Some good advice for when the temperatures go down.

As we have seen on the news, most of this country will be experiencing a blast from the Polar Vortex and there will be plunging temperatures across most of the United States. 32 states are expected to be feeling some affect of this weather event. Most will experience temperatures and wind chills that the homes’ heating systems are NOT designed for.

Newer homes may struggle to maintain temperature and older homes most likely will NOT maintain temperature and the temperature WILL drop while the heating system is working at full capacity.

Here are some general suggestions for when the temperatures go well below normal levels:

1. You can raise the temperature in your home by 2 to 4 degrees above your normal setting. Take all programmable thermostats out of setback mode and set on a permanent HOLD until the weather and cold temperatures gets back to a more normal level.

2. If you have a furnace; replace the filter.

3. Keep garage doors closed and limit opening exterior doors.

4. Make sure air vents and radiators are not blocked or obstructed.

5. If you have a 90%+ furnace and boiler: You must keep the intake and exhaust clear of ice and snow. During these cold temperatures, ice can build up. A 90%+ furnace and boiler have 2 white PVC pipes; an exhaust pipe and an intake pipe that are generally on the side or back of your home. In some instances, they are on your roof, do NOT go on your roof to clear the pipe.

If the temperature in your home is dropping and your radiators are HOT with boiler systems or you have HOT air coming out of your vents with furnaces DO NOT PANIC. Please make sure that your heating system continues to operate. If the temperatures drop in your home, it will not be able to recover until temperatures rise and the wind-chill diminishes. Most heating systems are sized to operate at 0 degrees outdoor. Put your thermostat on hold 70 degrees or higher.

To help minimize temperature loss you can boil water, make soup, or stews; they help introduce humidity and warmer temperatures into your home.

DO NOT USE YOUR OVEN or a GRILL TO HEAT YOUR HOME.

Please check on neighbors and elderly residents during any extreme temperatures. Stay warm and safe and share this information with any of your family and friends.

Giving back to the communities we serve.

The United Way of Kennebec Valley is a nonprofit organization serving 19 communities in Southern Kennebec County. United Way partners with 48 local programs to provide a better quality of life for people experiencing emergencies, hardships and personal challenges in our communities since 1955. One of those partnership programs is The Bread of Life Ministries in Augusta. Homelessness is on the rise in Central Maine, and the need for emergency shelter has never been greater in the Capital area. Bread of Life Ministries operates adjacent shelters for families and veterans. Bread of Life is forced to say ‘no’ to roughly 600 phone calls per year from our neighbors seeking shelter. Their capital campaign’s mission to “Never Say No Again” will ensure that no one is left out in the cold. AFC was proud to contribute $10,000.00 to this campaign. Below, Marc Lacasse, President & CEO of AFC presented John Richardson, Executive Director of Bread of Life Ministries, with a check at our recent company event.

     

United Way’s Executive Director Rob Gordon looks on with our very own Lynn Ouellette, Customer Service Manager for AFC and a United Way Pace-setter. Lynn helped lead the way and organize a payroll donation initiative. AFC employees are able to donate directly through their pay checks each week. Twenty-eight businesses met or exceeded United Way’s 5 Percent Challenge through increased donations to the 2017 Employee Giving Campaign. AFC employees came in with 61%. For more information, please visit their websites:

United Way of Kennebec Valley and the Bread of Life Ministries.

AFC Continues to Partner with Community Organizations.

The Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed was founded in 2001 by a group of local residents who were concerned about declining water quality on their lakes. A 217 square mile drainage basin in central Maine, the Cobbossee Watershed contains more than 15,000 households and attracts thousands of tourists and summer residents each year. Just recently, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has confirmed growth of Eurasian water milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) in the north end of Cobbosseecontee (aka Cobbossee) Lake in Winthrop. The plant was discovered in July by Friends of Cobbossee Watershed (FOCW) plant surveyors. DEP,FOCW and Cobbossee Watershed District have searched for and removed plants since last month’s discovery. The FOCW will be doubling down with their efforts, altering their plans a bit to survey the known area in and adjacent to the marina, so that we may find plants as they emerge. They will continue to work closely with the Maine DEP and the owners of Lakeside Marina to prevent further introduction of invasive plants as well as stop those that have already been introduced from continuing to grow. The FOCW intend to manage this situation as swiftly as possible. Their efforts to keeping our local waterways clean and free from invasive species is a never-ending task, so it seems. AFC understands the importance of this natural resource for both current and future generations to come. That is why AFC proudly donated $10,000.00 to the Friends of Cobbossee Watershed. Pictured above is FOCW Executive Director Tamara Whitmore accepting the check from Marc Lacasse, President and CEO of AFC. AFC has previously been a supporter of the Tadpole Patrol, one of the educational programs currently underway with FOCW.

