Dozens of Akron residents to receive free home furnace and safety checks

NewsChannel5 teams up with Rebuilding Together

AKRON, Ohio - The furnace installed in Lynda Somerville's Akron home hasn't been operating since April 2011, but soon she'll have heat once again, thanks to a program called "Heat the Town."

The program, now in it's seventh year, was set up by Rebuild Together of Greater Cuyahoga Valley , and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America .

The group will perform 75 free furnace checks on Oct. 6, in connection with NewsChanne5's Building Better Neighborhoods initiative.

Somerville was forced to shutdown her furnace after her son became concerned about her safety, and she lacked the funds to make the badly needed repairs.

"I smelled smoke a couple of times," explained Somerville. "The heat didn't even go up to the second floor, so it's scary you know."

A team of contractors, lead by ACCA President John Walter, will restore Somerville's furnace, and conduct dozens of  free furnace checks.

Walter stressed the importance of seasonal furnace checks to NewsChannel5 Troubleshooter Joe Pagonakis.

"People are spending a lot of money on replacing heating equipment," said Walter. "For residents to not do preventative maintenance, is like not changing the oil in your car. That heating system runs about 200,000 miles a year, if you want to put it into car language."

Rebuilding Together and Building Better Neighborhoods is also collaborating on a second volunteer effort, called "Safe at Home."

NewsChannel5 volunteers will assist with home safety projects in Akron neighborhoods on Oct. 12.

"Our 'Safe at Home' program focuses on fall prevention,'" said Rebuilding Together Director Paul Holm. "We'll install grab bars, handrails, and make sure carpeting and flooring won't cause senior citizens to fall."

Holm said complications caused by falls, is one of the leading causes of death among seniors over the age of 65.

Residents interested in receiving a free home safety checks must meet all financial guidelines, and are encouraged to contact Rebuilding Together through its website.

Meanwhile, NewsChannel5 is also trying to spark volunteerism and help make a difference when it comes to vacant and condemned properties.

We're inviting residents to report nuisance properties through our Building Better Neighborhood initiative .

Just send us pictures and information on vacant homes in your neighborhood and we'll forward the information to your city building department, in an effort to move the properties to progress.

We are also giving residents information on how they can volunteer in their neighborhoods to make them better.

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