24/7 Emergency Service Available

Blog

Turn Your Air Conditioner on Early

Be Prepared This Season

thermostat

We know it’s not quite hot enough for you to have to use your air conditioner yet, but we also know that the last thing you want when it does get hot is an HVAC system that doesn’t work. That’s why, as HVAC repair experts, we recommend turning your air conditioner on for a few hours in the springtime to make sure it’s running smoothly.

By turning on your air conditioner early, you’ll give your system time to adjust to providing cold air instead of all the hot air during winter. You’ll also be able to make sure all of the equipment is operating correctly. Plus, running your air conditioner before you really need it will give you time to call us to take care of any HVAC repairs you may encounter.

Before you turn on your HVAC unit, refer to our checklist of things you should do:

1. Check the condenser fan: Make sure no debris is stuck inside the blades of the fan (such as dead leaves or twigs) and that nothing is blocking the fan’s airflow.

2. Replace your HVAC filter: Your current filter has spent all winter collecting dirt and dust, so start fresh with a new one.

3. Check the coolant lines: Inspect the lines to make sure their insulation is still intact and there are no leaks. If you see any damage to the lines, call our HVAC repair experts.

4. Clean your coils: Winter weather can leave your outdoor condenser coils covered in dirt and dust. Remove any debris around the coils, then use a garden hose to gently clean them.

At Oliver, we’d be happy to give your HVAC unit a proper inspection before the hot weather hits. Call us today or schedule an online appointment.


Enjoy the Weather and Head to a Spring Festival

Have Some Fun This Spring Season

Once the sun comes out and the temperatures go up, it’s hard not to want to spend all your time outside. This year, why not enjoy the weather by heading to a spring festival? Whether you live near Philadelphia, Wilmington, DE, or in South Jersey, there are plenty of festivals to attend. Here are some that our HVAC service company found:

Philadelphia

Spring at Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens features premier indoor and outdoor plants and is highlighting spring flowers such wisteria, tulips, dogwoods, snapdragons, azaleas, columbines, and bluebells through May 26th.

Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival

On May 20th, the annual Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival will attract more than 50,000 people and take over six blocks of Walnut Street with upscale food, arts, fashion, and entertainment of the boutique neighborhood.

Chestnut Hill Home and Garden Festival

During the annual Chestnut Hill Home and Garden Festival on May 7th, hundreds of craftspeople, entertainers, merchants, and food vendors will set up shop on Germantown Avenue to display home and gardening products and ideas.

Art Star Craft Bizaar

Head down to Penn’s Landing May 13th and 14th to be part of the 14th annual craft bazaar that features handmade housewares, art, clothing, paper goods, jewelry, and more. You’ll also find music, food, and art demonstrations throughout the area.

Roots Picnic

During a day-long Penn’s Landing music festival on June 3rd, Philadelphia’s Grammy-winning hip hop band The Roots will bring together a variety of artists from many different music genres.

South Jersey

Wheaton Arts Eco Fair

Head to Millville on May 2nd for a festival focused on being environmentally friendly. Visitors will find products and solutions from businesses and organizations that can help them “go green,” along with crafts, activities, and live animal exhibits.

Spring Camp Jam in the Pines

During the weekend of May 18th-21st, the farmlands in Buena will turn into a camping and music festival. You’ll find wooded campgrounds with full hook-ups, a bath house, laundry facility, playground, and camp store along with mini-golf, arts, and crafts.

Mayfest

The community of Smithville will be hosting a festival May 20th-21st that features more than 100 crafters, an international food court, a carousel, music, kids’ activities, antique arcade, paddleboats, and more.

Boardwalk Craft Show

Located right on the famous Wildwood boardwalk, the annual craft show will take place May 27th-28th and feature a wide array of craft exhibits among the popular food vendors, rides, games, and beaches.

Wilmington

Day in Old New Castle

Each year, people gather in New Castle for the oldest home and garden tour in the U.S. This year, the tour will take place May 20th and will feature historical walking visits to homes and gardens that date back to the 18th century.

16 Mile Taphouse Beer Event

On the 16th of every month, 16 Miles Taphouse hosts an event centered around their beer and food. On May 16th, the Taphouse will be choosing one of their beers and infusing it several different ways for an unique dinner experience.

