Q. I thought gas burned cleanly—why do I need to have my furnace checked?
A. Gas does burn very cleanly. The burners of most heating appliances, however, will develop rust. This can clog the ports and cause your appliance to burn inefficiently. In extreme cases, it will also produce soot and carbon monoxide.

Q. If my boiler has electronic ignition, can I light it by hand if the power is out?
A. No. There has to be electricity to open the safety valve for the gas to come in.

Q. Is propane safe to use in my home?
A. Propane is a safe fuel to use in your home or business. Propane has a narrow range of flammability and cannot be ingested, like gasoline or alcohol fuels, because it is released as a vapor from a pressurized container. In addition, award-winning preventive maintenance programs like GAS Check (Gas Appliance System Check) ensure that homeowners understand how to properly maintain their propane appliances and enjoy a healthy, safe environment.

Q. How should propane tanks be stored?
A. Propane tanks should be stored outside. Do not store any propane tanks in the garage or any other indoor areas at any time, even during the winter months. Propane tanks should only be filled to 80% of the tank’s capacity. This is to allow for some expansion of the liquid propane that might occur during hot days.

Q. Are there any tips for using a propane stove?
A. When purchasing a propane oven or range:

  • Look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves propane, because a pilot light is not burning continuously.
  • Be sure that all burners show a blue, cone-shaped flame. A yellow flame indicates clogged air inlets or burners that need adjustment. Contact a propane retailer’s service department immediately if you do not see a blue flame.
  • Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.

Q. What is propane?
A. Propane naturally occurs as a gas at atmospheric pressure but can be liquefied if subjected to moderately increased pressure. It is stored and transported in its compressed liquid form, but when a valve is opened to release it from a pressurized storage container, it is vaporized into gas for use. Although propane is nontoxic and odorless, a distinctive odor is added so the gas can be detected.

Q. Where does propane come from?
A. The main source of propane, also called LP gas, is a crude oil-and-gas mixture from actively producing natural gas and oil wells. Approximately 70% of LP gases come from natural gas production, while 30% comes from crude oil production and refining.

Q. What is a Btu?
A. A Btu (British thermal unit) is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.

Q. What if I cannot smell the gas?
A. There is a device you can purchase that sounds an alarm when gas is present. Contact us to inquire about purchasing one.

Q. My grandmother used heating oil, and it was smoky and smelly. Has that changed?
A. Yes! Heating oil burns much more cleanly than it did even 15 years ago! In fact, today’s heating oil burns just as cleanly as natural gas. And like televisions and cars, oil-burning equipment has changed a great deal in the past 30 years. The new generation of oil-burning equipment is very efficient and produces low emissions. Roach’s exclusive blend of lower-sulfur heating oil burns even more cleanly and provides better fuel efficiency than the standard #2 heating oil delivered by other oil companies.

Q. When I’m getting an oil delivery, I’ve noticed a whistling sound while the tank is filling. What is that?
A. The whistle is a safety feature of your oil tank. When the delivery person fills your tank, the oil displaces air, which leaves the tank through a separate vent. As the air escapes, it passes a device that whistles, just like a teakettle! When the fill-up is complete, there is almost no air left and the whistle quiets. The silence tells the delivery person that the tank is full. Pretty neat!

Q. Do I need to be home to get oil delivered?
A. No. Unless your account is set up for cash on delivery, we can deliver fuel anytime without anyone being home. If you have pets, please secure them to ensure their safety and the safety of our delivery personnel.

Q. What is the average amount of oil a house will use?
A. Fuel usage depends many on many factors, including size, insulation, system efficiency and household habits. Please give us a call for a free fuel-usage estimate.

Q. Will you deliver more oil if I get automatic deliveries?
A. No. We schedule deliveries when our computerized delivery system projects that your tank is between a third and a half full. Smaller, more frequent deliveries are inefficient and would drive fuel prices up unnecessarily. We do everything we can to keep our fuel prices as low as possible!

Q. How do you know when it’s time to deliver oil to my home?
A. The average temperature on a given day is measured in “degree-days.” The colder it is, the more degree-days there are. The number of heating degree-days for one day is roughly equal to 65° minus the average temperature on that day. We track the average number of gallons per delivery and compare that to the number of degree-days to develop a use rating called a “K-factor.” Each household has its own rating. It’s a lot like rating your home’s “miles per gallon.”

Q. Do you try to schedule deliveries when fuel prices are the highest?
A. No. If you are on our automatic delivery plan, your deliveries are based on degree-day forecasting and your home’s K-factor. Fuel prices fluctuate constantly. Trying to schedule deliveries according to these fluctuations would be impractical.

