admibear, Author at Black Bear Fuel
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heating service new yorkWith summer in full swing here in Sullivan County, your furnace or boiler are probably the last things on your mind. But summer is actually the perfect time to think about getting your heating system ready to go for the long heating season ahead!

Routine Heating Maintenance: The Key to Better Performance

Like any other mechanical device, your furnace or boiler needs regular service to keep it running its reliable best once the cool weather arrives. That’s true whether your equipment is new or old – but especially true if it has a number of winters under its belt!

The problem is that if you wait until the fall to schedule heating maintenance, you’ll run into a few issues: first, it will be harder to find a convenient appointment time, since quality heating technicians are working all day, every day. Second, if your system needs to be shut down for maintenance, it can get pretty uncomfortable for your family – especially if an unexpected cold front settles in.

Of course, the worst-case scenario is that you’ll discover the need to repair or even replace your heating system – something you definitely don’t want to once temperatures drop for good.

Reduce Bills, Save On Installations During the Summer

Another big advantage of taking care of your heating maintenance in the summer is that you’ll enjoy peak performance from day one of heating season. On average, your furnace or boiler will lose about five percent efficiency each year it is not properly maintained. If you’ve skipped a few years, that can have a big impact on your monthly energy bills. The sooner you get your equipment maintained, the sooner you’ll benefit from the energy savings!

The Bottom Line: Early Maintenance Is Always Best

Many advantages come with maintaining your heating system while the weather is warm – you’ll save money on energy bills, enjoy more convenient service times, and get access to better deals if you need to replace your system. It’s a no-brainer – give Black Bear a call today and let’s get started!

Black Bear’s certified heating technicians have what it takes to make your system perform more efficiently without compromising your comfort. Contact us today to learn more about our high-value Little Paw Plan and Big Paw Plan and experience the Black Bear difference for yourself.

summer hvac maintenance new yorkYour heating system is probably the last thing on your mind right now, as temperatures reach for and often top the 90-degree mark here in Sullivan County. But that doesn’t mean you should put it completely out of your mind.  
Taking a few quick steps now will make sure your heating equipment is ready to answer the bell for another round a few months down the road. It will probably also help you save more money in the long run (and the short run, too).
Here are some steps you can take to “summer-ize” your heating system in the weeks ahead.  
1. Clean away soot and scale.
Just like the ash that’s created when you make a fire, soot and scale gather as a result of burning heating oil in your furnace or boiler (soot is a black, powdery carbon deposit; scale is flakes of rust and minerals created by carbon dioxide and water vapor). Both can fall on burners or build up in pipes.  
The problem with soot and scale is that they reduce the efficiency of your heating system, and could even lead to a breakdown if left unaddressed. Soot can also become a fire hazard if it builds up, and can also lead to potentially dangerous problems with carbon monoxide in your home.

While removing soot and scale build up might be something you can do yourself, we highly recommend that you leave it to the pros (see tip #3).
2. Change the air filter.
Air filters are an important part of a forced-air heating system (a system that warms your home using heated air: if you have vents and a furnace rather than baseboards and radiators, you have a forced air system).

An air filter’s job is to remove dust and other particles from the air in your home, keeping it clean and healthy for your family. They’re really good at it, too – so good that after a while, the air filter will become clogged with stuff like pet fur and dust. At that point, you’ll have to either remove the filter or clean it, depending on the model of furnace you have (some use disposable filters, others have reusable filters – see your owner’s manual for more information).

Changing an air filter is inexpensive and simple to do. If you only have a furnace, you should check the air filter every six to eight weeks – more frequently if you have pets that shed – during heating season. If your system also includes an air conditioner, you should keep that filter-checking schedule year-round.

Either way, early summer is the perfect time to swap in a new HVAC filter.

3. Service your equipment.
Your furnace labored well into spring this year to keep your family comfortable. Now, it’s time to make sure it can make it through another one. 
Having your heating system serviced now will help you catch wear and tear early so your equipment will run at peak efficiency from day one of heating season 2021/22. If the worst happens and you have to have your equipment repaired or replaced, you’ll also pay less for those services than you will at the height of winter. Getting a convenient appointment time is also easier than it will be in late summer.
4. Fill your oil tank.
Filling your oil tank during the summer has two big advantages: first, it will likely save you money on fuel, since prices tend to rise with demand.
But there’s a second reason to schedule an oil delivery now rather than waiting: it could prevent corrosion in your tank. As temperatures change, condensation (water) forms on the inside of an empty tank – just as it does on a glass of cold water on a hot day.

