A Look at Residential Above Ground Propane Tank Maintenance

More than 50 million Americans rely on residential propane tanks to fuel their homes. For those that choose to rent their propane tank, maintenance falls under the burden of the lender. For those who own their residential propane tank, it’s up to them to cover the costs of maintenance and repairs. Either way, it’s great to know when a residential propane tank requires maintenance and how to prevent the need for unnecessary repairs.

The first way a homeowner can protect their propane tank investment is to ensure that the propane tank is unobstructed. An unobstructed residential propane tank is placed in an area where it can’t become covered in snow, leaves and other outdoor debris. The more added weight to a propane tank’s surface, the higher the likelihood of unwanted leaks. Because propane is a gas, this is extremely dangerous as the last thing anyone wants is an explosion. The next essential step is to store a residential propane tank in an area where it is clearly visible. Keeping a propane tank highly visible not only allows the owner to notice any unusual circumstances, but it also helps to ensure there are no unnecessary collisions. One of the most common mistakes is that grass grows high around the tank, which leads to the tank being hit with a lawnmower, weedwhacker, or other lawncare devices.

The best way to avoid unnecessary repairs is to ensure tank fittings and valves are secured. This is done by ensuring the lid of the tank isn’t exposed to unwanted elements like rain, ice and debris. The fittings and valves are located directly under the lid of the tank. One of the biggest outside elements to look out for when it comes to the safety of the tank’s fittings and valves are birds who find the area a perfect spot for nesting in the spring or bees.

Visibility is also extremely important when it comes to vehicles. Accidents happen, so even if a propane tank is clearly visible, it shouldn’t be in any way close to a path or road that allows vehicles to pass them. All it takes is a small bump from a car for a tank to leak or explode. When the time does come for maintenance and a leak is discovered, this job must be left to an expert. There’s always a temptation to take on a repair job yourself to save on unwanted repair costs. However, leaks in a propane tank cause very serious and dangerous situations. GasTec has the experts on hand who have the proper tools, experience, and understood protocol to fix the leak in the safest way possible.

 

4 Workers You Should Know at Your Propane Company

While more and more companies are beginning to offer propane in the greater Montgomery County area, we recognize that a large amount of these are small operations in which one person must do an entire team’s worth of work. That spirit is quintessential to our industry, but we also know that such companies can be overworked and not operating at the capacity to provide services at the level that you may require. What separates the great propane companies from the competition is a combination of many factors that are not necessarily achievable in smaller operations. Namely, the company must foster a knowledgeable and courteous staff to aid its client base in every step of the process. For convenience, we’ve included four team members that one should expect to see at a propane company and the ways in which they can help you with your propane related needs.

The Propane Dealer

The first person that you should meet when you inquire about propane prices will be the propane dealer. While there are many companies that refer to the position as a “sales” job, we argue that dealers on-the-floor should have the foresight to look beyond the possibility of an immediate sale. The most important facet of the propane dealer’s job is to educate you on your options for propane energy and enable you to make the best choice possible based on this information. Sales are not an overwhelming concern for a propane dealer because, if a propane dealer does their job to make things as transparent and upfront as possible, customers will be satisfied down the line, and transactions will happen naturally.

The Delivery Person

The delivery person is the team member that you will see most frequently if you sign up for residential propane service. When you schedule a time and date, the delivery person will show up to make the delivery to your dwelling. You can either set up automatic deliveries or simply call to request a propane refill. As part of their job description, delivery people are extremely respectful of your property and mindful of your privacy. The goal of the delivery person is to make the delivery and exit without disturbing anyone in your household.

The Technician

Technicians serve an integral role in the team and should have both a lot of experience in the field and formal training in propane. With this expertise, the technician is suited to perform repairs and maintenance tasks. If there is ever a problem with your propane, a technician will be there to offer a quick and effective fix. Even if there is not currently a problem, routine maintenance should still be performed, and the technician is the best team member to handle the job.

