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HVAC Tools List: The Best Tools For HVAC Technicians

January 12, 2022
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Do you have all the essential HVAC service tools to get the job done right?

An HVAC technicians' job encompasses multiple fields: pipe-fitter, refrigerant tech, and electrician, to name a few. That means needing a diverse array of HVAC service tools to get the job done, from the simple and cheap to the expensive and highly specialized.

So whether you’re new to the HVAC profession, starting an independent HVAC business, or simply looking to compare load-outs in the HVAC industry, we've created a detailed HVAC tools list below with all the HVAC tools you need – plus a few extras that are nice to have.

Why the Right HVAC Tools Matter

The HVAC profession is large, so we’re going to talk in broad terms here. There is no one-size-fits-all list perfect HVAC service tools list.

After all, the 28 percent of HVAC technicians that service single-family homes may have different needs than the 10.1 percent that primarily work in office buildings or the 10.5 percent that work in manufacturing and industrial buildings.

But no matter where you’re doing your HVAC work, having the right set of tools matters. Time is money, so it’s essential to be able to reach for the correct tool at the moment instead of having to run out and find or buy some new HVAC tools.

HVAC professionals can and should learn from the tips, tricks, and tools their peers use working a different HVAC setup – whether a home or a factory – than they’re used to.

Rather than a comprehensive “must-have” of every single HVAC tool, think of this as a list of ideas to improve your HVAC tool collection, save time, and earn more money.

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Essential HVAC Service Tools List

The Basics

Below, we've listed the most essential HVAC tools service techs need.

PVC Cutter

Hammer. You’ll probably want an assortment of hammers in your HVAC tool kit, from standard to ball peen, but especially a dead blow hammer. Dead blow hammers distribute the force of the hammer impact (as opposed to the other two, which concentrate it), thereby minimizing damage while hammering away. This can be important in delicate HVAC work.

Screwdriver Set. All HVAC technicians will have a multi-purpose screwdriver but you’ll want a complete and versatile set to add to your hand tools list nonetheless. A flat head screwdriver and #1 and #2 Philips heads are musts, but a full set of additional screwdrivers (or heads) from Torx to Hex, wouldn’t go amiss.

We recommend owning at least one ratcheting screwdriver with swappable heads. It’s not good for the very tightest of spaces, but in all other circumstances, it’ll save your service techs considerable turning time.

Headlamp. From dusty air ducts to dark basements, the places that an HVAC tech finds themselves in practically begs for a headlamp. Definitely one of the important HVAC safety tools. After all, you’ll need your hands free to do the work. Headlamps also have the benefit of tracking where you move your head – handy even in a lighted space.

Flashlight and Work Light. Of course, you’ll still need a flashlight. We prefer heavy-duty mag lights of various sizes, but any durable flashlight will do. A plug-in work light is also handy if you’ll be on the job site for a while. One of many handy HVAC hand tools.

Pliers. Get a full set of insulated pliers to limit your risk of electrical shock. Variety is good here: Needle-nose pliers, channel-lock, and linesman pliers will all be handy HVAC tools.

wrench set

Wrench Set. HVAC includes a not-inconsiderable amount of tightening and loosening bolts, nuts, and piping. A good service wrench or two for a tool bag is always a good idea. Get a set of fixed and adjustable wrenches and pipe wrenches for your HVAC business.

Steel Shears and Tin Snips. Sometimes you will have to cut sheet metal down to size. For that, you should get tin snips. We recommend a full set of Aviation snips, specially designed to make cutting curves and lines into sheet metal easier. Go ahead and get the full color-coded set.

Drills. Drills and drivers are essential HVAC tools. Investment in quality pays off here. Look for trusted brands like Milwaukee and Bosch and keep in mind a cordless drill option when it’s available.

Specialty drills like the angle drill with a pivoting head – which has a slim form that can easily slip around tight corners and tighter spaces – are an absolute game-changer for HVAC service techs.

