Energy-Efficient Air Conditioning: It’s Possible!

Summertime can bring extreme heat and make it tough to keep your home or business cool! If you’re concerned about the increase you’ll experience in utility costs or worried about the impact you’ll have on the environment by running your air conditioner, know that energy-saving air conditioning units and efficiency-increasing techniques are out there, ready to help you save money and prevent excessive environmental erosion.

Let’s take a look at some of these green air conditioning units and efficiency tips to learn more about the benefits they can provide for your home or business this summer.

Eco-Friendly & Cost-Saving Air Conditioning Units: The Basics

Purchasing a newer, more energy-efficient air conditioner is one way to achieve the cost savings you’re looking for. Seeking out a unit with an EnergyStar rating is a smart, easy way to achieve this, as is looking for a unit with a high SEER rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is calculated by dividing BTU — British Thermal Units, a measure of air conditioning efficiency that represents the amount of heat that can be removed from a space in an hour — by the wattage required to generate the energy. High SEER numbers, therefore, correlate with increased energy efficiency.

Note that you don’t need to run out and buy a unit with the highest SEER number out there — while that can be one way to save money in the long term, simply buying an air conditioner with a higher SEER than your old unit can help you save a good deal of money every year on utility bills.

Other Ways to Help Reduce Your Cooling Bills

There are other ways to improve your building’s energy efficiency that can be paired with purchasing a new unit or used as an alternative to buying a unit. One of the most common and effective methods is to look for and plug air leaks throughout your structure or HVAC system. These leaks can reduce efficiency and make your compressor work harder to maintain a consistent temperature.

Check your home’s insulation to see if it is sufficient and utilizes up-to-date materials. You can also check in and around your windows, as these areas are often prime suspects for air leakage. If replacing your windows for more energy-efficient alternatives is impractical or cost-prohibitive, consider installing weather stripping or caulking up gaps to help keep cool air from escaping.

Bruni & Campisi: Your HVAC & Air Conditioning Experts

If you’re a home or business owner in Westchester, NY, Greenwich, CT, Stamford, CT or the surrounding areas interested in getting cost-efficient air-conditioning units or plugging leaks in your HVAC system, contact us for a free estimate here at Bruni & Campisi. We offer a wide range of air conditioning installation, repair and replacement services.

Avail yourself of a team of experts that have provided satisfied clients throughout the New York metropolitan area with quality craftsmanship and excellent customer service for nearly 40 years — trust Bruni & Campisi to get the job done.

Posted in Air Conditioning

Is My Air Conditioner Broken? How to Know if You Need a New Unit.

A broken air conditioner during the summer is a real let down. You, your family, your staff and your clients live and work better in a comfortable, temperature-controlled environment — a hot, sweaty home or business facility is no fun for anyone.

If you’re concerned that your AC or HVAC system is not working, we’re here to provide you with a few tips on what to look for.

Is My AC Too Old?

An old air conditioning unit isn’t necessarily in need of replacement. If it’s been well-maintained and serviced, your old AC might be able to provide you with many more years of reliable service.

With that said, an air conditioner or compressor that is older than 10 years may lack certain efficiency features that newer models offer in abundance, such as Energy Star ratings. If your old AC has a SEER — Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio — rating, you’ll be able to compare that to units currently on the market. A higher SEER means a unit can produce better energy efficiency, saving you money on energy bills and helping preserve natural resources. We recommend replacing your air conditioner if it has a SEER under 13.

Telltale Signs of AC Failure

There are a few other ways you can determine whether your AC is in need of replacement:

  • Weird Smells: If you begin to notice offensive odors after turning on your AC, first check its vent to see if your filter needs replacement. If this isn’t the culprit, it may be time to think about buying a new unit, particularly if it emits a stale smell or if your nose tells you something’s about to incinerate.
  • Unusual Noises: If your AC is making unusually loud sounds, it’s possible something inside has come loose or is about to break. Much like noises from your car that cause concern, you’ll want to pay attention to any noticeable knocks or squeals that emanate from your unit.
  • It’s Still Too Hot in Your Building: We’ve had a few exceptionally hot days this summer that have placed a strain on our air conditioning systems, but if you find that your unit consistently fails to keep your room at a comfortable temperature, it’s time to invest in a replacement.

