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Stay Safe This Memorial Day

Some Tips from Our HVAC Company

Memorial Day is this weekend and if you’re throwing a party for friends and family members, it’s important to stay safe. Here are some tips from our HVAC company:

Grills

Allow for Space

When grilling, make sure your grill is at least two feet away from your deck, siding, and any outdoor equipment that can catch fire easily (such as a swing set, toys, shed, etc.). Also make sure there are no low-hanging branches around the area.

Clean Before You Use

There tends to be a lot of grilling at Memorial Day parties and one thing to remember is to clean your grill thoroughly before you use it. Dirty grills (especially those that use propane) can be dangerous and cause unwanted flare-ups.

Electrical

Inspect Your Lights

If you plan on setting up some outdoor lamps or strings of lights, inspect them to make sure there is no damage. Also inspect their cords and any extension cords you’ll be using for damage. If you find cracks, splices, fraying, or other signs of trouble, replace the light source or cord.

Avoid Water Around Electricity

Set sprinklers up away from any electrical source and if you have a pool or hot tub, remind swimmers to never touch an electrical appliance while they’re in the water. Also, make sure your outdoor outlets are weatherproofed and protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent electrical shock.

UV Rays

Even though it’s not quite summer yet, UV rays are pretty strong and can still cause sun damage. Make sure you protect your skin and your family’s skin by applying a high-SPF sunscreen, wearing a hat, and wearing breathable clothing.

Traveling

Vehicle Prep

According to AAA, Memorial Day travel will be at a high this year. If you’re headed to a friend or family member’s house for Memorial Day, it’s important to stay safe on the road. Check your tire pressure, oil, headlights, and taillights before you leave and make sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid.

Drinking and Driving

Holidays often call for beer and cocktails; if you’re going to partake, make sure you designate a friend or family member to give you a ride home or sober up before you get behind the wheel. Remember – the law in Pennsylvania states your BAC (blood alcohol content) can’t be above .08.


What Happens During an Electrical Safety Inspection?

…And Why It’s Important

Do you know when your electrical system was last inspected for safety? Was it when you bought your home? Many times, this is the case – major systems are checked for safety when the home changes hands, but otherwise are only looked at when the homeowner notices a problem. Unfortunately, this is not the best path to take when it comes to electrical safety in your home.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, electrical fires account for $1 billion in property loss, 1,000 injuries, and 280 deaths in a year; these fires are caused by a mixture of system failures and avoidable misuse of electrical equipment.

When homes are inspected prior to sale, the home inspector reviews the overall safety of the home according to current codes. The two potential problems here are:

  1. Most home inspectors are not experts in each individual system, so they may not recognize all of the warning signs that a specialist looks for.
  2. Codes change frequently as new technology becomes available and data is compiled about potential risks and hazards.

Oliver’s trained electricians perform an electrical safety inspection that focuses on the safety and stability of your electrical system and identifies the most common warning signs of electrical fire hazards. We also look for ways that you can save money on your utility bills by eliminating so-called “vampire loads” and utilizing dimmers, timers, and energy efficient bulbs. Once the inspection is complete, the electrician gives a full report to the homeowner. If there are any suggestions for improvement, the electrician will prioritize them in terms of potential impact and any other factors that are unique to your situation.

To find out more about our electrical safety inspections, or to schedule an appointment, click here.


4 Technologies That Could Change the Energy Industry

A Look into the Future

From energy storage to vehicles to electricity production and more, the future of energy is ever-growing and ever-changing to become more efficient, more reliable, and more environmentally friendly for people around the world. Here, our HVAC experts share four innovations that could transform the energy world in the next few decades:

Fuel Cells

If you haven’t heard of fuel cell technology yet, it has become a pretty big innovation in the vehicle industry. Instead of relying on gasoline and an internal combustion engine, fuel cell cars rely on the combination of hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, which then powers the car. This type of technology releases only heat and water emissions instead of greenhouse gasses, making them a viable environmental option for the future.

Smart Grids

The electricity grids that were developed in the early 1900s were simple, one-way interactions: utility companies set a price for their electricity and consumers pay it on a monthly basis. With today’s smart grids, however, consumers are able to communicate their electrical demands to utility companies and improve the grid’s efficiency. In addition, traditional electric utility companies can partner with renewable technologies like wind and solar to increase environmental friendliness.

