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Understanding How to Make the Best Choice for Your Home

propane tanks maineAdding propane to your home is a smart choice. It’s a versatile, eco-friendly fuel that can power a variety of your home’s heating systems and equipment efficiently, helping you save money in the process. Now you need to decide whether an aboveground or an underground propane tank is the right choice. Aesthetics certainly make putting your tank underground the obvious option, but safety concerns and budget limitations are also important considerations.

Here’s everything you need to consider about a propane tank before you make your choice:

The Size of Your Propane Tank Matters

The first thing you need to determine is what size tank you need. For a home with a few propane appliances, such as a cooking stove, fireplace, water heater, or clothes dryer, a 120-gallon tank is usually a sufficient choice. However, the bigger the tank you need, the more likely you will want to locate it underground, as it will be harder to hide it.

Your Budget Limitations

Of course, a bigger tank is inherently more expensive than a smaller tank. However, locating your tank underground will likely double your costs. You need to budget for excavation, including contractors and extra labor to bury your tank properly and safely. You will also need permits, and not all locations are suitable for underground tanks. (Don’t worry…PitStop Propane and Fuels can help you with all of this!)

In addition, “sacrificial anodes,” which help prevent corrosion, need to be buried near the tank. An underground tank also needs a special anti-corrosion coating, and regular maintenance checks.

An aboveground tank simply needs to meet distance requirements and have appropriate permits. Sometimes, a concrete base is needed for stability, but the cost is relatively small, and we can usually handle it for you. Because it will be located aboveground, maintenance is not a problem because the tank is easy to inspect and access if any repair is needed.

Safety Factors

Generally, underground tanks are considered a safer option than aboveground tanks. One reason is that they are protected from temperature fluctuations. Underground tanks are also safer in the event of a leak. Unlike oil, propane can’t harm soil or water, and because the tank is buried, leaking propane can’t escape into the air, causing a fire hazard.

However, if you live in a flood-prone area, an aboveground tank is the safer option. That’s because an underground tank can float away if the water rises above the propane level in your tank. Aboveground tanks stand a few inches off the ground and are bolted down making them more stable and less exposed during flood conditions.

Nevertheless, aboveground tanks are very safe, although exposure to the elements can make them a little less durable, particularly if they’re subjected to extreme or extended heat and cold.

Curb Appeal

When you invest time and money in making your home and yard look nice, you don’t necessarily want a hunk of metal ruining the view. But sometimes there isn’t the space—or the budget—to bury your tank. We get it. Usually, we can help situate your tank at the side or the back of your home, in as unobtrusive a place as possible.

There are advantages and disadvantages of both aboveground and underground propane tanks. For aesthetics and safety, underground tanks are a great option. However, if you’re on a tight budget, live in a flood-prone area, or can site your tank in a less prominent spot, an above-ground tank may be more practical.

Whether you decide on an aboveground or underground propane tank, know that the pros at Pitstop Propane and Fuels can help you make your selection, as well as handle the installation and maintenance of your tank. Plus, we’ll provide reliable propane delivery services all year long.

Contact us for more information today—and ask about our convenient wireless tank monitoring program!

This Handy Device Can Help You Save All Year Long

propane monitor maineThere are numerous customers of ours who enjoy our automatic delivery service for propane needs to eliminate the worry of a run-out. However, if your propane use isn’t very consistent, automatic deliveries might not be the best solution for you. If your propane use fluctuates because you only use your home seasonally, you are away for extended periods, or you use propane for systems that you don’t use predictably, like for a gas hearth, we can’t use our algorithm to best predict your usage. This is where you will appreciate the real-time accuracy of our Otodata wireless propane tank monitoring service.

What is a Wireless Propane Tank Monitor?

Wireless tank monitors—a small device attached right to your propane tank—uses wireless and cellular technology to monitor the level of propane in your tank in real-time. When the tank gauge reaches a pre-set level, typically around 25% full, the monitor alerts us—and you—directly, and we schedule a timely delivery. That means no more runouts, which can result in some big savings for you.

If you’ve ever had a propane runout, you know what a hassle it can be. There’s the inconvenience, of course. Then, there’s the cost of an emergency fill-up plus the expense of a leak test for safety. But did you know that simply letting your tank get too low can cause problems also? When propane levels get too low, air can get into your system, which can lead to expensive damage.

So, preventing runouts is just one distinct way that a tank monitor can help you save money. But a tank monitor can also help you save in another way that might surprise you.

Using the complimentary wireless mobile app gives you more control and insight into your propane use. This user-friendly app—available for all Apple or Android devices—allows you to check exactly how much fuel is in your tank at any given time. Additionally, the app also allows you see your usage patterns from day to day, month to month, and even year to year. With this insight, you can track and adjust your energy consumption to help keep costs under control.