Bruni & Campisi: Your AC Replacement Source

If you’re a home or business owner in Westchester County, NY, Stamford, CT, Greenwich CT or the surrounding areas in need of a new air conditioning system or repairs to your existing unit, contact us at Bruni & Campisi today for a free estimate. We’re well experienced in working with clients to suggest when to get a new HVAC — we’ve successfully provided this service to area residents for nearly 40 years.

We offer a wide range of rebates for high-efficiency air conditioning systems, so now is a great time to upgrade your home or business’s HVAC system. Trust the friendly, knowledgeable team here at Bruni & Campisi to provide you with expert air conditioning consultation and professional installation services.

Posted in Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning Preventive Maintenance Checklist

Air Conditioning Preventive Maintenance Checklist

Come summertime, an air conditioner operating at optimal efficiency is essential. No wonder air conditioning has become all but standard in the American home. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, 75 percent of American homes feature an air conditioner of one type or another.

Additionally, air conditioning units use 6 percent of all electricity produced in the United States, costing American homeowners around $29 billion a year.

On the face of it, this second statistic might seem daunting. Considering America’s increased focus on both environmental issues and cost efficiency, making an investment in energy use reduction would be wise for many homeowners.

However, regular home air conditioner maintenance does more than reduce energy consumption — it will also improve your air conditioner’s ability to keep you cool.

Regular AC Maintenance Improves Its Ability to Keep You Cool

As experts in A/C maintenance, we want to present you with the ultimate preventive maintenance checklist for air conditioners. As you prepare for the summer heat, you can rest easy knowing that your air conditioner will keep you nice and cool all season long.

AC Maintenance Checklist

Start with air filters and indoor coil.

  • Make sure to clean your air filters.
  • Kitchen antiseptic spray works well for cleaning. Just make sure to rinse with warm water.
  • The key is to remove dust build up, as this will impede air flow.

Next clean the outdoor unit, including the coil while checking air flow.

  • Obstructions should be removed, as they will diminish air flow.
  • The air outlet on the front of the system should be wiped down.
  • Do a check on the air flow, and make sure the coil is unobstructed

Do an air flow check on both indoor and outdoor units.

  • Start with the indoor unit and make sure you have good air flow.
  • If air flow is poor, you may have a failing fan motor or a blocked coil.
  • If you have removed obstructions and air flow is still poor, it’s time for a professional checkup.

Look out for rust.

  • You want to fix rust and corrosion immediately.
  • A new coat of waterproof paint is sufficient for minor superficial rust.
  • However, a professional will need to address any major rust damage.

Do a check on heating and cooling modes to make sure they are switching properly.

  • Switch your system between heating and cooling modes.
  • If your air conditioner is struggling to make the switch, this is a good indication of more serious issues, and means you should contact a professional.

Check Air Filters and Indoor Coil

Remember, while your air conditioning unit is most likely outside, air conditioning efficiency starts inside. Your air conditioning unit is linked into your central duct system, using the same ductwork that your furnace uses during the winter.

AC Efficiency Starts Inside

Start with your indoor air filters. Many systems use replaceable, inexpensive filters. These should be replaced monthly, especially in older homes.

Other HVAC systems utilize permanent filters. Instead of regularly replacing these filters, you need to clean them. Cleaning is simple. A standard kitchen antiseptic spray works well. Just spray both sides of the filter and wipe clean, rinsing with warm water. When you’re done, your filters should be dust free.

Another indoor air conditioning appliance to include in your checklist is the HVAC evaporator or indoor coil. This is a device that assists with heat exchange. These are not standard in all central air conditioning systems, so many homeowners will not have one. But if you do, you also want to make sure to clean the coils to ensure they are working at peak efficiency.

If you're using indoor window units, you still need to look for dust and debris

If you are using indoor window units, you still need to look for dust and debris. As indoor units run, they will collect dust and debris from the air outside. Use a general cleaning spray to clean the indoor-facing vents of your units.

Check and Clean the Coil and Air Outlets on the Outdoor Unit

Now that you’ve checked the indoor items off your air conditioner maintenance checklist, it’s time to move to your outdoor unit.

