4 Tips to Protect Your Home from Spring Thunderstorms

Protect Home From Spring ThunderstormsIt’s no secret that weather can be unpredictable in the spring. Storms tend to pop up without notice and can sometimes be severe, leaving you little time to prevent damage to your home. Fortunately, with a few tips and tricks, you can troubleshoot nearly every problem that comes your way. Here are four great tips to weather spring storms in Ohio from the team at Herrmann Services.

 

1. Protect Your Sump Pump

Some homes’ foundations are built below the water table line and their basements are prone to flooding. Sump pumps serve as an excellent defense to keep basements dry by pumping out excess water. Occasionally sump pumps fail during severe storms after becoming overwhelmed with the amount of water coming in. To protect your home, ensure that your system is up to the challenge by checking to following:

  • Be sure that you have a battery backup sump pump. During storms, your power can go out leaving your sump pump unable to operate. Your basement can flood if you don’t have an alternate power source to keep your pump operational.
  • Protect your system from clogs. Keeping your discharge lines clear and covered will help to protect them from clogging and backing up into your home.
  • Keep up with your inspections. Consult your owner’s manual to decide how often you should have your pump inspected and serviced. If you suspect any problems, have your system looked at right away. One quick way to test your sump pump is to take the lid off the sump pit and pour a five-gallon bucket of water into the pit. The motor should kick on and drain the water immediately. If it doesn’t, you may have to call for service.

2. Secure Outdoor Hazards

In the event of inclement weather, make sure to check outdoors for items that need to be secured or put away. Common items that could cause damage to your home during high winds include patio umbrellas, tables, chairs, yard decorations, grills, and stacked firewood.

3. Check Doors and Windows

It sounds like a no-brainer, but simply checking to make sure windows are closed and storm doors are latched will save you costly damage caused by water coming into your home or a loose storm door blowing in high winds.

4. Turn Off Your Air Conditioner

A power surge can cause significant damage to an air conditioning unit during a storm. Cutting power to your unit at the circuit breaker, or turning the unit off at your thermostat can prevent costly damage in the event of a lightning strike. Your home may get a little stuffy, but as soon as the storm is over, you can turn in back on.

With a quick plan in place, you can take precaution to protect your home and systems in the event of a spring thunderstorm. Call us today at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online for more information.

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.

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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.

6 Ways to Inspect Plumbing When Buying a Home

 

plumbing inspection when buying a homeOf course, you want to have a professional plumbing inspection, once you decide to buy a home, but in the beginning stages, there are some things to look for that could help you identify problems or negotiate for repairs/replacements when haggling over the price. Because much of the plumbing in a home is hidden behind walls and under floors, you’ll want to pay attention to these six items:

1. Flush the Toilets

By simply flushing the toilets in each bathroom, you can see if there are any clogging or slow-running issues. It could mean there’s trouble down the line or the pipes are too small.

2. Look for Lead Pipes

Typically, the service line leading from outside is one of the most common places to find lead pipes. Look for pipes that are a dark matte gray color. If you scrape it with a screwdriver, the metal will be soft and look silvery shiny underneath.

A brownish, copper color will tell you you have copper pipes which are safe. You can also use a magnet to help determine which metal it is made of. If it’s steel, a magnet will stick to it. If it’s lead or copper, a magnet will not stick to it.

3. Check Water Pressure in Showers

Turn on the shower and place your hand in the stream to see how powerful it feels. Lack of pressure could mean smaller pipes, but many shower heads are also equipped with a water-saving pressure reducer in the head.

4. Pay Attention to the Basement & Crawl Space

When touring the basement, pay special attention to the walls and floor and don’t forget about the crawl space. Look for water damage or signs of previous leaks. This could be a sign of past problems or shoddy repairs.

5. Look for Corrosion on the Water Heater

Corrosion around the bottom of the water heater is a sign of rust and a sign it is ready to spring a leak. Ask when it was last serviced. If it looks very old, you may want to ask for it to be replaced.

6. Check the Size of the Pipes

Look for ¾” pipes from the water source to the home and ½” pipes to faucets to ensure proper water pressure. Smaller pipes will result in lower water pressure which can be aggravating.

