Tools of the Trade – HVAC Professionals

Starting any trade can be intimidating, especially when you need to invest in some tools to start work. What tools do I need as an HVAC Technician? What tools should I get when I first start HVAC work? The list of tools for this and any trade is often very similar, however each trade has their own peculiar duties and tools to perform them and when you’re starting out as an HVAC Tech, you’re going to want a bare minimum of tools.

The website HVACbeginners.com recommends a wide range of basic tools. The blog writer recommends having a “many-in-one” multipurpose screw driver like a Wiha 77790 or the insulated Wiha 38050 or 38051 which makes sense because you’ll want to be ready for any basic job at any time, and having a tool you can use is better than not having one. They recommend having a “Phillips bit, Flathead bit sizes #1 and #2,” in addition to having a “1/4″, 5/16″ and 3/8# nut drivers.” Metric and standard hex wrenches are also must haves. If you shop right, you can get some or all of these in either a multi tool or multipack and save money. All of these tools are absolutely essential for getting into access panels or fastening things so if you’re without any of them, you won’t get far. A good assortment of wrenches, like a set of Wera Jokers also helps with this too. You might also want to add a punching awl to this list to make holes in pipes and other places should the need arise.

It’s also recommended that you get some squeezy things with handles…that’s a little vague, but basically you need some pliers, pipe wrenches, crimpers, cutters and strippers. In regards to these, there are some really good brands to consider. For starters, it’s highly recommended that in regard to wire strippers and cutters that you invest a little extra money in them, because if you go cheap, they won’t do the job. Wire stripping should be a smooth and quick process and you should be able to get it right on the first try. Shears and metal cutters too, you want something sharp that will give you a clean edge without a lot of cranking to get through what’s being cut. Ideal Tools and Klein Tools are higher end and reliable for wire stripping, and for quality cutting, Wiha and Knipex from Germany are great choices.

Knipex is also a great choice for your pliers and pipe wrenches. Their Alligator and Cobra brands have some excellent features and are tough so they’ll be something you can rely on for gripping. You should probably get some linesman pliers too as they’re handy in multiple situations. Knipex’s linesman pliers are just as good as their other pliers, but if you want something made by an American company, but just as good, Klein Tools pliers are the way to go. Klein practically invented the linesman pliers anyways, so why not get one from the experts?

Due to the various duties an HVAC Tech will have to perform, and the places you’ll have to go, you’ll want to have a few other unique items. First, a Sawzall or other power saw will help you cut through walls and such to get access to hard to reach places. Once you’re in these hidey-holes, you’ll need a light (like one of many made by Pelican) and some safety equipment like safety glasses, gloves, hearing protection (when using power tools) and probably a breath mask too. While poking around in an accessway or HVAC unit, some test equipment would be a good idea too. Good items to have are a Multimeter, a leak detector, a clamp meter, a digital thermometer, a level, and a manifold gauge. Many of these testers may not be needed until a bit later in your career, but it never hurts to have one.

Buying tools is an investment especially if you’re going to use them in a trade like HVAC. While you don’t want to go crazy paying top dollar for tools, it is a good idea to spend the money needed to get a quality tool. Many quality brands, while sometimes a little spendy, do try to make their tools more affordable by selling them in sets with other tools so it’s a good idea to take advantage of that.

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