For more information, please visit their website: The Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed

Categories AFC

Ultra Low Sulfur Heating Oil; What it means for you.

As of July 1 of this year, all fuel delivered in our state is mandated to be ultra-low sulfur heating oil (ULSHO) with a sulfur content standard of 15 ppm (parts per million).

So what is Ultra Low Sulfur Heating Oil (ULSHO)? Simply put, it is heating oil with substantially lower sulfur content (similar to Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel shift in 2006 for diesel vehicles). As an example, ASTM #2 Fuel Oil with a very high sulfur content has sulfur in the range of 5,780 ppm (parts per million); low sulfur heating oil measures around 322 ppm; and an ULSHO can have around 15 ppm sulfur content.

How will this benefit Mainers? First of all – it is extremely clean burning – ULSHO is the cleanest ever produced, emitting next to zero particulates. Burning ULSHO also cuts sulfur dioxide emissions by 75 percent and nitrous oxide emissions by 10 percent compared to previous heating oil. Next, it improves heating efficiency – ULSHO has the highest BTU content of any alternative fuel. Plus, it reduces sooting and scaling compared to regular heating oil. This means you’ll get more heat in your house and less lost up your chimney. If you had natural gas, you’d have to burn about 40 percent more to receive the equivalent heating benefit of ULSHO heating oil.

What is the impact on the environment? With a decrease in the sulfur content, we can expect a greater reduction in Green House Gas Emissions and these numbers are expected to continue improving. The lower the sulfur content in your fuel means your heating system will emit less sulfur dioxide which would have contributed to acid rain and haze. The EPA estimates that this improvement will reduce deaths in people with lung and heart disease, produce fewer cases of exacerbated asthma, and less time missed from school or work due to poor air quality.

To sum it all up…Ultra-Low Sulfur Heating Oil is right for your home, right for the environment, and right for Maine. It is safer, healthier, and more energy efficient than its predecessors. It also Increases equipment life . Cleaner fuel also means less build up in the exhaust system of your oil heater. This in turn means less maintenance and a longer life for your equipment. ULSHO is also creating more American jobs and reducing our need for foreign oil. The future is now, and it’s looking brighter than ever!

 

Categories AFC

How to read your propane gauge.

We are always looking for ways to help improve the working knowledge of our customer base, so that everyone can better understand the equipment and tools necessary to ensure that each of you are comfortable in your homes and at your place of work.

Reading a propane gauge can sometimes be confusing. First of all…the gauge only goes to 80%. Other things to take into consideration is the outside temperature as well as how many appliances use propane. Let’s walk you through the steps on how to read your propane gauge.

First, we have to find the gauge! To do so, carefully open up the dome on top of your propane tank. Please use extra caution in the summer time. Wasps and Hornets love to make their nests in the domes as they are warm and offer good protection from the elements.

Once the dome is open, you will notice the quite a few objects. The gauge will be the only one with visible numbers. In the photo below, the small orange arrow on the right is pointing to the gauge. Although it is facing us in the upside-down position, we are still able to read the numbers. This tank is reading full at 80%.

locating the propane gauge on a household tank

 

This gauge illustration/example on the left has a dial that reads up to 95%. Most common gauges will only display a dial to 80%. The important thing to remember here is that if your gauge reads 25% or lower…it is time to call for a fill up!

Once you know your percentage of fuel, use the chart below to calculate the gallons of propane remaining. Remember, a tank is filled to a maximum of 80%.

Please call us if you have any questions about your gauge, your tank, or if you need a fill up.
623-3851.
Remember, you can always have your account on Automatic Delivery and then you won’t have to worry about reading the gauge.

We also have more information and a video on how to read your tank gauge on our Propane Safety Tip Page.

Categories AFC

30 Years at AFC

John Tyler, 30 year employee of AFC.
John Tyler, 30 year employee of AFC.

John Tyler has quiet a story to tell.  On August 11, 1987, John started his employment with AFC. So, it is only fitting that the day he decided to retire falls on that exact date 30 years later.

We recently sat down with John for a little Q&A chat.

AFC: Why did you decide to become a plumber?

John: My father was a plumber, so I am a 2nd generation plumber. My mother was a teacher. I did 7 years as an apprentice learning from the same gentleman that employed my dad.

AFC: When you’re not doing plumbing, what do you do to keep busy?

