Group delivers free furnace maintenance in hopes of fire, CO prevention

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MENOMONIE, Wisc. (WEAU) - As the low temperatures dip down to the 20s, furnaces are getting more use, but that can lead to potential dangers.

Carbon monoxide poisoning and fire prevention was the focus of service technicians in Dunn County Saturday.

Lyle Vahling of Menomonie said he usually checks his furnace every year, but knew this year would be a challenge.

"I've been doing mine until this year. I can't do it anymore," Vahlling said.

But Saturday, help came Vahling's way as United Association Plumbers, Steamfitters and Service Technicians of local union 434 along with U.W. Stout students cleaned and fixed eight area furnaces for seniors and low-income home owners as part of their sixth annual Heat's On event.

"One in 20 furnaces on average are bad out there. And people really need to have them checked out every year to make sure that they're safe," business manager Terry Hayden said.

"We found a bad switch on a boiler here, that probably should be replaced, could stick and keep the heating unit on continuously, which would make it over heat and cause steam and might explode," heating and air conditioning service professional Robert Dewitz said.

The day also served as a teaching tool for the next generation.

"We don't get to get in the field as much. Being able to get in the field and actually learn for me personally, the mechanical equipment, it's very neat to see how everything really does go together," U.W. Stout construction management senior Paul Mulligan said.

After two people in Eau Claire died from carbon monoxide poisoning this month, the groups also installed free detectors.

"This is our community, we take pride in not only working for businesses, but also the homeowners in our community and we want to make sure they're safe," Mulligan said.

With a cost of about $100 to $200 to have furnaces checked and fixed, the group said it's money well spent.

"It's a good investment to save your house, a better investment to make to save your life," Hayden said.

The Heat's On program has been around helping families in Minnesota for 26 years and later expanded to Menomonie.

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