The Office Staff

The Office staff plays an important support role by offering important answers to questions pertaining to your tank, service plan, bill, or any other inquiries you may have while in contact with a company. Because The office staff needs to have the answers to customer service questions, there is an emphasis on the office staff to be courteous, well-educated on propane, and willing to help whenever you may need it.

With a good team available to assist, propane makes for an easy choice for your household. What about propane has gotten you interested in trying it out?

Residential Propane Safety Tips

With owning a home comes multiple responsibilities. For example, there are a plethora of items that your home will need in order to ensure that your family and property are safe from harm such as smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, etc. Homeowners also need to be aware of propane safety tips if their heat or appliances use propane.

Never Run Out of Propane

If your home uses propane, it is important that you never run out.  In order to tell where you stand, propane tanks have a gauge that shows homeowners how much propane it has. This is an asset, and an individual should be sure that they check the gauge to keep it at an optimal level. Usually, people fall into a pattern with their propane usage and, in those cases, it can be helpful to utilize forecasting methods in order to schedule your next delivery. The importance of not running out of propane can not be stressed enough, as it can lead to explosions, fires, or other serious issues.  In some cases, a Remote Tank Monitor may be used to send daily updates of the tank level to the office.

Install a Propane Detector

Homes undoubtedly need smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to keep your house and family safe, but a propane detector is also a great idea to have in your home as well. Propane leaks can usually be noticed by smell to alert you of the need to seek assistance, but propane can sometimes lose its distinctive smell. This would make a leak harder to detect. A propane detector takes the guesswork out of ensuring that your tank remains leak-free and protects your family and property from the possibility of an accident.

How to Use Propane Appliances

It is important to practice caution when dealing with appliances that use propane. For example, if you have a propane grill, you should never use it inside your home. This includes other enclosed parts of your property like garages and sheds. Generators that operate by utilizing propane should be given the same treatment and are required to be outside when operating. Adhering to these rules is simple and can be performed by running an extension cord inside of your house for power. Remember to never use propane appliances like stoves as a space heater or for any purpose other than its intended one.

Don’t Hesitate to Call 911

If you ever smell propane in your home, call 911 immediately. Do not turn on or off any of your appliances and evacuate as quickly as possible. It is important to remember that you are not to re-enter your home until you receive confirmation from the fire department that the action is a safe one to take.

Propane extremely useful for heating and appliances, but it is important to remember that there is a level of responsibility associated with it. Always remember to practice safety tips in your home as you research residential propane prices.

See our service area should you need any of our expert’s assistance.

The Main Benefits of Switching to Propane to Heat Your Pool

Kid in Pool

After another brutally cold winter, we are happy to have helped many families and businesses stay warm with propane deliveries in Hunterdon County. With the arrival of spring, we know how important it is for locals to get the very most out of the warm weather season. It’s our goal to help everyone extend the time they can enjoy their summers through our propane pool heaters. With a propane pool heater, the typical 3-4 months of fun in the sun can be extended deep into the fall season. Today, we will examine some of the many benefits of utilizing propane to heat your Hunterdon County pool.

Environmentally Friendly – Many people look to solar pool heaters as a means of being environmentally conscious. These heaters rely on natural sunlight to be effective and do not provide as much control as their propane heater counterparts. The good news is that propane heaters are environmentally friendly as well. As a clean burning fuel, propane saves energy and works to reduce the carbon footprint.  Pool water runs through copper coils and returns to the pool at the desired temperature. This process is quicker than solar heaters and provides a higher level of control in regards to pool temperature.

Financial Benefits – Our experts understand how to ensure that a pool heater is sized properly for the pool and the elements of our area. The proper match is critical to fuel efficiency. Solar pumps will raise an electric bill by $300 to $950 a year as you have to keep the pump running at all times. Because propane heaters heat a pool so quickly, it’s much more of a pay as you go system.

Health Benefits – Warm water can help you relax sore muscles, increase blood flow to injured areas of your body and lower your stress levels. There’s something therapeutic about taking a dip in a warm pool after a long day at work.

