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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.

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

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.

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

Source: Bankrate

Why Do I Need HVAC Maintenance?

September 15th, 2014

hvac maintenanceThe cooler weather may have already prompted you to turn your AC unit off. The temperatures have been ideal for it in the past week or so and you’ll love reaping all of the energy savings that come with it. While it’s nice to have it off for now, many people will be turning their HVAC units back on within the next month or so to start pumping the heat. It’s critical that you don’t shirk HVAC maintenance just because your unit isn’t running right now. Wondering why you need regular HVAC maintenance? Listed below are a few reasons why an HVAC maintenance plan will help you survive the cold season ahead.

Benefits of HVAC Maintenance

  1. Avoid emergency repairs. These can severely set you back on a few different accounts. Our busiest times of year are early summer and early winter. Know why? Because that’s when people realize that their units have broken down. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to get to everyone at once when HVAC units start to go bad. If you have unit maintenance in the fall this year, though, you can relax knowing that you won’t have to call us on that first freezing day of November to tell us that your heat isn’t working.
  2. Enjoy healthier air. Did you know that something as simple as making sure that you change your filters regularly can help keep the air in your home cleaner? Having clean air can help you avoid uncomfortable allergies, bacteria, and even mold. Regular HVAC maintenance can actually keep your family safe and healthy!
  3. Extend the life of your HVAC unit. Replacement is much more expensive than maintenance or even repair. Units that receive regular maintenance can last 10 years or more, while a unit that isn’t well taken care of can die out within the first 10 years. Replacing your unit less often coupled with the energy efficiency of a well maintained can save you hundreds over time.
  4. Get faster service. If you have a maintenance plan with us and something does go wrong, you’re a preferred customer. We’ll move you up the list and be out to help you as soon as possible. We value our customers and are happy to help keep you nice and warm all winter long!

HVAC Maintenance Plans in Baltimore County

Farnen & Dermer’s energy saving maintenance plan is designed to help our clients get the most out of their heating and air conditioning systems, while remaining comfortable. As a family owned business, we know how important your comfort is, along with being able to save on electric bills and avoid having to pay for costly repairs or total system replacements. If you have any questions about HVAC maintenance, programmable thermostats 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: HVAC Maintenance

 

Optimizing Your Programmable Thermostat for Energy Savings

August 29th, 2014

thermostat optimizationHas your energy bill been higher than you’d like it this summer? Many people find that hot summer days lead to extremely high electric bills at the end of the month. It can get pretty rough, especially if you live on the second or third floor of a building. Optimizing your thermostat can help you save money and energy. Since most homes are equipped with programmable thermostats these days (and some even have smart thermostats), it’s not too difficult to save a few extra bucks on air this fall, especially with cooler days headed our way. Even if you aren’t the type of person to turn your air off right after Labor Day, you’ll appreciate these tips for optimizing your programmable thermostat!

Optimization Tips

  • Take advantage of all the different settings. Many different thermostats will allow you to set the temperatures differently for weekdays and weekends. For example, you could set your air to be on between the hours of 4:30 PM and 10 PM – the times that you’re home and awake during the week. If you’re the kind of person that’s out all weekend, you can program your air to be off altogether for just those 2 days. Some models even allow you to program set temperatures day by day.
  • Try to set temperatures in 8-hour increments. You save the most money during the day if your thermostat is set higher or off for at least 8 hours. It’s also a good idea to find out what your energy company considers peak times for air. Some companies will charge more during those hours. BGE peak times for summer is 10 AM to 8 PM. If you aren’t home during those hours, it’s best to have your air off altogether.
  • Use the hold feature when you go out of town. You’ll end up costing yourself more money than necessary if you leave your schedule up while you’re on vacation or out of town. Using the hold feature will allow you to hold the temperature at whatever you set it to before you leave. For example, 78 to 80 degrees is optimal for your air conditioning unit. If you know you’ll be gone for a few days, program your thermostat to 80 degrees and hit hold. Just remember to turn off the hold when you return home to get your normal settings back.

HVAC Energy Savings

Another way to ensure that you’re saving money on air conditioning and the use of your HVAC unit is to schedule regular maintenance. Regular maintenance will keep your HVAC unit running efficiently and well. Coupled with your programmable thermostat, you could save hundreds of dollars in the span of a year. If you have any questions about HVAC maintenance, programmable thermostats 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: Conditioned Air TX, Team Bobs

Why is My Baltimore Air Conditioner Blowing Hot Air?

