What Every HVAC Tech Needs in their Tool Bag

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Heating and Air Technicians must have a handy supply of tools at their disposal on a regular basis. We have a showcase of tools that you will want to purchase and have nearby for service calls, installs, and routine maintenance of heating and air units.

Hand Tools

In this section, we provide you with a selection of the best of the basic hand tools. These include a variety of tools that are useful across many trades. We also mention a step ladder in this section because you will often need to step up to reach vents or other overhead items.

Here are the tools we'll cover in this section:

  • Hammer
  • Screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Tape Measure
  • Wire Strippers
  • Pipe Wrench
  • Step Ladder

Hammer

One of the most obvious and mundane tools in the classic toolbelt set is the hammer. HVAC technicians use hammers to do a variety of tasks. A lightweight hammer is often the best choice because it is just one of the many tools on the HVAC technician’s heavy toolbelt. The Stanley 51-112 7 ounce fiberglass hammer is our recommendation. The classic Stanley yellow coloring makes the hammer highly visible on the job site. Its fiberglass construction makes it durable and strong. It also has an easy grip.

Screwdrivers

Every HVAC technician knows that no toolkit would be complete without a set of quality screwdrivers. HVAC technicians face many tasks that require screwing and unscrewing screws of all sizes. Whether it is working on the unit, vents, or thermostat, screwdrivers are essential to getting the job done.

In our experience, Craftsman screwdrivers are durable and reliable. The blade tips are of precision size and are designed with maximum turning power in mind. The Craftsman tools are of highest quality resist slipping. Our favorite bundle is the Craftsman 9-47136 Slotted Phillips Screwdriver Set, 8 Piece. It includes four Phillips head screwdrivers and four slotted screwdrivers and a lifetime warranty.

Top screwdrivers sets

Pliers

HVAC technicians are often cutting wire. Wire pliers are frequently used in cutting heavy wire that runs to or from the breaker box. The needle nose pliers are used in grabbing wire when working on a thermostat. The needle nose pliers are narrow enough to reach inside the wall to reach the wire. Pliers of various sizes come in handy for numerous tasks on the job site. We recommend the Workpro 7-piece Pliers Set.

Having good pliers handy is essential for HVAC work

Tape Measure

A twenty-five foot measuring tape is another staple in the HVAC technician’s toolkit. From measuring ductwork to measuring space for furnaces, vents, or air conditioner units, HVAC technicians must know how to read a tape measure accurately. Tape measures are whipped out on a moment’s notice and used repeatedly. Not just any tape measure will do. The Komelon measuring tape is our recommendation because it self-locks, retracts, and is durable.

Measure twice, cut once. A great motto to work by

Wire Strippers

The wire stripping tool is a frequent flier for the HVAC technician. It doesn’t stay in the toolbelt holster long before it is whipped out and put to use again. HVAC technicians are often stripping wire and reconnecting it with wire nuts. The stripping tool makes this process much quicker and is easier than using a knife to peel the wire’s covering back. Our suggested wire stripper, from Garry Tools, is durable and lightweight.

wire strippers are needed on the jobsite

Pipe Wrench

HVAC technicians use plumbing tools such as the pipe wrench. Pipes of varying sizes require you to use different size pipe wrenches. There are pipes attached to furnaces. If you are installing or repairing a furnace, you will need to use a pipe wrench to remove or attach the pipes. The Stalwart 75-HT3012 Heavy Duty Pipe Wrench Set is our recommended set for use by HVAC technicians.

adjust any size pipe fitting with a handy pipe wrench set

Step Ladder

Don’t overlook the step ladder when you are packing your HVAC work truck. It is an important tool that you might not think you would need very often, but if you are working in the field servicing units and cleaning vents, you will likely need a step ladder several times during your work week. The Louisville Ladder L-3016-04 Fiberglass Stepladder can give you an extra four feet in height if you need it.

Reach those overhead pipes, vents and ducts with a sturdy stepladder

Specialty Tools

In the course of a work week, HVAC technicians use a variety of specialty tools. Sometimes HVAC technicians will need to use all of these all on the same day. It just depends on the scope of the job at hand. We have compiled a list of tools that need to be packed into the toolbox for everyday use.

These are some of the other tools that are essential for the HVAC tech:

  • Multimeter
  • Thermometer
  • Cordless Drill
  • Sawzall (Reciprocating Saw)
  • Manifold Gauge
  • Extension Cord
  • Tubing Cutter

Multimeter

Multimeters are the HVAC technicians’ go-to tool to keep from getting electrocuted. In essence, the multimeter checks for electrical current and determines if voltage is present. It is used to detect current at switches, wires, or outlets. This is one of the most important specialty tools that an HVAC technician uses. We recommend the Fieldpiece HS36.