Installing your propane tank monitor is quick and easy! Our techs can get you set up and ready to go in less than 15 minutes. Contact PitStop Propane and Fuels today to find out more about the benefits of wireless tank monitoring and how we can get you set up—100% hassle-free.

Choosing the Most Efficient Water Heating Unit

water heater options maineDid you ever stop to think that your water heater is one of the hardest working pieces of equipment in your home? You certainly don’t want to spend too much time without a hot water heater, so if you suspect trouble may be looming, it’s best to replace it before it completely fails.

If your existing unit is more than 10 years old, and it doesn’t seem to be performing as well as it once did, it’s time to start considering your options. Since heating water accounts for between close to 20% of your energy costs, choosing an efficient model is one of the most important considerations. But, in addition to efficiency, you need to consider what’s powering that equipment. Some forms of energy are more efficient than others when it comes to heating water:

Electric Powered Water Heaters

There’s only one option if you want a high-efficiency electric water heater. The only type of electric water heater certified by Energy Star is a hybrid type water heater. They’re more expensive to buy and install, and they aren’t ideal for Maine’s long cold winters and short summers.

Since they pull heat from the surrounding air, they’ll have to work a lot harder here specifically, which will end up costing you more money in return. They also need a lot of space around them, and need to be in an area of your home with a consistent temperature between 40 and 90 degrees. Really, the only reason to go with an electric heat pump model in Southern Maine is if you don’t have access to propane or gas.

Propane Powered Water Heaters

If you want choices that cater to your specific needs—and budget—propane is the way to go! Propane generates more Btus than an equivalent amount of electricity, so you need much less propane to produce the same amount of heat or energy. For example, propane water heaters generate much more hot water at a cheaper cost per gallon. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, homes that heat water with propane rather than electricity can see average annual savings of $174 or higher.

And with propane, you can choose from more types of water heaters, without sacrificing efficiency. For example:

What are the Benefits of Going Tankless?

While tankless models can be more expensive up-front, all that efficiency means you’ll lowering your energy costs by as much as 40%. Because there’s no need for a large tank, they don’t require much space—in fact—it’s considerably less room than a 55-gallon tank. Most are about the size of a suitcase. They can also be wall-mounted, which means a tankless water heater can be placed just about anywhere in the house, including closets and crawl spaces.

Finally, they are a good investment. The primary culprit in the limited lifespan of a conventional water heater is the corrosive water stored in its tank. Because it doesn’t store water, a tankless water heater will last 18 to 20 years, which is nearly twice as long as a traditional tank-type unit.

If you’ve decided a propane water heater is the best choice for you, the pros at PitStop Propane and Fuels have the experience and knowledge to help you select the right size and type of water heater for your home. We offer top-quality models from reliable name brands like Rinnai that help you maximize energy efficiency when heating your water—and can help you save with generous rebates. Contact us for more information or to get started today.

Learn Why Getting a Spring Fill-up is Incredibly Important

heating oil company maineClearing the gutters, yard work, cleaning the grill…as the days get longer, and the weather gets warmer, are the chores most likely to be moving to the top of your list. In that instance, chances are you’re not giving much thought to your oil tank. And while it might seem crazy to make sure you have a tank of heating oil for the long, hot summer, hear us out:

A spring fill-up can not only save you from a potentially expensive situation, but a heating oil delivery now can eliminate some to-dos come fall.

Protecting Your Oil Tank

While fuel costs are up right now, filling up your tank to protect it from failing is a much better investment than paying for cleaning up an oil spill and a new tank—and the oil to subsequently fill it afterward. Keeping your fuel tank full over the summer will extend its life! But how?

When your heating oil tank sits empty, condensation can form—and that can result in all kinds of problems. For starters, when condensation forms on the interior walls of an empty tank, that water drips down and sinks to the bottom of the tank. This occurs because water is denser than heating oil. That water becomes an ideal environment for bacteria and other microorganisms. Over time, it turns into sediment or sludge that can get into your fuel lines and clog them up. This will cause your heating system to shut down, likely early in the next winter season, when we’re in the middle of our first deep freeze.

Sludge can also corrode your tank from the inside out—a big problem that could be difficult to see coming and costly to remediate.

In the winter, your tank doesn’t stay empty long, so these issues don’t come up. Plus, condensation is less likely to form in colder temperatures. But in summer, especially if your tank is outside, condensation will form quickly. Of course, if you’re signed up for automatic deliveries, we’ll make sure you’re topped off for the summer.

A Heating Oil Fill-up Now Makes for One Less Hassle in the Fall!