The presence of water is bad for your tank in two ways: first, it encourages bacteria to grow in your fuel, which will eventually turn your oil thick enough to clog your fuel lines. Second, water can sink to the bottom of your tank and rot it from the inside-out – a problem you won’t see coming until it’s too late.

Take some heat off your heating system this summer with these tips – plus expert heating system service and heating oil delivery in Sullivan County, NY from the pros at Black Bear. Contact us today to learn more!

hvac service new yorkThe real summer heat hasn’t arrived in Sullivan County yet, but it’s coming – if you haven’t scheduled routine service for your air conditioning system, now is the time to do it.

But why stop at servicing your home cooling system?

Early summer is a great time to take care of your furnace or boiler, too – especially considering the extended heating season we’ve had. With temperatures in the high 40s well into June, your heating system has been laboring for more than nine months straight and can use a little TLC from a heating expert.

You certainly could put off heating service until the fall, but then you’d be on a list with everyone else doing the same thing. Schedule it now, along with your A/C maintenance, and you can get the work out of the way so you can hit the ground running in fall 2021.

Why Choose A Service Agreement From Black Bear?

An annual tune-up – included in our Little Paw and Big Paw Service Agreement Plans – will help you to:

  • Avoid many repairs – About four out of five HVAC repairs are avoidable with simple routine care.
  • Lower energy bills – Well-maintained HVAC equipment is more efficient, so it delivers more heating and cooling bang for your buck.
  • Keep your equipment covered – Much like a car, the warranties on most HVAC equipment require annual service to keep their coverage in force. If you don’t get regular maintenance, you might have to shell out money for repairs – even if your equipment is still under warranty!
  • Enjoy peace of mind – Routine maintenance for your HVAC equipment will not only keep it running better, it will also extend its life and help it run more reliably under strain during peak seasons.

Let Black Bear take the hassle out of maintaining your HVAC equipment with our Little Paw and Big Paw Agreement Plans. Contact us today to learn more about heating and cooling service in Sullivan County, NY.

pets and hvac new yorkPets are part of the family – but they can also create special challenges when it comes to keeping your home heating and cooling equipment running the way it should.

Here are three potential problems posed by your pet – and what you can do about them.

  1. Fur build-up – Pet fur can quickly block HVAC air filters, causing your cooling and heating system to overwork – which means you’ll pay more to heat and cool your home and put your equipment at a greater risk of breakdown.
    To counter this problem:
    • Vacuum regularly using a HEPA-filter vacuum, and mop tile and hardwood floors weekly.
    • Check your HVAC air filter every few weeks, cleaning or replacing it (depending on the model) when needed.
    • Get professional maintenance for your heating and cooling equipment every year.
    • If you have had your pet for five years or more, consider getting a professional duct cleaning, especially if they are prone to shedding.
  2. Dander build-up – Dander is dry, dead skin from your pet. A forced air system (one with vents rather than baseboards or radiators) will spread dander and other allergens throughout your home, degrading the quality of your indoor air.
    To counter this problem:
    • Bathe and brush your pet regularly.
    • Consider installing a whole house air purifier to keep the air clean and clear.
  3. Pet door drafts – Many owners install a special door for their pets. Like any other external opening, a pet door can leak air in or out of your home.
    To counter this problem:
    • Make sure your pet door (and all your exterior doors and windows) is properly installed to ensure a tight seal when your pet comes and goes.
    • Use weather sealing to prevent drafts around the pet door.
  4. Territory marking – Male pets mark their territory, and sometime that territory is your outdoor condenser unit. The problem is that pet urine can degrade the coils on your outdoor condenser unit and eventually cause a refrigerant leak.
    To counter this problem:
    • Consider installing a fence around your outdoor condenser unit (just make sure the fence does not inhibit air flow to your condenser!).

Keep your pets happy and your family breathing easier with regular HVAC maintenance in Sullivan County, NY from the pros at Black Bear. Contact us today to learn more!

mini-split installation new yorkMini-Split (or ductless) systems are a great, cost-effective alternative to inefficient window units – and sometimes even to central air conditioners. They’re usually the top option for homes that don’t have existing ductwork, and a great option anywhere you need cool air delivered indoors.

