Snow Shoveling Safety Tips

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Shoveling snow is far from fun, but for residents of New England it is an unavoidable winter chore. Not only is shoveling monotonous, it is a physically demanding job which many people cannot handle. In fact, more than 11,000 people are hospitalized every year due to accidents caused from shoveling snow, including overworked or pulled muscles, falling, and even getting hit in the head with a shovel.

Use these tips during the next snowstorm to keep your shoveling experience as safe as possible:

  • Warm up your muscles. Shoveling is a physical activity, and it should be treated as such. Before getting started, warm up with a light exercise, such as walking in place or jumping jacks. Be sure to adequately stretch the muscles in your lower back, arms, and legs.

  • Dress in layers. Snow shoveling is enough work to build up a sweat, even in subzero temperatures. Dressing in layers protects you from the frigid weather, but also allows you to shed an article of clothing or two if you become too hot. Don’t forget the hat and gloves.

  • Wear slip-resistant shoes. You are likely to experience slippery conditions while shoveling, so it is important to stay on your feet. Equip yourself with slip-resistant snow boots to help avoid a painful fall.

  • Know your limits. It is important to know your personal boundaries while shoveling, and make sure not to exceed them. If you feel yourself running out of breath or becoming dizzy because you are working too hard, take a five minute rest.

  • Switch your shovel. A good carpenter never blames his tools, but your shovel could be the main reason you are experiencing back pain. Help yourself out by investing in one of these ergonomically-friendly shovels.

  • Push, don’t lift. A full blade of snow can weigh north of 30 pounds, and lifting shovel-full after shovel-full isn’t doing your back any favors. Push the snow off to the side instead of lifting it whenever possible.

  • Sweat the technique. When it comes to shoveling, technique is everything. Remember some of the following points: lift with your legs, not your back; keep one hand on the handle and the other as close to the blade as comfortably possible; pivot your whole body when tossing snow, don’t just twist your back.

The heating experts at Devine Bros. have been keeping southern Connecticut warm for almost 100 years. If you need help with your home’s heating system, including new furnace installation, repair, or heating oil delivery, give us a call at (203) 866-4421.

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Chimney Safety Tips

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What better way to warm up on a chilly winter day than by sitting by a warm, cozy fire? Fireplaces are great – they provide an electricity-free source of heat and light (perfect for when the power goes out) and a place for the family to gather ’round and spend some quality time together.

While they are a fantastic addition to any home, they can also be dangerous if they are not properly cared for. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), chimneys and fireplaces cause more than more than 20,000 fires every year.

Protect your home and family from tragedy by following these safety tips this season.

Contain The Flame

An open fireplace is asking for trouble, so make sure to keep yours covered with a glass or wire mesh screen (glass is better because there are no small holes for embers to escape through). Even with a screen, you should still make sure keep the area around your fireplace clear, and trim any low branches hanging above your chimney – these can also present a fire hazard.

Put A Cap On It

A good, reliable chimney cap only costs about $100, and it offers numerous benefits. For one, it prevents animals such as raccoons, squirrels, birds, and even snakes from entering your chimney and your home. It also helps to keep out rain and snow, and prevents strong winds from causing a downdraft and filling your house with smoke.

Burn Firewood, And Only Firewood

Burning items such as crates, construction scraps, and painted wood isn’t necessarily a fire hazard, but it can harm your family in other ways. These types of wood are generally coated in chemicals which can release when burning – compromising the air quality of your entire home.

Have Your Chimney Inspected Annually

A professional chimney inspection may cost you a pretty penny, but you can’t put a price on your peace of mind. Every autumn, have a certified specialist inspect your chimney for signs of deterioration and creosote build up, both of which can present problems for your home.

Install Detectors

Smoke detectors won’t prevent a fire, but they will make your family aware of one very quickly. Make sure to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed on every floor (if not every room) of the house, including one near your fireplace.

The experts at Devine Bros. know a thing or two about heating; that’s why Fairfield County has depended on us to keep warm for almost 100 years! If you live in Norwalk, Connecticut or the surrounding area and need heating oil this winter, give us a call at (203) 866-4421.

Cheap Ways to Warm Your House This Winter

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Staying warm during the wintertime isn’t always easy, and it certainly isn’t cheap. Here are a few ways to warm up your house this winter that don’t involve cranking up your thermostat or breaking the bank. These methods cost little-to-money and are guaranteed to help you stay cozy all season long.

Utilize Your Windows

The sun is the world’s most abundant source of free heat. Open up your curtains in the morning (particularly on the south side of your house) to let the sun’s rays warm up your home. Just make sure to close them once the sun goes down to limit heat loss through your windows.

Plug Your (Decorative) Chimney

If you remember from middle school science class, warm air rises – and a large portion of the warm air in your home rises straight out of the chimney. If you don’t use your fireplace, plug it with a chimney balloon or close the damper in order to avoid heat loss.