We hope these tips will help you when you search for a new house. In the meantime, if you need any help with your plumbing in Cincinnati, the team at Herrmann Services is ready and waiting to help. If you need plumbing help, just give us a call at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online.
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6 Interior Lighting Ideas for Your Cincinnati Home

Your home is ready for an update. One of the best places to start is the lighting. Dollar for dollar, updating your lighting will give you the best bang for your buck. Not only will your home look nicer because of the updated fixtures, but the lighting itself will create a new, refreshed look. Plus, it’s much less expensive than remodeling or buying new furniture.

Start with the Most Prominent Rooms

If your goal is to update your home’s lighting, start with the light fixtures that guests will see – kitchen, great room, foyer. While changing the lighting in your bedroom may be called for, it’s a room that most guests won’t see and therefore, can’t appreciate updating. For the biggest impact stick with the most prominent fixtures.

Remember Purpose When Choosing New Light Fixtures

Don’t forget, there are different kinds of lighting for different areas of your home. You don’t want to make the mistake of replacing a light fixture whose purpose is to provide the main lighting in a room with a light that isn’t strong enough to do the job. Maybe you really like the look of that frosted globe, but will it diminish the light that emits?

Always keep purpose in mind. Task lighting should be bright, accent lighting can be softer. Also think about where the light will shine. Some light fixtures shine straight down, while others will spread light in a wide path. Think about what you want the light to do before  making your decision.

Top Lighting Trends to Look For in 2018

So what kind of lighting should you look for to give your home a new, modern look? Try these beautiful lighting ideas:

hanging lights or pendant lighting for your kitchenDecorative pendant lights are definitely on trend. They look great over a center island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cabinet Lighting for KitchenLighted display cabinets are also all the rage. You may have to update a cabinet or two in the kitchen to add a glass front.

Bookshelves flanking the fireplace are also great places to add a can light for emphasis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

wall sconces as living room lighting upgrade

Wall sconces look great in a dining room alongside a mirror or in a great room above the mantel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cabinet lighting for your kitchenA great way to add ambient lighting to kitchen is to install recessed lighting above the cabinets or even puck lights below them.

The lighting fixture is out of sight, but the soft glow gently brightens the perimeter of the room without overwhelming.

Under cabinet lighting makes great task lighting in a kitchen.

 

 

 

 

cove lighting for living roomCove lighting, lighting installed in a ledge high on the wall or behind moulding, will take a room from ordinary to elegant.

 

 

 

 

 

chandelier lighting for kitchenChandeliers and large-scale pendant lights are designer favorites. Some styles to keep an eye out for include orbs, and chandeliers with eye-catching accents like crystals, draped beading, and wood.

Rubbed bronze is becoming the go-to finish appearing in upscale decor. Although polished nickel finishes are great for a more glamorous look.

A sparkling crystal chandelier and coordinating wall sconces cast ambient light throughout a room.

 

 

Whatever your style, from rustic, to modern, to French country, there’s a lighting style to match. Simply choose the light fixtures that fit your kitchen’s style and your lifestyle needs.

TIP: Change bulbs to change intensity or add a dimmer to the switch. (Make sure you buy light bulbs capable of dimming. Not all kinds are dimmable so pay attention to the packaging.) If you’re buying LED lights, use this LED buying guide.

If you need help installing any type of lighting, give Herrmann Services a call at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online.

How to Set Your Programmable Thermostat for Maximum Savings

If you’ve recently had a programmable thermostat installed, congratulations! It’s a great way to be more comfortable while saving money at the same time. Of course, in order to realize maximum savings on your heating bill, you’ve got to enter a program that works for you both in terms of being comfortable while you’re at home and awake, and saving money by lowering the heat while you’re away at work or in bed for the night. Here are the basics on how to do that:

Set It and Forget It

programmable thermostat for savingsThe secret to saving money with your programmable thermostat is to program it so that it’s at 68 degrees during the winter when you know you’ll be at home and awake, at 78 degrees during the summer when you’re at home. Then, set it  7 to 10 degrees below/above that during the hours when you’ll either be asleep or away from the home at work and/or school.