August 22nd, 2014

air conditioner problemsIt’s 80 degrees outside and you decide that you can’t get away with leaving the air off any longer. You slowly get off the couch to go over to the thermostat to turn the air on and cool your home down. You set it to 75 and wait for that wonderful cold air to hit you in the face – instead, it starts to get warmer in your home. Frustrated, you turn the air off and decide to go seek air conditioning elsewhere. So, why could air conditioner be blowing hot air? Well, there are a few common reasons that your AC might be malfunctioning.

Common Air Conditioner Problems

  • Your thermostat might be in heat mode rather than air – We know this sounds like a stupid reason, but people make mistakes all the time. It’s better if you can discover a human error on your own and make sure that there’s nothing wrong rather than call someone in and discover that you’re having problems simply because your HVAC unit was set on the wrong mode.
  • The Freon/refrigerant may be low – This is a common problem when AC stops blowing cold air. If you don’t have a regular HVAC maintenance company, you may find that there isn’t enough Freon in the unit. It is also possible that your AC unit could be leaking Freon. If that’s the case, it’s advisable to contact a professional immediately, since Freon can be dangerous.
  • Clogged air filter – Usually this won’t be a reason all on its own, but it can certainly contribute to warmer air blowing through your home (as well as increased energy bills). It’s important to make sure that you’re keeping the filter as well as the condensing coils free of too much dust and debris. Filters are fairly easy to change and inexpensive.
  • The condenser or compressor could need cleaned – First, check the power supply to the part of the unit that sits outdoors and make sure that it’s switched on and functioning properly. Second, see if there are any air flow restrictions to the condenser coils. Keeping them clean is important for good, cold air flow.

What to Do if You Can’t Fix the Problem

Sometimes the problem isn’t simple or you can’t identify that. If this is the case, it’s time to call in a professional to help you clean and maintenance your air conditioner. When you purchase 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, while helping you improve the air quality of your home!

If you have any questions about 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.

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

Source: Red Beacon, D&D Service

Improving the Air Quality of Your Baltimore Home

August 13th, 2014

air filter qualityDid you know that poor air quality can have some serious negative side effects? It can actually cause infections and even diseases if it gets bad enough. Asthma can also be a negative side effect of poor indoor air quality. Some of the lesser side effects include congestion, nausea, and headaches. Though these side effects aren’t as bad as full blow diseases and infects, it’s still preferable to never have to deal with them. Knowing how to improve your air quality and suppress allergens in your home can help improve your quality of life.

Tips for Improving Air Quality

  1. Change your air filter regularly – The more often you change your air filter, the less pollutants are coming through it. There are many options for air filters that are actually designed to catch allergens and improve the air quality in your home. You should change or clean your air filter at least once every 6 months to ensure that its working properly
  2. Use a dehumidifier – Allergens don’t have much of a place to live without humidity. A dehumidifier will help keep your home dry. Coupled with a clean air conditioner, your home should be allergen free all summer long. You should remember to clean both of them regularly to avoid any contaminants making their way into the air.
  3. Keep your animals clean – It doesn’t matter whether you get a pet that promises no allergies or not, pets will still produce their fair amount of allergens. It’s best to make sure that you bathe them often and clean any surface that attracts allergens (i.e. upholstery). It’s also advisable to avoid letting your pet sleep in your room or on couches.
  4. Reduce use of carpets – Owning your own home gives you the luxury of choosing what type of flooring you want. Hardwoods, tile, and linoleum attract less allergens than carpet does. If you don’t regularly have your carpets cleaned, they will trap allergens that can make you and your family sick.
  5. Have your HVAC unit checked – Over time, you’re HVAC unit can end up holding dangerous allergens and gasses. Having your HVAC unit regularly checked, maintenance, and clean will help you to keep these allergens and gasses outdoors. Professionals will know exactly how to keep your HVAC unit clean and allergen free.

HVAC Maintenance Plans

When you purchase 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, while helping you improve the air quality of your home!

If you have any questions about HAVC 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.

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

Source: Good Housekeeping