Is Your Water Heater Failing? Know the Signs

Find out if your water heater is in good shape — or about to go on the fritz!

water heater repair new jerseyThe last thing you want to get stuck without during a chilly winter season is hot water! Here, we’ll help get you familiar with some of the ins and outs of how your water heater functions—which can help you decipher whether your water heater is in fine working order or set to cause pricey problems in the not-too-distant future.

After all, this unsung hero of a home appliance needs to dependably heat water in your cold basement all year long, preparing it to pump your supply through the pipes so everyone in your household can enjoy long, hot showers, as well as clean clothes and dishes.

Warning Signs of Water Heater Trouble

If your water heater is more than 10 years old, it may be closing in on retirement. Fortunately, there are warning signs smart homeowners can be on the alert for. To act, consider these tips for keeping on top of your water heater health:

  • Look Out for Leaks: If you notice even a small puddle below your water heater or rusty water on the outside, the unit could be corroding on the inside—a potential early sign of a tank failure. The damage caused by a failing water tank is typically more than $4K, so you’re better off replacing it before such pricey—not to mention messy—problems occur.
  • Check Your Energy Bills: Have your utility bills been increasing lately, even if fuel prices haven’t drastically changed? This may be an indication that your water heater is probably losing overall efficiency—using more and more fuel to heat the same amount of water. Bills will only continue to climb through the winter, as the unit ages and your hot water demands increase.
  • Watch Out for Hard Water: Signs of hard water include white marks on silverware and taps, laundry that feels scratchy instead of soft, and even dry skin on the face and body. If you suddenly start experiencing these issues, there could be a buildup of lime—a calcium-containing inorganic mineral—inside the tank. In addition to unsightly stains and uncomfortable skin and clothing, lime buildup is bound to reduce efficiency and shorten the lifespan of your water heaters internal parts and pieces.
  • Listen for Strange Sounds: Unfamiliar noises coming from your water heater typically indicate sediment buildup. This is a serious problem that will eventually lead to costly repairs or even premature replacement if it is not addressed. Fortunately, it’s easy to flush your water heater tank; doing so at least twice a year will help to largely avoid this issue.
  • Keep Track of Its Age: On average, a standard storage water heater will last about 10 years assuming it is properly maintained by a professional. Once you pass that decade mark, investing in a replacement water heater usually makes more sense than repairing.

Expert propane water heater installation in North Jersey or Lower New York State

If you’re experiencing these or any other problems, it could be time to replace your water heater. The experts at the Bolkema Fuel Company will help you choose a model that’s the right fit for your space, use, and budget, then install it quickly and correctly so you can enjoy worry-free hot water coming from your taps and appliances.

In the market for a new water heater? We’ve got the energy-efficient, low-cost water heater options you need! Whether you need routine service or water heater repair, we are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Give Bolkema Fuels a call today.

Offering Specialty Oil & Lubricant Services

oils and lubricant service new jerseyNo matter what industry you work for here in Northern New Jersey—whether industrial, automotive, commercial manufacturing, construction, or countless others—it’s likely that your company works with a particular type of oil or lubricant in one way or another in its day-to-day operations. In fact, there is an impressive array of oil and lubricant types available for all these different backgrounds, each specialized for one—or more—purposes.

Here at Bolkema, we strive to provide the highest quality of specialty oil and lubricant services in right here locally in Orange and Rockland Counties. We’re here not only to fulfill your supply needs—but make sure to help your bottom line, too. Look at some of the products and services we can supply to your business:

Heavy Duty Engine Oils

Bolkema is trusted by commercial and industrial clients all around Northern New Jersey and Southern New York state. Our knowledgeable team offers all the best heavy-duty engine oils from Citgo Citgard engine oils to Shell Rotella-T engine oils. We also provide heavy-duty oils for off-road equipment, including supplies, equipment, and filters.

Whether you need a smaller order or a bulk package of heavy-duty engine oils, we can cater directly to your needs.

Aviation Engine Oils

It can be tricky to find a high-quality, reliable all-in-one aviation oil provider. But that’s exactly what Bolkema brings to the table! Our services include fleet fueling, fueling equipment, and supplies.

We carry the most trusted petroleum-based fuels, perfect for powering your aircraft(s). Our aviation engine oils include piston and turbine engine oils, as well as hydraulic fluids and grease. Find all your aviation engine needs in one place—no searching, no need for multiple vendors, and no hassle.

Industrial Lubricants

We are far more than just oil! We are a reputable industrial lubricant provider in Northern New Jersey and Southern New York that provides lubricant solutions for businesses across the area.

We believe in keeping your business running as smoothly as possible with the top lines of oils and grease. We have the solutions to all your manufacturing, industrial, automotive, aviation, and special equipment lubrication needs.

So, if you need a high-quality lubricant for refrigeration, food-grade, compressor, synthetics, or turbine purposes, we would love to help you!

Trust All Your Commercial Services to Us

When you choose Bolkema, you can trust our experienced team is there to handle your bulk gas delivery, filters, supplies and equipment, alongside a complete range of vehicle oils. We keep your team on the road—and on the job. We offer commercial fleet fueling and bulk delivery, as well as an on-site fueling station with competitive prices.

As a Bolkema Fuel customer, you can rest assured that we always have plenty of fuel in storage to meet your needs, even during times when regional supplies are limited. In fact, few fuel dealers in our area have a supply as large and reliable as ours. We own one of the largest storage terminals in Northern Bergen County, with a capacity of more than 200,000 gallons of heating oil.

Contact us today to inquire about our commercial oil and lubricant services—and our array of available home comfort services.

Bolkema Fuel—fueling homes and businesses in Northern New Jersey and Southern New York for nearly 100 years!

Reduce Stress This Heating Oil Season

heating oil simplified new jerseyFall’s on the way – and with it comes the stress of the home heating season. But Bolkema can help you cope with that stress thanks to programs and services that will make your equipment more reliable and your bills more manageable.

Here are four of the best ways to reduce stress this heating season.

  1. Enroll in a Bolkema Service plan – Routine maintenance for your furnace or boiler from a qualified Bolkema technician will keep your equipment operating at peak efficiency (which means lower heating bills) – but more importantly it will catch small issues before they become big problems. When you sign up for a Bolkema Service Plan, you’ll sleep better knowing that no matter how hard your system needs to work, it will be ready for action.
  2. Sign up for Price Protection – With pre-buy Price Protection from Bolkema, you’ll pay the same price for your heating oil no matter how much it goes up during the season. That means you’ll avoid the surprise price jumps that can make bill playing so frustrating.
  3. Switch to a Budgeting Plan – Another unpleasant surprise can come right around the holiday in the form of an unexpectedly high heating bill. But with Bolkema’s Budget Plan, you’ll avoid that problem because you’ll know exactly what your bills will be every month. We’ll simply take a year’s worth of your heating bills and divide that total into 12 equal payments – no more hassles and no more surprises bills.
  4. Sign up for ProGuard heating oil tank protection – If you own a heating oil tank, there’s always a risk of a leak – especially on older models. Remediating a leak can be extremely stressful (and expensive), particularly if your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover the costs of cleanup (most don’t). But with ProGuard coverage, you’ll get up to 50,000 in coverage for cleanup, soil remediation and site restoration costs related to your aboveground tank leak and up to $100,000 for an underground tank. The coverage also offers between $1,400 and $2,000 for tank replacement if your old tank fails.

Don’t stress about your heating bill this season – contact Bolkema today to sign up for these and other great services for your home!

Why Is Changing Your Air Conditioning Filter So Important?

a/c air filterRoutine maintenance is critical to keeping your home cooling system running at its reliable best—a big reason why we strongly recommend getting regular professional maintenance for your A/C each year.

But one of the most important preventative measures you can take for your central air conditioner is also one of the simplest. Make sure to check and replace your air filter regularly!

Replacing your air filter is a key part of that maintenance process. Here are three of the most important benefits of timely filter replacement for your HVAC system.

  • Better Performance: A built up of dirt and debris in your filter can obstruct air flow, increasing the workload of your cooling system and reducing the efficiency of your equipment by as much as 15 percent.
  • Fewer Breakdowns: In addition to the wear and tear caused by reduced air flow, older air filters will deteriorate, releasing fibers into the mechanical workings of your A/C system and leading to costly repairs.
  • Improved Indoor Air Quality: An air filter’s job is to screen out pollutants, particulates, and other allergens, protecting the quality of your indoor air. When an air filter is clogged, it can’t do that essential job. By replacing your filters regularly, your family will enjoy healthy air whenever the A/C is running.

Four Signs You Need To Change Your Air Filter

If you haven’t checked your air filter yet this summer, now is a good time to do it. If you’re looking for signs about when you should do it, here are four of the most common ones:

  1. There’s warm air coming from your vents: If your air conditioner isn’t cooling as it normally does or is blowing warm air, the first thing you should check is the AC filter. If you replace your air filter and the problem persists, you could have a bigger problem on your hands—contact us for service.
  2. Your electric bill is rising: If your electric bill is higher than normal, the culprit could be in part to a dirty air filter. Replace your air filter and see if your bills respond.
  3. You’re having more health issues: When the filter becomes saturated with dust, pollen, pet dander, and other pollutants, your air conditioner can circulate them throughout your home. If you’re noticing more respiratory symptoms than usual, try replacing the air filter on your A/C.
  4. You see more dust on or near the vents: Finding more dust on surfaces and furniture near the vents? You could have a dirty air filter. Here’s a test. Try hanging a white towel five or six inches away from a vent for an hour or two; if the sheet turns gray, your filter is dirty and needs to be replaced.

Haven’t had your air conditioner serviced in 2021? It’s not too late—especially with a scorching second half of summer predicted for the Northeast! Contact Bolkema today to schedule your routine A/C maintenance in Northern New Jersey!

Five Energy-Saving Tips For Summer

home energy tips new jerseyIf you hesitate to turn on your air conditioning because you’re afraid of higher energy bills, it’s time to get real about energy efficiency. The good news is we have five simple tips that will help you save energy without sacrificing comfort this summer. Look at the five of the best ways to lower your energy bills this cooling season:

1. Use window treatments: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than three-quarters of the sunlight that falls on standard double-pane windows will become heat in your home. That’s great news in winter, but not so great in the summer.

Window treatments can go a long way to reducing this solar gain! Reflective window film, light-colored curtains or blinds, or even white towels can reduce the amount of direct sunlight that falls in your home. For tips on window treatments for all seasons, see the U.S. Department of Energy website.

2. Seal air leaks: Home energy efficiency is mostly about keeping hot air and cold air separated. In the summer season, you want to retain as much cool air as possible while keeping the hot air out.

The only way to do that is to keep your home as airtight as possible. Unfortunately, most homes leak about the equivalent of an open window’s worth of conditioned air through cracks around windows, doors, and other openings. An afternoon with some caulk—for surfaces that don’t move, such as window frames—and weather stripping—for areas where two surfaces interact, such as jambs around doors—will be a worthwhile investment that will pay for itself in the form of lower bills.

3. Avoid using heat-making appliances: Find alternatives to using your oven and clothes dryer, especially on hot days. Both appliances will add to your home’s cooling load, making your air conditioner work harder to keep your home cool. Use your slow cooker, toaster oven and microwave—or better yet, break out your outdoor grill! Clothes lines and drying racks work great, too.

Another heat making appliance in the home that most people don’t think about is their incandescent lighting. About 90 percent of the energy that incandescent light bulbs produce is emitted as heat, not light. This makes having lamps that use incandescent bulbs like having mini-space heaters placed all throughout your home. Replace all the light bulbs in your home with LEDs and you’ll save money on your energy bill twice—once because the bulbs need less energy to run, the second time because you’ll be reducing your cooling load!

4. Change your A/C filter: Your central air conditioner can use as much as 10 percent more energy if the filter is clogged or dirty. Running your A/C with a clogged filter will also cause unnecessary wear and tear on your equipment and make repairs more likely, costing you even more! Change your air filter at the start of the cooling season and check it about once every six weeks during it—doing so more frequently if you have shedding pets in your household.

