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Across the Baystate there are many families who struggle in silence during the winter months. Many studies have been done on the dilemma of choosing to “heat or eat,” or using the stove for household heat because the furnace went out, bundling kids up in added layers because the cost of oil is too much and it’s not “that cold,” living in darkness for as long as possible because the electric bill didn’t make the cut this month, or just plain suffering in extreme weather. Often, these kinds of energy concerns lead to health issues as well — chronic stress, exacerbated asthma, anxiety and depression. The silent struggle is real.
Unfortunately, professionals in the plumbing-heating-cooling trade see it all too often. Many people decide that the cost of repair is too high, and that since their heating system is limping past, they leave it rather than fix it. They let the leak go, hoping it won’t cause a problem until the next year, when they can save a little more or find a new rebate that will help offset some of the cost.
A local family in Stoneham, Massachusetts, rolled the dice and didn’t win this time. The heating system that was barely making the house warm last year quit just as a January freeze sunk its teeth in. As if that wasn’t bad enough, their water heater sprang a leak the following day. A PHCC of Massachusetts contractor member, who is active in the Mystic Valley Chapter of the Association, was called to shut the water heater off and give an estimate of how much it would cost to replace it. While at the house, he noticed the heat wasn’t working, either, and asked what had happened. The homeowner, a senior on a fixed income, said that it had stopped working the day before and was told the heat exchanger was cracked and the heater needed to be replaced. The homeowner also said she could not afford a new system.
Understanding the dangers of an extremely cold winter, the contractor reached out to fellow Mystic Valley Chapter members about his customer. A group of local contractors got together to help this woman in need: AccuAire Inc. of Reading; Central Plumbing of Wakefield; and Unified Mechanical of Wakefield. Ken Nielsen, who was president of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association from 2018-2019, was asked about the project and why he was helping.
“When I heard what had happened and that it was someone one of our guys has serviced for years in need of help, I jumped in to lend a hand. Isn’t that what it’s all about, helping a neighbor in need?” Nielsen said.
Working with their local F.W. Webb distributor in Woburn, this team of independent PHCC contractors was able to pull together and donate a new water heater and furnace along with the plumbing materials to provide heat and hot water for a customer, who was extremely grateful for the help. On Jan. 28, the new systems were installed with the backing of PHCC of Massachusetts contractor members and the material donations of the associate members. The homeowner will be warm once more.
PHCC of Massachusetts is one of the oldest trade associations in the country. Founded more than 135 years ago, the association acts locally as a knowledge source, providing education on industry trends and products to its members. An advocate for trade school and new apprentices, the association offers education, industry exposure and access to contractor and associate members who are hiring new talent. Additionally, the association provides legislative advocacy, working closely with lawmakers on legislation affecting small and large businesses alike, industry matters, and educational affordability for the next generation.
The Mystic Valley Master Plumbers Association is a group of independent contractors who meet under the PHCC umbrella monthly in the area to discuss industry trends, business topics, learn new products and network with other tradesmen. For more details on the PHCC of Massachusetts or the Mystic Valley Chapter, contact Executive Director Wayne Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-834-8085.