We want to provide you with the best pool heating propane service for your unique needs.  Our propane heaters also give you the flexibility of utilizing propane to fire up your grill for a barbecue or heat an outdoor patio space on a cool evening. The power of propane is limitless. Click here to learn more about our propane pool heating in Hunterdon County and the greater Delaware Valley!

 

How Do We Forecast When Propane Delivery Service Is Needed?

house insulation concept. copy space

 

In order to be the best propane company in PA and NJ, our team needs to know when our customers will be in need of more propane. Our goal is to make a delivery with our automatic customers when they’re at about 30% of their total capacity. This is to ensure they don’t run out of fuel when they need it the most. If there’s a snowstorm or emergency and you run out of heating fuel, it could be a very dangerous situation. Our goal here at GasTec is to ensure this never happens, and you have all of the propane you need all year round.

 

How Do We Calculate How Much Propane Our Customers Will Need?

 

Determining how much propane a given customer will need is not a guessing game: In fact, forecasting is a science as well as a bit of an art form. Our propane delivery/weather forecasting method involves two terms: ‘Degree Days’ and ‘K Factor.’ Both are values that are used to calculate when propane delivery service is needed.

The first term, degree days, is based on heating values. We calculate degree days by reviewing the average temperature and comparing that to the average outside temperature when heating systems are turned on. Degree days are added to specific days when the outside temperature is lower than 65 degrees.

In order to calculate a specific day’s degree days, we use a formula. Don’t worry; it’s not difficult. All you do is add the high and low temperatures of the day and divide that number by 2. That number is then subtracted from 65. So let’s say on a cold December day, the high for the day is 38 degrees and the low is 24 degrees. When you put those numbers in the formula, you will get 34 degree days.

The second term is called K Factor, and these are the factors that apply to the individual customer. Every customer will have different heating needs and requirements that will affect how much propane they need. For example, the size of the home, the type/size/age of the heater, the set thermostat temperature, and other factors will all apply. A lower K Factor number will mean a household is using propane faster.

So let’s put the two together. We already determined 34 degree days for the cold day in December. Let’s say that the customer has a K Factor of five. This means they will use approximately one gallon of propane every five days. So if the given day has 34 degree days, the household will use almost seven gallons of propane that day. We then assess tank size and our goal number of gallons delivered to that tank to determine when propane delivery service is needed.

While this forecasting method is not always perfect, we can usually get it pretty close so we are serving our customers when they need us the most. Contact us today to learn more about all of our residential and commercial propane services!

 

Why You Should Consider Switching Over to a Propane Water Heater

Gas boiler on blue background. Gas boiler home heating.

 

Although summer is almost over, many households are still feeling it in their utility bills. With air conditioning, fans, and regular appliances you use every month, electric bills typically peak during the summer months. If you are looking for a way to reduce your utility bills, one potential area you should assess is how your water is heated. Many households, for example, still use an electric water heater to heat their water for showers, laundry, and more. Unfortunately, there are a few issues with electric water heaters.

First, they are expensive to use and will cause your electric bill to go up significantly. Second, they are pretty bulky and cumbersome. If things are cramped in your house already, the last thing you need is a giant, 50-gallon tank taking up space in your home. Third, they need to be replaced every seven to ten years, and a replacement water heater with labor costs could end up costing you $1,000 or more.

Many households in Delaware County are making the switch to propane water heating and for good reason. Propane hot water heaters offer many advantages over electric hot water heaters. For one, propane is less expensive than electric, so your utility bills are going to go down. Also, they have a longer life expectancy than electric hot water heaters. Most propane hot water heaters can be expected to last about 20 years. Performance-wise, propane hot water heaters allow for more accurate temperature adjustments, so the water is never too hot or too cold. They typically heat the water faster as well. Finally, propane hot water heaters are better for the environment than their electric counterparts.

