Oil Heat Cares and the members of the National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers’ chapters have been busy helping their less fortunate neighbors with their heating and hot water problems since the program got its start three years ago.
Many of these projects resulted from routine customer calls. But what techs discovered was a system that was just too old to keep working, or in some cases, a dead boiler was replaced by meager space heaters.
After coming upon such a situation, the NAOHSM members pitched in, documented the need, secured the required equipment by working with Judy Garber, the association’s executive administrator, and, finally, did the hard work of updating the systems for free on a Saturday - after the regular work week was done.
OHC projects are designed to help our neighbors in need, but sometimes more is gained than simply providing heat. This month, PM highlights two of the projects completed in the past year that have made a difference not only for the families and homes repaired, but for the volunteers, too.
PINE TREE CHAPTERAl Letellier spearheaded the recent Pine Tree Chapter project for OHC. Letellier is president of ACL Plumbing and Heating in South Portland, Maine. Founded in 1995, ACL is a service-oriented company specializing in residential and light commercial work, with a specialty in steam and radiant-heating installations and service.
Letellier heard from his nephew, Troy Watts, about a family in Arundel, Maine, that was in need of a new heating system. Troy and his twin brother, Ryan, have worked for ACL during the summers for about five years and are both educators.
Troy contacted Letellier in February 2007 to tell him of the dire need of the Holt family. Mrs. Holt had been terminally ill with cancer in November 2006 when Mr. Holt died unexpectedly of a heart attack the day after Thanksgiving. Mrs. Holt passed away in February 2007, and on the afternoon of her passing, the boiler in the family’s home died as well. Twin daughters, Lydia and Genny, who had just started college, and an older brother, Asa, living out of state, were faced with the loss of their parents and an added expense that they just couldn’t handle.
A technician was called in. He concluded that the unit could not be fixed and that it needed to be replaced. Troy, who had taught one of the daughters in school, heard of the situation from the Holts’ neighbor and called Letellier to see if he and ACL could help.
“Once I saw the situation and heard the story,” Letellier recalls, “I realized it was a perfect job for Oil Heat Cares.”
He notified Judy Garber of the situation immediately and got the project approved in record time. Once Letellier received the check for materials, he purchased the boiler, indirect water heater, oil tank and various parts from Webber Supply Co. of South Portland.
“We delivered the materials on a Friday morning, and Troy and I replaced the oil tank and dressed out the new boiler. On Saturday, Ryan and I did the swap out of the boiler and water heater,” Letellier says, adding that the job was done by 4 p.m. that day. Letellier says that with help from neighbors and friends, the job went smoothly and as expected, with no problems or unexpected delays.
“Other than low overhead for my 6-foot, 5-inch frame and a crawl space where the venting ran, the job created no unusual challenges,” Letellier says.
The new boiler is a Weil McLain WGO3 with a Carlin EZ1 burner. The team used a Weil McLain Plus 40 indirect; Taco circulators, relays and zone valves; Watts fast fill; and an Extrol expansion tank. The new oil tank was manufactured by Granby. KBS Boiler Service hauled off the removed materials.
NEW YORK CITY CHAPTERIn early December 2007, Angel Gonzalez, service manager for Combind Oil Corp. in New York City, took charge of the first project completed for OHC by the New York City Chapter. Combind Oil Corp. is a small, family-owned business founded in 1937 and owned (second-generation) by Laurence Scuder. The company provides a full range of services to single-family homes, commercial and multiple dwellings, including metered fuel deliveries and daily emergency service. The employees are also licensed installers for new and replacement heating equipment.
As service manager, one of Gonzalez’s responsibilities is to make sales calls for new or replacement equipment. She visited the Cirera family on a sales lead with the intent of selling them a badly needed replacement boiler. But certain and more immediate needs due to illness made the purchase of the new boiler not just a burden but impossible. She then thought to recommend this project for Oil Heat Cares.
The old system was original to the 60-year-old house. Most of the controls were outdated and the wiring was brittle, making it difficult to modernize the controls and upgrade the oil burner, Gonzalez says. The piping around the boiler was in very poor condition, with several leaks and a few pipe clamps from prior attempts to stop the leaks. The boiler itself was sealed with many layers of furnace cement to stop air leaks into the combustion area and to stop flue gasses from leaching out into the home.
When it came to the installation, it was a family affair - a Cirera family friend helped make modifications to a door so that the boiler could be delivered to the boiler room, and family members assisted with moving stored items so a work area could be cleared. Volunteers from Combind Oil installed a new Burnham V86 packaged boiler along with a hot water tankless coil, completing the installation in just two days.