When your tank is already full in the fall, you’ll be all set to deal with an early cold snap. You won’t have to fight for a convenient heating oil delivery appointment at the same time everyone else is trying to get a delivery. While you’re at it, why not get your heating system tune-up in the spring? Not only will you have your choice of appointments, but the benefits won’t start to wear off until you start up your system again in the fall.

Additionally, if your water heater runs on heating oil, you’ll need to have some oil in your tank to make sure you have hot water. The largest use of hot water in the summer months is for showers, but your dishwasher needs hot water to get your dishes clean too. If you wash your dishes by hand, you will certainly want some hot water—cold water doesn’t do the job on greasy, dirty pots and pans. You may also want hot water for doing at least some of your laundry.

If you’re an existing will-call customer—or looking for a new provider in Southern Maine for your heating oil needs—why not give PitStop Propane and Fuels a call? We’ll handle your next fill-up quickly and easily. Contact us today to get started!

High Fuel Prices Impact All of Us

fuel prices maineWhat a winter it has been. We started the season with concerns about fuel prices because of supply chain issues driven by the pandemic. And those prices were already up by more than a dollar over last year. Now, the ongoing European tensions have shocked the energy markets. Crude oil rocketed to more than $110 per barrel in March.

We’ve been hearing from many of you, sharing concerns about surging fuel prices, but also about supply. We know there are some companies, even in our local area, who haven’t been able to deliver fuel. We want you to rest assured that we are standing by and ready to deliver for you. We’ve been in business for over three decades and have the experience and understanding of fuel markets to plan in terms of supply. More so, we have longstanding relationships with our suppliers and financial partners to ensure operations continue in smooth order.

Still, the market has given giving us quite a ride. Just last month, on March 2, we received notice at night from our suppliers that their prices were going up 20 cents the next day. Then, on March 3, they went up three more times—a total of 60 cents in just 24 hours.

What’s Coming Next?

We don’t know where things will go from here. One thing we can tell you is that we hate this as much as you do. Some people are under the misconception that when prices rise, we make more money. The opposite is true. People cut back on usage. They have trouble paying their bills and our receivables skyrocket. Meanwhile, we must pay our suppliers in just 10 days. We need to borrow much more from the bank. It becomes an awful mess for everyone.

If you’re having trouble paying your bill, talk to us. Many of you have been with us for many years and we will do our best to work with you. If you’re not already familiar, now is a good time to look at our price-protection options. We’ll be offering plans for the next heating season in the next few months. And you can sign up for our budget plan at any time.

No matter what, you can continue to count on Pitstop Propane and Fuels for full-service heating oil and propane delivery—plus home heating equipment services—all over York County and Cumberland County, Maine. Contact us for more information today.

Wireless Tank Monitoring Can Help You Avoid Runouts!

propane monitor maineIf you’ve never run out of propane, you may not think if it ever happens, it’s probably not a big deal. But if your tank gets too low—or runs out completely—you’re required to get professional assistance to get your system back up and running again. Customers often ask why we must perform—and subsequently charge them for—a safety check when they let their propane tank hit empty.

It’s about safety. Your propane system is connected via a system of pipes, which are under constant pressure when the system is running. If the pressure changes in the lines—as happens when you run out of fuel—there is the possibility that the seals around pipe fittings could contract and create a leak. A leak test checks the integrity of these joints and seals. While propane is completely safe under most conditions, it can be highly flammable, so leaking propane lines can be dangerous. That’s why pressure tests are also required by state and federal law, as well as insurance rules.

How to Avoid Run-Outs—and Costly Leak Tests

In general, you shouldn’t let your tank’s propane level go below 20%. But it can be easy to forget to check your tank. Automatic deliveries are great if your propane usage is very consistent.

But we know our customers throughout Southern Maine rely on propane for essentials like home heating, water heating and cooking, as well as grilling, fireplace logs and more—things that can vary with the weather or the season. That’s why we’re introducing wireless propane tank monitors from Otodata!

Wireless tank monitors use wireless and cellular technology to monitor the level of propane in your tank in real time. When the tank gauge reaches a pre-set level, the monitor alerts us—and you—directly, and we schedule a timely delivery. That means no more runouts.

With a complimentary wireless mobile app, you have even more control and insight! This user-friendly app allows you to check your tank monitor any time of the day or night to see your usage patterns day-to-day, as well as exactly how much fuel is in your tank at any given time.

Why Add a Tank Monitor?

There are a lot of reasons to consider adding a wireless tank monitor to your propane tank, and eliminating runouts is just the top of the list.

Installing your propane tank monitor is quick and easy—we can have you set up and ready to go in a matter of minutes! Contact us today to find out more about the benefits of wireless tank monitoring and how we can get you set up—100% hassle-free.