Here are five great reasons to choose mini-split system for your Sullivan County home.

  1. They’ll save you money – Ductless systems usually have SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) scores of 18 or more – substantially more than the fifteen or so that you’ll get from your window A/C. Mini-split systems require less energy to drive than central air units – and with the ability to create “zones” in your home (see #2 below), you can tailor your “cooling spend” to areas where you need it most.
  2. They’re flexible – Mini-split systems can direct a precise amount of cool air into different zones in your home. Indoor units can be arranged where you need them, and sized to the cooling load of their room. They can even be installed in rooms without windows, making them a great option for work rooms, offices, and home additions.
  3. They can be installed quickly, with minimal hassle – In a mini-split system, the indoor unit (called an air handler) is attached to outdoor condenser unit via a narrow pipe that feeds through a small three-inch hole in your wall. There’s no need to remodel around ductwork, and no loss of light or window use in the rooms you want to cool.
  4. Improved Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) – While air ducts in home HVAC systems have to be cleaned regularly by professionals, mini-splits have no ducts – which can drastically reduce the dust, bacteria, pollen, allergens and other air-borne nasties circulating in your indoor air.
  5. They’re more eco-friendly – Ductless systems typically run more efficiently than central air systems, which means you’ll need less power to run them – power that is often derived from fossil fuels. Mini-splits also use a refrigerant called R410A, which is more environmentally friendly than other refrigerants.

Could a mini-split system be right for you? Let’s talk about it. Contact the cooling system experts at Black Bear today to learn more about mini-split air conditioner installations in Sullivan County, NY!

a/c installation new yorkInstalling a central air conditioner is a major investment for a homeowner – one they should take seriously and approach with due diligence.

But people are…well, they’re people, and they make mistakes. Here are three of the most common ones we see when people are choosing an HVAC contractor for a central air conditioning installation.

Mistake #1: They choose based on price only.

Selecting an HVAC contractor should be based on value, not just price. The most important thing to keep in mind when looking at quotes from different contractors (which you should always do) is to be sure you’re comparing apples to apples in the estimate.

Some things to consider when comparing quotes include:

  • Type of Equipment – What type of equipment is your contractor suggesting? What is its size or capacity? What is its failure rate? What is its SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating? Ask the contractor why they chose that particular brand and model, and be sure to compare the features and performance of each brand and model suggested.
  • Contractor quality – Do research, ask questions, and observe your contractor in action. Is he NATE-certified? Is he licensed and insured? Does he do a proper, in-person load calculation before giving you a cooling system estimate? Does he ask questions about your home and level of comfort? Does he allow YOU to ask questions and make clear what you’re getting and why? Look for contractors who are engaged from day 1.
  • “Hidden” charges – Make sure everything you want is detailed in your estimate, including materials, controls, connections, piping, refrigerant lines, etc. If many of these materials and features are considered extra, or not fully detailed in the estimate, consider it a red flag. Schedule is also important: ask what happens if there are delays or unexpected problems, and be sure to get everything in writing.

Mistake #2: They choose an HVAC contractor that doesn’t guarantee their work.

All reputable HVAC contractors guarantee their work. This means that if they make a mistake on your job, they will redo or fix it AT NO CHARGE TO YOU. Choose only HVAC contractors who unconditionally guarantee their work.

Mistake #3: They don’t ask for references.

All reputable contractors will happily give you references. Ask your contractor to give you at least three names of people they have done business with, and how long they have worked with those customers. Ask what type of job they did for those customers (try to get names of people who had similar installations to your own).

For quality HVAC and central A/C installations in Sullivan County, trust the pros at Black Bear. We stand by our work, offer great value, and get the job done right the first time! Contact us today to learn more about central air installations in Sullivan County, NY.

summer efficiency tips new yorkIn warmer months, it’s tempting to crank the A/C here in Sullivan County – after all, nothing beats the heat quite like coming home to a cool house.

But there’s more to staying cool at home than just relying on your HVAC system – at least if you want to keep cooling bills manageable.

Here are 8 cost-effective ways to stay cool for less as things heat up in the coming months.