In addition to that, you can opt for a propane tankless hot water heater and enjoy even more benefits. Can you imagine not having a 50-gallon hot water heater tank in your home and having the extra space? A tankless hot water heater does not require water storage and can heat up to eight gallons of water per minute. This means you should not have to worry about using up all of the hot water – a problem we can all relate to, especially in the dead of winter.

If you are thinking about making the switch to propane, our Delaware County team can help. We encourage you to contact us today to learn more about the benefits of going propane.

 

Why Standby Generators Offer Homeowners the Best Possible Outcome over Portable Generators

 Residential standby generator

 

 

 

Summer is one of our favorite times of the year, but there are times when Mother Nature can intervene to cause some inconveniences. A severe thunderstorm or tropical storm can knock power out in a region for hours, days, or even weeks. And as we remember from Hurricane Sandy, the threat of a hurricane is there this time of year as well.

Once you have decided to invest in a generator in the event of an outage, the next thing you will need to consider is whether you should go with a standby generator or a portable generator. A standby generator may cost more initially, but it is an automatic and permanent solution that can offer its owner(s) convenience when the lights go out for a little while.

Why Do You Need Power in the First Place?

For a short while, families might be okay if the power goes out because of a storm or mechanical issue. Maybe going without the television or internet for a day might even be a good thing. But if the power goes out for an extended period, the refrigerator, air conditioner, and cell phones will all need electricity. Also, some people need power for medical equipment. Automatic standby generators start when the power goes out and are powered by propane or natural gas. Propane is often the best choice because it has a lower startup cost, and propane can be kept in an independent propane tank system on the owner’s property. These tank(s) can be stored underground or above ground depending on the owner’s preference. We encourage you to contact us to learn about our Bucks County and Hunterdon County propane services.

Unlike portable generators, which have finite capabilities, automatic standby generators can ensure homeowners maintain safety and comfort during the worst of a storm. Homeowners also don’t have to worry about refueling the generator in the middle of the storm, which they likely will if they use a portable generator. While portable generators may be a good option for homeowners who want a temporary solution and only need a few items powered, standby generators are an insurance policy for those who deal with many outages and cannot go without an interruption of power.

 

Why Cooking with Propane is Better than Charcoal

There’s a longstanding debate between grill enthusiasts about whether it’s better to cook with propane gas or charcoal. As one of the leading Montgomery County propane companies, we’re here to put the argument to rest and tell you why using propane to fuel your grill is the best option.

For starters, cooking with propane as opposed to charcoal eliminates the need to mess around with fire or any sort of open flame. Propane grills are easy and safe to start when done properly. It’s as easy as opening your propane tank valve and pushing an ignite button on the grill.

Charcoal can sometimes take up to 15 minutes or longer to light and get up to the right cooking temperature. Besides requiring more effort during the ignition process, charcoal is also much messier and dirtier to handle than propane. It’s harder to tell what temperature you’re cooking at and the temperature can’t be adjusted as quickly or easily as a propane grill.

When grilling for long periods of time, charcoal can also begin to lose its heat, which requires you to add more charcoal throughout the cooking process. Charcoal grills often times also lack many of the convenient accessories that propane grills have and require much more clean up afterwards.

Becoming good at grilling with charcoal takes practice and is not nearly as intuitive as using a propane-fueled grill.

Propane grills are more popular than charcoal grills because of the convenience and control they provide. They’re easy to start, heat up quickly, easy to clean, and can include some very helpful accessories or settings.

Propane grills also offer more safety while cooking. These gas grills are typically use metal plates, lava rocks, and ceramic rocks to absorb and radiate heat. This prevents open flames, flare ups, and makes cleanup much easier because it makes drips vaporize.

Some of the convenient accessories that propane grills can include are rotisseries, side burners, night lights, side tables, spice racks, storage drawers, and more. Some higher-end propane grills feature smoke boxes for wood chips.

So you see, the choice is quite simple; there is no real debate between charcoal and propane grills. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to master and maintain a charcoal grill then perhaps that form of cooking is not a terrible choice for you. But for those looking for a more controlled and convenient form of grilling, propane grills are certainly the way to go.