Your first step is to look at the outdoor unit and see if there is any obvious debris or obstruction. Often, over the course of the winter, leaves, sticks and dirt will collect on the unit that could obstruct airflow. This debris should be removed.

It should also be noted that there are many after-market products sold to cover your outdoor unit during the winter. However, many homeowners report an increase in rust development after covering their units during the colder months. Because these covers seal the unit during the winter, moisture cannot escape, thus causing unseen corrosion. Some homeowners even report their unit fan locking due to rust the moment that they turn their A/C on for the first time for the year.

Look closely at the grate or foil filtering the air flow

Next, you want to look more closely at the grate or foil filtering the air flow.

If you have coil fins — in which thin aluminum sheets cover the air flow — know that these can get bent, drastically impeding air flow. If you have coil fins that have been bent, you will want to purchase an affordable device known as a “fin comb.” This will allow you to bend the fins gently back into place.

If you have a more open grating system, make sure to use a cleaning solution to remove finer dust and debris, further increasing airflow.

Third, look inside and make sure the heat exchange coil is free of obstructions. If you see leaves or other debris, clear them out.

If you have window units, you still need to inspect the outside air flow vents of these units. In many cases, the same maintenance steps will apply.

Finally, run your air conditioning unit and inspect it as it is running to see if there are any airflow obstructions that you did not notice during your initial inspection. Don’t be afraid to listen to the fan as it is running to see if you can hear any grinding or the sound of a leaf caught in the fan.

Do not try to remove the obstruction while the air conditioning is running, but if you do notice something, turn the unit off again and see if the movement made it easier for you to clear out the remaining debris.

Check for Good Airflow From Both Indoor and Outdoor Units

Now that you’re confident that your units are debris-free, you want to go back inside while the air conditioning — whether central or window units — are running.

If you have window units, and especially if they are all the same brand and model, each should be running with the same strength. If there are any units that are lagging, it might be time to have them either serviced or replaced.

If you have a central unit, you still want to investigate airflow coming from your ductwork vents. Depending on the age and style of your home, there will likely be some vents that do a better job of pushing out cool air than others. Taller, older homes tend to have a harder time evenly distributing forced air on the upper floors. However, vents within the various regions of your home should be consistent.

If airflow is poor or inconsistent you may have a larger issue

If airflow is poor or inconsistent, and you are confident that you have already cleared obstructions from the central unit, you may have a larger issue. It is most likely that a coil is being obstructed in a way that you cannot see without dismantling the unit, or your fan may be starting to fail. In either case, it is time to consult a professional.

In a moment like this, a professional may seem like an expense that you can avoid, but having an air conditioning system in this type of condition serviced will save your money in the long run.

Remember, you want to get as much life out of a central air conditioning system as you can, as the cost of replacement, especially if the unit is relatively new, will far outpace the cost of routine maintenance. Because these sorts of issues are common, diagnosing them will likely be easy and the repairs quick.

Check for Rust or Corrosion

Rust or corrosion is one of the first age issues that can start to tax an A/C unit. Because an air conditioner needs to be working at peak performance to be energy-efficient, you don’t want any corrosion slowing the fan or making the coil less effective.

Additionally, like the paint job on a car, a little bit of rust can quickly start to spread. That’s why you need to address even minor, seemingly cosmetic rust issues as soon as possible. While the rust may not be impeding the operation of your unit now, in a season or two, it is likely that the rust will spread and become a much more expensive concern.

If you are an intrepid do-it-yourselfer, you can use waterproof steel paint to address minor scuffs and superficial rust. This will stabilize the issue, although if you are strongly concerned about cosmetics, know that it may be difficult to match the paint perfectly.

Major Rust Issues need to be addressed by a professional

Major rust issues always need to be addressed by a professional. While you may be able to diagnose rust as the cause of a fan problem, it’s likely that the damage extends beyond what a non-professional can observe. If the rust issue has gotten that bad, there’s a good chance it will also be damaging other, harder-to-see parts of your air conditioning unit.

Check Your System on Both Heating and Cooling Modes

The final step in the home A/C maintenance checklist is to make sure your HVAC system can switch between heating and cooling modes.

