34th Annual Heat’s On A Huge Success

MADISON, WI – Madison Area Mechanical and Sheet Metal Contractors Association (MSC) and Steamfitters Local 601 had nearly 70 volunteers service 59 homes of veterans at the 34thAnnual Heat’s On event on Saturday, October 8, 2022. The service technicians ensured all the furnaces were operating properly and safely. During the service checks, one furnace was found in need of replacement. There will be a couple additional follow-up visits this week as well.

For the furnace replacement, 1901 Inc. is coordinating with the veteran homeowner to schedule the replacement. Hooper Corporation will be replacing a water heater as well as following up on several other part repairs that were unavailable during the Heat’s On event last weekend. All the labor and supplies for the furnace checks and repairs were completely complimentary to the veteran homeowners. The furnace replacement is donated by Temperature Systems Inc. and First Supply is donating the water heater.

“I really appreciate stuff like this; people doing stuff for the military,” explained U.S. Air Force Veteran Stan Hook. “It’s nice to know you are appreciated. There’s a lot of vets that probably can’t afford to have this done on a regular basis and this is just something that helps them out and make sure they have heat throughout the winter. I want to thank those that participated; really appreciate their commitment to military people.”

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, 11 local contractors: 1901, Inc., Air Temperature Services, Bassett Mechanical, Butters-Fetting, Hooper Corporation, Ideal Mechanical, JM Brennan, The Waldinger Corporation, TOTAL Mechanical, Trane, and Zone Mechanical, 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 were overwhelmed with the support we received from our volunteers this year and are proud to see how the program can grow in the future,” said MSC Executive Director Julie Walsh. “This continues to be my favorite day of the year! The gratitude and appreciation we receive from the veterans is priceless! We are already collecting veteran homeowners for next year’s event!”

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.

“I don’t know a better way, with the skills that we learned through the union, and trades to serve the veterans that gave us the freedom that we have now,” said Army veteran and 1901 Inc. steamfitter Mike Johnson.

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.

“It’s not about cleaning the furnace on a day like today,” explained The Waldinger Corporation’s Dan Swanson who is also currently serving in the Army National Guard. “It’s about the interactions with the veterans.”

Many of the service technicians who volunteer for Heat’s On are also veterans themselves. This year’s event had 16 veterans that are 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 35th Annual Heat’s On event scheduled for October 7, 2023. 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.