Cold Snap Keeps Furnace Repair Co. Busy

Gerald Whipkey remembers being challenged in winter 1977 to walk across a frozen Ohio River.

It’s good thing he didn’t because he might not be fixing people’s furnaces during this week’s subzero temperatures.

“It’s been very, very busy,” said Whipkey, owner of Whipkey Heating, Plumbing and Air Conditioning, 1407 First St., Moundsville. “It’s the first time it’s been like this in 20 years.”

Whipkey said he was in high school when some of his classmates thought it would be fun to try and walk across the river while it was frozen. He disagreed, however, when he was challenged to do the same.

“I didn’t do it. I thought the reward versus risk wasn’t worth it,” Whipkey said.

As he reminisced about his high school days, Whipkey also was busy Tuesday morning getting crews out to people whose homes were having furnace problems.

He noted on average his business gets about 20 service calls a day from people needing their furnaces fixed. Sometimes the machines need replaced altogether. Most furnaces have problems because of a lack of yearly maintenance, he said.

“It’s because of a lack of attention throughout its life. It’s just like the human body – if you don’t treat it nice it won’t last. Just because you join the gym doesn’t mean you’re healthy,” Whipkey said.

For example, Whipkey said one of his crews was having to work on a furnace they installed 10 years ago, and it was the first time it had received any care. But there is one thing people can do themselves to help maintain their furnace – change the air filter, he added.

Meanwhile, to prevent a possible brownout, American Electric Power is encouraging people to use less electricity. But Whipkey pointed out when it is extremely cold, most people are turning their thermostats up to stay warm, not down.

“People don’t want to do that. When it’s cold they turn it up. They are creatures of habit – comfort creatures and we are in the business of selling comfort. People don’t want to turn down the heat to 67 degrees and put a sweatshirt on,” he said.