This list of HVAC tools will help any HVAC engineer or technician to make sure you have the right tools to make your job easier.
All jobs require you to have the necessary tools to get projects done. Not having the right tools can cost time and money. It can also make you appear unprepared an unprofessional.
While some projects may require HVAC technicians to use specialized equipment, which is either provided to them or communicated to them ahead of time, HVAC technicians should have a set of standards tools with them at all times.
These tools are often used on regular visits and most repairs or installations. Having these tools will help you get your job done efficiently, quickly, and professionally.
The Basics: HVAC Tools You Absolutely Need
While some tools may not be used as often as others, these are the essentials you need in your toolkit if you are going to be a successful HVAC technician.
Screwdrivers & Nut Drivers
This is the most important tool that an HVAC technician needs in his toolkit. A technician should be prepared to encounter any kind of screw, both in size and design. It should be carried in your toolbelt, as you will assuredly face a screw that needs to be tightened or loosened.
The best kind of screwdriver to get is a multi-purpose screwdriver, especially a Phillip’s bit and a flathead bit that have sizes #1 and #2. It is ideal to have ¼”, 5/16”, and nut driver as well. Have all sizes available to you that you can and all styles (including hex styles).
The most common nut drivers technicians use are ¼”, 5/16”, and 3/8”. You may also consider having a large flathead screwdriver at the ready.
As an HVAC technician, you will also encounter wires, bolts, and pipes, especially since HVAC systems interact with electricals and plumbing sometimes. At times, a job may require you to cut or deal with wires. Having pliers for wires, and needle-nose pliers, can help you handle, move, or work with any wires necessary.
One pair is not going to be enough. Since different repairs and installations can house different sizes of wires or bolts, you want a full range of plier sizes. Be sure to have at least small, medium, and large pliers. A prepared technician will have more.
Similar to pliers, having a set of wrenches is ideal. You will want to have a full set of crescent wrenches and pipe wrenches.
Pipe wrenches can be helpful when handling gas lines or plumbing pipes connections that technicians may encounter during some repairs or installations. This is another essential tool that technicians need in their toolbox.
A hammer is essential to have for any job, regardless of whether you are a technician. This a tool everyone needs.
While you may think you need small hammer, be sure to get a sturdy, large, hefty hammer. You will need it to successfully complete your projects.
Many technicians recommend the Stanley hammer, which has the easily-recognizable yellow handy. This hammer is versatile and can be used in my different projects. More importantly, it is easy to find if you place it somewhere.
Bring a Pair of Wire Strippers
HVAC technicians will always encounter different kinds of wires, so it is a good idea to invest in a pair of quality wire strippers. An ideal wire stripper will allow for a smooth interaction and allow the wire to be stripped within a matter of seconds. It should not take more than one attempt to strip a wire.
If it takes you more than one attempt to strip a wire, then you need a better pair of wire strippers.
A Flashlight and/or Headlamp
HVAC technicians often work in less than desirable spaces. You may find yourself in a crawlspace, a poorly-lit basement, an attic, or any number of cramped and dark spaces where you may or may not fit. Flashlights or headlamps are crucial in these moments to get the job done. You cannot do proper and technical work without being able to see.
A headlamp may be more function because it frees both of your hands to hold other equipment. There are even flashlights now that can be attached to your belt. This is another option if you want the hands-free approach without having a light on you head.
Cutters for Tubing and Metal
HVAC technicians may be required to cut or size metal tubing or metal wires. Cutters are necessary in these moments in order to complete the job. Unlike wrenches, most technicians begin small in their collection of cutters. Most technicians have ¼ inch to ½ inch cutters. It is a good idea to even get cutters up to 1 ½ inches.
As you become more experienced and work on a variety of jobs, you can begin to build a toolkit that houses a variety of cutters that suit any occasion. However, you may find that you only need to get certain size cutters when the occasion or project arises.
Keep a Multi-meter Handy
The multi-meter is an absolute necessity. No technicians should be working in the field or going to a project site without a multi-meter at the ready. The multi-meter allows you to test temperatures, amps, voltages, a/c, d/c, and units of capacitance (micofarads).
The best meters are true RMS meters, which take the square of the instantaneous value of the input voltage or also the current, and it then averages this number over time. A true RMS is more likely to give you accurate results or results closest to accurate. Other meters are less reliable.
The best technicians and HVAC experts use true RMS meters.
Be sure that you have a temperature clamp for your meter. Most meters come with the temperature clamp, but some may not.
A Drill—You Will Want a Cordless One
HVAC technicians are not strangers to drilling. Many projects, such as repairs and installations will require drilling of new holes or rewiring. Having a drill is helpful in these moments. More importantly, you do not want your drill to be tied down with a cord. The ideal drill is cordless. It can be taken anywhere and recharged when necessary.
