You’re in the middle of (insert your town) during the winter and your oil furnace has run out of fuel oil. If the furnace doesn’t kick back on after refilling the tank, you may need to bleed and restart your furnace manually.
You can try bleeding the furnace yourself, but be careful. If you consider yourself handy, you can follow the instructions below. It might not hurt to view a YouTube video or two beforehand as well.
The only type of furnace you can bleed and restart is an oil furnace. If you have a gas furnace, or aren’t sure what kind of furnace you have, STOP right here. Also, if during the bleeding process it becomes difficult or you’re unsure of what you are doing; stop, turn off your furnace and call a professional.
Step 1: Fill the Fuel Tank
If you let your oil tank get too low or run out of heating oil altogther, your furnace will shut off and stop producing heat. Your oil feed line does not sit directly on the bottom of the tank. While it may seem like there is oil in the tank, the level is probably below the feed line. The first thing you need to do before you start this process is to refill the oil tank (Contact us at 800-874-1975). Bleeding the furnace won’t help if your tank is empty.
Step 2: Hit the Reset Button
Once the tank has been refilled, your next step is to hit the reset button. The furnace should start working again on its own. Bleeding the fuel line isn’t always necessary unless the furnace doesn’t restart after you’ve added more fuel oil.
Typically, the reason for bleeding the furnace has to do with fuel levels. If you let the oil completely run out, that’s when the furnace may need extra help starting up again. To prevent this, refill the tank before the oil gets extremely low. You’ll also keep your home from freezing when the furnace shuts off.
Step 3: Turn off the Furnace
If hitting the reset button doesn’t work, you will have to bleed the furnace to get it working again. Start by turning off the furnace. The switch should be located directly on your furnace. On many furnaces, the reset button automatically shuts off the unit, so you may not need to switch off manually. You will see a red light if your reset button has the unit turned off already.
Step 4: Collect Your Tools
Tools you will need:
- Adjustable wrench or Allen key
- Flexible nylon tubing with a 1/4 inch diameter (1 foot should be adequate)
- Container to catch oil waste (old bucket or coffee can will work)
- Cat litter or saw-dust in the container’s bottom to avoid splashing
- OR an empty bottle, preferably 32 ounces, if you want to reuse the oil
- Old towel for your hands
You will need an adjustable wrench to fit the bleeder valve or an Allen key. If you’re not sure which will fit your furnace, check your manual or bring both along and see what’s appropriate. You will also need approximately one foot of a 1/4-inch diameter flexible nylon tubing.
Next, you will need a container to catch the oil waste that will drain out of your furnace. Use an old bucket or coffee can. If you don’t want oil to splash all over, put kitty litter or sawdust in the container’s bottom. If you wish to reuse the fuel, use a clean empty bottle. You can return the fuel to the tank when you’re finished with the bleeding process, but only if the oil comes out clean!! If you see sludge or sediment, do not reuse it!
Finally, don’t forget to bring an old towel with you for your hands. There is a chance you may end up with some oil on you, so wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
Step 5: Find the Bleeder Valve
To find the bleeder valve, you’ll need to find the fuel pump. The fuel pump will have tubes going to it. The bleeder valve is going to be on one side of the fuel pump, and it’ll have a hex nut on it. The hex nut can be metal or a rubber plug. If you don’t see it right away, don’t panic! It’s a little hidden on some furnaces.
Loosen the nut to ensure you can turn it at the proper moment. Then tighten it up again, about a quarter turn, so oil doesn’t dribble out. Don’t unscrew the nut completely.
Step 6: Attach Nylon Tubing
Slide the tubing into the bleeder valve and position it so the other end rests in the container. You can choose to use the tubing into the bleeder valve or simply let the fuel dribble straight out into the container. If you don’t use tubing, please be aware that the oil may splash, and the process will be messier. To avoid additional spillage on the floor, ensure the container is sitting directly beneath the valve. You may also want to put some newspaper or paper towels on the floor below the valve.
If you have a second person helping you, that person can hold the container directly beneath the valve to catch the oil.
Step 7: Turn on the Furnace and Unscrew the Valve
Next, turn on the furnace. Remember how you loosened the valve before? Tightened it just enough to be sure you could turn it again quickly. Now’s the time to loosen it. You’ll probably need less than one turn to get the oil flowing. Loosen the valve until oil and air start to come out. Let it drain until fuel only comes out.
If nothing comes out of the valve, you may have to hit the reset button after you’ve flipped the on/off switch. If your furnace automatically shuts itself off with the reset button, you may have to give it a couple of tries. If the unit doesn’t turn on, call a professional to take a look. The problem might be a clog, damaged fuel line or pump issue.