  1. Install window treatments. Did you know that nearly one-third of the unwanted heat in your home comes through your windows? Adding shades, blinds or window film to windows can lower temperatures substantially. In the long term, planting trees can provide enough shade to drop indoor temperatures by 10 degrees or more.
  2. Change your bed linens. Replace your winter flannels with cotton sheets for the summer – cotton sheets breathe easier and stay cooler (especially if you dampen them – a little trick the Egyptians use to use to stay cool along the Nile). Buckwheat pillows are great, too: the natural spaces between their hulls will help dissipate your body heat, unlike conventional pillows, which retain it.
  3. Use all your fans – Use ceiling fans to keep air flowing and create a wind-chill effect throughout the house – just remember to keep them running counter-clockwise for the best cooling action (see your fan’s instruction manual for details on how to reverse the spin of your blades). Floor, table and box fans will help, too – especially if you put a bowl of ice in front of them (try it – It works!). Box fans can also be placed facing out your window to draw hot air out of your room. And don’t forget about the exhaust fans in your bathroom, either – they’ll keep the hot, humid air from your shower from getting in the house.
  4. Keep your body cool – Choose light-colored clothing made from lightweight, breathable fabric, drink cold drinks, and cool off with a shower or bath to stay comfortable. Keeping a bowl of cool water near your bed will give you a quick way to cool off your feet on a hot night.
  5. Sleep low – Hot air rises, so consider sleeping in lower levels in the house on hot nights – or move your mattress to the floor.
  6. Replace incandescent light bulbs – If you’re using conventional lightbulbs, you’ve got a bunch of mini space heaters around your home: nearly 90 percent of the energy they produce is emitted as heat
    , not light. LEDs produce almost no heat – yet another reason to install them everywhere in your house.
  7. Cook outside – The last thing you want to do in the summer is turn on a 400-degree oven. Break out that propane grill and get cooking!
  8. Maintain your HVAC system – Let’s face it: there will be times that no amount of cool water spritzing and fan spinning will keep New York heat and humidity at bay. On those days, you’ll want to turn to central air conditioning that’s as effective and efficient as possible. To make sure your A/C is reliable and working at its best, have it maintained by the HVAC pros at Black Bear.

    Here are just some of what our experts will do for you:

    • inspect your system to look for potential problems
    • examine the fuel lines and points of connection
    • inspect exhaust outlets to check for damage like leaks or corrosion
    • check any electrical connections and voltage
    • carefully lubricate moving parts
    • make sure there is enough refrigerant in the air conditioner to work properly

For expert HVAC service in Sullivan County and beyond, trust the pros at Black Bear! Contact us today to schedule A/C maintenance with our team of pros.

furnace safety after flood new yorkFloods can devastate your home and belongings – including expensive home comfort equipment, which tends to be installed in the basement or lowest level of your house.

The question is, is your heating system safe to use after a flood has occurred?

The answer is maybe (we’ll explain more below). But before we get to that, let’s talk about three things you should do immediately if you have a flood in your Sullivan County home.

Three Steps To Take If You Have A Flood

If you have flood conditions in your home, take these three steps as soon as possible:

  1. Shut down all breakers to your basement before you go down there. If your breaker is in the basement, only attempt this if conditions make it safe to do so; if they don’t, contact an electrician for help.
  2. Begin removing water. While you will need to wash and sanitize everything to prevent mold damage, some items and décor may be salvageable. Take everything you can out of your basement to dry elsewhere – preferably outside the house.
  3. If it’s safe to do so, access your appliances, including your furnace or boiler, water heater, washer and dryer, etc. If your appliance has a pilot light, do NOT re-light it without a licensed service tech inspecting it first.

Using Your Furnace After A Flood

While restoring your furnace to working order could simply amount to giving it a thorough cleaning, you won’t know for sure without a professional heating system inspection. If your equipment has been exposed to water, do not use it before calling in a heating professional!

In the meantime, you can examine your outdoor condensing units (if you have a furnace), which are durable and can often withstand some water exposure. Look for a line to see how high the water rose; if that line extends only a few inches, the unit may be salvageable after inspection. If the water rose higher than halfway up the unit, the damage could be too extensive to fix.

The Bottom Line

If your basement has flooded and your heating equipment was affected, contact a qualified professional immediately. If your equipment is not properly inspected and cleaned, safety measures that protect you from fire or carbon monoxide hazards could fail. It’s simply not worth the risk to run your furnace without a clean bill of health from a heating expert!

