Home Comfort by the Numbers

Mark Gagnon

Dear Friends,

Recently, we had a veteran technician join P. Gagnon & Son after a brief hiatus. We’re happy to have him back! He has many years of experience in the oil and propane industries.

His return made me stop and think about the cumulative experience of our team. When I added it all up, it came to 219 years, more than two centuries’ worth of knowledge.

Having a group of skilled professionals who are among the best in the area is why you can count on P. Gagnon & Son. There isn’t much our guys haven’t seen and there’s nothing they can’t handle. It’s a big part of what makes us stand out from the competition.

We’re proud of our team and we’re dedicated to keeping that pool of knowledge strong and growing. Currently, we have two bright 18-year-olds working as apprentices — learning from our best — and we look forward to them going on to get their licenses.

We know you expect nothing but the best, including great service, starting the minute you call us. Our customerservice representatives are as courteous as our technicians, trained and experienced to get you the help you need — whether it’s for a fuel delivery or an emergency repair — quickly and courteously.

This is why customers have counted on us for 114 years — and why you can count on us for many more.


Mark Gagnon

Elderly couple

Advances in refining processes have produced ultra-low-sulfur heating oil that is better for customers in many ways.

Heating oil is already more efficient than natural gas — particularly in areas with long, cold winters like the ones we have. You would need to burn 40% more natural gas to generate the same amount of heat as heating oil.

But cleaner oil burns even more efficiently — helping to keep heating costs down. It’s also kinder to your heating system: Less sulfur means less buildup in your equipment and lower maintenance costs for you.

And, of course, cleaner-burning fuel is better for the environment. Ultra-lowsulfur heating oil is the cleanest ever, producing almost zero particulates. All heating oil delivered in the State of Maine will have ultra-low sulfur starting in July. We’ve been delivering clean-burning biofuel to our customers for a while, and we’re proud to be able to offer you an even cleaner fuel going forward.

Every problem has a symptom, and frequently it is accompanied by something you see, hear, smell or even feel. Follow along as Shamus, the dogged detective, uses his enhanced senses to uncover common problems you might encounter at your oil-heated or propane home.


Seeing icicles?

If there are icicles hanging from your roof, you could be facing a double whammy. First, there’s the safety risk of their falling. Second, icicles usually mean that you’re losing heat through your attic. Icicles form when a roof has “hot spots” (caused by escaping heat) that melts snow. The water trickles to colder spots on the roof and freezes. The water that drips over the eaves turns into icicles.

Eventually, mounds of ice can form and water trapped behind these ice dams can seep into your home, resulting in costly repairs.

The solution for heat loss and potential water damage is to seal air leaks in your attic and then improve the insulation. These steps will lower your heating costs — and reduce cooling bills in the summer because your attic will retain less heat.

Feeling a chill in your shower?


Does it takes longer to heat water than it used to, or does it feel as if the water doesn’t get as hot? These are strong signs that you are ready for a new unit. Other trouble signs include a slow leak from your tank or rust on the tank or in your tap water. (A water tank rusts from the inside out.)

If you think your water heater is failing — the average water heater lasts anywhere from 7 to 13 years — please speak with us about your options in oil-fired or propane water heaters.

Both of these options — which include propane tankless/on-demand units and indirect-fired oil water heaters — provide plenty of hot water at a very affordable cost. That’s something that extremely inefficient electric water heaters cannot provide.

If you have a water heater that is 10 years old or older, start checking out your options today!


What’s that funky smell?

Well, it could be the dog, but it’s probably caused by stagnant water — the most common source for bad odors, because it often turns to mold. Look for water leaks in the roof, the foundation, or around sinks and other piping. Besides correcting water leaks promptly, you can keep indoor air virtually odor-free with correctly sized equipment, constant airflow and air purification systems.

Other problems to sniff out

Oil odors. If your system is working properly, you should never smell fuel oil. An oil smell could be caused by a leak, burner troubles, a heat exchanger failure or exhaust system problems. You should schedule service as soon as possible to correct this situation.

Smoky odors when your burner is operating. If a fireplace or exhaust fan is running at the same time as your oil burner, a smoky odor can result because a backdraft is pulling flue gases through the exhaust system and into the home.

A “skunky” smell. That distinctive smell is deliberately added to propane to alert you to a possible leak. If you smell it, immediately extinguish any smoking materials and all open flames, and do not operate lights, appliances or cell phones. (You do not want to create any sparks.) Get everyone out of the home, and, if it is safe to do so, shut off the main valve on your propane tank by turning it clockwise. When you are a safe distance away from the area, call us immediately to report the leak or call the fire department.


What’s that noise?

If you have a furnace, unusual noises often come from your system’s blower motor, which pushes the air from your system into the ducts. Here are a few sounds you may hear and their possible causes. (Note: A correct diagnosis can only be made with an on-site visit from a technician.)

Scraping. The bearings in the motor may be wearing out. If you hear this noise, shut off the system immediately to avoid further damage. Then call for service.

Squealing. If you have an older system, the blower motor may need oil. There may also be a loose belt.

Vibration. The blower motor or wheel may need to be rebalanced.

Other common noises

Booming or rumbling burner. It’s normal to hear a burner “kick on,” but if it makes a loud boom, also known as a “hard start,” the burner is not igniting properly. It needs to be serviced as soon as possible.

Rumbling noises from your water heater. This usually indicates that sediment has built up in the bottom of the storage tank. Sediment decreases heating efficiency and could eventually cause your water heater to break down. To prevent problems and save money, schedule a maintenance check.

Heavy snow

We often talk about the benefits of a service plan. We thought you might want to hear from a customer whose plan helped him save.

“I used to spend a lot of money on repairs, so I finally signed up for your Comfort Plan, and I’m glad I did,” Nick P. told us. “Seasonal tune-ups are included in the plan — so I have fewer breakdowns to start with, and when I do have a problem, the repair is covered at no charge. I also like that I get priority after-hours service. That’s added peace of mind if the heat goes out on a cold, snowy night.”

Want to learn more? Visit our Service Plans page.

Todd Leach and Dana Tobey

When Todd Leach and Dana Tobey aren’t helping customers, you may find them on the sidelines coaching football and lacrosse.

The people who work at P. Gagnon & Son are the best in the business because they care about making sure that we exceed your expectations. They also care about our community. As a local family-run business, we are more than just a fuel company; we are your neighbors.

Our service team includes Todd Leach, who has been with us for 24 years. As a driver, he meets new people every day and he says he enjoys not sitting at a desk. He is also a member of the South Berwick Volunteer Fire Department and was a longtime coach for his son’s lacrosse and football teams.

Technician Dana Tobey recently rejoined the team after some years of running his own business. Based here in South Berwick, he too spent many years coaching his son’s football and lacrosse teams. He enjoys the experienced team at P. Gagnon & Son, and the variety of problems he solves every day.

Todd and Dana are lifelong friends; their sons are freshman at Marshwood High School.

Child with snow shovel

Our drivers appreciate it so much when you plow your driveway before a fuel delivery. It makes their job a little easier and a lot safer.

It’s also great when you clear a path to your oil fill pipe or propane tank when you are shoveling your walk or plowing your drive, especially after a big snow.

It’s not only safer for our drivers, it helps deliveries go more quickly so they can get to everyone faster. Thank you!

Suburban home

Thanks to a nasty storm in October, our heating season got off to a rough start, with lots of power outages. As a result, your generator’s fuel level may be lower than usual by this point.

Don’t wait for the next storm to be forecast: Take a moment now to check your tank gauge to make sure you have enough propane for your generator to get you through the season. Give us a call if you need a fill-up — we’ll be right over!