Monthly Archives: March 2019

Feel Safer at home

A word on power outages, DIY, and generator safety

Power outage = no heat

During power outages, even though customers have fuel, they can’t get heat. Unfortunately, your heating system will not run without electricity — regardless of whether your fuel is heating oil, natural gas, propane or, obviously, electricity. (Only some very old heating systems can operate without power.)

If your home is without power for an extended period of time, unplug appliances and turn off circuit breakers. This will prevent surges when the electricity returns. Before restarting your system, check that the system’s power switch and circuit breakers are back on. Do not press your unit’s reset button more than once.

Once you have power restored, make sure that there is no standing water in your basement. If your system requires service to get it started again, for safety reasons it cannot be worked on when water is pooling around it.

If flood water has reached your heating system, call your equipment service provider for an inspection before you restart it. The valves and controls are vulnerable to water damage — even if it cannot be seen. Corrosion begins inside the valves, and damage may not be apparent when the outside is clean and dry.

Don’t DIY

In this digital age, the initial response to solving a problem is often to go online and do research. That’s why do-it-yourself (DIY) projects are such a big trend these days. It seems as though people of all ages and skill levels are checking out YouTube videos for a quick-fix way to heal whatever ails their home.

But what those videos usually don’t show is what happens when that amateur repair doesn’t go as planned. Over the years, we’ve seen some costly — and even dangerous — consequences. That’s especially true when someone starts fiddling around with complicated heating systems. Repairing a heating system presents unique challenges that more often than not require extensive training and expensive diagnostic equipment to assess and fix.

The bottom line: If you need a heating system repair, don’t attempt to do it yourself — call your equipment service provider. Their technicians have the training, experience, and tools to find and fix your problem quickly, correctly and safely so you can focus on the things that matter in your life — like having fun with your family.

Generator Safety

With more people relying on both portable and permanent generators than ever before, it’s important to share the following emergency generator safety tips:

✔️Installed whole-house generators should have a transfer switch to ensure a smooth transition when the lights go out. A transfer switch cuts electricity flow to the grid while the generator is on. This prevents the power in the generator from “back-feeding” into outside power lines and potentially injuring utility crews.

✔️Never operate a portable generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space; keep it outside, at least 10 feet from your home and away from windows and doors.

✔️If your generator is not connected to a fuel tank, be sure to store its fuel in a properly labeled container.

✔️Always use a grounded extension cord with the proper power rating.

✔️Have your generator checked and adjusted annually for safety and efficiency.

Oil Heat Specialist

Ask Heather: What is a heating degree day?

Oil Heat Specialist

Q: What is a heating degree-day?

A: Heating degree-days help us to calculate when you need a fuel delivery. For every degree that the average daily tempera‑ ture is below 65°, we count one degree-day. So, if the average temperature on any given day is 25°, that’s equivalent to 40 degree-days.

The heating season runs from October 1 to April 1, and Pennsylvania usually records an average of 5,000 heating degree days each year. By looking at degree-days and combining that data with other factors, we can create a highly reliable delivery schedule, ensuring that automatic delivery customers have a very low risk of running out, compared with folks who call for their fuel.

If you’re interested in getting automatic deliveries, please contact us and we’ll get you set up.

The future of heating oil

Dear Friends,

Many of our longtime heating oil customers are surprised to learn how their fuel of choice has evolved in recent years. As a result of greater environmental consciousness, much of the sulfur has been removed from heating oil. The low‑sulfur heating oil we deliver produces nearly zero particulates. It also burns more efficiently, which means your heating costs stay down.

Efficiency is important, and that’s a big reason that heating with oil makes a lot of sense in Pennsylvania during our cold winters. Oil delivers more Btu’s than natural gas — so you need to burn less oil to generate the same amount of heat.

As our state strengthens its commitment to cleaner-burning fuels, the heating oil industry continues to move forward too. The goal is to deliver an equal blend of advanced biodiesel fuel and ultra-low-sulfur oil within the next 25 years. According to the National Oilheat Research Alliance, the resulting fuel would yield carbon-free heating. Now that’s really great news.

Dell M. Cromie

Pipeline explosion update

After the natural gas explosions that occurred in Massachusetts last summer, there was a great deal of speculation as to the cause. Now, federal investigators have identified the reason for this disaster, an event that killed one person, injured 20, destroyed five homes, and damaged more than 100 more. According to the results of the investigation, a natural gas company field engineer made a mistake in the plans he developed for construction work to upgrade a natural gas distribution main. The investigators concluded that the explosions could have been avoided if all involved departments had inspected the plans and a registered professional engineer had approved them.

This is yet another demonstration of the risks faced by homeowners who heat with natural gas. Heating oil is a much safer option than natural gas — oil cannot explode, even if you drop a lit match into a bucket full of it. We take no chances in the handling and delivery of your fuel, and we devote a considerable amount of time to ongoing safety training.