Step 8: Tighten the Valve
When the oil comes out in a steady stream, tighten the valve. At this point, the burner should turn on. You’ll know it when you hear the furnace fire up. If that happens, congratulations!! You’ve successfully bled and restarted your furnace. Remove your tubing, clean up your container and enjoy the warmth!
If the unit’s burner doesn’t turn on after bleeding the oil the first time, try again. Start by loosening the bleeder valve and letting fuel come out. You can try this several times. However, if your furnace isn’t firing, you may have worn out parts and need to call someone to look at it. It shouldn’t take more than once or twice to bleed and restart your unit when its in proper working order.
When All Else Fails… Call a Professional
A professional can accurately diagnose why your unit isn’t starting. If at any point in the process of bleeding the furnace something doesn’t seem correct or you lose confidence, it’s time to call a professional.
Similarly, if the process doesn’t work, something else may be wrong and you need a technician to examine the furnace. Even if bleeding the furnace does work, but you find you have to do it frequently, it’s probably time for a professional opinion.
If you purchase your fuel oil from Combined Energy Services, we can repair your oil furnace and dispatch an emergency technician at any time. Call us at 800-874-1975. We’re here to get your home warm and your family comfortable again.
To own or to lease? That is the question. But the answer might actually surprise you. Most propane customers in the U.S. lease their tank(s) from a supplier. There are a variety of valid reasons for this. Still there are individuals who desire to own their tanks. This article will explain the pros and cons of leasing vs. ownership.
Supplier Leased Tanks
- Most companies will provide, install and maintain a supplier leased propane tank. The gas company will also install the tank at a minimal cost or free. This typically includes everything needed to make the final connection. Be sure to ask ahead what is covered in the cost of the install. Normally, CES doesn’t charge for parts or installation if the gas used is for heat. Ask a rep for more information.
- Company owned tanks are maintained by the propane company and all the costs for any repairs are covered. This includes replacing the tank if any manufacturing/wear issues occur. There is never a charge to a CES customer when we provide a leased propane tank. Supplier leased tanks are regularly tested, certified and kept within compliance by the company and at no cost to the homeowner!
- In most cases, the tank is free to use if the homeowner buys a minimum amount of propane each year. We base the tank size to your usage in order to ensure adequate supply. A “Minimum use charges” takes place annually if a certain amount of gas hasn’t been used in a year for that size tank. For example: a customer may need a 500-gal tank for their 25-kW generator. This same customer doesn’t use any gas in the last year. In this case, an annual minimum use fee (basically a tank rental) would be charged.
- For steady usage such as water and home heating – the tank is sized in accordance with your usage and a fee typically isn’t charged. Ask us to explain the annual minimum usage expected on various size tanks to make sure you get the proper size to meet your needs.
- There is no need to worry about the tank when moving – the propane service gets transferred to the new home owner.
- Changing suppliers can often involve termination fees and delays while the propane supplier removes their tank.
Homeowner Owned Tanks
- Not being tied to a single propane supplier.
- No rental/lease fees.
- Purchasing a propane tank is an expensive investment – initial costs include the purchase of the tank (which can run you a few thousand dollars depending on tank size), permits, trenching, piping and fittings.
- Supply shortages – gas companies will take care of customers with leased equipment over customers that own their own tank; since purchases may not be steady or on automatic delivery. Staying with one supplier is very important especially when supply gets tight during long, cold winters. Tank ownership plays a big part as to who gets gas and who may be left out in the cold.
- The homeowner is responsible for the installation and maintenance of the tank – and all costs associated with it. One service call could end up costing the homeowner more than the annual rental or minimum use fee for low usage customers.
- Proper tank installation requires knowledge of industry regulations – most areas have specific regulations governing where and how a tank can be installed. Your propane company is already familiar with your state regulations and can easily determine specs.
- Safety of the tank is home-owners responsibility – most areas require owners to have their tanks re-certified (sometimes called re-qualified) every 5 – 10 years. Check with your local building inspector or state fire marshal before purchasing and installing a tank.
- Homeowner’s Insurance companies can charge higher premiums since now the tank and everything affixed to it is on you, no longer the gas supplier. Before purchasing any tank – ask the insurance carrier what their policy is on propane tank ownership. Often there are exclusions in policies for “pollution leakage” which insurance companies stretch to include propane leaks that may have caused fires/explosions. Be sure you are upfront and get the carrier’s approval before buying or installing any propane tank you plan on owning and them insuring.
