In This Issue
It's Cold but It's Not All Bad!
Why Is a Propane Tank
Never Full?
Generators
Oil Tanks
Want to Win $100?
Shovel Some Snow!
No Heat?
Here's What to Do ...
Why We Add Avalux®
to Our Heating Oil
Have You Seen Our Blogs?
Refer a Friend
Facebook
Want to Win $100?
Shovel Some Snow!

As we head into winter, please spare a thought for our delivery drivers. All winter long they'll be out on the road bringing fuel to your tank, often before the sun is up in the morning and after the sun sets in the afternoon. The driving can be challenging, and the tank-filling hard work. You can help: by shoveling the snow away from your fill pipe and creating a clear path from the driveway or road to the pipe you will make our drivers' jobs that bit less tough. As a thank you, in any month that there is a new significant snowfall, if you shovel a path to your tank we will enter your name in a drawing for $100. That's right - one customer will win a credit of $100 just for doing a bit of snow clearing!
No Heat?
Here's What to Do ...
It's cold and the heat's not working. You could call us and ask for a technician to come by but wouldn't you like to do some quick trouble shooting first?

Here's the checklist that you can run through before you dial our number:

1. Do you have fuel? Many people who call for their fuel deliveries forget to do so until they run out ... and often they only know they ran out because they have no heat.

2. Is the thermostat working and is it on the correct setting? If you have a programmable thermostat it should be set to 'Heat' and 'Auto'. Some thermostats also require batteries, try replacing them.

3. Is power reaching the heating unit? Check to see if the breaker has been tripped on the electrical panel; for an oil-heat system check the burner emergency switch (usually at the top of the basement stairs - there will be no such switch for a gas system); check the boiler/furnace switch on the side of the unit - all the switches need to be in the 'on' position for the system to work.

4. Once you've checked all the above, if you are burning gas, skip to step 5; if you have an oil-powered system go to the front of the heating unit and find the burner - a large motor sticking out from the heating system. On the burner is a black box with a red 'reset' button. Press the button once. Hopefully the burner will fire and you can go enjoy the heat. If it doesn't fire, don't try it again. Now it's time to ...

5. Call our 24-hour service line at 603.964.6703 and have a technician come take a look.
For more details check out our blog.
Why We Add Avalux® to Our Heating Oil
All oil tanks contain some moisture from condensation. The condensation is caused by a difference in temperatures between the oil that is being delivered and the tank that is being filled. For example: in summer the oil on the delivery truck will warm up but it is poured into a tank housed in a cool basement. Conversely in winter, the oil on the truck will be cool and now it is flowing into a tank housed in a relatively warm basement. The presence of condensation can attract mold, which in turn will create sludge and sediment. These can lead to plugged filters, nozzles, and strainers. When sediment has built up in a tank it will become agitated during an oil delivery and get sucked into fuel lines. Ultimately the clogging of oil lines and filters can lead to a shut down in the heating system.

That's why every gallon of Lamprey Energy oil - Number 2 and Biofuel - is treated with the additive Avalux®, which helps combat this build-up of moisture, mold, and sludge. Avalux® contains a stabilizer that minimizes fuel degradation and sludge formation; a dispersant that gradually dissolves sludge and disperses water; a detergent that cleans the supply system to and from the tank; a corrosion inhibitor that protects storage tanks from rust and corrosion; and a metal deactivator that prevents metal particles from causing chemical reactions.

By adding Avalux® to our oil, fuel-related service calls to Lamprey Energy have been greatly reduced.
Have You Seen
Our Blogs?
Most weeks on the Lamprey Energy website there's a new blog posted. There's a wide range of topics including how to read a gauge, how to clean your heaters, how we figure out when to deliver your fuel, what to do when the AC doesn't work, and energy-saving tips and how to maximize your system. Whatever the topic, we keep it new, fresh, informative, and brief. Check them out at lampreyenergy.com/blog/.
Refer a Friend
Bring a new customer to Lamprey Energy and we'll give you a $50 credit on your account. Bring us 10 new customers and we'll give you a $500 credit!
Facebook
Have you liked us on Facebook yet? Be the 100th person to like us this month and we'll send you two tickets to sail on the gundalow Piscataqua.

It's Cold but It's Not All Bad!

On a winter day of bright blue sky over freshly fallen snow and no wind, can there be anywhere more beautiful than our corner of the world? But, however beautiful, life in New England can be tough in the winter months.

As I write this we've recently changed the clocks back and our days are getting ever shorter and darker. And, we've just come through one of the toughest weekends we've seen this year ...