Seal Air Leaks and Drafts

Is your money going right out the window? If your house suffers from air leaks, it could be. Find and seal drafty spots in your home using weatherstripping, a caulking gun, or even store-bought draft stoppers. Common problem areas include windows, doors, and electrical outlets.

Give Your Radiators Room

If the radiators in your house are blocked by furniture, it could be preventing them from warming up your room, not to mention the fire hazards it creates. Be sure that all of your heating equipment has at least one foot of room to release heat on all sides.

Bundle Up

It costs nothing to wear a sweater or a pair of wool socks around the home, so why aren’t you doing it? Turn down your thermostat a few degrees on throw on your comfiest sweatshirt, you will be more cozy than ever, and save money while doing so.

Switch Your Oil Provider

Are you paying an arm and a leg for your home heating oil? Switch to Devine Bros. and save money! We offer three different heating oil pricing programs to meet the needs of any family, including a fixed price plan so you won’t be affected by market fluctuation.

Devine Bros. offers home heating oil delivery and various heating equipment services to Norwalk, Connecticut and the rest of Fairfield County. Visit our website to see what we can do for you or give us a call at (203) 866-4421.

Why Your Home Should Have An Automatic Backup Generator

Power outages can range from a minor inconvenience to a major problem, but they all have one thing in common: they can be prevented with an automatic backup generator. Here are five reasons why you should get one installed in your home as soon as possible.

They automatically detect power outages.

In the event that your home is affected by a power outage, you won’t even have to lift a finger. Our generators can automatically detect a blackout, and will immediately power on to provide your home with the energy that it needs.

They provide enough energy to power your entire house.

Whereas a portable generator can only run a few of your electrical devices, a standby generator has enough juice to power your entire home – this includes your lights, appliances, and even entertainment devices.

They don’t require refueling.

Don’t worry about venturing out into the middle of a blizzard; these generators never need to be refueled! Instead, they hook up directly to your home’s existing fuel line – whether it be natural gas or a form of liquid petroleum.

They help minimize damage and losses.

Sometimes, a power outage can be the least of your concerns – it’s often the problems they bring along that cause the real headaches. An automatic backup generator helps prevent problems like food spoilage and flooding by ensuring that your home’s critical devices (such as the refrigerator and sump pump) maintain power.

They give you peace of mind.

Between the snow during the winter and the heavy thunderstorms throughout the spring, summer, and fall, power outages are a year-round threat in New England. An automatic standby generator gives you peace of mind knowing that your family will be sheltered and protected during even the harshest of weather conditions. Who can put a price on that?

It is important to realize that these benefits only apply if you have your generator installed by a professional. DIY installation can damage the generator, void your warranty, and present a safety hazard for your family. If you live in Norwalk, Connecticut or the surrounding area, trust the experts at Devine Bros. to properly install your standby generator. Visit our website for more information or call us at (203) 866-4421.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Furnace

During the cold months, nothing is more important than your heating system. Whether you have recently installed a new furnace, or your old one is in its twilight years, you will want it to last as long as possible. Here are some things you can do to get the most out of your home heating system.

  • Supplement with ceiling fans. Have the blades on your ceiling fans rotating clockwise to push warm air back down into the room. This can help your home feel a few degrees warmer.

  • Replace the filter. Your furnace has an air filter which should be cleaned or replaced monthly. This helps your heating system run more efficiently and prevents it from getting clogged with dust and debris.

  • Keep out the cold. Do whatever you can to keep the cold out of your house this winter. Insulate, seal air leaks, and install storm windows and doors to help prevent unwanted heat loss.

  • Humidity helps. During the colder months, humidity levels can often become too low in our homes. Humid air holds more heat, so adding a portable humidifier to problem areas can actually help raise the temperature of your home.

  • Get a programmable thermostat. These cost a little bit of money up front, but can pay for themselves quickly with the year-round energy savings they provide.

  • Give it some space. Make sure the radiators in your room have enough space to adequately release heat. If they are blocked by furniture or drapery, it could prevent warm air from spreading throughout the room (not to mention it is a fire hazard).

  • Get a tune-up. Annual heating system tune ups are a good idea for several reasons. They can help your furnace run more efficiently, prevent future breakdowns, and some manufacturers even require them as part of their warranty agreement.

Devine Bros. has been keeping Connecticut warm for almost 100 years! We offer a variety of heating services to Fairfield County homes and businesses such as furnace installation, repair, tune ups, and oil delivery. If you live in Norwalk, CT or the surrounding area, give us a call today at (203) 866-4421.

What You Need to Know About Humidity During the Winter

When most people think of the word “humidity”, they probably imagine sitting outside on an insufferable summer day, skin sticky with sweat. While it is true that too much humidity can make a hot summer day feel about 10 degrees warmer, too little humidity can have its own set of consequences.

Northern climates frequently experience the effects of low humidity, particularly during the colder months. As temperatures begin to drop, the moisture gets sucked right out of the air, leaving it uncomfortably dry. Home heating systems don’t help the issue, and often dry out the air in our homes even more.