That’s it. By setting the program once, according to the temperatures noted (which are recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Saver division), you’ll not only be ensuring that your home is comfortable while you’re at home and active, but you’ll also be “programming in” a savings of between 5 and 10 percent per year on your heating and cooling costs.

You Can Choose How Much Money You’ll Save

The temperatures listed above will provide maximum savings should you decide to follow the DOE’s recommendations. But remember, you’re in charge, so if you want to compromise by tweaking the temperatures a bit to be more comfortable, you’ll save a bit less.

Let’s say you choose to set your winter “at home” temperature to 70 degrees rather than 68 degrees, or that you prefer a temperature of 76 degrees rather than 78 during the summer. You’ll still save, but your savings will be on the lower end of the 5 to 10 percent savings spectrum. This is true as long as your adjustments for “away” and “asleep” temperatures comprise at least 8 hours of every day.

Simplify and Save

Having a programmable thermostat in the wintertime means that you no longer have to try to remember to turn the heat down before you leave the house in the morning. It also means that you’ll no longer have to come home — or wake up — to a house that’s too cold. And of course, the reverse applies to your summertime comfort. It’s a genius way to simplify your life, be more comfortable, and save money too!

If you’re in Cincinnati and need a programmable thermostat installed give the pros at Herrmann Services a call at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online.

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The Clunk and the Funk – Explaining Strange Sounds & Smells Coming from Your Furnace

furnace strange sounds and smellsClick, click, click. Nobody is tapping their fingernails on the table. Nobody is typing on a typewriter. This clicking is coming from your furnace! If you hear this sound in your furnace, it means something is wrong. Probably, a constant clicking sound is your igniter trying unsuccessfully to light the burners. Without the burners lit, your furnace won’t heat the air in your house. Time to call the furnace repairman!

Here are some other strange noises and smells that should not be coming from your furnace (but sometimes they happen, and that means your furnace needs some professional attention).

Screeches or Scraping Sounds from Your Furnace

You might think a bird or small, scurrying animal has been trapped inside your furnace. What you hear is probably a broken part hitting the furnace casing. The blower wheel may be broken, or something went awry with the motor. Broken parts in a furnace need replacing immediately.

Furnace Making Booming Sounds

Explosions inside your furnace should not be ignored! An explosion probably means the burners inside the furnace are dirty, making it hard for them to light. Extra gas builds up and then explodes when it does get lit. Even if the blast is small and doesn’t seem to be breaking anything, eventually it could cause damage that would be more expensive than getting your burners cleaned.

Thwapping Sounds Mean Furnace Trouble

Thwapping means something is stuck, and the blower blades are hitting it with each turn. This is not the worst problem that could happen to a furnace, but it can cause your furnace’s motor to wear out.

Rotten Eggs Can Mean a Gas Leak!

When it comes to your furnace, that horrible smell usually means there’s a gas leak. The gas your furnace uses is deadly, but is invisible and has no natural odor. That’s why the gas company adds a sulfur smell to alert people to a gas leak. If you smell rotten eggs or sulfur, turn off the furnace and open the windows, then leave the house! Call your gas service company to repair the leak.

Smells Like Something Is Burning!

This smell coming from your furnace might need some time to decide if it’s a bad problem or not. If you just turned on your furnace for the first time in the season, then it probably will burn up the dust that has accumulated over the summer. If the smell does not go away, you could consider getting a new air filter. If that doesn’t clear up the smell, then call the repairman.

If you live in the Cincinnati area, give Herrmann Services a call at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online for all your furnace repair needs.

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5 Tips to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing

Here in Cincinnati, we know that our winters are COLD. Strike that – with average low temperatures in the 20s, cold is probably an understatement. With the freezing weather comes the increased risk of freezing pipes. But if you know what causes pipes to freeze and how you can prevent it, you can save yourself a lot of heartache, hassle, and money.