*Photo courtesy of www.visitphilly.com


What’s the Difference Between Hard and Soft Water?

Our HVAC Service Experts Explain

Have you ever wondered what the differences are between hard water and soft water? Which is better for your health? Which you should use in your home? Our HVAC service experts are here to answer some of the most popular questions about hard and soft water:

What’s in the water?

Hard water contains dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium that are picked up by the water when it runs through underground pipes. Soft water only contains sodium.

Can I drink hard water?

Yes. Hard water is safe to drink, and can even be considered a dietary supplement for magnesium and calcium.

Why do  people soften their water?

Because hard water contains minerals, the minerals can build up on the surfaces of faucets, in boilers, water heaters, and in household appliances. This build-up (also called scale) can compromise the efficiency of these things. People also soften their water because the minerals in hard water interact with cleaning products and don’t clean as much. Soft water lathers better with soap and detergent.

How does the softening process work?

Water softeners are filled with small polystyrene beads that are negatively charged, but contain traces of sodium. Since calcium and magnesium both carry positive charges, they cling to the beads as the water passes through the tank and sodium ions are released into the water (which is why soft water has a sodium content). The water is then pumped through your home’s faucets.

What’s the difference between temporary hardness and permanent hardness?

When water is considered temporarily hard, it’s because it contains dissolved bits of calcium and magnesium. These can be removed by boiling the water or by treating it with lime. Permanently hard water, on the other hand, has calcium and magnesium sulfates that can’t be removed with heat and must be treated with a water softener in order to be removed.

Classifications

Water is classified (in the U.S.) by its hardness in “parts per million” or ppm.

Soft water: 0-60 ppm
Moderately hard water: 61-120 ppm
Hard water: 121-180 ppm
Very hard water: more than 181 ppm


4 Things You Shouldn’t Put Down Your Drain

Today’s garbage disposals are powerful enough to eliminate a variety of food scraps at just the touch of a button or flip of a switch, however, you shouldn’t put just anything down there. While your disposal can handle a lot of different foods, there are some that our plumbing service experts say stay away from:

Fats

Common household fats can clog your pipes and cause sewer backups. When this occurs, you (and possibly your neighbor) can end up with raw sewage overflowing into your home, which is expensive to clean up. To avoid such a situation, don’t put these fats down the drain:

  • Cooking oil
  • Lard
  • Fats from meat
  • Dairy products
  • Butter, margarine, shortening
  • Sauces

Things That Swell

If something swells when you add water, it’s probably not a good idea to put it down the sink. It can get stuck in your pipes and also cause clogs. These things include:

  • Flour
  • Semolina
  • Rice
  • Gelatin
  • Pasta
  • Pastry leftovers
  • Potatoes or potato skins

Things That Don’t Break Down

Foods that don’t break down with water and are small can accumulate in your pipes, like:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea leaves
  • Egg shells

Fibrous Foods

The fibers in fibrous foods can break apart and tangle, which can cause your garbage disposal to jam. Don’t put these foods down your drain:

  • Artichokes
  • Corn husks
  • Celery stalks
  • Onion skins
  • Kiwi skins

Instead of putting these things down the drain, try using them as compost for your garden or landscape. All of these items (except dairy and meat products) can be mixed with grass clippings, leaves, twigs, and more to create your own plant food. Dairy products and meat, however, don’t serve as a good compost and should be thrown in the garbage.


10 Reasons to Invest in an HVAC Maintenance Plan

Here at Oliver, we want you to have an HVAC system that’s perfect for your home, but we know it can be a big investment. That’s why we’ve created a variety of HVAC maintenance plans. On a regular basis, our experts will inspect your system and make sure that it’s running smoothly. Here are the top 10 reasons to have an Oliver maintenance plan:

10. Discounts

As a maintenance plan member, you’ll automatically get a 10% (or more) discount on diagnostic fees and any repairs our experts may need to make.

9. Filter Replacement

A clean filter traps dust, dirt, and other allergens better than a dirty filter, so we’ll replace your standard filter to keep your air clean. We can also supply specialty filters to meet your family’s needs.

