It's a tight squeeze for Comfort Experts' owner Brett Hobson as he examines the attic work at his customer's home.

FORT WORTH, TX — Brett Hobson has a mission statement that he’s very proud of. The owner of Comfort Experts Inc. in Fort Worth says it succinctly: “Our mission: To be the company of choice for homeowners.”

That statement is never more important than now, when extreme weather conditions wilt field workers and customers want a/c work done yesterday, despite the oppressive Texas heat. Hobson knows that his customers expect only the best from his crew, and he ensures that each customer is satisfied — even when temps top the 100ºF mark and everyone wants a piece of him.

The News recently paid a visit to this north Texas community, in an effort to see what it is like to work under extremely hot conditions. On this day in an atypically mild mid-July, Dallas-Fort Worth residents were expecting the first 100º day of the summer. As it turned out, the temperature that day topped out at 97º, but it would only be a matter of time before these relatively mild temperatures would give way to searing heat.

The plate was full at Comfort Experts, where one of Hobson’s crews was installing a complete heat pump system in an older home while another crew did some service and repair work on a 25-ton rooftop air handler. One crew would have to put up with attic temperatures reaching 130º. The other would have to work in direct sunlight on a hot warehouse roof, dodging metal parts whose temperatures soared past 140º.

Temps in the attic reached 130 degrees as the crew tore out old ductwork, installed resized return vents, and installed new ductwork.

Toil in the Attic

In the rural community of Mansfield, “across the street” from Arlington, sits the home of Jerri and Patrick Boggs. They bought the home and property three years ago, enticed by the value of the land and not concerned with the value of the home, which was in disrepair and teetering on the brink of destruction.

The Boggs decided to renovate rather than tear down because they both really liked the home.

“Our first step was to get air and heat in the home and make it comfortable,” said Jerri. “We got a letter from Comfort Experts and gave them a call.

“The salesperson came out and was very courteous and helpful. He sold us on the value of a heat pump, even though I had reservations about it. The financing was good, and they guaranteed comfort or they would remove or replace the equipment.

“We had lower estimates from other companies by as much as $2,000. Comfort Experts recommended adding a rooftop fan to draw the hot air out of the attic, which the other companies didn’t suggest. We feel we are getting our money’s worth with them.”

The Boggs’ home presented another problem. It is pieced together, and the existing ductwork was woefully inadequate.

“Our ductwork was horrible and we knew it,” said Boggs.

Hobson shook his head when describing it. “Each opening was nine inches” he said. There were eight openings in all.

“It didn’t matter if it was a bathroom or living room, the air passed through the same sized opening,” he said.

On top of that, the flexible duct was breaking down and losing its effectiveness. The conclusion: Remove all of the old ductwork and resize the openings based on room size and load calculations. The strategy was outlined as part of the 2 ½-hour initial meeting with the Boggs.

Comfort Experts planned to install an Amana 13-SEER heat pump, condensing unit, rooftop fan, and all new ductwork. They also corrected some electrical hazards that Hobson said “could have burned the house down.”

The most demanding part of the job consisted of the work done in the attic, a long (30 to 40 ft) cramped space, where workers could not stand up and had to walk carefully over the ceiling beams, avoiding a misstep that could send them through the ceiling. As temps climbed to 95º outside, temps inside the attic soared to 130º, despite a constant flow of air from a 1,600-cfm blower out of a condensing unit. The blower circulated air through a portion of the attic while workers tore out the old ductwork, made new venting outlets, and installed the new ductwork.

The three-man crew also worked to remove and replace the old furnace and condensing unit, and to correct some poor electrical wiring. All of this was done on the “cool” first floor. The job lasted a day and a half as the crews worked from early morning until the sun went down.

Hobson said his company does several of these installations a month, but they are not the norm. “Many times it is a basic changeout, but this house was anything but basic,” he said.

His crew members said they had to take frequent breaks to cool down and drink a lot of water.

“It is tough work, but the younger guys can handle it pretty well,” Hobson joked. “Besides, I pay them about twice as much as other contractors in the area.”

The two-man Comfort Experts crew diagnoses a rooftop air handler as temps on the metal cover top 140 degrees.

The Rooftop Unit

Comfort Experts is almost totally into residential service and replacement. Hobson said the figure is around 97.5%. But on occasion, he will take a commercial service job if it will help a friend or business associate, or if the business belongs to a residential customer.

On this day, his two-man crew was troubleshooting a 25-ton rooftop unit on the building of a large bakery retailer. The one-year-old unit was not operating, and Hobson was tapped to find out why.

The approximately 100,000-sq-ft building had several rooftop units of various makes scattered all around, with most being shielded by a “cosmetic barrier” about 10 ft in from the edge of the building. The barrier was designed to keep mechanical equipment out of sight when viewed from the ground.

These barriers posed a problem, as they provided only two openings in the shield. Service techs were forced to walk a long distance in the hot sun to get from the rooftop hatch to the air handlers.

“It’s like walking a few blocks,” said Hobson.

On this day, Hobson stopped by the local 7-11 to grab some liquid refreshments for his crew. He knew they would be ready for a cold soft drink.

After climbing several ladder steps through a first and second ceiling, Hobson greeted the crew and checked on the job status. The crew came to the conclusion that there was possible contamination in the refrigeration circuit. The solution was to flush the system and thoroughly clean the fittings and tubes.

While there, Hobson pointed his temperature gun at the unit, where the sheet metal registered over 140º in the direct sun and 130º in the shade. The crew could have had fried eggs for lunch.

With little shade to help block the hot sunlight, the crew’s only relief was to make the long trek back to the air conditioned truck for breaks. The conditions made it imperative to do the work in a timely manner.

To sum it up, despite the blistering heat, it was obvious that the extreme temperatures were not the primary concern of the people at Comfort Experts. Foremost on their minds were the needs of their customers and the safety of their crews. In the end, safe working conditions and satisfied customers were both very evident on this hot Texas day.

Highlights of the residential installation will be featured on videotape in an upcoming segment of, which features a live webcast on the last Tuesday night of each month. Visit or for updated information.

Publication date: 08/02/2001

The Comfort Experts home base is located on a busy corner in Ft. Worth, TX.

Highlights of the residential installation will be featured on videotape in an upcoming segment of, which features a live webcast on the last Tuesday night of each month. Visit or for updated information.

Publication date: 08/02/2001