Lithium-Air Batteries

Relying on lithium oxidation to create electricity, the idea of the lithium-air battery is nothing new. While it was suggested back in the 1970s as a way to power electric and hybrid vehicles, it wasn’t until the late 90s that the technology started to form. Today, scientists believe lithium-air batteries could have a promising impact on the vehicles, electronic devices, and more. While the technology is still too unstable to fully develop, more and more breakthroughs are occurring to make these batteries part of the future of energy.

Tidal Turbines

Like wind turbines, tidal turbines use the power of a natural force to produce energy. These structures are shaped like pinwheels and are placed underwater to harvest the movement of the ocean which in turn, creates electricity. Because tidal turbines are a little more complicated than wind turbines or solar panels, they haven’t become as popular. However, they have significant potential. In fact, a recent tidal turbine installation off the coast of Scotland has a power generation capacity of two megawatts.

 


Invest in One of These Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs


Everyone wants to save money on their electric bills – and you can do it simply by replacing your light bulbs! Energy-efficient light bulbs have been around for years, but it wasn’t until the last decade or so that households began using them in place of their traditional incandescent light bulbs. Here are some of the best options for your home:

Halogen Light Bulbs

In an incandescent light bulb, the electric current runs through a wire tungsten filament and heats it up until it glows. Halogen bulbs work the same way, however, the halogen gas triggers a chemical reaction with the tungsten and causes the light to be redeposited back onto the filament. This makes them last longer. They are also able to illuminate instantly, like incandescent bulbs, and can be turned off and on frequently (unlike CFLs, which need to run about 15 minutes at a time).

Incandescent lifespan: about 1,200 hours
Average incandescent power usage: 60 watts
Halogen lifespan: about 2,500 hours
Average Halogen power use: 40 watts

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)

CFL light bulbs (like the one above) have the most intricate illumination process among energy-efficient light bulbs. The electric current runs through a tube that contains argon and mercury vapor. The tube generates an ultraviolet energy, which then illuminates a fluorescent coating. Because of the process, CFLs take longer to fully illuminate than incandescent bulbs, but after they’re lit, they consume around 75% less energy. Just make sure you use them in open fixtures indoors (because of their sensitivity to extreme temperatures).

Incandescent lifespan: about 1,200 hours
Average incandescent power usage: 60 watts
CFL lifespan: about 10,000 hours
Average CFL power usage: 13-15 watts

LED Light Bulbs

LED light bulbs are bulbs that are made up of a series of small light-emitting diodes (or LEDs). Their illumination process is much simpler than a CFL’s: an electric current runs through a semiconductor material, which then illuminates the LEDs. These light bulbs are available in many different colors and don’t burn out like many light bulbs – instead, their light depreciates over time. LED light bulbs also remain cool to the touch and don’t emit heat like incandescent light bulbs or halogen light bulbs.

Incandescent lifespan: about 1,200 hours
Average incandescent power usage: 60 watts
LED light bulb lifespan: about 40,000 hours
Average LED power usage: 6-8 watts

If you’re interested in switching your light bulbs to more energy-efficient type, talk to our electrical service experts. We can help!


3 Reasons to Leave the Commercial HVAC Repairs to Us

Professional Repairs You Can Count On

When it comes to commercial HVAC repair, even the most basic fixings can be very different than a residential HVAC system. That’s why it’s important to get the right kind of professional to do the job. Here are three reasons why you should leave the commercial HVAC repairs to the experts at Oliver Heating, Cooling & Plumbing:

We have the experience

Oliver Heating, Cooling & Plumbing has been around since 1971, which means we have more than 45 years of experience in the industry. When we first began the commercial section of our company, we vowed to provide only the best service to our customers and use the highest quality materials for our repairs. No matter what your situation, we have the commercial HVAC and plumbing experts for the job.

We offer maintenance plans

We know you want to keep your commercial systems running smoothly for as long as possible, which is why we offer a variety of maintenance plans to do just that. During regular maintenance, our experts will inspect your HVAC system and make sure everything is working correctly. If we find an issue, we’ll work quickly to fix it to ensure that your system is at its best. For more of the benefits of our maintenance plans, check out our blog: 10 Reasons to Invest in an HVAC Maintenance Plan.

We’re fast and friendly

If you’ve ever had to deal with a commercial HVAC repair professional who is uninformed, rude or tardy, you won’t have to worry about that with us. At Oliver, we make sure that each and every one of our experts is thoroughly knowledgeable in their field and prides themselves on being friendly. In addition, our experts will work quickly (yet thoroughly) to make sure your repair is done in a timely manner. We know you have things to do and we don’t want a commercial HVAC repair getting in the way.

No matter what you need repaired, we’re here for you. Give us a call today to schedule your appointment.


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!


 

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