8. Tune-Ups

With our variety of maintenance plans, you can enjoy a precision heating and/or cooling tune-up that will test your thermostat operation, motor, wiring connections, drainage system, and more.

7. Warranties

No matter what goes wrong, we stand behind our work with a two year Parts & Labor Warranty on every repair.

6. Priority Service

As a maintenance service client, you’ll get priority service over those who don’t have a plan – which means faster repairs.

5. Free Estimates

Need some work done? Our experts will give you a free estimate for equipment replacement and kitchen or bath renovations so you know exactly what you’ll be paying.

4. Equipment Replacement Program

Become a member of our VIP Loyalty Club and you could earn up to $100 every year toward the purchase of a new HVAC system from Oliver.

3. Emergency Service

If you discover a problem with your HVAC system, simply call us. We’re available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to make any repairs or replacements you may need.

2. Annual Inspections

Each year, our experts perform a 21-point heating inspection and 21-point cooling inspection, then make necessary adjustments to ensure everything is running smoothly.

1. Peace of Mind

The #1 reason to have an Oliver HVAC maintenance plan is peace of mind. You’ll be able to sit back and relax, knowing that your system is running at its best and that if anything goes wrong, we’re always here to help.

If you’re interested in an HVAC maintenance plan, click here for more details or give us a call today!


What Exactly Is Cellulose Insulation?

At Oliver Heating & Cooling, we offer a variety of residential insulation services including attic insulation, basement insulation, crawl space insulation, garage insulation, and more. While you may think all insulation is created equal, it’s not. One of our most popular types of insulation is cellulose and our insulation experts are here to explain what it is and why you may want it.

Cellulose vs. Fiberglass

Cellulose insulation is a smart alternative to fiberglass insulation – while fiberglass insulation comes in pre-formed batts that are tucked into open areas, cellulose insulation actually is sprayed or blown into walls. This means it will conform to corners and crevices better than batts will and it will create a better barrier against drafts. Best of all, cellulose insulation can be installed over existing insulation to increase the energy efficiency of your home.

Types of Applications

At Oliver, there are three different types of cellulose insulation applications for your home. First, it can be blown into large spaces like attics to create a fluffy area of protection for an entire room. It can also be blown into smaller areas like wall spaces or enclosed cavities. This is a denser application and provides a more concentrated area of protection. Lastly, cellulose insulation can be wet-sprayed into open cavities so that it creates a stickier application. This technique is often used for new construction.

A Green Option

Cellulose insulation is made from 75%-85% recycled paper fiber and 15%-25% fire retardant material, making it one of the most environmentally friendly insulation options on the market. In addition, it takes very little energy to actually produce cellulose insulation, so you can choose it knowing that you’ve made your home a greener place.

If you’re interested in a cellulose insulation application for your home, give our insulation experts a call today. We’ll set up an appointment and have it installed as quickly as possible.


The Best St. Patrick’s Day Events in Philly

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and between now and then, there are plenty of fun and festive things to do. In this blog, our heating and cooling experts share the top St. Patrick’s Day events going on in Philadelphia this year:

Parade

Sunday, March 12th, 12:00 p.m.

Philly’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade has been going on since 1771 and draws thousands of people. This year, the parade will march down Broad Street to City Hall and from City Hall to Penn’s Landing via Market Street. Visitors will enjoy a wide array of music, dancing, youth groups, Irish associations, and more. The parade will be held March 12th, rain or shine and an encore will be held Friday, March 17th at 12:00 p.m.

Bar Crawls

Old City

Friday, March 17th, 12:00 p.m.

Crawl through more than 10 bars in Old City including Infusion Lounge, Sto’s Bar, The Gaslight, and more. Tickets are $8-$40 and include free cover charges, free t-shirt (for the first 200 through the door), and green accessories (beads, hats, glasses, etc.)

Shamrock Stroll

Saturday, March 11th, 12:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 12th, 12:00 p.m.
Friday, March 17th, 3:00 p.m.

Each year, pubcrawls.com puts together a St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl through multiple Philadelphia bars. Tickets are $10 and one ticket grants you access to the bars for all three days. You’ll enjoy free cover charges and a variety of drink specials.

Erin Express

Saturday, March 11th, 9 a.m.