Pipe and Tube Cutters. Speaking of tight spaces, get some close-quarter tubing cutters for those hard-to-reach spaces as well as a pair of grip-handled tube cutters for normal spaces where a little more torque is required.

PVC Cutter. Cutting pipes, whether metal or plastic, is a normal part of the everyday HVAC tech’s life. A PVC cutter is the best HVAC tool for the job, every time.

PVC cutter

Extension Cords. Not every power tool can be cordless and you’ll still need a place to charge your backup batteries regardless. A few heavy-duty extension cords and a power strip or two go a long way. Enough said.

Awl. A simple but essential HVAC tool for punching holes in piping. The kind of minor tool that you never think about but miss when it’s not there.

Sawzall. Punching bigger holes in piping. A reciprocating saw is great for many on-the-job cutting tasks. In a pinch, you can skip lugging around a circular saw, since nine times out of 10 the Sawzall will do the job--provided it has the right blades.

Caulking gun. As an HVAC service tech, you know that air leaks make for unhappy HVAC systems, so you’re going to need a proper dripless caulking gun to seal any gaps and holes you find (or create) as you work.

Tubing bender. Whether putting in splits for an air conditioning system or some other wiring work, a reliable tubing bender is a must-have. Ratcheting benders are particularly easy to use.

Wet/Dry shop vacuum. A small wet/dry shop vac might not seem like a usual part of the tool kit but it belongs in the truck.

shop vacuum

You’re working with refrigerants, cooling systems get wet, attics and basements get full of gunk and junk. This is your solution to clogged drain lines as well as metal and dust debris. HVAC customers will always appreciate you leaving behind a clean workspace.

Safety Equipment For The HVAC Industry

Bipolymer Coated Gloves

Safety first! It can be easy to forget basic safety equipment, but here are a few items you should have on hand (and use, seriously).

Safety glasses. Eye protection is a must, especially when using power tools cutting through metal. A stray shaving or piece of shrapnel could mean a trip to the hospital for even the most seasoned HVAC tech.

Durable gloves. A pair of durable work gloves are handy for similar reasons and will always be one of the best HVAC ‘tools’. Sheet metal is sharp, boilers are hot, you’re working with some possibly caustic chemicals  – you get the picture. Something like these Grainger 15 Gauge Bipolymer Coated Gloves is just the ticket at $6 a pair. Get multiple, just in case.

Ear protection. Maybe you’re not much of a music lover, but HVAC techs should wear ear protection any time they’re using power tools in an enclosed space. Either disposable earplugs or full-on earmuffs should provide adequate protection. Don’t skimp out on your safety tools.

work boots

Rugged work boots. This is one of those items that should be thought of as an investment. Hard-toed or steel-toed work boots made from good leather will last a lifetime (and will need to, with the kind of beating they can take with regular HVAC work).

The feeling of invincibility you’ll get when you drop something heavy on your foot on the job will make it all worthwhile.

Specialty HVAC Tools

Multimeter

Refrigeration gauges. You’re an HVAC technician which means working with refrigerants, so you’ll need a set of refrigeration gauges, and perhaps multiples. These gauges help you check for leaks and to see if you need to purge, braze and recharge an HVAC system.

Refrigerant Scale. Along with your refrigerant gauges,  HVAC technicians will also want a refrigerant scale. Too much or too little refrigerant in the system will make it run non-optimally (if at all). A refrigerant scale ensures that the weight – and therefore precise amount – of refrigerant is added or subtracted from the system.

Multimeter. While HVAC service techs aren’t strictly electricians, you get your hands on electrical wiring often enough that a multimeter is a must. We recommend Fluke 116, a multimeter designed specifically for HVAC technicians and which has a built-in thermometer to take temperature readings. One of the best HVAC tech tools to have on hand.

Vacuum pump. A vacuum pump is one of those must-have HVAC service tools, necessary for removing moisture and air from refrigerant lines while performing service work. These come in one- or two-stage units, with two-stage units pulling a deeper vacuum and faster, but more expensive.

