One of most important things to ask your home heating fuel provider is NOT what’s the price per gallon. The real question should be what does your supply look like in the likelihood of a crisis? Will your current energy provider be able to deliver to your home in case of an emergency or natural disaster?
Yesterday (1-31-19) the Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer asked residents to turn thermostats down. “Due to extremely high demand for natural gas with record-low temperatures, and an incident at a facility,
@ConsumersEnergy has asked everyone who is able to please turn down their thermostats to 65° or less until Friday at noon.” Why? Demand for natural gas is likely to hit a record high this week, and the heating fuel is in short supply in the region. Pretty scary, huh?
At Combined Energy Services, we have grown and prepared our infrastructure to be able to serve our customers regardless of the situation – be it man-made disaster or mother nature. Our defensive position was developed back when CES was founded. We knew the importance of having an adequate supply chain. We worked in three supply centers into our original service area – Sullivan County, New York.
As demand for Combined Energy Services products grew, we realized that we needed to add supply centers to our new locations. These supply centers, in Ulster & Orange Counties, New York; Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania; and then Newton, New Jersey, also served a duel purpose. In the event of a catastrophic occurrence in one location, CES could still provide service with one of its other locations. Brilliant thinking, right?
Between having physical supply locations in three states and a bulk supply location in upstate New York, Combined Energy Services has your home heating fuel supply covered. Couple that with competitive pricing and great service, this 50+ year old family owned business has your back. Can your discount price only fuel supplier claim that? Give us a call at 800-874-1975.
Everyone loves a day of grilling outside with family and friends in the summertime. Although this may be a refresher for some, CES wants to give out some important information a s Labor Day approaches – here are some propane safety tips to keep in mind when firing up your gas grill:
First off, what is propane? Propane does not occur naturally, but is refined from raw crude oil and raw natural gas. Propane is then stored under pressure as a liquid; therefore, the name Liquid Propane (LP). LP gas is the ONLY gas that should ever be put into this cylinder
Propane has some properties that are important for safe consumer use. Water boils at 212°F, at which point it turns to a gas. Propane boils at -44°F, so the liquid propane in your cylinder is below -44°F to maintain a liquid state. For consumers, this means that exposure to LP gas can freeze your skin and the tissue underneath resulting in severe damage. This is also why LP gas is released from the cylinder as a gas, not a liquid, known in the industry as “vapor service.”
Propane is also heavier than air and will seek the lowest space available. This is why consumers should never store a LP cylinder in an enclosed space, such as a garage, shed or basement. If the cylinder leaks or if propane is expelled through the pressure relief valve, an ignition source could spark a fire or explosion. Also, the cylinder should always be stored in an upright position so the pressure release valve can function properly (it is at the top of the tank). As propane is odorless, the manufacturer adds an odorant for obvious safety reasons.
With all that in mind – here are some additional safety tips since we’re half-way through “Grillin’ Season” —
Storing Propane Tanks During Winter
Some of us continue to grill all year long, but if you’re planning to winterize your grill, there are several things you should do to prevent injuries and accidents. Start by coating the grill plates, burners and other internal metal parts with cooking oil to prevent moisture build up over the winter. This will reduce the possibility of rust forming.
If you’re storing your grill outside during the winter months, it’s ok to keep the propane tank connected, just shut it off. Cover the grill with a tarp, and keep it away from your home. This will prevent an accident if the tank explodes, and will protect the grill from icicles that may fall.
If you’re storing the grill indoors, never bring the tank inside! – not even into a detached garage or a storage shed. A small gas leak can cause a huge explosion if the tank is stored in an enclosed space. Starting a vehicle or snow blower can provide enough of a spark to spell disaster. Instead, do the following:
- Disconnect the tank and store it outside in an upright position away from dryer and furnace vents, and children’s play areas.
- Tape a plastic bag over the grill’s gas line opening to prevent insects from nesting.
- If you live in a snowy area, mark the location of the tank to avoid accidents.
So before Summer is over…
Come to Combined Energy Services for all your residential propane needs. From tank installations, deliveries, back-up generator service, or BBQ cylinder refills- we are your one stop shop for all your gas needs!
As the weather gets colder, people across the country are starting to turn on their heating systems for the first time for the year. Improper use of such equipment can be incredibly dangerous and can lead to death.
To prevent home heating equipment fires and other hazarded issues, heating safety should be at the top of your holiday to-do list this winter season. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January and February.
Follow some simple home heating equipment safety tips to prevent most home heating related problems from occurring.