We want to acknowledge the recent, alarming surge in energy prices. This is difficult for everyone and we want you to know we are here to help any way we can. If you need assistance or have any questions please contact us to discuss the best solution.

Get Familiar With the Warning Signs

propane tank service maineYou probably haven’t thought about your propane tank in a while. So long as it’s not empty, it shouldn’t even cross your mind. And that’s fine! Propane tanks typically require little maintenance and they’re built to last a long time. But eventually, they need do need their proper maintenance, and in due time, need to be outright replaced.

Most residential, above-ground propane storage tanks should last about 30 years, although factors like the weather and climate can potentially shorten the lifespan. We inspect your tank for signs of age every time we deliver fuel, but you should know the telltale signs that you may need a service call. Here’s some important things to look out for:

  1. Propane Gas Odor: This is a sign of a leak. Propane gas has an additive that makes it smell like rotten eggs, so it’s easy to detect. Know what to do when you smell gas. Immediately get everyone out of the house, including pets, and contact us from a safe distance. Also call 911. Do not return home unless a professional says it is safe to do so. 
  2. Pilot Light Problems: Pilot lights on your furnace or other propane appliances that go out frequently or don’t stay lit can indicate a tank problem or a blockage in the gas line. Contact us if your pilot lights keep going out. 
  3. Yellow Burner Flames: Propane flames should be blue, NOT yellow or orange. If your stove burners or pilot light flames are yellow or orange, it could be a sign of a problem with your tank—especially if multiple appliances are directly affected.
  4. Rust and Dents: A little rust or a few small dings are not a problem, but you should keep an eye on them. Large or deep patches of rust and bigger dents can cause leaks and allow moisture into the tank—two problems you want to avoid.  

Need Repairs or Maintenance? Give PitStop a Call Today!

If you notice any of these problems, have us come take a look. If you need a new tank, we can install it safely and cleanly, and perform a thorough inspection of your propane appliances and provide safety certification for your home.

And when you need a propane refill, PitStop Propane and Fuels is here for you with prompt, reliable, safe, and courteous propane delivery. Have more questions about your propane tank or any of the services we provide? Contact PitStop to learn more about what we can do for you.

For more than 30 years, PitStop Propane and Fuels has been meeting the fuel delivery and heating equipment needs of your neighbors in Cumberland County, York County, and across Southern Maine.

Here’s How We Can Help You Now—and for Years to Come.

fuel delivery maineWe’ve gotten several calls this winter from customers panicked that their usual propane or heating oil dealer couldn’t deliver for several weeks—or they were going out of business altogether right in the middle of winter. Some smaller companies were selling out to bigger chains—and suddenly calls were being rerouted to out-of-state call centers that couldn’t answer questions. Others were experiencing big price spikes from their discount fuel dealers.

PitStop is the Company You Can Rely On!

It’s been a rough season—on top of geopolitics and weather affecting prices for both heating oil and propane, supply chain problems have complicated this business. But over three decades, PitStop Propane and Fuels has learned how to prepare for and weather all kinds of storms—not just Maine winters.

Here are just a few of the reasons we’re known as the go-to choice for heating fuels in Southern Maine:

New Englanders are known for being thrifty, but we know the difference between value and price. At PitStop Propane and Fuels, we work hard to make sure you get the best value for the best price, without sacrificing quality or service. It’s why our customers have made us the top choice for fuel delivery and home heating services in Chatham County, York County, and all throughout Southern Maine.

Let us show you all the ways we’ll have your back! Contact us for more information today.

Could Your Ductwork Be the Culprit?

heater not working maineIf your home is not as comfortable as you’d like in the winter, even if your heating system is running and the thermostat is set correctly, it may be that your home is leaking.

Did you know the U.S. Department of Energy found that leaky ductwork results in the loss of as much as 40% of the air moving through your home? That’s air that you’re paying to heat! What’s more, making up for the heat loss puts added strain on your system. Your ductwork carries the air heated by your furnace all over your home, distributing it through registers throughout your living space. It also returns air to your furnace to be heated through vents.

Here are some signs that indicate you may have problems with your ductwork:

Be sure to check with your HVAC service provider. They can run diagnostic tests to determine the problem, and clean and seal your ducts if necessary. Once your ductwork is sealed, you’ll be more comfortable, and you’ll see other immediate- and long-term benefits as well: lower heating bills thanks to improved efficiency; improved air quality; and more even temperatures throughout your home!

Regular furnace and boiler tune-ups are another important way to keep your equipment running at peak efficiency, which saves you money on energy costs. Whether you need a tune-up or an estimate on a new heating system altogether, PitStop Propane and Fuels is here to answer all your questions. Contact us today.