HVAC work definitely requires a high-quality multimeter, like this one from Fieldpiece

Thermometer

HVAC technicians use thermometers regularly to determine the change in temperature. Temperature determines if a refrigerant needs to be added or if a piece of equipment is working properly. The thermometer used by HVAC technicians is a specialized tool and is much different than the thermometer that checks a person for fever. It is important that the HVAC technician has an accurate thermometer because their job depends on it. We suggest the Fieldpiece ST4 Dual Temperature Meter for accurate temperature readings.

Cordless Drill

HVAC technicians use cordless drills on a regular basis. They need one that will be reliable and durable because it will be carried into attics and into crawlspaces where the real work is done. You may be drilling a new hole to run wires in the closet or in the attic. Cordless drills can go anywhere and are not restricted to a particular distance from an electrical outlet. Our recommendation is the Makita cordless drill.

Makita makes a great cordless drill for HVAC work

Sawzall

HVAC technicians are always cutting through messy materials or cutting overhead. The Sawzall is used to cut through old condensers, drywall, sheet metal, pipes, or wood. The sawzall is ideal for cutting through different types of materials without changing power tools. Our recommendation for this tool is made by Makita.

A reciprocating saw is an incredibly handy tool and can cut almost anything you need to cut

Manifold Gauge

The manifold gauge set is one of the most used specialty tools in the HVAC tool bag. This set is used to determine if leaks are present. They are also used when charging an air conditioner unit. The gauge is also useful during the removal of refrigerant. The analog gauges have been around for decades and are easily read and interpreted by veteran HVAC technicians. The digital gauges are newer and becoming more popular. The Fieldpiece digital gauge is our recommendation.

A quality manifold gauge is an essential part of the HVAC tech's equipment

Extension Cords

Extension cords are tools that are the unsung heroes for the HVAC technician. HVAC techs are always needing to power up away from the electrical outlet or generator. The heavy duty extension cord extends the electricity into the faraway recesses of the attic or sheds light on the crawlspace area beneath the house. Ordinary household wiring doesn’t stand up to the power load that HVAC technicians use for operating power tools. The industrial-grade extension cord is more durable than a household extension cord, and we suggest the US Wire 74050 extension cord for use on the HVAC job site.

US-Wire-74050

Tubing Cutter

Tubing cutters are used to cut pipes. During installation or repair of HVAC equipment, these cutters make the job more efficient. These are standard cutters that cut a variety of materials. The DIAOSnx Mini Hand Miniature Tubing Cutter Tool is our suggestion for use in tight spaces.

carrying a pipe cutter can make HVAC work go much faster

Tools for Duct Work

Installation and repair of ductwork requires special tools. Every HVAC technician who works with ductwork needs to keep these on the truck, if not in their tool pouch. Without these tools, the work would be slow, tedious, and inefficient.

This section includes:

  • Tin Snips
  • Hand Seamers
  • Crimpers
  • Awl
  • Staple Gun

Tin Snips

The tin snips need to be used when cutting the ductwork. The snips are similar to scissors, but they are sharper and able to slice through metal. The Craftsman Aviation Snips Set is our suggested addition to your tool kit.

A set of tin snips makes cutting duct work easy

Hand Seamers

Hand seamers are used to bend, shape, or flatten the sheet metal used in ductwork. This tool replaces the need for a hammer, a board, and pliers for shaping the ductwork. The clamp end of the seamers grabs hold and bends the metal evenly. Our recommendation is the ABN Metal Hand Seamer.

Hand seamers are important HVAC tools if you work with ducts

Crimpers

The crimper and cutting plier tool can be used to cut sheet metal, wires, and to crimp the connectors. You can strip wire with them also. This tool is versatile and should be in every HVAC technician’s tool kit. We recommend the these from Thomas and Betts.

Awl

An awl is another useful tool for the HVAC technician. You can use the awl to score the sheet metal so that you can cut it straight. You can also punch holes in sheet metal, wood, or sheet rock when necessary. The Dasco Pro 431-0 Scratch Awl is our recommendation.

A scratch awl helps mark or pierce sheet metal, sheet rock and more

Staple Gun

A heavy duty staple gun is an often-used tool in the HVAC technician’s tool kit. Stapling insulation into place or stapling sheet metal are just two uses for this handy tool. We recommend the Stanley Heavy Duty Steel Stapler.

If you're working in HVAC, a good staple gun will help with your

Conclusion

HVAC technicians use a variety of tools throughout the work day. If you are building a tool kit with our tool recommendations, you will be well prepared for any job site. From hammers to gauges, the experienced HVAC technician uses them all frequently. This article contained a checklist of most of the hand tools, specialty tools, and ductwork tools that new HVAC technicians need to purchase.

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About Author

My name is Bob and I am a retired HVAC tech from Washington state. I am currently retired and no longer do much with HVAC, however, I feel like I have a lot of knowledge in the subject and I wanted to create a website where I could talk about what I've learned and help upcoming HVAC techs.

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