Responsible for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems, HVAC technicians are heavily relied upon to provide people with satisfactory environmental comfort through good air quality and temperature. To be able to do this though, they need the right selection of tools, but what are they?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting your HVAC journey or already a proven HVAC technician looking to build your tool kit, you’ve come to the right place! Below you will find 30 of the most important tools to help you perform your job to the highest standard and make your life easier…
1. Screwdriver Set
You won’t get far as a HVAC technician without a good set of screwdrivers. You’ll need:
- Cross head / Philips
You’ll need these in a selection of sizes to cover your needs. Also, make sure the handles are insulated to save you from electric shocks. If you’d like to travel lighter, there is always the option of a multi-purpose screwdriver.
One of the most widely used and effective tools for any handyman. While there are many types, a classic claw hammer with its standard hammerhead and curved claw will help you out in most situations. Always go with a rubberized handle to protect yourself from electric shocks.
Pliers can be used for many tasks such as cutting, holding and bending, all three of which you’ll find yourself needing to do as a HVAC technician. Grab yourself a few pairs of varying sizes and some needle-nosed pliers for those harder to reach places.
A set of wrenches will prove their worth on every job. Ideally, you should own a wide variety of wrench sizes so you never find yourself facing a situation you can handle.
5. Pipe Wrench
As a HVAC technician, you will regularly need to assemble and disassemble threaded pipes such as that involved in plumbing connections and gas flow. There is only one tool you should be using for this job, a pipe wrench.
6. Wire Strippers
The gold standard when it comes to striping wire insulation, a good pair of wire strippers is a must.
7. Scratch Awl
A simple little tool with a pointed end used to scribe lines in material such wood and metal which you can then use as a guideline for cutting with your saw. They can also be used to pierce holes.
8. Reciprocating Saw
An all-purpose power saw that will cut through just about anything with a multitude of attachments types make it extremely versatile and the perfect choice for any HVAC technician. The most powerful models are usually corded, however, cordless and compact reciprocating saws are also an option. If you’re a HVAC technician looking for a comprehensive cutting tool, then look no further!
9. 12v Cordless Drill
Unrestricted by the distance to your nearest power outlet, a reliable 12v cordless drill will help you out in many tight areas and circumstances without comprising on power.
10. Tin Snips (Rights, Lefts & Straights)
Shaping sheet metal is a common task as a HVAC technician. The best tool for this job is a pair of tin snips. However, you won’t just need one pair. Because they are designed to make specific cuts, you’ll need both a pair of ‘rights’ which are usually green in colour and cut in a right direction and ‘lefts’ which are red and make cuts to the left. An orange pair known as ‘straights’ are also available for performing small straight cuts.
11. Metal Sheers
When you need to make long and straight cuts into sheet metal, you should be using a pair of shears.
12. Coil Fin Straightener
AC condenser coils are likely to become either clogged, twisted or dirty. When this occurs airflow can be severely restricted, causing the unit to overcompensate and work harder. This will eventually lead to unit failure. A coil fin straightener will clean it up and straighten the bent fins to boost airflow and heat exchange.
Crimpers conjoin two loose ends by deforming them in a mutual way that brings them together. You can also use them cut wires and sheet metal if you don’t have your wire cutters or snips to hand.
14. Tubing Cutter
Cutting plastic and metal tubing is commonplace in the HVAC world. By far the most appropriate tool for cutting pipe, if you want a clean-cut go with a tubing cutter.
15. Staple Gun
When you need to connect one material to another, you reach for your staple gun. For HVAC technicians, you will need this tool for securing sheet metal and insulation into place amongst other things.
16. Caulking Gun
By far the most convenient way to deliver caulk and sealant, a caulking gun will allow you to fill gaps and holes with minimal hassle. Go with an electric caulking gun if you find yourself on large jobs – your hand will be thankful.
17. Refrigerant Scale
An air conditioning system without insufficient refrigerant will affect its ability to maintain the designated temperature. On the other hand, too much refrigerant can cause high pressure within the system leading to future maintenance problems and subsequently a shorter operating life span. A refrigerant scale prevents both circumstances by measuring the amount of refrigerant as it is added or removed from the compressor. It can also help detect leaks.
18. Vacuum Pump
Delivering refrigerant into an air-con line with unknown leaks is a great way to waste your time and money. A vacuum pump checks the line for leaks beforehand by sucking the air and moisture out of the air conditioning system. Certainly a worthwhile investment!
Used on wires and power outlets, multi-meters measure various electrical variables such as whether voltage or an electrical current is present. This is vital information for any HVAC technician to establish a safe working environment and prevent electrocution.
20. Manifold Gauge
Used to detect if a leak is present and while removing refrigerant, you’ll find yourself using this tool often. Analogue versions are the norm and have been around for many years, however, in recent years digital versions are becoming more widely used.
21. Wet-Dry Vacuum
Although the only thing that should run through drain lines is liquid, over time debris and algae can build up, leading to a congested line. To solve this all you need is a strong wet/dry vacuum to clear them out, easy!
A very important tool while on the job, a thermometer is frequently used to check for temperature changes. These changes can tell you if the equipment is working how it is intended, or whether you need to perform some maintenance. This is not an area to try and save money. The reading must be accurate so go with a renowned brand with good reviews, tried and test by fellow HVAC technicians.
23. Extension Cord
You won’t always be within reach of a power outlet to charge up your corded tools which is why owning an extension cord is important. Only go for thick corded leads so they last longer and aim for a length of at least 50 feet.
24. Spirit Level
Nobody wants a crooked air conditioning unit. If you take pride in your work and want a happy customer make sure you have a spirit or torpedo level on standby during a job to avoid these rookie mistakes.
25. Tape / Laser Measure
The ability to quickly measure anything from air conditioner units to heating systems is incredibly useful for HVAC techs. A 20 – 30 feet metal tape measure should be sufficient. Alternatively, a quality laser distance measurer can take quick and accurate measurements.
26. Flash / Work Light
It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, no one can work in the dark. Even dimly light conditions can severely affect the accuracy and productivity of your work. A quality flashlight or cordless LED work light will illuminate your working area and enable you to work as efficiently as possible. In cases where you need both hands free and the general lighting isn’t sufficient, try a head flashlight.
27. Step Ladder
Jobs will pop up that require the use of a step ladder. You won’t need anything fancy here, a sturdy 5 step ladder should suffice.
28. Tool Belt
Tool belts give you quick and easy access to many of your tools so you can change on the fly and work efficiently as possible. Also, who doesn’t want to look the part?
29. Tool Bag
Of course, you will need somewhere to store many of the above tools. Invest in a well-built tool bag that is big enough to carry a large selection of tools so you’re not constantly walking back and forth between your van and your working location.
It wouldn’t feel right to end without stating the importance of HVAC technician safety. No matter the scale of the job, it is always good to be on the safe side and come prepared. The following equipment will cover you for any job you may come across; working gloves, durable shoes, eat plugs and safety glasses.
Should we add anything else to this list? Let us know in the comments below…