Grilling with Propane this Memorial Day? Follow These Propane Grill Safety Tips

With the weather warming up and Memorial Day just around the corner, the smell of barbecue is in the air and many families will turn to cookouts for their long weekend at the end of May.

As one of the leading Mercer County propane companies, we’re sure to see an uptick in propane deliveries and refills in the coming weeks, but besides just providing top-notch propane services to our customers we also want to make sure they know how to use the clean-burning gas safely at their homes.

Although propane can be used in many residential ways, one the most common uses, particularly during warm weather, is for fuel to light up a grill. To practice proper propane safety while grilling this Memorial Day and throughout the summer, follow these propane grill safety tips for before, during, and after grilling.

Before Use

Before using your propane grill, check for leaks, especially if you’re using the grill for the first time in a while. Gas leaks are one of the most common culprits for grill fires and need to be checked for regularly. If the leak is substantial enough, you might be able to smell the fuel. However, this isn’t always a sufficient test so it is important to know other ways of checking. One way you can check your propane tank for leaks is to turn the tank’s valve to open, get a solution of half water and half soap and apply it with a brush to the propane tank’s hoses and connections. Watch for bubbles to form and if they do that means you have a leak.

During Use

While grilling, it is important to keep location in mind. Using a grill indoors or in a garage is never a wise idea, and you’ll also want to make sure the grill isn’t too close to the house or wooden fences when being used outside. Make sure the lid is open when you ignite the grill and always keep a fire extinguisher handy just in case. Baking soda, sand, or cat litter can also be used to extinguish flames if you do not have a fire extinguisher available.

After Use

When you are done grilling, turn the propane tank off first and then the grill. This is meant to minimalize the amount of residual pressure that builds up in the propane hoses. Always keep the propane tank valve closed when it’s not in use. When it comes to storing your propane tank, make sure it is completely disconnected from your grill and it remains outdoors. You never want to store a propane tank indoors.

Propane Facts from the PAPGA

If you’re an eastern Pennsylvania resident who receives propane from one of the many Bucks County, Berks County, Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, or Lehigh County propane companies, you might have a few questions about propane and its many applications.

The Pennsylvania Propane Gas Association (PAPGA) is a trade association representing the Pennsylvania propane industry. Many people turn to PAPGA for information about propane and to have their questions about propane answered.

According to PAPGA, here are some of the most frequently asked questions by Pennsylvania propane users.

What is propane?

Propane is an American-made fuel that is more affordable and cleaner that other energy sources. It is usually compressed and stored as a liquid in tanks. It can be used for heating space and water, cooking, and as engine fuel. Natural propane gas is non-toxic, colorless and odorless. However, an identifying odor is usually added to propane that is purchased so that leaks can be detected.

Where does propane come from?

The Marcellus Shale production in Pennsylvania is where propane in the state comes from. Propane is a byproduct of both natural gas processing and crude oil refining. Of all the propane used in American, about 97 percent of it comes from North America.

What are the benefits of using propane?

Propane differs from other crude oil products such as gasoline or diesel fuel in the following ways:

  • It’s more affordable
  • It’s cleaner
  • It’s more abundant
  • It’s domestic

Who uses propane?

Propane is used by many households and industries across the United States. It is used in 48 million households nationwide as well as many businesses for space and water heating, cooking, clothes drying, and generators. Many industries are switching to propane use for their energy needs because it is cost effective and produces lower emissions. Transportation, professional landscaping, and agricultural businesses are just some of the many industries who have made drastic switches to propane.

How is propane distributed?

Propane in the United States is distributed between 56,000 miles of pipeline and about 6,000 retail dealers across the country. Not only is propane widely available, it is also affordable and easily transported.

How does propane contribute to Pennsylvania’s economy?

Pennsylvania’s propane industry distributes propane to more than 190,000 households across the state. Between all of this service, the industry contributes more than $1.3 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy.