March 2018

10 Home Safety Updates for Your Cincinnati Home

Electrical Home Safety Updates

We often try to protect our children from the world “out there,” but we have to remember that our own home can pose some dangers, too. Here are a few tips for keeping kids safe at home.

The team of electricians at Herrmann Services in Cincinnati sees many things in homes that aren’t safe. Usually the solution is pretty easy and affordable. Check this list to see if you have hidden hazards in your home:

1. Replace Electrical Outlets with GFCI Outlets

GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) are a safety feature that prevents electrical shocks by cutting off the power to that outlet immediately when it senses an imbalance in the flow of electricity. GFCIs are required by code on outdoor outlets, or any outlet near a source of water (kitchens, baths). Make sure to test GFCI outlets monthly.

Press the TEST button, then RESET button every month to assure proper operation. If the indicator light does not go out and come back on or if the GFCI cannot be reset, it must be replaced.

2. Replace Old Smoke Detectors

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly two thirds of fire related deaths occur due to smoke detectors that either malfunctioned, were missing batteries, or were disconnected. Whether hard-wired or battery operated, after ten years, smoke alarms may malfunction and cause a serious health hazard.

Make a note of when you last replaced your smoke detector, whether that be writing the date in permanent marker on the inside of the detector, or storing the date in a file.

3. Replace Outdated Electrical Circuit Breaker Panels

Older electrical panels or breaker boxes are more likely to malfunction and put your home at risk. If your panel is more than 40 years old, we recommend replacing it. If it is more than 20 years old, you should have an electrician perform a safety inspection on it.

If your home has a Federal Pacific Electric panel or a Zinsco panel, we also recommend replacing those as they are known to be fire hazards.

4. Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

More than 20,000 Americans visit the emergency room every year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, and 400 of them die from it. Installing a detector in your home and ensuring the batteries are working can help prevent this type of tragedy. Test both smoke alarms and CO detectors once per month, and replace batteries as needed.

5. Replace Damaged Electric Cords

Cords that are regularly moved, twisted, or plugged and unplugged can start to wear over time. Check for damage and replace them immediately. Exposed wires can shock you or your children.

6. Don’t Use Extension Cords

An extension cord sends that electric current over a greater distance, giving more opportunities for cord damage and fire hazards. Not only that, but extension cords can pose a tripping hazard. You should not use extension cords as a substitute for sufficient electrical wiring.

7. Set Your Water Heater at a Safe Temperature

Scalding can be a big danger, especially with young children who don’t know it can be a danger. Setting your water heater thermostat below 120 degrees Fahrenheit will prevent scalding temperatures from reaching the faucet. Bath water should be about 100 degrees; always check it with your hand before letting the kids get in.

8. Don’t Use Space Heaters

Though there are many precautions you can take with space heaters, such as keeping them away from flammable materials and never leaving them on when you’re sleeping, children don’t always take such precautions. It’s just safer to avoid using them altogether.

9. Unplug Appliances When Not in Use

Appliances could be accidentally turned on when a child reaches for something else, or if they’re absentmindedly playing with the device. Keeping the items unplugged when you’re not using them helps avoid accidental burns. Keep a close eye on items that remain hot after you’ve turned them off, like curling irons, coffee pots, or stovetop burners.

10. Teach Your Kids About Electricity

Explaining the dangers of electric shock may help your children avoid experimenting with outlets. Placing plastic covers over the outlets can also deter little hands. With a few simple precautions, your home can become much safer for you and your children.

If you need any help with electrical issues or installations, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can even perform home safety inspections of your electrical outlets.

Call Herrmann Services for a safety inspection, electrical repair, or replacement at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online.

 

10 Signs Your Air Conditioner Is Breaking Down

how to tell if your air conditioner is going out

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, goes the old saying. During hot weather, that ounce of prevention can be worth a ton of comfort. Your air conditioner is one of those things that you don’t realize how important it is until you no longer have it.

But how do you know that your air conditioner needs help? Do you wait until it’s no longer blowing cold air? By then it’s usually too late. To help keep you and your family cool and comfortable, check out these 10 signs that your air conditioner is breaking down:

1. AC Blows More Hot Air Than a Politician

Air conditioners are supposed to blow cool air. At most, it should only take a second or two for you to feel the coolness from the vents. At best, the refrigerant just may need to be replaced. At worst, the whole unit, depending on its age and condition, may have to go.