This legendary pub crawl (it’s been going on more than 30 years!) is free to all and features a festive school bus that carts celebrators to bars like Smokey Joe’s, Slainte Pub, The Green Room, Liberty Bar, and more. You’ll be able to hop off, grab a drink, and hop back on.

Card Making

Sunday, March 12th, 4:00 p.m.

Looking for something different to do? Head down to Rittenhouse Town and learn the fundamentals of paper making while creating holiday cards for St. Patrick’s Day. Tickets are $12-$20 and include beer and snacks.

The Leprechaun Run

Saturday, March 11th, 7:30 a.m.

The 31st annual Leprechaun Run supports the Special Olympics Philadelphia Athletes (SOPA). Participants can do a 7-mile race, a 5-mile run, a 2-mile walk and all of the proceeds go to SOPA (their goal is to raise $40,000). The event starts and ends at Martin Luther King Drive by Paine’s Park. To register, click here.


Experts Predict a Promising Future for Wind Energy

Right now, the U.S. is one of the most wind energy-forward countries in the world. In fact, 17 different states have resources in place to produce anywhere from 1,250 – 10,000 megawatts of wind power that serves as electricity.

But what about the future of wind energy?

Well last year, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conducted the largest-ever survey of experts regarding energy. They gathered up 163 experts and asked them to predict whether wind energy would become steadily more affordable by 2030. The good news is that the experts are very optimistic about it, which “suggests our experts are not simply basing their estimates on the existing literature, but are bringing some new information—hopefully insightful information—to the table,” says LBL Senior Scientist Ryan Wiser in a Forbes article.

After the first group was surveyed, another group was surveyed – this time, 22 researchers and technologists who helped develop the wind industry over the last few decades. These individuals proved even more optimistic than the first group, making the successful future of wind energy a hopeful thing.

Onshore/Offshore Opportunities

When it comes to onshore and offshore wind farm opportunities, it looks like prices could indeed fall. On average, experts predicted onshore wind energy to see cost reductions of around 35 percent by 2050, while offshore wind energy may drop even more, from 38 percent to 41 percent. This is good news, seeing as wind is already the cheapest form of energy in the U.S.

Cost Factors

When you predict an overall cost change, there are several factors that actually go into determining this cost: up-front installation cost, capacity factor, design life, cost of financing, and operating expense. To further expand their predictions, the experts were asked to consider each of these factors instead of simply an overall cost.

“We forced people to think about all of the five components that ultimately go into the levelized cost of energy,” Wiser says. “We wanted to bring at this problem a somewhat new technique to see how it fit in with other existing literature that was out there.”

Here is a summary of their findings published in Nature Energy:


14 Ways to Repurpose Broken Household Items

Every year, homeowners throw away thousands of household items that have broken, chipped, frayed, or have otherwise become useless. With a little creativity and some effort, however, these items can be anything but. Our HVAC installation company shares some favorite ideas for repurposing common household items:

Picture Frame Earring Holder

If you break the glass in a picture frame, use the frame to create an earring holder. Cover the cardboard insert with paper or fabric, then cut a piece of chicken wire to fit the frame opening and fasten to the frame back. You’ll have a perfect place to hang your earrings.

Wicker Basket Recycler

Have an old wicker basket that’s broken or fraying? Depending on the size, place one or two small trash can inside and turn it into a recycling center. You can even fashion a lid from an old piece of wood. Just drill a few holes, string some yarn through, and attach.

Bottle Cap Tea Lights

Though bottle caps technically aren’t broken, they do end up in the trash – repurpose them by creating tea lights instead. Place a wick in the middle of each bottle cap, then fill with melted wax (from an old candle or even old crayons!). Trim the wicks and light.

Terracotta Garden Markers

If you have several terracotta pots that are cracked or broken, use a piece of lid as a garden marker. Simply write your plant or herb on the pot and place the curved shapes in front of your crop so you know where everything is.

Mosaic Plate Planters

Accidentally break a plate? Take a hammer to it and break it further (into half-inch pieces). Glue each piece onto a terracotta pot and let dry. Spread grout around the pieces and wipe with a damp towel to level. Once dry, you’ll have a decorative planter.