Once you’ve established that your system is operating well on cool, turn the thermostat to heating mode — making sure to adjust the thermostat to a warm-enough desired temperature to trigger heat — and see if it adjusts correctly.

This is an important test because it is the only way to determine if there is an issue with the reversing valve.

The reversing valve is an important piece of equipment that allows you to use many of the same components for both heating and cooling. If this crucial part isn’t working properly, you will need to contact a professional to have it replaced properly.

Important Air Conditioning Diagnostics Requiring a Professional

While the above checklist should become an essential and regular part of your yearly A/C preparations, there are air conditioning issues that require a professional. While you may not need to have these things checked annually, they are important enough that you should schedule professional maintenance regularly. Below is a list of things that should be left to a professional. You can also consider this as an air conditioner service checklist for when you do hire a professional.

HVAC maintenance professionals are required for the following issues:

  • Precisely measuring airflow. As we mentioned above, you should be able to tell if your air conditioning airflow is sufficient. But you won’t have the kind of precision equipment needed to make sure that there isn’t a smaller obstruction in your evaporator coil. That’s why you should get a professional to diagnose an airflow problem if you suspect there is one but cannot clearly identify where the obstruction might be.
  • Verify the electric control sequence controlling the reversing valve. If you are having problems switching between heating and cooling modes, you may have an issue with your reversing valve. However, you could also have a problem with the electric control sequence. You want to make sure a professional determines which of the two issues you are having trouble with. Remember, when it comes to electrical controls, do-it-yourself solutions can be dangerous. And depending on where you live, attempting a DIY electrical fix may be a code violation.
  • Apply lubricant and check belts for tightness. You can usually spot rust and the problems that corrosion can cause. But other issues can impede the operation of your air conditioning fan. It may be a simple lubrication problem, or it could be an aging belt. Either way, because these parts are delicate and need to be perfectly installed to work properly, inspecting and maintaining these parts is a professional job.
  • Check refrigerant levels, test for refrigerant leaks and capture refrigerant that needs to be evacuated. When it comes to a refrigerant, addressing it improperly isn’t just wasteful, it is illegal. That’s because these chemicals can have an enormous environmental impact if released improperly. You cannot spill or release refrigerant into the atmosphere. And if there is a leak, you are responsible as a homeowner for any damage that that leak may cause. This is perhaps the most important reason to get a regular professional checkup on your air conditioning unit. It is vital that you not attempt to address refrigerant issues yourself.

It's vital that you do not attempt to address refrigerant issues yourself

  • Tighten connections and re-apply non-conductive coating. Remember, the many parts in a central air conditioning unit are complicated and need to be installed correctly. Knowing what parts to tighten and how to do so in a way that won’t damage their non-conductive coating is crucial if you want an air conditioner that works the way you expect it to. Further, correctly making the adjustments often require tools that can’t be found in a common home toolbox.
  • Look for duct leakage. This is another issue that could be sapping the efficiency of your airflow that can be hard to identify during your routine check. Your fan could be working perfectly, your filter can be brand-new and all ventilation might be unobstructed, yet you are still experiencing airflow issues.

In this case, it’s possible that you have duct leakage somewhere in your HVAC system. A professional will know what to look for and have the materials necessary to fix it. While the repair is minor, having a professional complete it will go a long way in improving energy efficiency, thus saving your money in the long run.

Need Professional Air Conditioning Service?

If you live in Westchester County, N.Y., Stamford, Conn., Greenwich, Conn. or any of the surrounding areas, you can count on Bruni & Campisi for all your HVAC needs.

Since 1979 we've been providing the region with expert hvac and plumbing care for residential and commercial clients

Since 1979, we have been providing the region with expert HVAC and plumbing care for both residential and commercial clients. Since then, we have earned a sterling reputation for reliability, quality and experience with the leading and most respected air conditioning brands in the country.

All our work is performed by licensed HVAC professionals, meaning you can feel confident that the experts diagnosing your air conditioning issues have received the training to get it right the first time.