2. Funny Smells Coming From Air Conditioner

You shouldn’t smell anything coming from your air conditioner. If you detect musty odors or an electrical smell, it could be a sign of trouble.

3. Weakening Air Flow

The air should come out consistently. If it feels like it’s not pumping as hard, it could probably use a bit of minor servicing, such as cleaning or replacing the filter.

4. Higher Energy Bill

Watch for spikes in your utility bill. Yes, you might be using a few more appliances more frequently (like that smoothie maker), but if you haven’t been, your air conditioner may be to blame. Since heating and cooling costs account for about half of your home’s electrical bill, pay attention.

5. Noisy AC Unit

A slight sound from the motor is normal in some units while others are “whisper quiet”. If the motor is getting louder or making sounds that it normally doesn’t make, it’s definitely time to have someone look at it.

6. Frequent Cycling

If your AC is turning on and off far more frequently than usual (assuming it’s the correct size for your space), it’s time to have it checked.

7. Humidity

Unless you have a “swamp cooler”, the air coming out shouldn’t be damp. If it feels damp or if the collection tray is collecting too much water, it’s time for service.

8. Repeatedly Calling for Repairs

An increase in the number of service calls is a good indication that your unit is about to “give up the ghost”. Sure, we don’t mind the extra income from ac repairs, but we’d rather have happy, comfortable customers.

9. Outdated Unit

If your AC  unit is over ten years old, expect more frequent service calls.

10. Age of Air Conditioner

Not the same as being “outdated”, an air conditioner is expected to last 10 to 15 years before it needs total replacing. Even with the best of technology, parts will wear and tear simply from use.

So there you have it. Now you know what to look for. The best way to keep yourself comfortable during the coming hotter weather is to look for these signs before it’s too late, or just have a routine servicing and checkup done.

If you think your AC needs a checkup, give us a call at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online.

Why is My Air Conditioner Making a Loud Buzzing Noise?

air conditioner making loud buzzing sound

The soft hum of a functioning AC unit is always reassuring, especially in the sweltering heat of a 95-degree summer day. But what does it mean when that delightful sound turns into a loud buzz? When in doubt, it’s a good idea to contact a licensed heating and cooling professional to give your unit a checkup. There are a few different scenarios that could be responsible for your noisy AC, and each should be addressed as quickly as possible.

It Could Be a Refrigerant Leak Coming from Your AC

One of the most telltale signs of an improperly functioning AC unit is that it’s frozen. You may notice that your house isn’t cooling efficiently, but the AC unit itself feels cold to the touch and has a visible casing of ice over the coils.

In this case, your air conditioner unit may have a refrigerant leak that is causing condensation to freeze. This is a common issue that may cause buzzing sounds from your AC. It is a definite sign that your unit is not working properly or efficiently and should be attended to promptly.

Your Air Conditioner Unit Might Have Worn or Missing Isolation Feet

noisy air conditioner unit

Your air conditioner compressor is situated on the base of your unit and vibrates constantly when in use. It is mounted on small, rubber “isolation feet.” Much like a washing machine that becomes unbalanced, your AC compressor will make a loud buzzing noise if the isolation feet have become damaged or missing over time.

Check for Loose, Missing, or Broken Parts in Your AC

Your AC unit is comprised of a multitude of moving parts which must all work together to keep it running efficiently – and quietly. A loud buzzing sound may signal that something has come loose over time, is broken, or is missing. Identifying a potential missing or broken part can be tricky and dangerous, so your best bet is to have a licensed professional take a look inside.

It Could Be an AC Compressor Malfunction or Incorrect Amperage

The compressor in your unit is responsible for pressurizing and cooling refrigerant and is one of the most vital components of your air conditioner. A buzzing sound may indicate that the voltage running through your outdoor unit is not set at the correct amperage or that your compressor itself is not functioning properly. If your AC compressor fails, the unit will not be able to cool your home. Making sure your compressor is working correctly is essential to both the health of your unit and your comfort.

At Herrmann Services, our expert technicians are highly trained, knowledgeable, and able to service all brands of air conditioners and furnaces. We can assure you our professionals know their stuff and will have your noisy air conditioner unit buzz-free in no time!

If you need help with your air conditioner, call Herrmann Services at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online. We are always here to assist you with any of your heating or cooling needs.