- Tank maintenance – in time all propane tanks will need maintenance. Paint, valve changes, pressure relief valve required replacement, gauge replacements, re-leveling, etc. With a supplier leased tank, these unknown costs don’t come back to the homeowner. Especially if there is a leak on the tank which requires immediate service.
- Underground tanks and anode bags need regular maintenance. They are especially worrisome since anode bags, which protect the tank from deteriorating, need to be tested upon installation and then on a 24-month basis for the life of the tank. With a supplier loaned tank from Combined Energy Services, the testing is done automatically. Anodes are replaced as needed to protect the tank from rotting and protecting your home & family – all at no cost to you! Without documented regular tank testing, you immediately aren’t within compliance with NFPA codes. This can lead to insurance coverage problems or building department violations if documentation is requested.
- Propane tanks, just like oil tanks – can never be buried and forgotten about. As soon as metal is put in the ground it starts to deteriorate. By leasing a tank from CES, you’re assured the tank is kept within compliance and never at an expense to you.
- The liability is on the homeowner – insurance is required. Accidents happen whether you own or use a supplier leased tank, but the owner is liable if the tank caused a mishap because of undetected repairs needed.
With Combined Energy Services you can be assured of hassle-free service for your propane tank, distribution equipment and supply of gas! Contact us today to assist you in making an informed decision.
Unless you live in a perpetually cold environment, working outside on an unheated construction site in the winter is the pits. Unfortunately, shutting down construction projects in the winter typically isn’t an option for anyone. That’s where temporary construction heat comes into play. Combined Energy Services can help!
Both residential and commercial project can benefit from the use of temporary heat throughout the coldest months. Those in the industry know that drywall, spackle and paint have certain minimum temperatures that must be met for the products to finish properly. And let’s face it, everyone is more productive when working in a comfortable environment. CES has not just the propane to meet your needs, but also the equipment.
Temporary heating devices are a vital part of being able to work effectively in cold weather. However, as a result of poor selection and careless use, injuries and damaging fires occur every year.
If improperly used, temporary heating equipment can lead to burns, fires, explosions, carbon monoxide poisoning, and the creation of oxygen deficient atmospheres. So, with the winter season upon us, it’s important to review the many types of construction temporary heating tips and devices that are available, and be sure they are used safely.
There are a variety of devices to choose from: Temporary heat units can be fired either directly or indirectly. They can be electric or fueled by: (1) LPG / propane, (2) natural gas, (3) liquid fuel: kerosene, fuel oil, some diesel oils or (4) solid fuel: wood, coal, etc.
Solid fuel heaters are the most uncontrollable and therefore most potentially dangerous. Because of the inherent hazards associated with solid fuel, temporary units cannot be used inside or within 15 feet of any building or structure. This safety requirement makes their use for most temporary heating situation impractically.
With the winter months upon us, project managers should work with Combined Energy Services experience sales department to discuss their construction plans.
Important Winter Construction Heating Tips:
- Never use a “fueled” heater within 10 feetof any debris piles, temporary enclosures, tarps, combustible materials, or flammable material.
- Maintain a good fresh air supply, to avoid oxygen deficient atmosphere: flames use
- Every heating unit must have a fire extinguisher immediately available.
- The use of temporary heaters in confined spaces is never recommended; when they are used, sufficient ventilation and temperature control must be provided.
- Allow the heater to cool downbefore it is re-fueled.
- Always turn off the gas supplywhen the heater is not in-use.
- Never store used or extra LPG containers inside. Only those in use should be present.
- Temporary heaters should be placed at leastsix feet away from the LP container and not fired toward the container, unless the heater is an approved integrated unit.
- Never manifold more than three 100-pound LPG cylinders together.
- LP cylinders must be securedin the upright position and protected from damage.
Never use LPG below grade level: Be aware that gases such as propane are heavier-than-air, and will settle into any low spots, such as a basement. If there is no way for them to exit, a spark or flame can ignite and explode the concentration of gas, causing great damage and injuries.
Temporary heaters are great tools, allowing work to continue in cold and damp weather. But remember, they can be dangerous. Take advantage of these winter construction temporary heating tips. Learn how to operate them, and don’t take them for granted.
Contact CES for details on how you can take advantage of Temporary Construction Heat.
Supporting the Community: CES Donates Maintenance Vehicle to Ten Mile River Scout Camp
We’re proud to support the local community and giving back to those who’ve supported us make it sweeter! Combined Energy Services’ Mike Taylor and Ron Lindholm hand the keys of this Chevy service truck over to Tom Hamer, Ranger at Ten Mile River Scout Reservation.
