it’s more important than ever to be mindful of electrical safety precautions and what you can do to minimize the risks of encountering a serious electrical problem. Farnen & Dermer, your Baltimore electricians, are here with some electrical safety tips for the holidays.Electrical Safety

Inspect Electrical Decorations Before Plugging In

Make sure to take a good hard look at your possibly aging Christmas and holiday decorations this year before you use them. Damaged plugs and sockets, bare wires, and loose connections could give you or a loved one a nasty shock, or even start a fire. Before you decorate you Baltimore home, take a count of available outlets and adjust your plans accordingly. Make sure you follow manufacturer instructions on any decorations and that you have correctly rated electrical cords for them to ensure maximum electrical safety.

Use Caution When Hanging Light Strings

You should never connect greater than three strings of incandescent lights together. This can cause a circuit breaker to trip and, potentially, an electrical fire. Think about buying some LED bulbs. They use less energy and operate at lower temperatures than incandescent lights. Take care to always unplug any electrical decorations before attempting to replace a bulb or fuse. Another important bit of electrical safety wisdom: Make sure you turn off any electrical decorations prior to going to sleep or leaving your Baltimore home.

Water Live Trees Daily

If you’re using a living Christmas tree this winter, make sure it stays hydrated. Dry trees are a major fire hazard. Electrical safety standards dictate that you should only hang lights and decorations that have been approved by a lab with national recognition. When you place your tree in its stand, cut two inches off the base and make sure to fill the stand each day. If you purchase an artificial Christmas tree, make sure it’s labeled as “fire resistant” and avoid using electrical ornaments/ lights if the tree has metallic coverings on its leaves or branches.

Need Help With Electrical Safety in Baltimore?

Call Farnen & Dermer. At Farnen & Dermer we’re more than happy to talk to you and help with any 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 electrical safety during the holidays 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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Holiday Plumbing Tips for Maryland

December 4th, 2014

Holiday PlumbingThe days after Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season mark the busiest time of the year for plumbers and plumbing services everywhere. The prep work involved in cooking up that perfect holiday feast, and the massive undertaking that is the post-dinner cleanup, can generate an enormous amount of waste for kitchen drains and garbage disposals. That’s not even accounting for the added strain holiday house guests put on your washing machine, showers, toilets, and other pieces of household plumbing.

Many times, homes will have partially clogged drains that go unnoticed until they snap under the added pressure of holiday guests and festivities. It also doesn’t help that most traditional holiday dishes, with their hearty, filling composition, are notorious drain cloggers in their own right. When they band together, plumbing trembles in fear.

Holiday hosts and hostesses can avoid having to call a plumber in for the holidays if they follow a few, simple anti-clogging measures:

  1. Do not pour cooking oil, or fat cooked off meat, directly down a drain. This grease will solidify inside plumbing causing blockages quickly. Using a paper towel, wipe grease from your pans and throw it in the trash, or collect it in jars for disposal or future cooking use.
  2. Even garbage disposals have their limits. Stay away from putting starchy, stringy, or fibrous waste down the disposal. A disposal cannot process these types of waste effectively and will jam.
  3. When you do put waste in the disposal, make sure that it’s running at full speed. Putting garbage in before turning it on is a recipe for disaster.
  4. If you’re playing host to guests over the holidays, make it a general policy to wait at least 10 minutes between showers so slow drains can work their magic, and so you don’t run out of hot water.
  5. Never, ever flush cotton swabs, balls, hair, or wet wipes down the commode. These products won’t dissolve in water and instead build up over time, causing clogs. Make sure to dispose of these in a trash can.
  6. If you have any recurring plumbing problems that you’re already aware of, take the time to address them before your guests arrive for the holidays. Know your personal limits on DIY work and call in a plumber if you’re unsure if you can tackle something. Small plumbing problems, exacerbated under the added stress of the holidays can turn into disasters if they’re not fixed beforehand.

Need A Plumber This Holiday Season?

Call Farnen & Dermer! Our highly trained plumbers know how to quickly address any holiday plumbing issue, fixing it fast, and affordably. We know how to handle any plumbing problem you might run into this holiday season, and we’ll be there when you need us to be.

Your Baltimore Plumber: How To Fix A Leaky Faucet

November 27th, 2014

leaky faucetIf you’ve got water collecting beneath your sink, or have to put up with the incessant dripping noises throughout the night, chances are you’re fed up with your leaky faucet. A leaky faucet isn’t just an annoyance either. If not given proper attention it could turn into a serious issue. That’s why Farnen & Dermer, your Baltimore plumbers, are here with steps you can take to fix a leaky faucet.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of fixing a leaky faucet, know that you’re almost always better off calling in a plumbing professional, otherwise you risk doing more harm than good. But if you’re determined to DIY, then you should Do It Right.  Before you start you’ll need these tools:

  • Adjustable wrench; C wrench
  • Phillips and/or flat-head screwdriver
  • Penetrating oil, such as WD-40 or CRC
  • Replacement washers and O-rings

 

Step 1: Before you go hog-wild with your tools, make sure to turn your water supply off, using both the handles or knobs over the sink, and the toggles below the sink that connect to your water main.

Step 2: Take any decorative parts off of the handles or knobs using a flathead screwdriver to pry or unscrew them. Under each knob or handle there are screws that attach the handles to their stems. Unscrew them and remove the handles completely.

Step 3: Take a wrench and loosen the exposed packing nut that was attached to the handle. Then remove the stem. Some sinks feature stems that can be easily popped off, while others may need to be twisted off from the valve. Examine any parts you remove for signs of damage.

Step 4: If all the parts you’ve removed at this point are completely intact, examine the O-ring or washer inside the valve, which are often the cause of leaky faucets. If damaged, remove and replace the washer or O-ring. It’s vital to be certain that the replacement parts fit exactly with your existing sink. Check to see if the inside of the valve fits a flat or cone-shaped washer. You can also usually take an old O-ring to a hardware store and have someone there help find the correct size.

Step 5: Reassemble the sink with all the parts in this order: washer/O-ring, stem, packing nut, screw, and handle. Turn your water back on slowly to see if the leak is fixed.

Need Additional Plumbing Help?

If the above hasn’t fixed your leaky faucet, or if you’re worried about damaging your plumbing system, call Farnen & Dermer. With years of experience in all manner of plumbing and HVAC repair, our experts can repair your leaky faucet or any other plumbing problem quickly, affordably, and correctly.

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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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 replaced. 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.

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

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 we’re more than happy to talk to you and help you minimize the risk of fire 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 FacebookGoogle+Twitter, and Pinterest.

 

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 we’re 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.

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

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 we’re 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.

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

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 we’re 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 we’re 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