When asked what the worst part of their job is, most HVAC technicians will give the same answer: working in the attic during summer. But unfortunately, it’s just that: a part of the job. The Texas sun can be very unforgiving, and temperatures in the attic can skyrocket to 120-140°F during the Summer months. Being exposed to these levels of heat over long periods of time can pose a serious health risk to crew members. Luckily, there’s quite a few steps you can take to cool down. We asked our team members to share their best tips for combatting the heat while working in the attic.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
This one’s pretty obvious, but if we’re honest, most of us would admit we’re guilty of neglecting our body’s need for hydration. Working in an attic with an internal temperature of 100°F+ will inevitably result in increased perspiration and a huge loss of body fluid. Hydration involves so much more than simply drinking fluid as you’re experiencing the heat in real time. It’s a proactive way of life. As one of our team members put it: you hydrate for the next day. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend you drink 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day. HVAC techs should maintain this level of hydration leading up to the summer months and throughout. If your body is already well nourished, you’ll be in a much better position to withstand the heat in the attic and power through.
Get A Breeze Going
Getting some fresh, cool air to flow through the attic might not require much effort on the part of the technician after all. If the system is active and ducted in the attic because of a ductwork job, you can simply let the system blow into the attic. If you’re not fortunate enough to find yourself in this particular situation, a fan is your next best option. Here, the source of the air is crucial. You’ll need to set up a fan pulling from non-attic air in order to have any meaningful impact. But do this right and it makes all the difference.
Pour Some Water On That!
Water can also have major effects on your body temperature when applied topically. Pouring some cold water over the insides of your wrists when you feel like you’re overheating can have an immediate impact. Draping a wet towel over your neck can likewise achieve the same result. One of our team members keeps damp bandannas in a cooler which can then be worn when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the heat. They even recommend tucking the bandanna under your uniform. Not only does this feel great, there’s scientific evidence for its efficacy. The temperature difference between the towel and your body allows for the transfer of heat. This heat is then released through evapor, causing a cooling effect. You don’t need to invest in special cooling towels. Studies have shown that a regular cotton towel performs the same function just as well.
Heat exhaustion is a very real threat facing HVAC technicians, especially those working in cities like Austin and San Antonio. Always think safety first and try the above mentioned tips next time you find yourself in an attic.