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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Lyndhurst, Ohio, United States
    Posts
    1,681

    Staying Safe in Sub-Zero Weather Conditions

    Here in Cleveland, OH, many commercial offices are closed today. The sun is out. The sky is blue. and the air temperatures are a mere 7F with double-digit wind chills blowing through. Being safe and warm at home is awesome, but for the HVAC contracting community, this is a busy and dangerous time of year.

    Some are calling this crazy mid-western weather Polar Vortex 2.0. All I know is that it's one of the coldest winters I can remember in 25 years.

    I'm totally interested in hearing about how you stay warm while working outside. What type of clothes do you recommend? How long do you stay outdoors at a time when wind chills are in the double digits? What suggestions do you have for younger technicians just starting out?

    What's the coldest temperature you ever worked in and how did it impact your ability to work.

    It doesn't matter if you are doing residential or commercial work. I'm interested in your comments regardless.

    Thanks everyone. Looking forward to your comments.
    "Doubt, of whatever kind, can be ended by action alone."

    Thomas Carlyle, 1795-1881, Philosopher and Author


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Helena, Montana
    Posts
    2,155
    Layer, layer, layer! Insulated Carhart coveralls, insulated boots, insulated gloves and warm hat. Usually work only 30 minutes if below 0 (depending on windchill might be less) at a time. I also don't put on the heavy coveralls and jacket until I am walking outside and take them off as soon as I am inside.

    Ironically, its the kind of weather I love to hunt in!
    Don't worry zombies are looking for brains, you're safe...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Coastal Maine
    Posts
    819
    As we were talking about in another thread, I think it is just what you become accustomed to. I regularly work in below zero weather and double digit below wind chills. It can happen anytime between December and March. But I hate it when it gets to 90* and humid.

    I don't break out the arctic gear until the wind chill hits -20*. I wear a pair of Carhartt insulated bibs, with a sweatshirt and an artic weight Carhartt coat with a Wool hat, Kinco Gloves (hands down the best). The hat and gloves are the most important. Long Johns are a terrible idea. They make you sweat and when you sweat you get cold faster.

    Every day from December to March, I wear flannel lined Carhartt pants with my company shirt and a company fleece over it. Then I adjust weather I wear a coat or a vest over the fleece. Try and stay away from cotton as it is the worst insulator. Good boats are critical. 400g Thinsulate is a minimum. For really cold weather, I like the Muck Arctic Sport boots.

    The key isn't to be warm, it is to be bearably cold. When it is that cold outside, you can't expect to stay warm. You just try to make your misery bearable.

    Last week, we changed the HX on a RTU. Air temp was around 10* F. Wind chill was around -10* F. We went inside every hour to warm up, but other than that, it is just part of living in the Great White North. Would rather see low temps and clear skies, than a blizzard. Now that is miserable.

    Coldest working conditions was the week of January 1st this year. -40+ wind chill with -21 air temp. So cold that Propane stopped vaporizing.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    1,145
    Quote Originally Posted by ControlsInMT View Post
    Layer, layer, layer! Insulated Carhart coveralls, insulated boots, insulated gloves and warm hat. Usually work only 30 minutes if below 0 (depending on windchill might be less) at a time. I also don't put on the heavy coveralls and jacket until I am walking outside and take them off as soon as I am inside.
    Layers upon layers, a bit confining but necessary. Had to go up on a roof during the last "vortex" in minus 12 deg f. actual. Wind blowing like a bugger, snow knee deep. Large building in an open area, lots o wind, roof access on south side and unit on north side. 35 ft climb straight up, lots o fun. By the time I trudged across to the unit with the wind in my face, lets just say my old bones were feeling it. Fortunately just a small unit, 7 ton carrier, heard the inducer try to start as I approached, pulled the cover, gave the motor a spin, and bam, we have heat. End of the day, see ya tomorrow, you need a new inducer motor assy. Plenty of other units surrounding to keep them warm till I returned. Just the short time I was up there was still challenging.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Minnesnowta
    Posts
    44
    The coldest ever that I have worked in was -35 F, after accounting the wind chill it was -63 F. You stay warm by running inside every 5 minutes!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    2,728
    I got to change a HX,two days for it to come in. It's 11deg now going up to 40 by the time it's here.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    2,593
    Be careful about your blood pressure, it can go way up. Even just getting your hands or feet cold can cause it to go up.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    St Paul, minnesota
    Posts
    1,168
    been outside 3-4 hours at a time with temps -15 to-20 not counting wind chill. when I get too cold go to nearby operating unit and heat up hands and face then go back to work. Works for me

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    3,538
    I wear long johns under my uniform every day from November to March.

    Yesterday morning I was working on a rooftop and it was -20*. I was outside for about three hours straight.

    I was wearing my long johns and uniform. I had a hooded sweatshirt on over that. I was wearing a coat over that. I had a stocking hat on, and a face mask that covers my face and neck. I had my cold weather gloves on.

    I also have insulated bibs, insulated socks, and some insulated snow boots in my van to put on if it gets colder.


    The big things for me are my hands, my face, and my feet. No matter what I do, they're always cold.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
    Posts
    14,914
    I find that the best way to deal with sub zero weather is to live in Texas.
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Springville, NY
    Posts
    2,740
    coldest was -34 with 45 mph winds. i dont know what the wind chill equivalent was.

    layers and frequent warm up breaks. OR

    staying inside with alcohol and willing sex slaves...
    ~~
    Nest is poo...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
    Posts
    14,914
    Quote Originally Posted by HVAC_Marc View Post
    staying inside with alcohol and willing sex slaves...
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Kelowna BC
    Posts
    49
    Best piece of clothing is my dorky hat, don't know what it's called, has the flaps that hang to cover ears. I look like Jason Biggs in the movie Loser
    Best bit of advice on staying safe - tie off your ladder and don't rush on a roof.

    Grew up in Queensland, now live in Canada. Luckily I'm in a warmer area (-20C worst this year). I think you adapt to the conditions over the years and can start to enjoy the challenge.

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