1. Gas and Fuel Oil Furnaces & Boilers:
Although furnaces & boilers are designed to operate safely in your home, a number of things can go wrong over the course of its operating years that can pose a safety threat to you and your family.
It’s important to know every gas furnace produces some carbon monoxide that is released outside your home vent. Clean, efficiently burning gas and oil furnaces product very small amounts of carbon monoxide, while a dirty inefficient burning one can produce deadly amounts.
- Just like your car, your heating systems need annual maintenance. Have your furnace or boiler inspected, cleaned and tuned to ensure proper efficiency by a certified technician prior to the heating season.
- Clean or replace your furnace filter regularly. A clean filter will help your furnace burn more efficiently, and keep dust from being circulated through our home.
- Keep the burner area of your furnace clean.
- Be sure the fireplace is installed with all the required specified minimum distances or clearances for the stove and all combustible materials. Insufficient clearance could cause heat produced by the stove to catch fire to nearby combustibles.
- Have equipment and chimneys cleaned out and inspected by a qualified professional every year.
- Always use the right kind of fuel as specified by the manufacturer for fuel burning fireplaces.
- Have a three feet “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- The glass barrier of a gas fireplace door can heat up to more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit in approximately 6 minutes. And can take an average of 45 minutes for the gas fireplace glass to cool to a safe temperature after a fire has been extinguished.
3. Space Heaters
Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for 40% of home heating fires, and 84% of home heating fire deaths.
- Space heaters should always be plugged directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for space heaters!
- Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connection before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
- Space heaters are designed to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothes or thaw pipes.
- Proper placement is critical! Heaters must be kept three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.
- Turn off space heaters before leaving the home or going to bed.
4. Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can cause flu like symptoms, disorientation, confusion and even death.
During the cold months, there is an increased risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Fuel burning equipment can produce dangerous levels of the gas and should be vented outside to avoid build up in your home.
In a 2012, NFPA reported US fire departments responded to an annual average of 72,000 carbon monoxide incidents, including incidents where nothing was found or fire were present.
- CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For best results, interconnect all alarms throughout the home – when one sounds, they all sound.
- Follow manufacturers instructions for placement and required mounting height.
- Test CO alarm every 30 days; replace them according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- If CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by a open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from the fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.
Remember these important home heating equipment safety tips:
- ALWAYS test your smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms every 30 days!
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or space heater.
- Never use the oven for home heating.
- Have your heating equipment properly installed following manufacturer’s instructions, maintained and tested every year!
Home heating equipment safety needs to be practiced throughout the entire year not just during the colder winter months. Proper installation, maintenance and cleanings from a professional is essential to ensure the safety of your family and pets.
Have a qualified technician perform the proper yearly maintenance on your home heating equipment.
Call the Professionals at Combined Energy Services
800-874-1975 or complete the form below.
There are a high number of older houses in the Northeast that have buried fuel oil tanks. “Until the 1960’s people were generally un-aware of the risks to the environment and a lot of oil tanks went into the ground,” said Stuart Lieberman, a former NJ deputy attorney general who now practices real estate and environmental law.
Today, the risk of soil contamination from an underground tank is well known. What is also well known is the high cost of cleanup associated with oil tank leaks.
Since cleanups can be in the tens of thousands of dollars and may not be covered by your homeowners insurance, it is important to educate yourself on underground fuel oil tank leaks!
1. What is an oil tank leak?
A leak refers to the escape of petroleum from an oil tank. This usually starts out as a very small pinhole in the tank which causes the contents to leak into the surrounding soil.
A leak can also occur in faulty or corroded fuel lines. When this occurs, a soil sample will be tested. If contamination is not extensive, the lines can be replaced.
All fuel oil tanks (above and underground) can experience a leak. Above ground tanks can be easily examined for flaws by visual inspection and can be repaired before oil escapes; in comparison to buried oil tanks which cannot be visually inspected without digging it up. This leaves the possibilty of a leak to occur without your knowledge.
2. Why do buried oil tanks leak?
Oil tanks are made with bare steel. This steel goes through a natural corrosion process when exposed to minerals found in soil. This process is slow but inevitable.
If your tank is over 10-15 years old, there is a high chance it’s undergoing the corrosion process, consider replacing your tank.
3. How do I know if my tank has leaks?
With underground oil tanks, there is no easy way to detect leaks without digging it up. But there are some signs you can look for when it comes to oil tank leaks.
Some signs are – increased home heating costs (which is not the optimal way to determine a leak since other factors affect increased home heating costs), oil sheen on groundwater, stained spots or oil smells on your property, oil smells in your house, dead vegetation near or above the tank.
If your tank is 10 – 15 years old there is a high chance that it has developed small pinholes which are the cause of leaks.
