MADISON, WI – Madison Area Mechanical and Sheet Metal Contractors Association (MSC) and Steamfitters Local 601 had nearly 30 volunteers service 39 homes of veterans at the 33rd Annual Heat’s On event on Saturday, October 23, 2021. The service technicians ensured all the furnaces were operating properly and safely. During the service checks, four furnaces were found in need of replacement.
In order to keep the veteran homeowners warm this week, 1901 Inc. will be replacing the two furnaces that were deemed unsafe and locked out during the event. One furnace will be replaced on Wednesday, October 27 and the other will be replaced on Thursday, October 28. General Heating and Air Conditioning will be replacing the other two furnaces, one of which is 44 years old and the other was discovered by a fellow veteran who is now a service technician. All the labor and supplies for the furnace checks and repairs were completely complimentary to the veteran homeowners. The four furnaces that are being replaced have been donated by First Supply and Temperature Systems Inc.
“Thank you, and please share what a comfort and wonderful service you and your fellow volunteers provided to myself this past Saturday,” expressed U.S. Army Veteran Andy Phelps. “The tech was timely, super pleasant and seemed to be uber thorough in his inspection, cleaning and adjusting my furnace. A very nice man and a credit to his company and profession. We need another 50 million or so like him in this country.”
The three-decades old event, Heat’s On, has checked and serviced over 2,600 homes in Dane County since its inception in 1987. The event originated when two elderly individuals froze to death when the temperatures dropped because their furnace was not working properly. The association and local union originated the program to assist the poor and elderly to stay warm throughout the winter. In 2015, Heat’s On began checking furnaces for veterans.
During this year’s event, four local contractors, 1901, Inc., Bassett Mechanical, General Heating and Air Conditioning, and The Waldinger Corporation, provided trucks for the technicians to use to service the furnaces. First Supply, Gustave A. Larson, Johnstone Supply, and Temperature Systems Inc. are the supply houses that donated the materials used to repair any broken furnaces.
“We continue to be overwhelmed year-after-year with the generosity and support from our local steamfitters, member contractors, and supply houses for the Heat’s On event,” explained MSC Executive Director Julie Walsh. “This continues to be my favorite day of the year! The outpouring of gratitude we have received over the last couple of days from our veterans has been heartwarming.”
The service technicians volunteered their Saturday morning to service the veterans’ furnaces. Many of the technicians have participated in Heat’s On year-after-year.
“What I do every day, I really enjoy,” explained General Heating and Air Conditioning Steamfitter Scott Zahn who has participated in the event the last eight years. “These people, they put their lives on the line for us. (Their time in the service) is always there for them, so why shouldn’t we be there for them?”
One of the perks for the service technicians during Heat’s On is sitting down and hearing stories from our veterans. It gives them a new appreciation for all that the homeowners have done for our country.
“I always tell people that if you remember the tv program MASH, and remember Radar, well, I kind of was operating like Radar,” said Army veteran Harold Miller. “A lot of times I would have to run out to the junkyard and cannibalize a part off of a jeep or whatever.”
Many of the service technicians who volunteer for Heat’s On are also veterans themselves. This year’s event had seven veteran members of the Steamfitters Local 601 and organizations affiliated with Heat’s On that participated in the event and helped keep their fellow veterans warm this winter.
For the veteran homeowners, the annual Heat’s On is a program that not only gives them comfort and the peace of mind this winter, in some cases, it is lifesaving.
Madison Area Mechanical and Sheet Metal Contractors Association is starting to collect information from veterans who would like their furnaces checked as part of the 34th Annual Heat’s On event scheduled for October of 2022. Veterans interested in a free furnace check next Fall can contact the Dane County Veterans Service Office at 608-266-4158.
It is important for all homeowners to have preventative maintenance done on their furnace yearly to keep it running as efficiently as possible. Some additional maintenance homeowners can do on their own include:
• If homeowners are using high efficiency filters, change the filter every three months.
• If it is a standard rate filter, change it every six months.
• If it is a Space Guard/Aprilaire filter, change it every six months to a year.
• Change the filters more frequently if they are really dirty.
• Check for water leaks around the furnace, humidifier, and PVC piping.
If a homeowner is having issues with their furnace:
• Check the breaker to make sure it was not tripped.
• Check the PVC on the outside of the home to make sure they are clean of debris. Especially during the winter months, snow can blow around the PVC vents and intake can plug them up. When this happens, the furnace will fault out. During snowstorms, 75% of the time there is a problem with a furnace is because the vents on the outside of the home are plugged up.
For more information on preventative maintenance, please reach out to Madison Area Mechanical and Sheet Metal Contractors Association Executive Director Julie Walsh at 608-288-1414.