5. Have your equipment professionally serviced: On average, your cooling equipment will lose about five percent efficiency each year you skip routine maintenance which means that annual maintenance will virtually pay for itself in energy savings alone.

Add to that the fact that your warranty probably requires you to have maintenance—plus all the headaches you’ll avoid by keeping your equipment running at its reliable best—and annual tune-ups become a no-brainer investment for your equipment!

Stay cool for less this summer! Keep your equipment running at peak efficiency with expert A/C maintenance in northern New Jersey and lower NY State from the pros at Bolkema. Contact us today to learn more about air conditioning service and repair in New Jersey!

Five Common A/C Mistakes That Homeowners Make

home cooling mistake new jerseyA central air conditioning system is one of the most significant investments a homeowner will make in their own comfort—but not every homeowner gives their cooling system the care it needs to keep it running at its reliable best year after year.

Here are some of the most common mistakes homeowners make when it comes to caring for their central A/C system. These are mistakes you’ll want to steer clear of if you want to avoid costly cooling system repairs down the road!

Don’t Make These Home Cooling Mistakes

  1. Not fixing air leaks. Gaps and cracks in your building envelope, especially in and around your windows, will cause your air conditioner to work harder than necessary to keep you cool. Spend some time during the spring caulking your window frames to prevent cool air from escaping. Your ductwork is a notorious leaker, too. In fact, as much as 15 percent of the air you paid to cool might never make it to your living space. Consider having your ducts checked and professionally sealed if you want to avoid this problem, especially if your cooling system is more than 10 years old.
  2. Skipping routine annual maintenance. Today’s home cooling systems are high-efficiency wonders, but that efficiency comes at a price—namely complexity. In a modern, high-tech cooling system, annual maintenance is essential to keep intricate parts working correctly. Routine maintenance will reduce your energy usage and catch small issues before they turn into big problems and expensive cooling repairs.
  3. Attempting to make their own repairs. There are plenty of ways to save money on cooling bills, but maintaining your own equipment isn’t one we’d recommend. As we said above, today’s central air conditioning systems are complex and require the skilled hands and eyes of an HVAC expert to fix—if you attempt to repair your own A/C, you risk damaging your equipment and could even void your warranty.
  4. Forgetting to check and replace their air filters. A clogged air filter will inhibit air flow, forcing your air conditioner to overwork to keep you cool. Over time, that overwork will prematurely wear out parts and could even shorten the life of your equipment entirely. Changing air filters regularly will also greatly improve air quality in your northern New Jersey home.
  5. Not going with a pro when shopping for an A/C installation. Buying a home cooling system from a big box store may seem like a great deal, but it really isn’t. For one thing, you won’t always get the best service. Perhaps more importantly, you’re more likely to get a mis-sized system based on an overly simplified formula.

An experienced HVAC pro will come to your house and give you a no-obligation estimate on a central A/C system installation based on the unique layout and features in your house, taking into account not just the size of your home but also the configuration of your space, how much installation you have installed, and more.

A seasoned pro will also know about current incentives that could save you hundreds on a new cooling system installation. Remember, you get what you pay for!

Looking to upgrade your home cooling system? Trust the pros at Bolkema Fuel. Contact us today to get a FREE, no obligation estimates on central air conditioning installations in Northern New Jersey!

Is Spring A Good Time To Replace Your Heating Oil Tank?

oil tank installation new jerseyIf you have a steel heating oil tank in your basement, it has a lifespan of somewhere between 15 and 20 years (see table below) which means that if your northern New Jersey home was built in or before 2000, you’re probably due, or even overdue, for a possible replacement.

You might say to yourself, “my heating oil tank looks fine,” but don’t be fooled: older, single-wall steel heating oil tanks usually corrode from the inside out due to trapped moisture and sediment.

That means you usually won’t see a potential tank failure coming until it’s too late (a BIG reason to carry oil tank insurance).

How Long Do Oil Tanks Last?