This is the 3rd vehicle in a year that CES has donated to Ten Mile River, a 12,000-acre Scout Reservation that is home to three traditional Scout summer camps and a Family Camp. Located in Sullivan County, near Monticello and Narrowsburg, it is operated year-round and has been a CES propane customer for over 20 years. TMR has been host to tens of thousands of scouts & their families over the decades, giving many life experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.
CES is proud to be a family owned, local company who has been serving the community for 50 years. We’re honored to be able to give-back to great local non-profits in the region like TMR.
Combined Energy Services wants to take a moment to remind everyone of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 430 people in the United States die each year from accidental CO poisoning and approximately 50,000 people visit the emergency room. More than 8% of those visiting the OR are hospitalized.
Where Does Carbon Monoxide Come From?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that often goes undetected, striking victims caught off guard or in their sleep.
This “invisible killer” is produced by burning fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, portable generators or furnaces. When the gas builds up in enclosed spaces, people or animals who breathe it can be poisoned. Ventilation does not necessarily guarantee safety.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says about 170 people in the United States die every year from carbon monoxide produced by non-automotive consumer products, such as room heaters. That’s a whopping 60% of CO poisoning deaths! So as the weather turns colder, it’s important to take extra precautions.
Who is at Risk?
Exposure to carbon monoxide can result in permanent neurological damage or death, and anyone can be at risk. The CDC says infants, the elderly, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia or breathing problems are more prone to illness or death, but carbon monoxide doesn’t discriminate – especially if certain conditions are present.
How Can I Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in My Home?
Winter can be a prime time for carbon monoxide poisoning as people turn on their heating systems and mistakenly warm their cars in garages.
The National Safety Council recommends you install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home near the bedrooms. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. The CDC offers these additional tips:
- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year. Combined Energy Services offer a variety of service plans (Propane – Fuel Oil/Kerosene) to take the worry away from system maintenance;
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors;
- Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent; fatal levels of carbon monoxide can be produced in just minutes;
- Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year, and make sure your fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire and well after the fire is extinguished;
- Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly;
- Never use a gas oven for heating your home;
- Never let a car idle in the garage;
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide alarm. If you don’t have one, please go out and get one.
As with smoke alarms, make sure you have a carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas, and keep them at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances.
You won’t know that you have a carbon monoxide leak without a working alarm. So, test alarms regularly and replace them every five to seven years depending on the manufacturer’s label.
For the best protection, have carbon monoxide alarms that are interconnected throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
Carbon monoxide alarms are not interchangeable with smoke alarms, and vice versa. Combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are available.
Replacing CO detectors
If you wonder if your carbon monoxide detectors are worn out, they probably are. CO detectors only have a five to seven-year life. In 2009, the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) began requiring an end-of-life warning to alert homeowners when their carbon monoxide alarm has reached the end of its useful life. If there’s no date on yours and you can’t remember when you bought it, you’re probably due for a new CO monitor.
Here are two key things to look for when you buy replacements. First, pick a detector with a “fuel-cell electrochemical” sensor. This type is far more sensitive to CO and less prone to false alarms than models from just 10 years ago. There are other types of sensors on the market (metal oxide and gel cell) that offer longer life. But humidity and temperature changes can reduce their accuracy.
When it comes to detecting carbon monoxide, we recommend accuracy over detector life span. Second, experts recommend choosing a model with a digital readout and a “peak level” memory retention feature. That’s helpful to emergency personnel if they suspect CO poisoning. If you have small children, consider buying a talking CO detector. A voice warning is more effective than a horn at waking children.
Since carbon monoxide is roughly the same weight as air, it neither rises toward the ceiling nor sinks to the floor. Therefore, detectors that don’t have a digital display can be mounted anywhere if they’re at least 15 in. below ceilings.
Just make sure you install one on each level of your home. Locate them in hallways near bedrooms but at least 15 ft. away from fuel-burning appliances.
Steps to Take When Carbon Monoxide Alarm Sounds
The CPSC says never ignore a carbon monoxide alarm, and do not try to find the source of the gas. Instead, follow these steps:
- Immediately move outside to fresh air;
- Call emergency services, fire department or 911;
- Do a head count to check that all persons are accounted for;
- Do not reenter the premises until emergency responders have given you permission to do so.
- Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- The U.S. Fire Administration has put together materials on the dangers of carbon monoxide. Included is a list of carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms.
Low to moderate carbon monoxide poisoning is characterized by:
- Shortness of breath
High level carbon monoxide poisoning results in:
- Mental confusion
- Loss of muscular coordination
- Loss of consciousness
Symptom severity varies depending on the level of carbon monoxide and duration of exposure. Mild symptoms sometimes are mistaken for flu.