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Al Keats Day-Project Heat

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Jerry and Lucy Hayden, of Farmington Hills, will be getting a new furnace, and a potentially dangerous situation was avoided, thanks to the volunteer efforts of companies participating in Saturday’s Al Keats Day-Project Heat event.

For nearly three decades local senior citizens have been helped out by Al Keats Day-Project Heat, which is sponsored by the Southeast Michigan chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (SEMIACCA).

This year, 15 contractor member companies with over 40 volunteer employees met at Day & Night Heating & Cooling in Novi to perform free furnace cleaning, safety inspections, repairs, and furnace replacements for needy senior citizens in metro Detroit.

For Robin Aire’s Lead Service Technician Mike Greulich, who was helping out for the first time, volunteering for this was a no-brainer.

“This is really a cool thing to be able to help out someone who needs it, especially going into the cold months,” he said. “I’m happy to be part of it. Giving back is not a bad thing.”

Last Saturday morning, he made his first volunteer call to the Haydens’ home in Farmington Hills to inspect their furnace.

Greulich initially made sure the furnace turned on and then checked the heat exchange as well as inside the furnace for any cracks. He used an extended infrared camera to see into it.

This call turned out to be a really important one because the Hayden’s furnace, put in nearly 35 years ago, had some cracks in it, which can potentially be dangerous and can leak exhaust fumes into the home. It also lowers the temperature and causes it to take longer to heat the home.

“They need a new one,” Greulich said at the house call. “It’s unsafe as it is, so we will provide them with some space heaters in the meantime and then replace it early next week.”

The Haydens were very grateful that this was discovered. Robin Aire planned on going to their home on Tuesday and replacing it with a new one.

“This is a godsend for us,” said Jerry Hayden. “We’ve been in this home for a year and I’ve learned more about this furnace today than I did when we first moved in.”

There’s a lot of need for the event because many don’t ask for help or can’t afford it, said Ed Bartram, SEMIACCA’s incoming president who is also with Diversified Heating & Cooling of Farmington Hills. “This has been very successful throughout the years, so we feel really good about it.”

SEMIACCA works closely with the Wayne and Oakland County’s Area Agency on Aging to coordinate the service calls. To date, the group has completed over 1,700 free furnace tune-ups and repairs, and replaced approximately 70 furnaces-at no charge. SEMIACCA members have installed over 250 free carbon monoxide alarms in the last eight years as well.

Craig Jones, also with SEMIACCA and Slasor Heating & Cooling in Livonia, said Project Heat is really important because it helps out people who a lot times have to choose between paying to fix a furnace or for their everyday needs like food .

Local companies helping out were Day & Night as well as Robin Aire Heating and Cooling of Wixom. Both see this is as an important service. This was its 26th year and each time it has made a positive impact.
To learn more about SEMIACCA, visit

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