John: I’ve lived in Readfield for over 60 years. I like to work on projects around the house and on the property. I have a 1940 Hudson that I work on as well.

AFC: You also volunteer, correct? (You can tell John doesn’t wasn’t to talk about himself.)

John: Yes. I have been a firefighter, a Mason and volunteered for the United Way. I’ve also given over 25 gallons of blood through the years. It’s about giving, caring and sharing with people, customers and coworkers.

AFC: That’s awesome! What do you like most about this industry?

John: Many things. It is being able to help a customer with a problem or a job and seeing them so happy when you’re done. It’s being part of something built and knowing that the construction will be there for years and you were part of it. It is about seeing new products or technology and learning to keep up with the changes.

AFC: You still enjoy learning?

John: Yes. I plan to continue learning. I also enjoy helping to educate the next generation of plumbers.

AFC: How so?

John: I have been involved on the college level Southern Maine Community College and at the high school level with the Capital Area Technical Center where I was placed on the advisory board to the instructors. I have been involved with trade schools and judging competitions. I was also on the Plumbers Examine Board and worked on Maine State plumbing codes.  My peers call me the “code guy”.

AFC: What do you think you will miss most once you retire?

John: The daily contact with the coworkers and the trade. I went 17 years without a planned absence. Plus, I’ll miss helping the customers. When I started, there were 7 employees. Marc (our CEO) has really grown this company and I can’t wait to see where AFC goes next.

AFC: What advice do you have for the next generation of plumbers?

John: Keep your soft skills where they need to be. Balance family and work because you can’t do one without the other. Too much work, your family will suffer. Too much fun time, and your work will suffer.

AFC: What is the funniest story you can tell me?

John: Wow…there are quite a few. Most involve removing items that were not supposed to be there. Once I removed a deceased tropical fish when the client thought his toilet could be used as a disposal.

Another incident involved two squirrels. This happened two weeks apart in the same neighborhood. Each time the squirrel had climbed down the 4-inch vent pipe and wreaked havoc on the plumbing system. I didn’t discover the squirrels until I removed some pipes. It was as if these two squirrels were related and had the same idea. Very strange, and it hasn’t happened since. Sometimes Mother Nature plays into plumbing.

Here’s a funny story. One time, I was pulled a hand full of toy soldiers from a plugged-up toilet. Not too unusual, but it was odd as there were no small children in the house, just young teens. Apparently, they had them set up on the toilet seat and were shooting them in with a water gun, then flushing them. Later I found out that the teens videotaped a reenactment of the whole scenario, including one playing me doing my work.  I saw the video. It was pretty funny.

AFC: (smiling)  That story was definitely better than the fish story.

Categories AFC

AFC Welcomes J&S Oil, Inc to Team

On April 1st, 2016, AFC completed the acquisition of the fuel/propane and service segments of J&S Oil, Inc. of Manchester, Maine.

“We have a tremendous amount of respect for what the J&S team has built over the years. They have been a trusted member of the Augusta & Winslow communities and we intend to carry on that legacy,” assured Marc V. Lacasse, AFC President and CEO. “We are very excited to begin working with the excellent staff and wonderful customers that J&S has created relationships with over the last 44 years.”

J&S offices on Western Avenue in Manchester and Augusta Road in Winslow will continue to operate as usual with the same great staff customers have come to know and trust over the years. AFC also operates their main office on Northern Avenue in Augusta and a satellite office on Mutton Lane in Clinton, ME.

Categories AFC

AFC Announces Expansion into Clinton & Surrounding Areas

AFC is excited to be working out of our newly acquired Clinton Office, previously Weymouth’s Inc., located at 121 Mutton Lane in Clinton, Maine.

Not only will we be expanding our heating oil and propane delivery territory, we are also anxious to offer new customers in Clinton, Albion, Unity, Pittsfield, and surrounding towns a full line of heating, plumbing, electrical services, as well as residential and commercial cooling services at competitive rates.

As a local Central Maine company headquartered in Augusta, Maine, with over 127 years in the business, we take pride in providing the best home and commercial comfort solutions, with a professionalism and reliability that is unmatched.

“AFC customers enjoy knowing that we’re a full service company” states Troy Lambert, Customer Service Lead for the Clinton Office, “AFC fuel drivers and service technicians are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We really pride ourselves in going above and beyond for our customers.”

The Clinton branch is currently staffed Monday through Friday from 8AM – 4PM. The main office, located at 4 Northern Avenue, Augusta, ME, is open 7AM – 5PM. Folks are encouraged to contact us, stop by either office or to call (207) 426-3211 for more information.

Categories AFC
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