Q. How does your NO Run-Out policy work?
A. If you have run out of fuel when our office is closed, call (304) 596-0147 and talk to our after-hours answering-service rep. He or she will contact the service tech who is on call. The tech will call you to assess the situation. If you are out of oil and an automatic customer with a current balance, the tech will bring you 10 gallons of heating oil and start your furnace to hold you to the next business day, when a delivery truck will be dispatched to your home. If you are a “will call” customer, you can leave a message on our office answering machine and a customer-service representative will return your call the next business day to schedule a delivery for you. Or you can have our after-hours answering service contact our service tech. The tech will call to assess the situation and advise you of the cost of a delivery.

Q. I believe I am out of oil—when I hit my oil tank it sounds empty, even though my gauge says I have oil.
A. All tanks sound empty even when full; hitting and banging on the tank is not a reliable way to gauge fuel levels. If you think you are running low on fuel, please call us. We will look at your account and help you assess your need for a delivery.

Q. When there are severe winter storms, how do you plan fuel deliveries?
A. Our delivery team keeps a close watch on weather forecasts to anticipate extreme weather, especially snow and ice storms. By using our sophisticated delivery-projection system, we know when you will need a delivery and we make adjustments to your delivery cycle based on weather forecasts. We also do our best to deliver to customers with difficult driveways before storms make them impassable.

Q. What can I do to help my delivery person when we have bad weather?
A. Here are some tips:

  • Before snow covers the ground, place a stake with a colored grocery bag or ribbon on it to mark the location of your oil tank fill pipe.
  • In times of very deep snow, uncover the fill pipe. Your delivery person would also appreciate it if you cleared a path to the fill pipe.
  • If you have a long driveway, remember that a delivery truck is much wider than a car. When plowing your driveway, have it plowed wide enough for the delivery truck.

Q. Do your delivery trucks have snowplows?
A. No. It is your responsibility to make your driveway accessible if we need to use it to deliver your fuel.

Q. Why can’t the delivery person leave the delivery ticket in my mailbox?
A. U.S. postal regulations prohibit anyone other than the resident of the home from opening your mailbox.

Q. Should I keep my oil tank full during the summer?
A. Keeping your oil tank nearly full during the summer reduces the amount of condensation that will occur inside. Condensation occurs naturally when it is cooler inside the tank than outside it. This trapped moisture can lead to bacteria growth and the development of sediment, as bacteria die and fall to the bottom of the tank.

Q. I’ve noticed some oil on the floor under my tank. Do I need a new tank?
A. Possibly, but not necessarily. You may just have a loose fitting or a leak in the oil line. If your tank has rust along its bottom or is showing any signs of “weepage” (which may appear as an oily stain on the tank), call us immediately to schedule an estimate for tank replacement. Do not try to remove rust from the bottom of your tank!

Q. Is it best to have my oil tank outside my home or in my basement?
A. Oil tanks can be installed in your basement or outside your home. Some are installed inside garages, and others are specifically designed to be buried underground. Outside aboveground tanks do require additional care to make sure they resist rusting and condensation.

Q. Are all heating oil tanks ugly?
A. We don’t think so, but we’re biased. Today’s modern oil tanks come in various forms and sizes, and there are specially designed enclosures that are attractive to use when your tank is located outside your home.

Q. Is it OK to plant bushes around and in front of my oil tank fill?
You can plant near your oil tank fill; however, your delivery person needs enough clearance to be able to access the tank without obstructions.

Q. I supplement my oil heat with a woodstove (or other type of fuel). Will that affect my automatic deliveries?
A. Yes, additional occupants in your home need to be taken into consideration, especially if you use oil or propane for hot water.

Q. Is oil safe?
A. Yes. Heating oil is one of the safest fuels ever developed. Oil produces low emissions, is biodegradable and won’t burn in a liquid state. If a lit match were dropped into a container of heating oil, the oil would extinguish the flame, just as water does! To be ignited, oil must be vaporized. This only occurs under pressure at 140°. Properly set and maintained oil burners produce very low, safe levels of carbon monoxide as a normal part of the combustion process. And if there is ever a malfunction in your heating system, there’s little or no need to worry about an explosion or the release of carbon monoxide into your home.

Q. Where is the pilot light on my oil burner?
A. Unlike some gas systems, oil furnaces have an electronic ignition system and do not require an open flame.

Q. My mother-in-law is moving in for a few months. Will that affect my automatic deliveries?
A. Yes, additional occupants in your home need to be taken into consideration, especially if you use oil or propane for hot water.

Q. Why should I have my oil furnace serviced every year?
A. In order to maintain efficiency, parts such as the nozzle, the oil-line filter and the air filters should be replaced regularly. Motors also need lubrication and controls should be maintained within the manufacturer’s specifications. An annual tune-up will help you avoid emergency repair calls.

Q. How many times can I push the restart button?
A. Once or twice only! Pushing the restart button repeatedly will cause your firebox to flood, and heating oil, unlike gasoline, does not evaporate, thus making a lot of noise once it is started. Although rare, a flooded firebox could be a fire hazard.