If you are experiencing these signs, it’s more than likely there is a leak.
4. How do I test for a oil leak?
Contact your fuel oil company to help determine if your oil tank has leaks. A tank test can be done to test how tight the storage structure is. They will also test the fuel lines since faulty or corroded lines can cause oil to seep into the ground.
According to tank-removal companies, leaks occur in 30 – 50 percent of the cases.
5. There is a leak in my tank, now what?
If a leak is detected, be prepared to have the tank removed from the ground. Your fuel oil company or a certified contractor will remove your tank and inspect for signs of the oil leak into the surrounding soil.
Assuming no contamination is found, this is generally a straightforward affordable job, running homeowners between $1,500 – $2,500.
*At this point, it would be in your best interest to replace your tank with an above ground tank and NOT rebury another tank in the ground. Another option is converting your heating systems to run on clean, affordable propane*
Soil samples will be taken from around the tank. The samples can determine how far the oil may have spread in the ground. If soil contamination is spotted, regardless of the size, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will be informed and a report will be made of the fuel spill.
The DEC recommends that anyone with knowledge, report the discovery of any contamination or a release to the NYS Spill Hotline (1-800-457-7362) within 2 hours of discovery.
For additional information, review the NY DEC Spill Reporting & Initial Notification Requirements.
6. What if contamination is found?
Be sure to take cleanup actions right away. The problem could be minor and relatively simple to correct or it could be a major contamination. Addressing the problem now will prevent higher cost and damage later.
The state advises homeowners to find a cleanup contractor on the Department of Environmental Protection’s list of certified companies, which can be found on the department website.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the cost of cleanup depends on a variety of factors, including the extent of contamination and state cleanup standards. If only a small amount of soils needs to be removed or treated, it could be $10,000. However, the average cleanup is estimated to cost $130,000.
Once the cleanup is done, the contractor sends a report to the DEP. If the DEP is satisfied, it issues a “no further action” letter stating the property has met cleanup requirements.
7. Who is responsible for the cost of the cleanup?
If there is contamination, the homeowner will be instructed to contact their insurance company. The homeowners insurance policy may cover the cost to remediate the tank. An adjuster will be sent to your location to examine the property and review the contractor’s findings.
The insurance company will determine if the policy covers this event. A “pollution exclusion” in your policy may cover the remediation.
The homeowner is usually responsible for the cleanup cost. Homeowner insurance policies generally don’t cover the damage done by leaking tanks, although tank insurance is available with restrictions.
If you have an underground fuel oil tank, know what your homeowners insurance policy states when it comes to oil tank leaks and contamination.
These environmental time bombs can quickly partner with a financial nightmare! No person wants to be responsible for contamination to our soil or water, on top of being held liable to pay a possible $130,000 for the cleanup.
With today’s knowledge of soil and water contamination caused by oil tank leaks, it’s in the homeowners best interest to take that tank out of the ground and replace it with an above ground tank or convert to clean, affordable propane gas! Contact CES @ 800-874-1975 or complete the form below.
Are you planning home improvements? Are you installing a deck or fence? Are you installing a new heating system?
What is Dig Safe and why do you have to call them before you dig?
Dig-Safe is a not-for-profit clearinghouse that notifies participating utility companies of your plans to dig. In return, these utilities respond to mark out the location of their underground facilities. This is a FREE service, funded entirely by its member utility companies.
It’s important to understand the state laws that require you to notify Dig Safe for even small projects. Even if you’re installing a mailbox or planting shrubs, the depth of utility lines vary, and there may be multiple utility lines in a common area.
How does it work?
- “Pre-Mark” where you plan to dig before calling 811 – Pre-marking means to mark out the area on the ground where the work will take place, using white stakes, paint or flags. Note: Pre-marking requirements vary slightly from state to state. Take the time to learn the requirements for the state you live in.
- Gather the information needed to process a Location Request:
- Call 811 in advance – State law requires a minimum number of hours to be notified. Learn the time frame required for your state.
- Notify non-member facility owners – Non-member companies are not notified by Dig Safe. Check your states website to learn the types of utilities companies are required to be members of Dig Safe.
- Wait the required time – After notifying, you must wait a certain numbers of hours for utility representatives to respond to mark their lines within your pre-marked area. Uniform colored code systems are used to identify the type of facility identified.
- Respect the marks – Remember that pipes, cables and wires can be buried at any depth, so it can be risky to dig in close proximity of a buried line.
- Maintain the marks – Make sure the utility marks stay in place during your project. If the marks are compromised, call Dig Safe back to re-intact.