Understanding Frozen Pipes

We know that water freezes when the temperature dips below 32º F. In the winter, that’s a daily occurrence. The problem is that when water freezes, it expands. This puts a great deal of pressure on the pipe that’s holding it. If the water expands too much, the pipe will burst. If this happens, the pipe will have to be replaced. If the burst pipe is inside your house, when it thaws, it can cause a lot of damage.

What Pipes Are Most Vulnerable?

  • Outside pipes
  • Interior pipes in colder areas (the garage, basement, or underneath sinks)
  • Pipes in exterior walls

How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

how to keep your pipes from freezingThere are plenty of ways you can and should protect your plumbing. Luckily, most are inexpensive and simple. Prevention is key, so make sure your house is ready before the first big freeze. Here are a few tips to make sure you don’t end up needing a visit from the plumber or worse.

  • Ensure you have adequate insulation in colder areas of the house. This may mean adding a little insulation to keep the area warmer.
  • Disconnect exterior hoses. If the water inside the hose freezes, the pressure can put a strain on your entire plumbing system and cause a lot of damage. While you’re disconnecting the hose, be sure to turn off the outside faucets too.
  • Keep the heat on. Even if you plan on going out of town, you need to keep the house warm. Saving a few dollars on your electric bill is not worth coming home to a flooded house.
  • Keep kitchen and bathroom sink cabinets open. This will allow the warm air to circulate under the sink.
  • Consider foam insulation or heating tape for under the sink if keeping the doors open doesn’t keep the pipes warm enough.
  • If you have a sink or shower valve that has frozen in the past, let it drip a little overnight (very slight drip) as flowing water will not freeze.

Protect your pipes this winter and avoid disaster. If you’re in Cincinnati and need help with any plumbing in your home, call the pros at Herrmann Services at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online.

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4 BIG Differences You’ll Notice with a Whole-House Humidifier

Keep Your Cincinnati Home Cozy This Winter!

It’s no secret that the air in our homes gets pretty dry during the cold winter months. Static shocks seem to lurk around every corner, our skin gets dry and itchy, and we’re more prone to things like sore throats and bloody noses! Besides our own dry air woes, our homes suffer from the lack of humidity too. Wood furniture can crack, paint can peel, expensive hardwood floors can shrink and show gaps, and books and art can become dry and brittle. Dry air is just uncomfortable — both for we humans and the things we live with!

What Can You Do About Dry Winter Air in Your Home?

One way to control the humidity levels in your home is with a whole-house humidifier, which can be set to keep humidity levels in the desirable range of 30-50% during the driest months of the year (or in dry, desert climates, too). Here are 4 BIG differences you’ll observe once you’ve had one retrofitted to your existing HVAC equipment …

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1. You’ll feel warmer with a whole house humidifier. 

Low humidity tends to make us feel cooler, and we compensate by turning up the thermostat, which in turn, takes its toll on our wallets through higher utility bills. By raising the humidity in your home, you can lower the thermostat and still feel as comfortable as you did before.

2. You’ll feel more comfortable throughout your whole home.

Not only will you eliminate those nasty and surprising static electricity shocks, but your skin will stop feeling itchy, your hair will be more “cooperative”, and you’ll alleviate allergy symptoms and asthma.

3. Your furniture and hardwoods won’t dry out.

You’ll notice that your furniture and hardwood floors look better, and you’ll eliminate the worry of damaging them and other things like crown molding in your home.

4. You’ll be healthier with improved air quality.

Dry air can create ideal conditions for airborne illnesses like colds and flu, which are so common when we all tend to spend more time indoors due to the cold temperatures and poor driving conditions outside. Additionally, chapped lips and bloody noses will be less common with more humidity in the air.

Of course, you can always opt for portable, table-top humidifiers, but you’ll have to remember to refill them frequently and keep them clean so they don’t spread germs around! But a whole-house humidifier simply requires you to set your thermostat and forget about overly dry air all winter long! The only maintenance is changing the pad at the beginning of the winter season each year.

If you’re thinking about installing a whole-house humidifier in your Cincinnati-area home, give the pros at Herrmann Services a call at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online today!