Thanksgiving should be a warm holiday of family gatherings and good food. And for some of us - the lucky ones for whom the power didn't fail - it was. But for many it was a very long few days of no power, cold temperatures, and worry about pipes breaking. Family who had gathered for the weekend were suddenly in search of a hot shower, a warm room, and a steaming meal. And our drivers were running around with propane delivery trucks filling propane tanks for generators that were getting low after days of constant running.

Yet, despite the unfortunate timing of that storm, or perhaps because of it, there were many tales of good people helping each other out: of neighbors helping to clear fallen trees, of friends giving up kitchens in which to rescue half-cooked Thanksgiving meals, of extended families offering extra beds, hot showers, and warm meals. It's in times like these that human kindness has an opportunity to show itself and on this year's Thanksgiving weekend neighborly kindness was on full display. Perhaps, then, it's the good people even more than the blue skies that make this such a special place.

Until the summer breezes come again, I wish you all a warm, safe, peaceful winter. And remember, as your neighbors, everyone at Lamprey Energy is here to help whenever you need us.

Why Is a Propane Tank Never Full?

Propane exists in two different forms: liquid and vapor (gas). Just like water, liquid propane has a temperature at which it will boil and transform into vapor. Unlike water (which will boil at 212°F at sea level) propane will boil at the very low temperature of -44°F at sea level. Yet the propane that's delivered to your house and stored in your propane tank is liquid propane. But how is that possible?

Well, at temperatures higher than -44°F it is possible to keep propane in its liquid form by applying pressure.

To better visualize what happens, think of a pot of water on top of the kitchen stove. As the water temperature rises nothing much happens until it reaches 212°F, then the water boils and turns into water vapor (steam). It continues to boil and transform into vapor until either there is no water remaining or the temperature of the water drops back below 212°F. Propane - also an odorless, clear liquid - will behave in exactly the same way except that it will reach its boiling point at -44°F.


Now, instead of boiling the water in an open pot, imagine it in a pot with a sealed lid. Now the water will boil and turn to steam but instead of evaporating, the steam will remain within the confines of the pot until there is 100% humidity. Then it will condense and turn back into water, which will boil and turn into steam. A propane tank is just the same.


If the temperature inside the tank is higher than -44°F (which in our part of the world it probably always will be) the liquid propane within the tank will boil. As it boils it transforms into vapor, and as it transforms it expands - to 270 times its original volume. Contained within the tank, this extra volume creates pressure.

Let's say it's a warm summer's day and the temperature inside the propane tank is 80°F. Little can be done to lower the temperature of the tank interior and so the propane will boil and transform into vapor (commonly called propane gas). If the pressure inside the tank were to reach 128psig (pounds per square inch, gauge) a stable equilibrium would be achieved - the pressure would have the same effect as lowering the temperature to -44°F. However, because the vapor is trapped in an environment of 100% humidity, it will condense back into liquid, which will boil and turn to vapor, which will condense, and so on ad infinitum. And because the liquid is always boiling, it will always be transforming into vapor that can be drawn off to fuel the appliances in your home.

But what does all that have to do with the propane tank never being full? Well, because the liquid propane expands to 270 times its original volume as it transforms into vapor, there needs to be space within the tank to accommodate that extra volume. Thus, a propane tank is never filled to 100%. Rather, it is considered 'full' when the tank is actually only filled to 80% of its capacity. Therefore, if you have a 1000-gallon tank, you will never have more than 800 gallons of propane in it ... i.e. 'FULL' is 800 gallons.F.

Generators

'Tis the season and power outages are all too common and all too inconvenient. Most of us can deal with a few hours without electricity, but what happens when the outage persists for several days? That's when it's mighty nice to have a generator. But how do you decide what's the right generator for you?

Generators are sold by their wattage output. So the first thing to do is decide what you want to run off the generator.

Most appliances will have their required wattage clearly labeled, either on the appliance itself or in the documentation. Below is a list of some common household items and their average wattage requirements:

LED light bulb, 10 watts
Incandescent light bulb, 60-100 watts
Laptop computer, 25-75 watts
TV, 50-240 watts
Desktop computer with monitor, 200-400 watts
Heating system, 500-800 watts
Space heater, 750-1,500 watts
Refrigerator, 500-750 watts
Coffee maker, 600-1,200 watts
•  Chest freezer, 600 watts
•  Well pump, 750-1,000 to run, 1,400-4,000 to start
•  Sump pump, 800-1,050 to run, 1,300-4,100 to start
•  Microwave, 1,000-2,000 watts
•  Toaster oven, 1,200 watts
•  Water heater, 3,000-4,500 watts

To decide what size generator you require, add the watts required for the appliances you would want to keep running. If an appliance has a higher wattage for starting - like the well pump and sump pump in the list above - that's the figure you should use.

