There are many things that can happen to your home’s oil heating equipment in the winter. One thing that causes a multitude of problems is home heating oil sludge building up in the bottom of your tank.
Home heating oil impurities or “sludge” are particles that get trapped in the bottom of your fuel oil tank and build up over time. Sludge is made up of multiple types of impurities. The two main types of impurities that cause sludge are water and solid particles.
Water can enter your tank in a variety of ways. Condensation is the largest culprit. Think of it the same way as the wetness on the inside of your windshield on a cold morning. This also happens to your aboveground outside fuel oil tanks as temperatures change. This condensation forms from changing temperatures and allows moisture into the tank, a little at a time. Considering that water is heavier than home heating oil, it drops to the bottom where it accumulates. Bacteria can also be found in fuel oil tanks, most often introduced through leaking vents or in the fuel you purchase. As water builds up in the tank, a film can build up on the surface referred to as “slime” by service techs.
Another culprit is buying home heating oil from non-reputable “discount” fuel companies. These companies often don’t have their own storage terminals, they simply reload their tank truck where ever they can find the cheapest oil. There have been all too many times where these discount guys use anything that’s less expensive than pure fuel oil to supplement their product such as: used cooking oil / grease, waste oil from car dealerships, cleaning solvents from factories and recycled / reclaimed oil from areas where recyclers have pulled old oil tanks out for large industrial users. Common trick amongst many of these “discounters” is to ‘cut’ their oil with whatever is cheaper and will ‘mostly’ burn. We’ve found that the “cheapest” oil on the wholesale market is often from the “bottom of the barge” and full of contaminants.
Combined Energy Services doesn’t fill our small delivery trucks from the cheapest ‘rack’ of the moment. We have long-term supply contracts with trusted providers that guarantee the quality of their fuels through chemical analysis. In addition, every load has detergent anti-sludge agents added at our own storage facilities where we control the quality of the products.
The problems, damage, and expensive service calls that tank sludge can cause are many. Oil filter clogging, supply line clogging, strainer clogging, “fire-o-matic” valve / safety valve clogging, premature oil pump failure and oil burner failure are just some of the problems that occur due to tank sludge. Although the problems and damage caused vary, they all lead to potentially costly repairs, home heating failure and a decrease in your burner’s efficiency sending your heating money up the chimney.
Combined Energy Services has been delivering quality home heating fuel oil for 50 years and we stake our reputation on the line every day with every delivery. Our customers are getting only quality 100% fuel oil they deserve – not any underhanded “cutting” with other agents. From the moment we pick up the fuels from the terminals in our own tractor trailers, to storing in our own local storage facilities, to loading the fuel in our fleet of certified delivery trucks – we’re sure of the quality of the fuel we’re delivering our customers.
To avoid sludge build up – here are some tips:
- Always draw fuel oil off newly installed tanks off the bottom so small particulates don’t get a chance to build up.
- Tip new tanks towards the end where oil is being withdrawn so nothing builds up.
- Move your tank indoors or enclose to cut down on the huge daily temperature swings that cause tanks to “sweat” or drip condensation / water into your tank continually.
- Change your filter(s) at least annually.
- Have your heating system cleaned, serviced and set-up by a CES trained service technician using the latest electronic combustion analysis equipment to ensure the maximum burner efficiency.
- Add a “sludge remover” from the local hardware store or ask CES to add during your annual servicing if you suspect any build up.
- Have the bottom of older tanks cleaned out by a waste oil contractor. Removing years of built up sludge can save you endless money on service calls. Ask CES for information.
- Don’t buy from obscure “discount” fly-by-night fuel companies that can’t verify where their fuel is coming from. We find that often if they don’t own their own local storage terminals – they are buying whatever the wholesalers want to dump with poor quality fuel at a cheap price for these guys. That saying “you get what you pay for” with the discount dealers ends up costing consumers more money with service calls, sludge build up and lost efficiencies with lower quality fuels / blends.
- If your tank is outdoors – blend kerosene or an “anti-gel” product in the cold winter months to make sure your oil keeps flowing.
Stay with a consistent, reputable dealer that puts chemical additives into each truckload that helps to break down any sludge build-up. This may cost a couple pennies more per gallon – but that money is well worth it for your efficiency and to ensure your burner stays running during the long cold winter nights.
For more information – feel free to contact CES: 800-874-1975. We’ve been taking care of the home heating fuel oil needs of consumers all over the region since 1968. Put our decades of experience and quality reputation to work for you this winter.
Many consumers stay with their current propane supplier simply out of the ‘unknowns’ with how-to change regardless of how much that company may be overcharging or how bad their service has become. We’ve also seen where some of the big Wall Street owned national propane corporations have scare tactics and hidden fees they want to charge if a customer attempts to change providers. If you’re looking to possibly change companies – here are some frequently asked questions:
Q: Is changing to Combined Energy Services (CES) a simple process?
A: Yes. Check here first to see if we serve your location, then it all starts with a call (800-874-1975) to our customer service reps. They may be able to set it all up over the phone or we can have a field service rep stop by your property for a no-obligation consultation. Very often it’s easier to have a rep look with you to see what you currently have; what we can do; and any recommended changes. We make it all very simple and painless!
Q: My current tank belongs to another supplier. Does CES provide loaned tanks?
A: Yes! We have tanks of every size and even offer a variety of colors to choose from.
Q: I have a buried propane tank owned by another supplier, can I still change to CES?
A: Certainly! We lease buried propane tanks (500 & 1000 gal common sizes) for a minimal fee or free when used for central heating and will swap out your existing tank from another supplier at no cost to you at all. We have our own fleet of excavation equipment and your new tank will be protected from corrosion with new sacrificial magnesium anode bags as required by code.
Q: What does it cost to change to CES?
A: Normally, nothing. We install our loaned tank at no cost, normally provide the pressure regulator on the tank and any outside connections. If you’re heating with propane, we often can install the tank up to 100 feet from your home at no cost using buried plastic gas piping that will never deteriorate, the same that’s used for natural gas.
Q: Do I need to wait until my propane tank is empty before changing to CES?
A: Typically no. Depending on the jurisdiction we’re able to pump your gas over from the existing tank into our newly installed one. Some of gas companies have a “cancellation fee” or “tank pump out fee” for any gas remaining in your old tank so it’s best to consult with one of our sales professionals to see how best we can assist you. The one thing we’ve learned is make sure you put a big sign inside the tank lid of your old tank if you don’t want a refill, since it’s a common trick for the super-big nationwide companies to immediately FILL YOUR TANK the day you call to say stop deliveries or the very next day. It’s often a tactic to keep you as a customer by adding expense to the switch. If you’re making a move – put a sign under the lid and take a photo of it. So when they want to get paid, you can say go pound salt and come pick up your fill tank crooks!
Q: Does CES have repair service for my gas burning appliances & heating system and are they available after hours?
A: Absolutely! Our service staff is available 24/7 so any time you have a problem we’re just a phone call away any time night or day!
Q: How can I be sure you’re not just like the other companies and I’m going to hate you as well?
A: This is the great part about dealing with a local, family owned & operated company. We’ve been servicing propane customers in the region since 1968 and have thousands of satisfied, long time customers. To read some of what our customers have to say – click HERE.
To learn more about becoming a CES customer; to find out what we offer; pricing plans and what makes us different from all the competition, feel free to give us a call at 800-874-1975 or click on this link.
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.