As a benefit to our budget-minded clients, we have created a regular air conditioning maintenance program. Our annual A/C tune-ups help to avoid costly repairs and replacements down the road while extending the life of your equipment. As a part of this program, you will receive:

  • Annual tune-up and 15-point inspection of one central A/C unit
  • Priority response for all service calls
  • Maintain maximum safety and efficiency
  • 10 percent off replacement parts for duration of agreement

Because our service staff is equally well-trained on heating systems as they are on cooling, you can be confident that our repairs and maintenance will ensure that both systems are working together as efficiently and effectively as possible.

We provide 24/7 AC Emergency Service

In the event of an air conditioning emergency, we provide 24/7 emergency service. That way, if your air conditioning fails in the middle of a dangerous heat wave, you can get repairs done quickly, protecting your family.

To take the guesswork out of maintenance and repair costs, we offer free estimates and up-front, flat rates. That way, you won’t have to worry about unexpected costs tied to hourly labor.

If you are ready to set up a regular maintenance contract or you just want to talk to a professional about what you may need to get your air conditioner working like it did the day you had it installed, contact us.

 

 

Posted in Air Conditioning Repair

Keep Your Home Cool During the Summer with Insulation

When we think about insulation, we usually think about it in terms of keeping heat inside of a house. While this is certainly one of the important benefits insulation provides, the inverse of the logic — using insulation to keep heat out — should also be a priority. Insulation is a terrific regulator that can help maintain a constant temperature in your house and minimize your energy bills.

As temperatures rise, so does the need for cooler interiors. Let’s take a look at how summer house insulation can help keep your energy bills affordable this season.

Does Insulation Keep Heat Out?

The short answer to this question is “yes.” Whether you use fiberglass, blow-in, or spray foam insulation, this material helps prevent air from escaping your home. In winter, we recognize that if we’re pumping warm air into our home, an air leak will cause the warm air our heating system generates to escape.

The same principle applies to cold air pumped out by air conditioning systems. Without anything to keep the cold air these systems disperse in your home, your machine will need to work more to maintain a comfortable environment for you.

If a machine is working harder than it should be given optimal conditions, it is said to be inefficient. Inefficient machines are concerning for multiple reasons:

  • Having to work harder and longer wears down parts and necessitates more frequent repairs.
  • Having to operate longer requires more energy, thus driving up your utility bills.
  • Higher energy use depletes our natural resources.
  • Higher energy use may cause environmental harm depending on how your local utility company generates its power.

If your car had a faulty part that reduced its gas mileage or caused it to fail an emissions inspection, you’d want to repair it as soon as you could. Think about your home’s insulation system the same way. An area that isn’t particularly well-insulated will cost you more money in the long run, so even a small repair can have a big impact.

A Quick Word on Building Envelopes

Having a well-structured building envelope — the part of your home that acts as a barrier shielding you from exterior conditions — can save you time and money while reducing some of the stresses of homeownership.

Insulation is a critical part of your home’s building envelope, so doing what you can to reduce air leakage with a well-maintained insulation system is a smart way to keep your summer cooling costs low.

Bruni & Campisi — Your Keep Cool in the Summer Insulation Experts

Bruni & Campisi provides a wide range of insulation services to homeowners located in the regions of Westchester County in New York and Stamford and Greenwich in Connecticut.

Our expert installers provide full service insulation services including spray foam, blow-in cellulose or fiberglass insulation and can also provide air/aero sealing and duct work. These services help keep your summer utility bills low and increase your home’s comfort level, ensuring a consistent temperature throughout your rooms.

We offer limited promotions throughout the summer for up to $300 off your insulation install. You may also qualify for NYSERDA rebates, further offsetting the cost of this smart investment. To find out more about rebates and current promotions for insulation, contact us for a free estimate!

 

Posted in Insulation

Best Generators to Beat the Blackout

Generators to Beat the Blackout

Blackouts are bad. We all agree about that. Power outages force us to change plans, worry about our appliances, and desperately try to figure out a solution. It’s easy to get caught off guard by a surprise blackout. You hadn’t planned on a power failure, and you suddenly realize nothing works. Your freezer, fridge, heating or air conditioning, lights, security system — all kaput.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Types of Water Heaters and How to Choose

types-of-water-heaters-and-how-to-choose

Believe it or not, your water heater plays a key role in many everyday activities around your home. From showering in the morning to cleaning dishes in your kitchen sink after dinner, your hot water heater enables you to get chores done day after day.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) points out water heaters commonly account for 17 percent of a home’s energy use. And with the right type of water heater in place, you could reap the benefits of warm, clean water for years to come.