Let's say you want to run a small sump pump (1,300 watts to start), a small refrigerator (500 watts), a small space heater (750 watts) and five incandescent lights (500 watts). To run all these at the same time you'll need a generator with at least 3,050 watts output. A small portable (output 3,000 to 4,000 watts) will do just fine in this scenario and will cost somewhere in the region of $400 to $800.

But maybe you want to do all of the above and work at the desktop computer (300), watch TV (150 watts), use the microwave (1,500 watts), keep the chest freezer going (600 watts), and have hot water (3,750 watts). Now your total need, if running everything simultaneously, is 9,350 watts, for which you'll need a large portable giving 10,000 watts and costing between $1,000 and $5,000, or a stationary model giving 10,000-15,000 watts and costing between $5,000 and $10,000 plus installation.

But what are the feature differences between the portable and the stationary?


A portable generator will be less expensive than the equivalent stationary unit and doesn't require any special training to install it and get it running. It can be moved and so can be used in different locations. It runs on gasoline, which is easily attainable but will require safe storage and, depending on what the generator is powering, a portable generator may need refueling every half hour.

Most portable generators have a pull-cord start mechanism so are not easily operated by everyone, but some are available with electric start. A portable generator is connected to specific appliances via extension cords, which must be led from the generator (outside) to the appliance (inside). A portable generator must be manually started as and when needed - thus, someone must be available at the property when the generator is needed.

A stationary generator will be considerably more expensive to purchase and must be professionally installed. It runs on propane or natural gas and will automatically draw from your household supply. A stationary generator is wired directly to your electrical panel so there is no need for extension cords, etc. It will fire automatically - if there is no power reaching your house, the stationary generator will kick in within 30 seconds ... even if you're not home; when the electricity is restored the generator will automatically switch off. Like the portable generator a stationary generator is installed outside but in a protective housing and it will typically be quieter than a portable generator.

Whether your ultimate decision is based on cost or convenience, be sure to consult an expert before you buy - whichever type you purchase, a generator is a high-cost item and you want to be sure you're getting the right one first time around!

Oil Tanks

Although most new construction on the Seacoast features propane or natural gas for heat, the vast majority of homes still use an oil-fired system for heat, and so require a large storage tank for the fuel.

Historically oil tanks have been made of steel, single skin, and typically hold 230 gallons of fuel when full. But steel can rust, resulting in filter-blocking sludge that accumulates in the bottom of the tank and, eventually, can cause seams to fail or tank skins to deteriorate, which in turn can lead to leaking fuel and devastating consequences.


At Lamprey Energy we offer various services to help you protect your property. Our annual Preventive Maintenance program includes not only a complete maintenance of your heating system but also a detailed inspection of your oil tank; and our TankSure® insurance goes one step further, offering an annual ultrasonic tank test and financial assistance when the time comes to replace a tank. To learn more about our Preventive Maintenance Program click here, and/or TankSure®, click here.


Most traditional single-skin steel tanks have a life expectancy of 15-20 years. An inspection will look to answer several questions: What is the outward appearance of the tank - the condition of the legs, pads, and foundation? Is there any evidence of corrosion, oil spills or leaks? Are all unused openings properly plugged? Is the fill pipe in good condition and is its cap in place? Is the vent pipe cap in place and is the vent unobstructed? Is the vent pipe the same size or larger than the fill pipe? What is the condition of the gauge? And where is the tank located? If it's outside is it protected from falling snow or ice? If it's inside is it at least 5ft from the burner or other sources of heat?


What if your technician advises that the time has come for your oil tank to be replaced? There are various options on today's market: The single-skinned steel tank is still available and, usually, is the least expensive option. However, a modern double-wall oil tank - a plastic tank inside a galvanized-steel outer shell - is highly recommended. The inner tank does not rust, the outer shell can withstand impact and corrosion and most tanks are fitted with a device that will detect a leak in either the inner tank or the shell. Such tanks do come with a higher price tag but they should also come with a 10-year full-replacement warranty and comprehensive coverage for environmental cleanup should any part of the tank fail.

What do you do with your old tank? Not a problem - we'll take it away for you and dispose of it according to State and Federal regulations.