The job of an HVAC technician involves installing, maintaining, and repairing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. The job requires ensuring that systems that control air quality and temperature in homes and commercial establishments are in good order. Doing this requires using various tools you are about to discover in this article.
However, you must first understand what an HVAC technician does in detail.
HVAC technicians install units according to an architect or architectural engineer’s specifications. Before the installation, you calculate to determine the appropriate HVAC system. After the installation, you test the piping and connections of the unit and connect it to the ductwork. You need certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work with refrigerants.
Regular maintenance is necessary for an HVAC unit to provide appropriate heating, ventilating, and cooling. You have to do this about two times annually, especially at the beginning of spring and autumn. The process includes blower fan testing and cleaning, checking the coolant level, and evaluating the thermostat’s operation.
Customers usually call HVAC technicians when they notice that their units are not working properly. You may also discover that the system needs repair during routine checks. Some HVAC components that may need repair include the compressors, thermostats, and air handling system.
You may also have to assemble and install ductwork for clients. Ductwork distributes air from the HVAC unit after heating or cooling. Installing ductwork involves cutting metal sheets to form ducts and attaching them to the unit before mounting them throughout the property. When ductwork connects to different spaces, you may have to install registers.
Now that you’ve seen the kind of work you’re likely to be doing, it is time to discover the tools of the trade. This is very important since each project may require different tools.
How To Select the best HVAC Tools
As noted earlier, each HVAC project may require different tools. So, you need various tools in your arsenal. The process of selecting the right tools may seem intimidating. Fortunately, this section will enlighten you on selecting the best HVAC tools.
Handy tips for selecting HVAC technician tools
- Determine the features of the tool
- Size and weight of the tool matters
- Mind about efficiency
- Opt for dependable brands
- Opt for those with a lower decibel rating
Now, let’s help you choose the best HVAC tools according to their various functions.
Basic HVAC Tools
Below are some of the basic tools any HVAC technician should have in their toolkit.
HVAC technicians are always on the go. When your business has grown, and you have a service team, you need reliable software such as Field Complete to ease management. It comes with great features, including invoicing, scheduling, and dispatching, with an easy-to-use interface.
The software will optimize efficiency in your business and significantly lessen the chance of errors. It will also save you a great deal of time to focus on getting more customers.
You may need a hammer for various tasks. So, you need a durable hammer for convenient use. The ideal hammer is lightweight with a firm and comfortable grip. A hammer is useful when shaping sheet metal, popping rivets, making chisels, and creating cut-outs.
Having different screwdrivers handy prepares you to handle any screws you may encounter. Opt for a multipurpose screwdriver with a flathead bit and Phillips-head bit number one or two to save space in your HVAC tools list.
You need a heavy-duty tape measure with a length of not less than 25 feet. A tape measure determines the dimensions of furnaces, ductwork, air conditioning unit, and vents.
You are likely to deal with wires, bolts, and pipes. So, you need to prepare adequately by keeping various pliers on hand. The pliers come in small, medium, large, and needle-nose options. Invest in insulated pliers for durability and longevity. Pliers are for cutting, stripping, crimping, shearing, and looping wires.
You need various wrenches in your HVAC toolkit. A good example is the pipe wrench with heavy-duty aluminum for durability. Pipe wrenches are for loosening plumbing connections. A refrigerant wrench is for accessing refrigerant in the air conditioning unit. The ideal wrench should allow a superior grip to enable making quick adjustments.
You have to prepare to handle jobs in cramped spaces without appropriate light. A quality flashlight or headlight is a handy tool. You can take a magnetized flashlight anywhere to illuminate the work area while leaving the other hand free. A headlight allows extra lighting when checking into some parts of the HVAC system.
You need a drill to easily create holes or drive screws when making connections. A good idea is to invest in a battery-powered drill. The ideal drill is comfortable to handle, versatile, lightweight, and compact.
Essential HVAC Tools
Now it is time to look at the HVAC technician tools necessary while performing particular tasks.
You need a gauge to read gas and liquid pressure in a cooling unit. The gauge also reads the vacuum pressure when testing or charging a component. A digital gauge offers superior charge testing and adjusting.
It also offers more accurate subcooling and superheat readings. A digital gauge has temperature clamps for connecting to the suction or liquid line. You tell the pressure or temperature using inbuilt charts.
Sometimes, you may need to attach materials. You need a staple gun for this function for other functions like securing insulation and sheet metal in place. A staple gun is also for securing joists and foil lines to boost airflow.
Not all work areas will be near a power outlet. So, you need to invest in a commercial-grade extension cord. The extension cord will transfer electricity from the power outlet to your work area to power equipment like drills.
Features of a good extension cord
- Ability to withstand wear and tear from regular use
- At Least 50 feet long
- Heavy-duty capacity
Accidents are bound to happen in your line of work if you ignore protocols. A durable step ladder allows staying safe and keeping working. The ladder allows reaching higher areas like ceilings, rooftops, and other hard-to-reach areas. Don’t use a long ladder to avoid falling on the job.
HVAC Tools For Staying Safe
Safety is one of the ingredients of an HVAC job well done. Below are some of the tools that will keep you and your team safe.