If you need your furnace inspected after a flood, contact the pros at Black Bear. We’ll get it looked at quickly and either fix or replace your equipment correctly so you can get back to enjoying your warm home again. Contact us today to learn more about furnace repair and maintenance in Sullivan County, NY!

Warmer weather is on the horizon here in Sullivan County – which means it’s time to get your central A/C in shape for the heat to come.

Here are five things you can do in the coming weeks to prepare your HVAC equipment for its annual home cooling workout.

Home Cooling System Spring Checklist

  1. Check your air filter – A clogged air filter blocks airflow, which causes your A/C to waste energy as it goes about its cooling duties. Replace your air filter early in the season and check it every 30 days when your air conditioner is in daily use.
  2. Clear the condenser – Birds, insects and other creatures can make a home inside of the condensing unit; remove their nests before you power up your A/C. It’s also important to keep condenser coils clean and clear so they can dissipate heat: use a garden hose to push out yard and other debris, taking care not to bend over the delicate aluminum fins.
  3. Clean vents and check ductwork – Clean vent registers with soapy water to remove dust, then clear away vent obstructions such as rugs, curtains, furniture, and other items. If you detect a lingering, stale smell coming from your vents, consider having the ductwork professionally cleaned and sealed.
  4. Run your HVAC system– On a warm day, start up the air conditioner to make sure it powers on and off properly. If it doesn’t,
    • Make sure your thermostat is set for the “air conditioner” or “cool” setting
    • Make sure that your thermostat is set to at least 5 degrees below the current room temperature
    • Check circuit breakers to make sure they have not been tripped
    • Make sure all power switches affecting the unit are in the on position
    • If you’ve tried all of these measures and the A/C still doesn’t work, contact us for air conditioning service.
  5. Schedule annual maintenance – Professional air conditioning maintenance keeps your equipment running better for longer and helps spot small issues before they become expensive repairs. Schedule your home cooling maintenance now and beat the Memorial Day rush!

Warmer days and nights are coming to New York – make sure your air conditioner is ready for the challenge. Contact Black Bear today to schedule air conditioning maintenance in Sullivan County, NY!

saving energy new yorkWeather is warming up here in Sullivan County – but you’re still going to need your heating system for a while since average temperatures in our service area can dip into the 50s well into June.

Shoulder seasons like this can sometimes result in some sneaky heating bills as temperatures dip overnight in April and May. But with a little planning and some simple changes in your lifestyle, you can keep those bills as low as possible.

Save Energy To Save Money

Here are some of the best bang-for-the-buck ways to help you save energy in the weeks ahead.

  1. Program your thermostat – Use your thermostat wisely and you could save up to 10 percent on your home energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  2. Clear vents and baseboards – Move any furniture, drapery or rugs that could keep heat from reaching your living space.
  3. Caulk and seal leaks – Inexpensive measures like caulk, weatherstripping, and door sweeps will keep air leaks at bay. Insulation – especially in your attic – is a high-value energy saver, too.
  4. Close your fireplace damper – An open fireplace damper is like an open window; close it when you are not using your hearth.
  5. Stay on top of air filter changes – One of your most important HVAC maintenance tasks is to replace its air filters regularly. Clogged filters rob your furnace of efficiency by making it overwork to keep you warm; that means higher heating bills and more wear and tear on your equipment.
  6. Mind your hot water use – Almost 20 percent of your energy bill comes from heating water, so reducing your hot water usage will also shrink your fuel bill. Try resetting the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F (the factory setting is usually higher), installing low-flow showerheads and aerators, and washing clothes on the cold setting for starters. If you’re due for a new water heater, choose a high-efficiency model.
  7. Service your equipment – Get your furnace or boiler maintained by a professional and you’ll prevent it from losing about five percent efficiency every year. You’ll also avoid most repairs (about 80 percent of which are avoidable if caught early enough) and keep your warranty in force. Routine maintenance pays for itself – don’t skip it!

Stay comfortable and save money this spring with these cost-effective tips and tricks. Want another smart tip? Replace your old, inefficient boiler or furnace with a new, high-efficiency heating system from Black Bear. Contact us today to learn more about boiler and furnace installations in Sullivan County, NY!

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