Stemware Flower Accents

Nothing is worse than breaking the stem of a beautiful wine glass or martini glass. Instead of tossing the glass, sink it into the dirt of a potted flower plant and add a votive candle. Then light it for a cozy accent.

Door Coat Rack

Old doors of all kinds can easily be transformed into a beautiful coat rack for your entryway. Simply repaint or re-stain the door and attach large hooks to a smooth area. For uniformity, replace the doorknob with one that complements the hooks.

Chair Swing

If you have a chair with legs that are in bad shape, remove them altogether and drill four holes in the chair seat (two in the front, two in the back). String some heavy-duty rope through the holes and attach hardware to a tree or porch ceiling and hang your new swing.

Mini Blinds Picture Frame

Don’t throw away your blinds just because one or two are broken. Instead, detach them from their cords and stack them in a rectangular shape to create a unique picture frame. You can get creative by cutting them into different sizes and layering them large to small as you go.

Teacup Curtain Tiebacks

If you have teacups with chips or cracks on the cup portion, you can turn them into adorable curtain tiebacks. Simply drill a large hole through the bottom of the cup, slip your curtain through, and hang the teacup on a wall hook.

Ladder Bookshelf

If you have an old wooden ladder that can’t be used anymore, sand it down and refinish it with paint or stain. Then, lean it up against your wall and use it as a rustic shelving unit!

Tin Can Hairbrush Holders

Instead of recycling your used tin cans, remove both ends and paint them or cover them with Washi tape. Then attach them to your bathroom wall or cabinet and use them to hold your hairbrushes.

Bucket Serving Containers

Buckets with holes may seem useless, but you can easily repurpose them into silverware, condiment, or napkin containers for your outdoor parties. Give them a new paint job and line with a decorative piece of fabric – then fill with your goodies!

Rake Utensil Holder

An old metal rake makes a great kitchen utensil holder while adding a rustic accent to your decor. Simply remove the rake handle, attach the toothed portion to the wall (teeth facing out), and hang your spoons, spatulas, whisks, and more.

*Photos courtesy of diyncrafts.com


On Choosing a Hot Water Heater…

At Oliver, we know no one likes to take cold showers or wash their dishes with cold water. If you’re in the market for a new water heater, we can help you find the best one to fit your lifestyle.

Here are some things to consider:

Fuel Types

Before you decide on a water heater, you’ll have to figure out which type of fuel you’re going to use to operate it. The two most common fuel types are electric and gas, and while both can heat water, there are some differences:

Electric

Electric water heaters are available in both storage type and tankless type. They can use one or two heating elements to heat your water and are usually less expensive to install than gas water heaters.

Natural Gas

Unlike electric water heaters, gas water heaters use a burner to heat your water which heats the water much quicker than electric types. These are also available in both storage type and tankless type.

Size

Water heaters come in all different sizes, and which you choose depends on how much space you have to install it and how much hot water you’ll need. When you make an appointment with one of our water heater installation experts, we can help you decide which size water heater size is your best option.

Styles

There are three main styles of water heaters:

Storage

Storage water heaters are the most traditional style of water heater. Once the water is heated, it is stored in an insulated tank and you’ll have access to it whenever you need it. These tanks are available in both electric and gas types.

Tankless

Instead of storing hot water in a tank, tankless water heaters heat water on demand as it passes through a series of coils. This style of heater is smaller than a traditional tank heater, however, it can only  deliver a flow rate of approximately 3.5 gallons of water per minute (many homes require a much higher flow rate). This style is also available in both electric and gas.

Indirect

An indirect water heater also requires a storage tank, however, the tank houses a heat exchanger that is attached to you home’s main furnace or boiler. The exchanger then heats water from the furnace or boiler.

Energy Efficiency

The energy efficiency of a hot water heater depends on many factors including fuel type, style, how often you use it, and how much water you’re heating at one time. However, in general: geothermal water heaters are the most energy efficient, followed by gas water heaters and then electric.

At Oliver, all of our hot water heaters have at least a 6-year warranty on the tank and parts. We also have high-efficiency models available. For more information, click here or contact one of our water heater installation experts.


 

Service Awards

We're proud to be a recognized, trusted service provider for Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, Electrical and Mechanical needs. Learn More »