You need durable gloves with enough thickness to keep the hands safe. The gloves should be numbered enough for flexibility and agility without hindering movement. However, the gloves should hold tiny screws and tools well.
Quality gloves for HVAC technicians keep the hands warm and safe without compromising comfort. You may need to access the field management software on a smartphone or tablet. This should be possible without removing the gloves.
There’s a risk of getting exposed to contaminants like debris, dust, and fumes while handling HVAC jobs. So, wearing a respirator is strongly recommended to prevent breathing in these harmful particles.
In the wake of the COVID19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control still recommends wearing face coverings when around people. This is extremely important for HVAC technicians who are likely to meet various people. Arriving at the client’s place wearing a mask makes them comfortable.
Some respirators come with an attached face shield to protect the eyes and mouth from harmful liquids or flying particles. Alternatively, you may purchase goggles to keep your eyes safe from other materials like dust and debris. You may invest in special goggles with magnification to see tiny parts for accuracy and better efficiency.
Earplugs Or Earmuffs
You have to use power tools regularly when handling various tasks. You need industry-grade earplugs or earmuffs to keep your ears safe from the noise while using drills or hammers. Using earplugs and earmuffs simultaneously is a highly effective solution for noise reduction by about 10 decibels.
A great pair of durable and nice-fitting shoes is a must-have for any HVAC technician. The ideal shoes should withstand the rigors of regular fieldwork. Some of the features to consider when selecting shoes for HVAC technicians include:
- Resistance to water
- Rubber insulation
- Fitting size
- Insoles with cushioning
- Breathable liner
- Support for the arch
High-Tech HVAC Tools
Some HVAC tasks require the use of high-tech tools, and some of these include.
The work of an HVAC technician requires determining the temperature for most jobs. The thermometer measures the HVAC airflow, ambient temperature, refrigeration lines, airflow, coolers, and condenser lines. You may also use the thermometer to determine the water temperature.
Thermal Imaging Tools
Inspections and servicing in the HVAC industry require powerful thermal imaging tools. These allow quick diagnosis and monitoring of potential issues with the HVAC unit. Other potential issues that thermal imaging tools detect include water leaks, electrical issues, and air leaks in the property envelope
Using thermal imaging tools to detect such problems prevents problems that may cause costly emergency repairs and equipment downtime.
HVAC units use nitrogen to push oxygen from the copper tube to limit scaling on the inner surface that may result from oxidation. The formation of scales on the copper tube encourages oxidation, damaging the air conditioner’s operation.
The nitrogen regulator works like a valve that controls pressure by stabilizing liquid or gas with high pressure to make it more suitable. The presence of the nitrogen regulator prevents the quick release of gas or liquid.
A multimeter is a high-tech safety device to protect you from electrical shock. The multimeter measures AC, DC, and AC voltage. You need a multimeter that does more than measure voltage. The multimeter detects electricity and related voltage when working with live wires.
You need a psychrometer for climatic or indoor monitoring. The device also measures airflow rate, air mixtures, and relative humidity. This device also determines the relative humidity using dry and wet bulb thermometers.
Flushing runs liquid solvent at vacuum pressure to clean the air conditioner’s internal components. The flushing solvent boosts system efficiency and eliminates contaminants in the refrigeration lines. Using flushing solvent removes uncured materials, including inks, coatings, and adhesives.
Some HVAC jobs may require joining pieces of metal or pliable material. This may require deforming one of the materials or both to make them stick. A crimper is a device for the job to wrinkle materials to fit in piping sections. Tube and pipe crimpers are available for pressing pipe tubing and pipe connections to form watertight seals.
Coil Fin Straightener
The condenser fins of an air conditioner or heat system may become twisted or dirty over time. Twisted or clogged fins trap heat in the unit since it can’t escape efficiently. This results in performance problems and trouble controlling temperature. HVAC technicians use a coil fin straightener to straighten the fins.
Let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding HVAC service tools and their use.
What tools do you need to fix an AC?
Having the right tools makes repairing and servicing an AC easier and quicker. Here are some of the hand tools technicians work with. A hacksaw is necessary to cut copper tubing or other metal. You may also use pliers for cutting or needle-nose pliers to reach small openings or apertures in equipment.
A hammer is for fastening or removing nails. It also provides force to attach two materials. You also need a socket, box, adjustable or open-end wrenches for fastening nuts and bolts. A scale is necessary for determining distances and a thermal leak detector to check for refrigerant leaks. To repair electrical wiring or connections requires soldering equipment.
Insulation tape is necessary to secure split or cut wires to prevent electrocution. Before doing any work, a vacuum pump is necessary to eliminate moisture in the air. You may need to make holes or screw in or out using a cordless drill. Other HVAC service tools to do a clean and safe job include rags, a flashlight, safety goggles, and gloves.
What kind of hammer is used for HVAC?
It is best to choose an HVAC specialty hammer for the job. The best choice, according to Kleintools.com, includes a 32 oz dead blow hammer, a 16-ounce dead blow hammer, or a setting hammer.
How many tools are used in HVAC?
This is a tough one as each HVAC job requires different tools. The number of essential HVAC tools and equipment depends on your skillset, specialty, and the size of the job you’re handling. You must prepare for any job by investing in the tools highlighted above.