MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It’s time to turn on the heat, which means it's also time to take a closer look at the gear that helps you stay warm and cozy, even when mother nature is at her worst.
Menomonie union volunteers have been provided furnace services for years, by giving a hand to those who rely on heat assistance program in our area.
This year, for the first time crews are tuning up furnaces at houses of our veterans, free of charge.
Starting bright and early Saturday morning, volunteers served eight homes all across the Dunn County, to make sure those who served our country are having a safe and warm winter.
“I didn't expect anything like that, I thought I would do it myself,” laughed veteran from Menomonie Glen Ziehme.
Ziehme got a pleasant surprise Saturday morning when the crews with the state-wide “Heat’s On” program showed up at his door to make sure his furnace is up and running before the winter hits.
“It's a chance for us to give back to the people that served our country as well as express the importance of regular service and maintenance of your furnace,” explained Business Manager for Plumbers & Steamfitters Union Local 434 Terry Hayden.
Professional UA service technicians volunteer their time and talent. The contractors donate their vehicles and tools. And UA Local Union 434 provides the parts and supplies.
“They're doing the job better than I am,” said Ziehme.
95-year old Ziehme served in the National Guard from 1937 to 1942; spending more than 45 years in his house in Menomonie he says he is grateful someone is there to give him a hand.
“You feel a lot safer; you could sleep better,” explained Ziehme.
The weekend’s free tune-up saved Ziehme close to 200 dollars.
“We found that squirrels and other animals had brought acorns and butternuts down in his vent pipe; and actually had we not been here his furnace would have probably failed sometime this winter,” said Hayden.
Volunteers with “Heat’s On” program have found on average one in 20 furnaces to be unsafe and even life-threatening.
Experts say servicing your furnace could you save money in fuel costs, and reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“If you don't remember the last time your furnace has been checked, it's time to get it checked,” added Ziehme.
Along with servicing the furnaces volunteers replaced batteries in smoke detectors and gave each homeowner a carbon monoxide detector as well.
Households for the program were selected through the Dunn County Veteran's Services.