Here are some ways to tell that you need more humidity in your home:

  • You often experience dry skin, chapped lips, a sore throat, and nosebleeds. Sometimes, these symptoms disappear when you leave the home.

  • Static electricity is another sign of low humidity. If you get shocked every time you reach for the door handle, your home could be trying to tell you something.

  • Wood needs a certain level of humidity to maintain its structure. When the air becomes too dry, you may notice cracking and splitting in your wood furniture and flooring.

If you notice these signs, you should make a conscious effort to add humidity to your home. You can do this in one of two ways; portable or whole-home humidifiers. Portable humidifiers can be purchased at your local pharmacy for under $50, and do a great job adding supplemental humidity to problem areas in your home. But if your home is the problem area, you may consider investing in a whole-home version. These connect directly to your heating system and can simultaneously maintain your desired humidity level in every room.

Devine Bros. are experts in all things heating, that’s why Fairfield County has depended on us to keep warm for almost 100 winters. If you live in Norwalk, Connecticut or the surrounding area and are in need of furnace installation, repair, or oil delivery, give us a call at (203) 866-4421.

How to Choose the Right Furnace Filter

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Just like your air conditioner, your furnace has an air filter that must routinely be cleaned or replaced. Failing to do so can hurt your energy-efficiency, shorten the lifespan of your unit, and add to your home’s indoor air pollution.

If you don’t know anything about furnace filters, they are available in all different sizes and materials to meet a variety of budgets. Here are the five most common types of furnace filters, their price, rating on the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) scale, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Disposable Fiberglass Filters

  • Price: $1-2

  • MERV Rating: 2-3

  • Pros: These filters are very inexpensive and prevent large particles such as dust and lint from getting trapped in your system.

  • Cons: Does little-to-nothing to clean the air inside your home.

Disposable Pleated Filters (MERV Rating: 6)

  • Price: $4-5

  • MERV Rating: 6

  • Pros: Relatively inexpensive, blocks some small particles.

  • Cons: Adds more resistance to air flow, making your system consume more energy in order to work.

Disposable Electrostatic Filters

  • Price: $10

  • MERV Rating: 10

  • Pros: Contains self-charging electrostatic cotton fibers that effectively trap small particles.

  • Cons: Price can add up if replaced regularly over the course of several years.

Permanent Electrostatic Filters

  • Price: $15-20

  • MERV Rating: 8

  • Pros: Also contains self-charging fibers that attract small particles. These filters are machine-washable and can be reused for up to eight years.

  • Cons: Less effective than disposable electrostatic filters.

High-Efficiency Pleated Filters

  • Price: $100

  • MERV Rating: 14-16

  • Pros: These are the premium furnace filters – they filter out even the smallest of particles. Good in homes with pets, smokers, and people with respiratory problems.

  • Cons: Very expensive and can’t be installed in every type of furnace.

It is important to note that your selection of filters will be limited by the type of furnace that you have. Refer to your owner’s manual for more information.

Devine Bros. are experts in all things heating – that’s why residents of Fairfield County have trusted us to keep them warm for almost 100 winters. If you live in southwestern Connecticut and need home heating oil, furnace repair, or heating equipment installation, give us a call at (203) 866-4421.

What You Didn’t Know About Your Home’s Air Quality

What you don’t know can’t hurt you. Or so they say, but the unknown dangers lurking around your home could actually be having some serious side effects on your family’s health. Take for instance indoor air pollution; it’s a thing, and it’s a very real danger. In fact, the EPA listed indoor air pollution as one of their top five risks to public health.

When it comes to the quality of your home’s air, there are probably a lot of things you don’t know. Here are some of them:

The air in most homes is dirtier than even the most polluted cities.

That’s right, even if you live in a rural area there is a chance that your home’s air is more polluted than huge cities like New York and Los Angeles — like up to ten times more polluted.

Your home probably has an air quality problem.

The EPA tested the indoor air quality of homes across North America, and the results were shocking. A staggering 90% of homes tested positive for at least one indoor air quality problem. With odds like these, there is a slim chance that your home doesn’t have a problem.

Air fresheners don’t “freshen” your air.

Most of us use air fresheners in our homes thinking that they help clean the air, when in fact they do the opposite. Chemicals released by these sprays have been proven to interfere with hormone function, reproductive development, and our respiratory systems.

You aren’t safe at work.

Most Americans spent 90% of their day or more inside. Between home and work (or school), you are almost always confined to the not-so-great indoors. Many office buildings, and schools especially, suffer from the same air quality problems that our homes do.

The effects can be short- or long-term.

Side effects of indoor air pollution could be short-term, allergic-like reactions such as coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, headache, nausea, fever and fatigue. They can also be much worse, leading to long-term complications such as pneumonia, COPD, and lung cancer.

If you are worried that your home’s air may be polluted, take action! Click here to learn what you can do to improve your home’s air quality, and contact Devine Bros. for a free air quality assessment. Our experts will come into your home and use professional testing devices to determine the quality of your home’s air. If you live in Norwalk, CT or the surrounding area, give us a call at (203) 866-4421.