pile of various old looking tools

5 Best Hand Tools for HVAC Technicians

October 30 2020

As an HVAC technician, it’s crucial to your career and your safety that you have the right tools on hand anytime you head to a job. If you’re just getting started, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which tools you should keep in your bag or work van at all times, but luckily there is a way to reduce the number of options!

Hand tools for HVAC technicians range from standard tools to those designed specifically for HVAC equipment.

If you want to finally identify the five most essential hand-tools of the trade and elevate your career, then this article is a must-read!

Why are Hand Tools Important?

HVAC hand tools are a technician’s best friend. They can fit in tight spaces and, with proper use, become an extension of our hands. You should have a handy supply of tools at your disposal regularly while you’re working.

Depending on the job you need to fulfill, you may need tools for a service call, an install, or routine maintenance of heating and air conditioning units. Most HVAC tool lists are full of dozens of different tools that you can use for specific roles, but the real money-makers are those you can use in all your roles!

The 5 Best Hand Tools for HVAC Technicians

When identifying the five best HVAC tools, we determined which tools had the most multi-purpose uses and those that were lower cost for those just getting started in the industry. It’s important to remember that different brands will significantly change the price range, so choose options that fit your needs and current budget best!

1. Screwdrivers

You’ll face many tasks in any job, whether it’s in the unit, the vents, or even the thermostat that will require a screwdriver. Generally, you will want to pick a style of screwdriver that is durable and reliable. You can also take your screwdriver to the next level by choosing an 11-in-1 style tool that gives you several different tools in one!

2. Pliers, Clippers, Cutters, and Crimpers

While on the job, there will be many different needs for pliers and plier-like tools. Wire clippers cut wires, needle nose pliers can grab the delicate wires of a thermostat, and crimpers join two metal pieces.

3. Hand-Mirror

Any time you’re brazing or working in a tight space, a small, hand-held mirror can help you keep an eye on the status of your work. The best options are those on an extendable handle that can get into small areas or behind piping.

4. Nut Driver

When you’re working on an HVAC system with hex heads instead of screws, a nut driver will be your go-to tool. This tool also comes in multi-nut driving options, which can serve multiple purposes as needed.

5. Refrigerant Pump-Down Tool

This HVAC service tool is often overlooked because it only serves one purpose. Still, when you’re working on the part of the HVAC system that has refrigerant in it, you must move the gas from the section you will be accessing to avoid exposure to the toxic gas and the potential for costly legal ramifications for releasing the gas.

Other Important Hand Tools

Specialty Tools

In any given week, HVAC technicians find themselves using a variety of specialty tools – sometimes all the tools listed below will be used on the same day. Other days only one or two will be used. It depends on the scope of the job. Knowing what to expect on a job isn’t always possible. It is wise to have the tools listed below on your truck whenever you set out because you simply do not know what you’ll encounter on any given day.

  • Multimeter and Voltage Tester – HVAC systems go hand in hand with electrical systems so for HVAC safety reasons technicians in the field should be equipped with electrical testers capable of identifying live wires, measuring voltage, measuring resistance, and any other electrical tests required.
  • Reciprocating Saw – cutting through just about anything makes these tools valuable and flexible. Keeping extra blades is also important because the time lost working with a dull blade is costly.
  • Manifold Gauge
  • Extension Cord
  • Tubing Cutter

Tools for Ductwork

Installation and repair of ductwork requires special hand tools that need to be on the truck of every HVAC technician who work with ducts. Without these tools duct work is slow, tedious, and inefficient.

  • Tin Snips (see our best snips article)
  • Hand Seamers
  • Crimpers
  • Awl
  • Staple Gun

Refrigerant Scale

Those unfamiliar with what HVAC work entails might be surprised to learn how much precision is required in many HVAC tasks. An example is charging an air conditioning system with refrigerant. Too little refrigerant and the system cannot maintain the temperature of its assigned space. Too much creates a high-pressure system in the cooling equipment which in turn shortens the life of the system by straining the compressor which leads to costly maintenance issue.

A refrigerant scale allows the HVAC technician to measure the refrigerant’s weight as it is added or removed for the unit’s compressor allowing for the right amount to be put into the compressor. This same capability allows HVAC technicians to identify if the system has a leak. This capability allows for the identification and fixing of a small problem before it becomes a big one.

Have The Right Hand Tools For HVAC

No matter how talented and inventive an HVAC Technician is they cannot do a good job in a timely manner unless they have the right tools for the situation they find themselves working on. So if you employ field technicians who have a basic set of tools be sure that you provide your employees with the more expensive, specialized tools necessary for them to be prepared for any job. If you are a self-employed HVAC Technician, you will need these tools as well.

Stop by Hanover Supply today to check out all the tools we have available for your jobs. Visit us in Randolph, Chatham or East Hanover or give us a call. We are always happy to help.

For more insightful articles about the HVAC industry, check out our blog! To schedule an appointment to view our showroom, contact us.