A person seeking a career in the HVAC industry requires the use of many different tools on the job. As with other technical trades, an HVAC technician usually owns his/her own personal set of hand tools that travel with the tech from job to job and employer to employer. If you are still a student, most HVAC schools provide you with a list of the basic tools you’ll need to have during your coursework. Additionally, there are some specialized instruments and gauges required for HVAC work. Generally the more expensive ones will be supplied by your future employer, but not always. You will need to build your own Tools for HVAC Techs collection.
The collection of hand tools you need depends on whether you’ll be working as a service technician, an installer, or both. You’ll need some basic hand tools, general electrical tools, and a variety of specialized HVAC tools, including some gauges. As you shop for your tools, remember what their purpose for your will be. These tools will enable you to make money. As such, don’t be cheap and skimp on what you’re willing to pay for them. It is much better to pay more initially and get sturdy dependable tools that will service you for years that pay less for ones that will break on the job and need to be replaced. From beginning HVAC students to experienced professionals, you can anticipate investing from $300 to $2000 in your tool collection.
HVAC Uses a Wide Variety of Equipment and Tools
According to HVAC training programs and experienced technicians, the following are the most necessary tools for HVAC techs. They are sorted by their primary usage: general purpose, sheet metal work, or air conditioning tasks.
1. Screwdrivers: Ones with insulated handles are best. Get a variety of sizes and types or purchase a ‘5 in 1′ or a ’10 in 1’.
2. Hex-Head Nut Driver: HVAC systems are often assembled with hex-head bolts and screws.
3. Cordless Electric Drill: This is one of your most essential HVAC tools. Get a minimum of 18 volts with a charger and two batteries. Be sure it includes a Phillips as well as a ¼ inch hex bit.
4. Electric Tester: An amp damp multi-meter is another essential tool.
5. Sawzall (Reciprocating Saw): Get the electric powered one to start with but the battery powered one is ideal. Get both metal and wood blades and check for quick-release blade installation.
6. Small Stepladder: A fiberglass ladder with metal rungs in the four foot size is handy for most jobs.
7. Hammer: A good basic one is all you need.
8. 50 foot Heavy Duty Extension Cord: See if you can get one that includes a GFI-protected three-way splitter or get a separate one.
9. Pliers. Insulated handles add safety from electric shocks.
• Electrician’s pliers, to include wire strippers
• Lineman’s pliers
• Needle-nosed pliers
• Slip-Joint pliers
• Channel-lock pliers
10. Pipe Wrenches: These are used to connect both plumbing and natural gas lines to HVAC systems.
Sheet Metal Work (Ductwork)
1. Tin Sips: Snips come in three types and you need them all. The left (red/offset) to cut in the left direction; a straight (middle/Bulldog) is used for smaller cuts; and a right(green/offset) to cut to the right.
2. Shears: made for longer cuts in a straight line. Insulated handles and sturdy construction are the best.
3. Folding Tool: a tool used to bend sheet metal
4. Tongs (Fairmonts/Hand Seamers): These are for bending smaller pieces of metals and their ends are marked in quarter inch intervals for measurements. Spring-loaded ones aren’t as durable as other types.
5. Pipe Crimper: These are used to crimp the end of large sheet metal pipes to fit them together.
6. Awls (Scratch Awls): You need an awl to puncture metal piping and scratch markings on sheet metal.
7. Heavy Duty Staple Gun: These are needed to secure Thermo Pan and other materials to joists.
Air Conditioning Work
1. Tubing Cutter: This is used on electrical conduit and other metal tubing like copper line and pipes. The cutter often includes a de-burring tool on the back.
2. Refrigeration Gauges: Available in a wide variety, you need one that reads amps and DC voltage as well as accommodating a temperature probe to read those.
This list is by no means all-inclusive. Many of the larger tools and more expensive pieces of equipment will be employer-provided, such as vacuum pumps and refrigerant scales. These are a variety of other incidental supplies and tools that are helpful in your bag, such as a 25-foot tape measure, a marking pen, safety glasses and gloves, and a level.
Tools for HVAC Techs Are a Financial Investment
If “clothes make the man”, you can count on your employers and customers paying attention to what your tools are saying about you as a responsible HVAC technician. Using good quality tools that are well cared for says you are a professional who can be trusted with a customer’s home and HVAC unit and the company’s work reputation.