Winter 2019 Archives - P. Gagnon & Son
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Oil Heat’s Exciting Future

Mark Gagnon

Dear Friends,

This will be the first winter that virtually every gallon of heating oil burned in Maine will have ultra-lowsulfur content. That’s good for homeowners and for the environment. And as our state strengthens its commitment to cleaner-burning fuels, it will be great for our economy too.

Through pilot projects, Maine-produced biofuels made from wood waste (something we have plenty of) have been successfully tested for heating homes. They were also tried at Bates College in Lewiston, with good results. Imagine locally sourced renewable heating oil that benefits the forest industry!

Meanwhile, the heating oil industry is on a path to make an equal blend of advanced biodiesel and ultra-low-sulfur diesel the standard within the next 25 years. According to the National Oilheat Research Alliance, the resulting fuel would yield carbon-free heating.

On our end, the heating oil that we deliver typically includes Bioheat®, a renewable blend of ultra-low-sulfur heating oil and biodiesel that produces nearly zero particulates. It also burns more efficiently, helping you keep heating costs down.

The bottom line: You can feel good knowing that we’re here for you, delivering clean, efficient fuel when you need it, no matter what the season brings.

Mark Gagnon, President

Whistling technician

If you have a tank in the basement or outdoors, you’ve probably noticed a whistling sound on delivery day. While our guys are usually cheerful, it’s not them! What you’re actually hearing is your vent alarm — a key part of your heating oil storage system.

As oil flows into the fill pipe and starts filling your tank, air gets pushed out. That air goes through the vent alarm — located between your tank and the vent pipe — making a whistling sound. When the whistling stops, our driver knows the tank is just about full.

The vent alarm helps prevent spills. In fact, we are prohibited from delivering oil if it isn’t working.

Winter house driveway

Our delivery drivers are the best on the road — they are out there in all kinds of weather to make sure you stay comfortable.

They have to deal with hazardous conditions, especially when there’s snow and ice on the ground. Maneuvering with a heavy hose while navigating slippery surfaces can be challenging — sometimes they can lose their footing and sustain injuries.

You can help our drivers make safe deliveries by clearing the path to your fuel tank and removing obstacles such as fallen branches. Also, please clear ice and snow from your driveway, and mark the edges. This makes it easier for the drivers to navigate driveways, especially steep ones.

Remember, just because you can get your car down your driveway doesn’t mean our 15-ton fuel truck can!

Dad and son jumping on bed

Being safe at home becomes a lot easier when you rely on oil or propane heat — and us! To keep you even safer this season, we offer some advice.

Power outage = no heat

During power outages, we receive many calls from customers who have fuel but can’t get heat. Unfortunately, your heating system will not run without electricity — no matter whether your fuel is heating oil, natural gas, propane or, obviously, electricity. (Only some very old heating systems can operate without power).

If your home is without power for an extended period of time, unplug appliances and turn off circuit breakers. This will prevent surges when the electricity returns. Before restarting your system, check that the system’s power switch and circuit breakers are back on. Do not press your unit’s reset button more than once.

Snow scene

Once you have power back, make sure that there is no standing water in your basement. If your system requires service to get it started again, for safety reasons it cannot be worked on when water is pooling around it.

If flood water reached your heating system, call us to do an inspection before you restart it. The valves and controls are vulnerable to water damage — even if it cannot be seen. Corrosion begins inside the valves, and damage may not be apparent when the outside is clean and dry.

Don’t DIY

In this digital age, the initial response to solving a problem is to go online and do research. That’s why do-it-yourself (DIY) projects are such a big trend these days. It seems as though people of all ages and skill levels are checking out YouTube videos for a quick-fix way to heal whatever ails their home.


But what those videos usually don’t show is what happens when that amateur repair doesn’t go as planned. Over the years, we’ve seen some costly — and even dangerous — consequences. That’s especially true when someone starts fiddling around with complicated heating systems.

Repairing a heating system presents unique challenges that more often than not require extensive training and expensive diagnostic equipment to assess and fix.

The bottom line: If you need a heating system repair, don’t attempt to do it yourself — call us. Our certified technicians have the training, experience and tools to find and fix your problem quickly, correctly and safely so you can focus on the things that matter in your life — like having fun with your family.

Leave your troubles behind you

If you’ve gone away on a winter vacation in the past, you know how important it is to have someone check your home on a regular basis. That person can contact us if there’s a problem and give us access. (You may also want to consider a lockbox.) But you can do more.


You can add a temperature sensor to your home’s central alarm system. Another option is to install a wireless remote smart thermostat. Once you register the thermostat online, you can use your phone to access it from any location to monitor or adjust the temperature. Some models will even send out an immediate alert if the heat stops and the temperature falls below a certain point.

For added protection, we recommend our automatic delivery service to eliminate the chance of your tank going dry while you’re away. If you already receive your deliveries automatically, please let us know when you’ll be away so we can adjust your “burn rate.”

Lastly, remember to keep your home temperature no lower than the 60°–65° range to reduce the risk of frozen pipes. During extreme cold spells, we recommend setting the thermostat a little higher than that.

Generator safety

With more people relying on both portable and permanent generators than ever before, it’s important to share the following emergency generator safety tips:


Theresa, Mike, and Frank

How many members of our hard-working team do you know? Here’s a brief introduction to three of them.

Theresa Painter has been a service dispatcher here for more than 10 years. Before that, she was a service technician, and that background gives her a unique perspective on which technician to assign to which service call.

“Interacting with the techs is my favorite part of the job,” says Theresa, adding that her experience helps her understand the kinds of issues that technicians may encounter in the field.

Speaking of technicians, Frank Bowden has been performing that job for us since 2006. All told, he has 34 years of experience in the business. He is well versed in troubleshooting for both heating oil and propane equipment.

Away from work, Frank enjoys camping and snowmobiling with his two teenage sons. Another favorite hobby is restoring old cars and trucks.

Mike Place is our go-to guy if you want advice on replacing worn-out heating or cooling equipment. As our equipment sales advisor, Mike works with customers to help guide them through the process of choosing home comfort equipment that will enhance their lives and lower their energy costs.

Mike says his favorite part of the job is hearing back from satisfied customers, because this means he has achieved his goal of total customer satisfaction.

Mark Gagnon

Q: What is a heating degree-day?

A: Heating degree-days help us to calculate when you need a fuel delivery. For every degree that the average daily temperature is below 65°, we count one degree-day. So if the average temperature on any given day is 25°, that’s equivalent to 40 degree-days.

The heating season runs from October 1 to April 1, and Maine usually records an average of 7,000 heating degree-days each year.

By looking at degree-days and combining that data with other factors, we can create a highly reliable delivery schedule, ensuring that automatic delivery customers have a very low risk of running out, compared with folks who call for their fuel.

If you’re interested in getting automatic deliveries, please call us or contact us through our website and we’ll get you set up.

Bose music system

Turn up the music! Here’s your chance to win a Bose® Wave® SoundTouch® Music System IV. Read this newsletter and answer the questions on the enclosed reply card or go to to enter. All entries received by 5/17/19 with the correct answers will be entered into a drawing. Two grand prize winners will be selected.

Featuring built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for easy connection to your network, phone and tablet, this is also a great back-to-basics audio system, because it plays CDs too. Value: $600

No purchase necessary. A purchase will not increase chance of winning. See enclosed card for details.