Here’s a look at how long you can expect your heating oil tank to last, according to the experts at Inspectapedia.com:

Steel tank, 14-gauge, single wall, connected at tank end wall: 15 years
Steel tank, 14-gauge, single wall, connected at tank bottom: 20 years
Steel tank, 12-gauge, single wall, connected at tank end wall: 20 years
Steel tank, 12-gauge, single wall, connected at tank bottom: 25 years
Steel tank, 14-gauge, single wall upper, double wall bottom: 50 years
Fiberglass or Plastic tank, single wall: 50 years
Fiberglass or Plastic tank, double wall: 50+ years

The takeaway here is if you already know your tank needs to be replaced, don’t wait—it’s simply not worth the risk, especially considering the affordable tank options that Bolkema Fuel offers (heating oil tanks have come a LONG way in the last 20 years – today’s models are virtually leak-proof and available in a variety of configurations!)

Do You Need A New Oil Storage Tank?

If it’s time to replace your tank, let us know! We can remove your old tank and find a new heating oil tank solution that works for your space and budget.

Today’s double-bottomed, reinforced, corrosion-resistant, eco-friendly heating oil tanks are a far cry from yesterday’s iron giants. And if you want that last measure of peace of mind, we also offer ProGuard insurance that will cover you in the unlikely event of a leak.

Avoid costly cleanups from an old heating oil tank! Contact Bolkema today for a FREE estimate on heating oil tank installations in New Jersey!

Simplify Your Heating Oil Bill With No-Fee EZ Pay

heating budget plans new jerseyIf you’re a Bolkema heating oil customer (or ready to become one), there’s a great way to simplify your life and bring you greater peace of mind in the heating season ahead: sign up for our EZ Pay budget plan!

Some amount of unpredictability is inevitable when it comes to managing the cost of your heating fuel, since heating oil prices in New Jersey (and everywhere else) are subject to market and weather conditions that are always changing. But EZ Pay gives you a way to soften the impact of spikes in the cost of heating oil by spreading your heating oil bills out over the course of a year.

How The EZ Pay Budget Plan Works

With EZ Pay, we’ll look at your past bills to determine your average annual fuel usage, then multiply that number by the forecast price for fuel. From there, we just take that number and divide it into 12 easy monthly payments, with no service charge. It’s that easy!

A few key things to remember about EZ Pay:

  • You won’t use more heating fuel
  • You won’t pay more per gallon for your heating oil
  • You’ll only pay for the heating oil you receive
  • If your actual fuel costs are a little higher or lower than we estimated, we will make adjustments and spread them across your annual payments

Price Protection Puts A Ceiling On Your Fuel Costs

Want to get even more predictability from your fuel bill? Combine EZ Pay with Price Protection, which fixes the price of your fuel during the offseason, when prices tend to be lower.

An EZ Way To Simpler Billing

At times like these, a little predictability goes a long way, and a few cents per gallon on heating oil can make a big difference. In a time where every day brings new surprises, it’s nice to have something you can rely on…

Enrollment in the Bolkema Fuel Company EZ Pay plan is underway for 2021-22 –contact us today if you want to get FREE peace of mind in the year ahead!

Home Energy Saving Tips For The Winter Season

home efficiency new jerseyCold winter nights—the real deal, extra blanket and a cup of something hot required ones—have officially arrived here in northern New Jersey, with the polar vortex making an appearance for the first time since 2019.

With plummeting temperatures, the job of your furnace or boiler just got a whole lot harder and there’s a great chance your fuel and energy bills will show it.

The question is, how can you keep those bills as low as possible? While upgrading to new, high-efficiency heating equipment might be the ideal way to go, you may not be ready to take that kind of step. That’s OK: much of your heating system performance comes down to just plain being smarter.

Home Efficiency Checklist

Here are eight smart, cost-effective ways to help you save energy—and save in energy costs—this winter.

