This winter will be one of warmth and safety for many Oakland and Wayne County senior citizens, thanks to a group of Michigan contractors that participated in Southeast Michigan ACCA’s (SEMIACCA’s) Senior Service Day. Previously known as Al Keats Day, the program was renamed this year for its long-time host Cliff McCourt, founder and president of Day & Night Heating and Cooling Inc. in Novi, Michigan. According to SEMIACCA, the program helps needy seniors by providing free furnace safety inspections and repairs, carbon monoxide alarms, and equipment replacement when necessary. Following in a 32-year tradition of dedication and service, 27 technicians from 17 companies made 60 service calls to elderly customers in need of assistance. A clean and check was completed on each furnace, and any equipment found to have mechanical problems was repaired at no cost to the recipient.
“This program was basically started to counter some of the bad news and publicity heard by customers when an incident occurred with a bad HVAC contractor,” said McCourt. “We felt the best way to overcome this negative publicity was to help senior citizens, especially those who were the ones taken advantage of by unscrupulous contractors or shut in their homes and more susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide.”
The day started at 7 a.m. with coffee and doughnuts at Day & Night Heating and Cooling Inc. There, contractors lined up their trucks and waited to receive their call assignments.
“It’s kind of nice to see all the trucks out there with different names,” explained McCourt. “They are all competitors that come together to do something good for the community.”
READY TO GO: With call assignments and CO detectors in hand, all the participants headed to the front property fence for a group photo behind the new Cliff McCourt Day banner.
The Michigan contracting companies represented included Dearborn Heating & Cooling Inc., Dearborn; Reckingers Heating & Cooling, Dearborn; Soltman Heating & Cooling, Oak Park; EZ Heating & Cooling, Ferndale; Family Heating, Cooling & Electrical Inc., Garden City; Guardian Environmental Services, Livonia; Slasor Heating & Cooling, Livonia; Running Right Heating & Cooling, Livonia; Accu-Temp Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., Howell; Diversified Heating & Cooling Inc., Farmington Hills; Flame Heating and Cooling, Warren; Thornton & Grooms, Farmington Hills; Efficient Energy Enterprises, New Hudson; A-1 Comfort Control Inc., Farmington Hills; Airtronic Heating & Cooling, Redford; Royal Oak Heating & Cooling, Royal Oak; and Day & Night Heating and Cooling Inc.
“We came together just to give back to the community,” said Adam Whitney, heating and cooling service manager, Thornton & Grooms. “We serve our own customers every day, and this is a way for us to not only give back to the community but to also help out the less fortunate. We get to help out customers who may need to get service on their equipment but just can’t afford to do so.”
With call assignments and carbon monoxide detectors in hand, all the participants headed to the front property fence for a group photo behind the new Cliff McCourt Day banner. Then it was off to their customers for the day.
Staying behind were several contractors and SEMIACCA representatives to man the command post, including Craig Jones, treasurer of SEMIACCA and vice president of Slasor Heating & Cooling Inc. The team is a point of reference in case a technician needs a part or assistance with their calls.
“If our service team needs anything, we try to arrange to take them parts or have wholesalers deliver them the parts on-site,” said McCourt. “If they find a bad furnace, we try to arrange furnace replacement at a later date so that we can get a composite crew and not put too much of a burden on any one company.”
If the technicians find something that needs immediate attention, every effort is made to have it completed the same day if possible.
After the trucks rolled out around 8 a.m., one of the customers visited was Cora Grant. The 89-year-old widow lives alone and is just nine months shy of her 90th birthday.
“I moved here 30 years ago,” said Grant. “I have been here a long time, and we have done a lot of work on this house over the years.”
While the technicians worked downstairs to clean and check her furnace as well as repair a leaking connection on the hot water tank, Grant explained that she has local family and neighbors that look in on her and help her with the house but that she likes living on her own and wants to be able to take care of things independently.
“I thank God for being able to live here by myself and keep things going,” she said. “Having these technicians come relieves me of worrying about the heat not coming on or needing to have some work done on the system that will cause me to possibly not have heat this winter. You don’t want to be in a cold house. I have experienced that. It really does relieve my mind, and I know that everything is going to be all right.”
REMEMBERING THE PAST
Back at Day & Night Heating and Cooling, the story of success at Grant’s home inspired more memories of some urgent and dire calls the volunteers had run years before. Jones remembered a call where they had to shut the furnace down, and it was the first Saturday in December.
“This was probably the worst heat exchanger I had ever seen,” he said. “It looked like someone took a shotgun and put it on the burner hole and shot it. It was splintered out — it just blew the back out of it.”
McCourt arranged for a furnace to be brought to the house, and volunteers stayed to get the customer’s heat up and running. During the call, Jones, McCourt, and the others there found out that the lady had been ill and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. She was on oxygen at night, according to Jones, and she would feel better at work. The customer was about to get new windows in hopes that sealing up the house would relieve what was making her ill.
“Her current windows were very leaky and had she changed to new windows with proper seals, it would have trapped all that carbon monoxide and probably killed her,” said Jones. “We changed the furnace out that day and knew we had saved that lady’s life.”
Another story told was of a cancer patient living in one room of her home with an electric space heater. She had cancer treatments and couldn’t afford to have her heat fixed, according to McCourt.
“We put a new furnace in for her so she could live in the house and not in one room,” he said. “She used to only come out for the bathroom or the kitchen and just live in that one room. This project has inspired some stories that are really just heartwarming.”
Overall, the event was a success. Besides the furnace safety clean and check, technicians replaced motors and ignition controls and repaired water heaters, humidifiers, and several thermostats. They also installed complementary CO alarms that were donated by Ferguson Supply, Munch Supply, and Behler Young Co. All those who volunteered were invited to a special safety training and dinner to recap the event and celebrate their involvement with the community. According to Jones, the dinner was well-attended, and prizes were donated by Johnstone Supply — The Sheehan Group, Carrier Great Lakes, and Behler Young Co.
Publication date: 11/5/2018