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10 Specialized Tools Vital to an HVAC Technician’s Existence

 March, 13th 2015     Comments     Views

So let’s say you’ve just completed your HVAC training in Los Angeles and you’re ready to hit the workforce.  You’ve got your truck, you’ve got your coffee, it’s time to grab your tools and head out on the road to Job 1.  But first, let’s amass some essential tools.  Make no mistake about – we have great respect for the basic essentials like screwdrivers and tape measures – and of course, in this day and age, laptops.  But for the purposes of this list, we’re talking tools special to the HVAC industry.  Here’s a list of 10 of our specialty essentials for the HVAC technician on the go. 

1.  Meter (Temperature, Humidity, Air Quality)

As an HVAC technician you need a good meter – or three or four.  At varying times, you’ll have needs to take temperature (thermometer), measure humidity, measure air quality.  The good news is that many manufacturers make all-in-one meters.

2.  Multimeter

Also on the meter front, let’s not forget that any kind of HVAC unit is or has some kind of electrical unit.  That means before you go sticking your hand where it might not belong, it’s a good idea to test the strength of the electricity coming from that unit.  Plenty of high-quality multimeters populate the marketplace.  Choose one that’s accurate and easy to read. 

3.  Leak detector

On the long list of important duties associated with being an HVAC technician is the ability to determine the location of leaks.  This can be done with a variety of leak detectors or even a fiber-optic viewer. 

4.  Hex-Head Nut Drivers

Not all essential, specialized tools for HVAC technician are of the high-tech variety.  Sometimes it helps to have the right old-fashioned tool to make you job – and life – easier.

Since many HVAC systems are put together with hex-head screws and bolts, it’s important to have a set of drivers with varying sizes.

5.  Tin Snips or Aviators

As you gain experience as an HVAC technician, you’ll find yourself working with sheet metal a lot.  This means you’ll need to cut it, shape it, fold it, fit it, and avoid its sharp edges.  Several basic tools will come to make your life easier as it relates to sheet metal.

Tin Snips (also known as Aviators) are great for cutting sheet metal, and the different varieties take angles and spatial limitations into consideration.  For example, the “lefts” (often red handled) cut left in direction, “rights” (green handled) cut right, and the “straights” (orange handled) provide a nice straight cut. 

6.  Hand Seamers

As it relates to bending and shaping sheet metal – especially small, tight edges -- you can’t go wrong with a solid pair of hand seamers.  (Another helpful tool that serves a similar function is a drive bender.) 

7.  Swage Tools

Another common facet or feature of HVAC units is pipes.  That makes pipe shaping and fitting vital to the HVAC technician.  Wouldn’t it be great if there were a tool that could do some of the key work for you?  Enter the trusty swage.  A high-quality swage tool makes pipe fitting a breeze.  (You may also want to get yourself a flaring tool set!) 

8.  Refrigeration System Analyzer

A key aspect of being an HVAC technician is to deal with refrigeration machines and materials.  Because of that, it’s important to have something that can read and hold pressures related to different types of refrigerants.  There are several parts to a complete system analyzer.  But fortunately, some manufacturers sell an “all in one” kit. 

9.  Refrigerant Recovery Machine

Keep in mind there are regulations regarding the release of refrigerants into the atmosphere.  Avoid the guesswork and fines associated with such governmental guidelines by using a high-quality recovery machine.

10. Refrigerant Scale - DRSA 1200

And when you are recovering refrigerant into a tank, you need to know when that tank is full. The scale is also used when charging an air conditioning system.

This list barely scratches the surface of the incredibly handy and vital tools, machines, and devices you’ll be using as you forge a career repairing and installing heating and air conditioning systems and equipment.

Contributed by Ivan Cuxeva, ICDC College,