In addition to replacing the boiler, a new programmable thermostat was installed at a new (and proper) location. Out of a total of 20 radiators, at least 10 were leaking and the rest had air valves that appeared to be original, Gonzalez notes, so these were all replaced.
“We were very fortunate that several suppliers were willing to help us with this project,” Gonzalez says. “We received all of our equipment at very generous discounts or by donation.”
In addition to Combind Oil, companies providing products for this project included help from Hydrolevel Co.’s Bill Montgomery, New Haven, Conn., who donated the low-water cut-off and automatic water feeder; Consolidated Plumbing Supply’s Buddy Brandt, Mount Vernon, N.Y., who provided the Burnham boiler at a considerable discount; Westchester Square Plumbing Supply’s Ed Bieder, Bronx, N.Y., who provided all the pipe and fittings at cost; and East New York Supply’s Irwin Lancer, Hempstead, N.Y., who provided air valves and the tiger loop at a discount.
“As far as job management is concerned,” Gonzales recalls, “everything went smoothly. The requisition forms required by Oil Heat Cares are simple, the process is quite smooth and a response was received rather quickly. Since we used our own personnel for this project, the project management portion was very routine.
“This heating system received an upgrade that was due 20 years ago, and the best part is that we did it for free,” Gonzalez adds. “Now that’s ‘Oil Heat Cares.’”
RHODE ISLAND CHAPTERThe expression, “It takes a village,” is perfect when it comes to a Habitat for Humanity project. So, when the NAOHSM Rhode Island Chapter was contacted by Habitat for Humanity about a duplex it was building for two needy families, the Chapter decided to support the two units, located in Cumberland, R.I.
However, working within the guidelines of Habitat can add some additional hiccups when it comes to scheduling and installing a new heating system. Since the chapter was installing the heating equipment for two homes, that meant two of everything. It required plenty of coordination and plenty of negotiating. George Fantacone was appointed by the chapter president, Charles Bursey, to coordinate the project.
The duplex was built from the ground up; there was no existing system in place. It took the volunteers one day to install two of each, 275-gallon oil tanks, Viessmann boilers, Bock indirect water heaters and Slant-Fin baseboard heating.
Many of the products were donated or split between donation and at-cost, helping keep cost at a minimum. Involved in the project were Santoro Oil, Glendale Oil, Wood's Heating, and White Fuel.
Many manufacturers, rep agencies, suppliers and volunteers supported this effort: Urell, F.W. Webb and Slant Fin donated all of the baseboard heating; the Portland Group donated a Viessmann oil package, along with another at cost; John F. White Co. and Walter Morris Co. supplied Bock water heaters at cost. More thanks went to Taco Inc., Emerson-Swan and Bell Simons Co., which donated circulators, zone valves and expansion tanks.
“The challenging part of the job was getting everyone to the project on the same day,” says project leader Fantacone. In fact, at the time of this project’s announcement, the crews still had to finish installing one zone of heat “because the walls were not up when we were there,” Fantacone says.
Also, the power and water to the house were still not connected, so testing and running equipment was delayed. Within a week, the Rhode Island Chapter anticipated perfectly working systems for two deserving families.
DELAWARE VALLEY CHAPTERWhen a family is in crisis, help can come in several ways. But there is nothing like the human touch to let people know you really care.
Leslie Van Houten called the NAOHSM office on behalf of husband, Joe, who works as an installer for Meenan Oil Co. (Upper Darby, Pa.). Sean Curry, a friend of Joe’s ,was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, Leslie explained, and his home also needed a new boiler. Joe and Sean got to be friends through coaching football for their children; the Currys have two children, ages 9 and 12.
While Joe was qualified to install it, the Van Houtens wanted to know if they could find a way to get a boiler donated. The proposed project easily met the criteria of Oil Heat Cares. With an affirmative response ― within a couple of hours ― Joe talked with his supervisor at Meenan Oil, Paul Heinerichs, and the wheels were in motion.
Wholesaler Tom Antonelli (Bristol, Pa.) contacted the NAOHSM office to find out how the process worked, and soon a Thermodynamics model CWL, equipped with a Riello burner, was ordered. When installation day arrived, Joe was supported by the Meenan team of Heinerichs, Jim Rafferty and Dan Gillin. Young Supply also supplied materials used on the project.
“The heating system was an antiquated dry base summer/winter boiler, approximately 20 years old,” Heinerichs told us. And though the job was a basic eight-hour installation for Rafferty, Van Houten and the Meenan team, “the satisfaction of helping a family in need was very gratifying,” Heinerichs believes.