Still, unless you’re doing handyman work or relatively light jobs, a two-stage unit is the only real option for a serious HVAC business.

Nitrogen regulator. A nitrogen regulator is helpful for purging and pressure testing your HVAC systems and is always something to check is on your HVAC tools list.

Refrigerant recovery machine and tank. But before you can vacuum out refrigerant lines, make sure you have a recovery unit. It’s one of the most essential HVAC tools because federal law requires HVAC technicians to capture and recover refrigerants for environmental safety reasons.

refrigerant recovery machine and tank

Leak detector. Some leaks in an HVAC system are obvious, but you can't eyeball every leak. While you don’t strictly need a dedicated leak detector – you can use a vacuum pump to do an evacuation test or use dyes as well – a dedicated infrared device makes the job much easier and overall, leak detectors can be one of the best HVAC tools.

Metal crimper. A crimper is necessary for easily putting indentations into ducting. This 5 Blade Duct Crimper from Klein Tools is made specifically for HVAC techs. Definitely a must-have in your HVAC toolkit.

Seamer. Related to the crimper, a hand seamer is perfect if you need to bend sheet metal and should also be at the ready for all HVAC businesses. You can also straighten metal that needs adjusting with this tool.

Megohmmeter. One of many helpful HVAC tech tools, the “Megger” is an insulation resistance tester and fairly essential for ensuring that an A/C compressor’s windings are functioning properly.

Non-essential HVAC Technician Tools (That are Still Nice to Have)

Micron Gauge

Nothing mentioned on our HVAC tools list below is strictly necessary to accomplish most HVAC jobs, but each of them will make your life infinitely easier and should be placed on your “to acquire when I have sufficient funds” list. Consider them the ‘advanced tools’

Core removal tool. If your HVAC business finds you needing to remove a broken valve core or want to remove a valve core without sacrificing refrigerant, a valve core removal tool comes in pretty handy. It can also make your refrigerant recovery times faster, and time is money.

Coil Fin Straightener. If you’re doing any kind of HVAC technician work, but especially residential or small office work, you’ll want to spring the $10 for a coil fin straightener. After all, coils get bent out of shape, and a good flow is essential to an efficient HVAC unit.

Psychrometer

Psychrometer. To take temperatures accurately and measure airflow within a duct system near the evaporator, you’ll need a good psychrometer. Most importantly, it will save HVAC technicians time calculating superheat on the system (you know, so you don’t flood a compressor).

Micron Gauge. A micron gauge helps you take precise vacuum measurements, letting you know if the level of vacuum within a system is appropriate or indicating that further action and investigation might be necessary. They can also help you diagnose when a system is a contaminant and moisture-free.

Digital refrigeration system analyzer. If your HVAC business includes doing refrigerator circuit work or other heavy refrigeration-based work, a digital refrigeration analyzer is a worthwhile investment (though it’s one of many useful air conditioning tools too). Digi-Cools’ models, including the popular AK900, run for around $300.

An HVAC Tool That Doesn't Fit Into Your Toolbox

The HVAC profession can be a lucrative one, but as this list suggests, it requires a long-term degree of heavy investment in tools to get the job done. But that’s also why the HVAC career is a long one and usually starts with an apprenticeship.

Beyond the physical HVAC tools list above, there are the tools that make your work more valuable and time more efficient.

For instance, working towards new HVAC certifications can not only improve the tools of your knowledge-base but makes you a more attractive hire, opening up new job opportunities.

Even if you’re already an expert, firmly entrenched in a particular niche with a team of employees and contractors, HVAC software can become a critical tool for streamlining your scheduling, fast-tracking payments and cash flow, and ultimately winning more work.

Try a free, fully-featured 7 day trial of FieldPulse’s easy-to-use HVAC software – developed with the input of experienced professionals in the field – today.

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