  1. Give your equipment regular breaks—Install an economical programmable thermostat to lower temperatures when no one is home, or when people are asleep. It will lower your bills, reduce wear and tear on your equipment, and add years to the life of your furnace.
  2. Air seal your home—Air leaks can cost you hundreds of dollars in energy bills every year. For a minimal investment, you can seal your windows, doors, electrical outlets, and more with caulk, weatherstripping, doorsweeps, and plastic sheeting. Consider adding insulation as well, as it’s one of the best bang-for-the-buck investments you can make in your home comfort.
  3. Check and replace filters regularly—If you have a forced air system, keeping your furnace filter clean is critical to maintaining efficiency and preventing long-term problems with your equipment—including preventable breakdowns.
  4. Insulate your hot water tank and pipes—Minimize “standing loss” in your home water heating system by insulating your water heater storage tank with a jacket, and by insulating hot water pipes in untreated areas of your home (attics, basements, and crawl spaces).
  5. Drop your water heater thermostat temperature—Many water heaters have a factory-set temperature of 140 degrees which is more than you need for hot showers and clean clothes and dishes. Drop the temperature to 120 degrees and you’ll save about 15 percent on your water heating bill without sacrificing any comfort.
  6. Take advantage of the greenhouse effect—Keep windows open to absorb “free” heat from the sun during the day, and then keep that heat from escaping by closing (thick, insulated) curtains at night. 
  7. Close your fireplace damper when not in use—An open fireplace damper loses as much heat as an open window; close it when you’re not using your fireplace.
  8. Keep vents and radiators free—Keep your baseboard heaters, radiators, and heat registers clear from furniture, drapery or rugs so hot air can flow more easily into the room.

Stay warm and be smart this winter! Call Bolkema Fuel Company today heating service or a FREE estimate on heating equipment installations in northern NJ!

How Should I Maintain My Water Heater?

water heater service new jerseyLike any major appliance, your storage-type water heater needs periodic TLC to run at its best. But what are the most important ways to care for your water heater? Here are three things you should do regularly to keep your water heater working at the top of its game.

  1. Flush your storage tank regularly—Over time, sediment (mineral deposit) builds at the bottom of the tank. Left untreated, this sediment will decrease efficiency, affect how well stored water retains its heat, and eventually even cause water heater failure. The good news is that you can prevent excess sediment build up by flushing your water heater tank regularly (twice a year or more). Here’s how:
    • Locate the water heater drain valve—a brass or plastic valve at the bottom of the water heater
    • The tip of the valve is threaded to match a standard-sized garden hose; attach one end of the hose to the water heater drain valve and put the other end near your basement drain or directly outside your home into the gutter or driveway.
    • Open the water heater drain valve; the valve is often opened or closed with a flat head screwdriver. Water will flow through the hose, taking sediment with it. REMEMBER, THIS WATER WILL BE VERY HOT!
    • Drain for about five minutes, then shut the valve and detach the hose.
  2. Check and change the anode rod—An anode rod is a simple device—usually a steel core wire surrounded with either aluminum, magnesium or zinc that sits inside the storage tank. Its job is an important one: under normal circumstances, water sitting inside a steel tank would corrode the tank quickly, but an anode rod draws the corrosion process to itself rather than the tank lining. The anode rod is often referred to as the “sacrificial rod” for this reason.

    A typical anode rod will last about five years or so—less if you use a water softener. Once your anode rod is corroded, the tank lining will rot much faster! Since replacing an anode rod is a lot cheaper than replacing your tank, it’s best to keep an eye out. Checking your anode rod takes a few minutes—see your water heater owner’s manual for details or call us —we’ll be happy to do it for you!

  3. Get routine professional service—Like any other home comfort equipment, your water heater will run best when it’s professionally serviced regularly—usually once every two years, in the case of a water heater.

Of course, even if you take all these precautions, your propane water heater will eventually need replacement—typically about once every 10-12 years for a storage-type water heater. When that time comes, contact us. We’ll have a new high-efficiency propane water heater installed quickly and correctly, with no need for follow-up hassles!

For expert water heater installation in northern NJ, nobody beats the pros at Bolkema Fuel. Contact us today to learn more, or to get a FREE, no obligation estimate on an installation of a new high efficiency Bock water heater!