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Posted in Water Heater

Types of Boilers for Your Home

types-of-boilers-for-your-home

Choosing the right boiler for your property can be a confusing process, and there are a number of details you need to take into consideration. If you’re changing over to central heating for the first time or considering replacing a current system, it’s important to ask yourself:  “What type of boiler do I need for my property?” This is because the type of boiler best suited for your home will vary depending on a number of factors, discussed in this article.

A home boiler heats and provides hot water or steam for heating. Steam is distributed via pipes to steam radiators, and hot water can be distributed via baseboard radiators or radiant floor systems. A boiler is used by every household and serves as an important feature.

Different types of boiler heating:

  • Conventional Boilers – In a conventional boiler, gas jets play onto a cast iron heat exchanger through which water passes to be heated. It consumes less power and is more reliable.
  • Combination Boilers – A combination boiler heats water for central heating in the same way as a conventional boiler, but can also provide the taps with instant and continuous hot water.
  • Combination Storage Boilers – Combination storage broilers will allow you to use multiple taps with warm water.
  • System Boilers – A system boiler provides central heating and hot water from a cylinder.
  • Back Boilers­­ – Back boilers are fuelled by gas, oil or solid fuel. Solid fuel back boilers provide hot water when the fire which heats the house is lit. Gas and oil back boilers can work independently of the fire, and are able to provide hot water all year round.
  • Condensing Boilers – In a condensing boiler, the water from the flue gases ‘condense’ in the secondary heat exchanger and drains away at the bottom of the boiler.
  • Storage Tanks – Boilers with a storage tank (hot water cylinder) are better capable of coping with the demands of multiple uses, and can deliver water at a high temperature and at a high flow rate.

Remember to take your time when deciding which boiler is the most suitable for your home. All types of boilers come with their own complexities, and choosing the right model isn’t a decision that you should make lightly.

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Posted in Boiler

20 of the Most Expensive Plumbing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

how-to-avoid-expensive-plumbing-mistakes

It’s a hard statistic for some to fathom, but a majority of the most common plumbing problems people face are self-inflicted. Many people rightfully like to complete projects themselves and many times everything goes just fine, but — with plumbing in particular — something going wrong can be a costly lesson.

Plumbing involves practically every essential system within your home such as water, waste, heat, air conditioning, drainage, irrigation and some others, so it pays to gain knowledge about preventing plumbing problems.

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Posted in Heating and Plumbing

What to Consider Before Installing a Radiant Heating System

1-what-to-consider-before-installing-a-radiant-heating-system

Your friends warmly extend an invitation to visit their brand new home. You’ve heard so much about it, and they’re thrilled to show it off. It’s in a wonderful location and, as you drive up, you’re taken with its stunning façade and striking landscaping. First impressions are lasting, and it’s already leaving a great one.

They answer the door, smiling. You gaze about, raving about the finishing. A great room concept with high vaulted ceilings and Palladian windows. A gorgeous chandelier. Wide baseboards and thick crown moldings. And those floors! Dark slate in the foyer and golden-hued hardwood throughout.

They take your coat, and you step out of your shoes, ready to take the tour. Then you stop. Something hits you as you stand on the stone, and then move in toward the hardwood floors. They’re so warm! Your friends keep smiling as they watch you react. Before you can ask, they answer for you. “It’s radiant floor heating.” You’re instantly sold on the warmth and start to consider installing a radiant heating system in your own home.

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Posted in Heating

The Complete Guide to Oil to Gas Conversions

If you’re considering converting from oil to natural gas, you’re not alone. Just a few years ago, oil to gas conversions surged as oil prices climbed. And even though oil prices have dropped recently, many homeowners are still converting to natural gas.

There are several reasons to convert:

  1. Protection from future surges in oil prices
  2. Increased appliance efficiency
  3. Consistently lower cost of natural gas compared to oil
  4. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Converting to natural gas heat is better for your bank account, the environment and your health. But how do you go about converting your oil burning equipment?
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Posted in Oil to Gas Conversion