Dozens of volunteers perform free professional furnace checks for those in need

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GREEN BAY, Wis. It's officially fall, and with chilly temperatures setting in furnace checks are a must, but not everyone can afford to do them.

Gary Nelson checks a furnace in Green Bay

On Saturday dozens of volunteers checked furnaces for low income seniors and disabled homeowners in the area.

For 26 years now 'Project Heat's On' provides free professional furnace checks and replacements for low income seniors and disabled households. The program serves Brown, Outagamie, Northern Winnebago and Fond du Lac counties.

"Every year it seems that they find a furnace that if started could cause problems and be unsafe, so they end up saving lives as well," said Laurie Ropson, quality assurance outreach coordinator for the Aging and Disability Resource Center.

"The carbon monoxide is the biggest issue, if they have cracked heat exchangers it can cause a catastrophic deadly occurrence in their houses," said Jim Clark, ‘Project Heat’s On’ program coordinator.

Green Bay homeowner, Lester Hoefler, says Project Heat's On is a huge help. Furnace checks can cost hundreds of dollars, and replacements can cost thousands.

“It's kind of hard for me to do it now, if I have to get somebody I'd have to hire somebody to do it, and these guys offer this service free of charge and that helps me," said Hoefler.

The volunteers are stopping at a total of 24 homes in Green Bay alone. In addition to furnace checks, they're also replacing batteries on fire and carbon monoxide detectors, and checking water heaters if needed.

This year is Gary Nelson's 26th year volunteering. Nelson was one of the original volunteers who started project heats on.

"For me, I enjoy talking to the people. There's some really fun people that we've run into over the years and I really enjoy that part of it,” said Nelson.

Nelson says when his time is up volunteering, he hopes the next generation continues the Project Heat's On program.

“We have a number of young people that are coming up and doing it too, so I would like to see this program continue personally, because it really is a good program for us and the people in the area,” said Nelson.

"Well I hope they keep coming, if not every year then every other year or so, because that really helps us,” said Hoefler.