Most technicians prefer the DeWalt drills or the Black & Decker drills. These seem more durable and offer a broader range of bits.
Extension Cords – Heavy Duty and Reliable
Some of the equipment you use may require an outlet to be used. More often than not, the space in which you are working will not have a convenient, close, functioning outlet that will allow you to do your work quickly and easily.
A heavy-duty extension cord will let you use your power tools where you need to, which means you can do your job quickly and efficiently. Be sure you get a heavy-duty cord, as you will be in places that can damage your cords or snap/cut/tear them.
This tool is recommended by nearly all HVAC technicians, so it is growing to be a necessity in your toolkit. The Sawzall allows you to cut through drywall, sheet metal, wood, condensers, or other metals that you need to tear down or cut through. You may not have another tool that can let you tear though material as easily.
Core Removal Tools
The core removal is also one of those tools that is becoming essential to the basic toolkit of the HVAC technician. This tool allows you to remove cores in services lines that have been damaged or that are malfunctioning. This tool is great because it allows you to do this while the system is charged, and it does not release refrigerant.
It is a handy tool that many technicians say have made their lives and jobs easier.
After your job is nearly completed, there is still one step left—sealing and fixing the holes. The caulking gun will allow you to seal up the holes as you complete your project. A dripless caulking gun is ideal. It is less hassle and mess. The caulking gun will allow you to finish your project professionally.
Do Not Forget About Safety
While the tools are essential to get the job done, you also need to protect yourself during all projects. It is also your job to ensure that you are following standard safety procedures to avoid harm and injury to yourself and to others.
It may seem obvious, but you should never go to a job site without safety googles. Aside from walking, crawling, and crouching in dusty, moldy, and musty places, you will be kicking up dust and debris yourself.
More significantly, there could be shards of debris that fly through the air. These could seriously damage the eye. Always wear the safety glasses or goggles.
Working as an HVAC technician is not a silent job. System can be noisy and there are also power tools involved in the word. These machines can seriously damage your hearing and lead to significant hearing loss or tinnitus.
Earplugs will help reduce or minimize the damage done to your ears during a project. Always wear this when you are working on the project at hand.
Technicians should have rubber-soled and steel-toed works boots each day. As they are working in precarious places and with heavy machines, sometimes things may drop to the ground and onto a food. Toes and feet break easily.
Technicians need to protect their feet from falling objects by wearing steel-toed boots. Similarly, since technicians sometimes work with electricity or in damp places, it is ideal to have rubber-soled boots in case of electrical surges.
Technicians handle a variety of objects that are pointy, difficult to cut, difficult to bend or break, and difficult to work with. Technicians are at a high risk of getting cuts on their hands and arms from machines, pipes, or wires.
Be sure to find a pair of gloves that first fits. These gloves should be durable and resistance to cuts and pokes. However, you do not want to lose movement or sensation in your hands, as this could result in costly and sometimes deadly mistakes. Be sure that your gloves fit to form but they allow for free movement and sensation.
A Hard Hat
Just like your feet, your head needs to be protected too. A hard hat is necessary to complete your jobs in a safe and effective manner. Items can fall without you knowing, so you need to make sure that your head is covered.
Tools You May Not Need but are Nice to Have
Some tools are a little more expensive. While they may not be necessary to complete your job, they may make your job easier and quicker. They are simply nice tools to have, rather than necessities for your work. These may be seen as tools to work up to.
Many technicians talk about the benefits of having a vacuum pump. These devices allow you to remove contaminants and moisture from refrigerant systems. Remove these contaminants allow the systems to work efficiently and properly.
Some technicians suggest simply buying a vacuum pump that you can afford. There are various hoses and fittings that you can also purchase too that allow you to use it in a larger variety of projects.
Some technicians believe these to be necessary to work, but other find them to be an additional asset that is not entirely needed by the technician. The refrigeration gauges allow you to identify the refrigerant charge and decide if there is a leak.
Again, technicians debate whether these are a necessity to complete a job. Regardless, they are certainly nice to have.
Coil Fin Straightener
This is another item that some technicians say is an absolute must-have, but others disagree. This tool allows for cleaning the AC and unclogging the condenser coils. By cleaning the coils, the heat exchange and airflow in the HVAC system is more efficient.
These are cheap tools, so it may be a good idea to just throw one of these in your HVAC arsenal.
Building Your HVAC Toolkit
This is a basic guide to the essential tools you need for HVAC technician work before you go out into the field, but there are also items here that will simply make your job just a little bit smoother.
Like any job, it is essential that you have the right tools. For a HVAC technician, the right tools also mean considering durable tools and safety equipment. With this list, you should be prepared for most projects that come your way.