Owning at least some of the must have HVAC tools is critical because the job of an HVAC technician is interesting to say the least, and this is because there’s such a variety of tasks, some of which are unexpected.
You can really find yourself in a tricky spot if you don’t happen to have the right tool to hand if an issue was to spring up that you didn’t foresee.
Being highly equipped and ready for anything is the technician’s first prerogative; having all of the must have HVAC tools in their HVAC tool bag to handle anything that comes their way. From cutting sheet metal to draining refrigerants, your tools have got you covered.
This article is to give new starters in the trade who may still be undergoing HVAC certification or those who want to fill out their professional kit and are asking: what must have HVAC tools am I missing out on?
Hopefully this article will give you a good idea of the must have HVAC tools that are absolutely needed as well as some of the more optional must have HVAC tool options and other equipment that will prove more than useful when out in the field.
There will also be links of the best examples of each so that you have all you need, right here to get you started!
Must Have HVAC Tools: The Essentials
A hammer is a technician’s best friend and wihtout a doubt, makes it tot he top of our must have HVAC tools list.
Ideally a standard claw hammer would be the most useful as they’re quite versatile for any work on wood, plasterboard, removing nails can also be used for knocking small bends out of metal. It’ll be handy for removing nails, if any woodwork comes your way too.
The hammer we’re recommending is offered by Tacklife which is not an instantly recognizable brand but the hammer is affordable, has a magnetic nail holder feature and most importantly is compact enough so not to take up too much space from your kit.
It’s no doubt that screwdrivers are the most important piece in an HVAC technician’s kit and are a sure second place of the must have hvac tools. It’s always good to have a diverse set of screwdrivers to suit any need that arises due to the different types of screws that are used even in the same HVAC unit.
The kit that we would recommend is a 7 piece set giving you a good selection of pliers to suit a variety of tasks. It also comes with some wire cutters too. All of the tools here are made from drop forged steel for durability and have comfortable handles. They’re not the best the market when bought individually has to offer but as a set its great value.
Just like the screwdrivers and pliers, a good variety of wrenches goes a long way. The lower angle the swing arc is the better, it just makes them more efficient and means your spending less time loosening a bolt. As far as must have HVAC tools go, these are sure to be found in any contractors tool bag.
The Workpro wrench set is recommended here as not only are the wrenches durable and high quality but the box ends actually pivot. It makes it so much easier to get the job done when you can overcome obstructions.
Having a good drill by your side is invaluable. Definitely one of the must have HVAC tools that you can’t afford to miss out on. A cordless drill is preferable as it allows you a lot more dexterity, it’s safer and you can use it without having to unplug and trail the cord to different locations. OF course, having a range of drill bits to accompany the drill is advantageous.
Black+Decker are a well-respected global brand that brings high quality and affordability to the power tool market. This drill is compact, lightweight and has a lithium ion battery meaning a charge lasts much longer. It’s got a bunch more features and its durable making it a great drill that will last you a long time.
A personal flashlight is always good to have on hand, especially if you are working in attics or basements or inside units where it might be hard to tell what you’re doing. Handheld flashlights are great but it’s even more convenient to have a head light so you have the light where you want it and its hands free.
What’s great about this GRDE is that you can adjust the angle and the brightness of the light. Most other lights have a single setting which could be far too bright when working in enclosed conditions.
Another must have HVAC tool is a pair of cutters suitable for cutting through sheet metal, metal fins and also wires. A good pair of tin snips or aviation snips is exactly what you’ll need to be prepared for any job that comes your way.
We have a separate article that presents a selection of the best tin and aviation snips and we would recommend a set of three aviation snips for the tool bag of any HVAC technician. This set gives you the lefty, the righty and the bulldog to make sure you have what you need to cut accurately and precisely.
Most new technicians overlook this tool until they need it. A staple gun is an absolute essential for setting insulation, foil lines and securing joists. They’re better when they’re compact, easy to load and have other features too!
That’s why we recommend the staple gun by Hi-Spec Tools which is all of the above and also functions as a nail gun. The kit also comes with 200 10mm staples, 200 x 12mm U-shape Staples and 200pcs 8mm Staples making it great value for money.
Depending on your level of certification, you’ll need to have certain meters to suit the tasks you are performing. You can get certain multi-meters which give you a variety of information which are great for troubleshooting the systems that you are working on.
This clamp on meter by UEi Test Instruments measure a range of metrics including: 750VAC/1000VDC, 400A AC, Capacitance, Resistance, Continuity, Frequency, Duty Cycle, and micro-Amps. It’s extremely handy to include in your kit and will save you the trouble of having a separate meters when trying to diagnose issues.
Gauges are one of the most important pieces of equipment for an HVAC technician, they allow you to identify the pressure of different types of refrigerants and so you will naturally build a collection of gauges as your HVAC career progresses.
OrionMotorTech has a good starter set of gauges that gives you the ability to detect the pressures of R134A R12 R22 and R502 refrigerants. You will also receive three Freon recharging hoses that are color coded to help you to keep your work more organized.
Finally, for the essentials section of this article, you can’t go fare without a decent tool bag to keep all of your must have HVAC tools organized and in one place. There are plenty of tool bags that are durable and sectioned out with extra features and there are also some which have a backpack designed.
We go through the best HVAC tool bags and backpacks in another article to give you a better idea on what’s available. Overall there’s such a high selection it’s hard to recommend any in particular as it’s a matter of preference but the tool bag by CLC is one of the best out there for storing your must have HVAC tools and equipment.
Must Have HVAC Tools: Extras
A leak detector is great to have and probably should be an essential since you may get called out on a maintenance job and whilst diagnosing an issue you’ll want to make sure there isn’t a leak and if there is, find out where it is.
You’ll want a leak detector that can pick up on all types of refrigerants that are commonly used in domestic units, and industrial units if you tend to work on them more often. We go into leaks detectors in more detail in our refrigerant leak detector guide. A good recommendation is the affordable and versatile leak detector by LotFancy.
You never know when you’re going to need to do some cutting and so a saw is handy to have. Reciprocating saws are always the go to saw for HVAC technicians as they’re durable, easy to use and get the job done quickly.
The DEWALT Reciprocating Saw is ands down the best sawzall on the market and is used by professionals and DIY experts alike. Its cutting is flush, the construction is durable but light weight and you can pivot the blade to change cutting angle.
Valve Core Removal Tool
Valve removal and installation tools are definitely a handy tool to have by your side to bail you out of the finicky and frustrating job of removing or installing the core of a valve. They’re definitly something you can regret not having to hand even if they don’t strictly count as one of the must have HVAC tools.
A good valve removal tool needs to be compact so not to take up too much space in your kit but it also needs to be durable and would ideally be able to stop flow, resist leaks and work under high pressures. The Hilmor valve remover tool is high quality and up to the task.
These are pumps that create a vacuum, removing any contaminants form a refrigerant tank which is useful when charging or recovering refrigerants. This is often a task which crops up when performing maintenance or repair tasks which you can find out more about on our HVAC vacuum pump article.
Vacuum pumps can get quite expensive and if you aren’t going to be using too much or for big jobs, the Robinair Economy Vacuum Pump would be just fine. It is a stage 2 vacuum pump ensuring that it will remove any contaminants which is also compact and good value for money.
A piece of equipment that also comes in handy for the charging and recovery of refrigerants is the refrigerant scale. The best refrigerant scales are easy to use, have a clear user interface, are able to show a variety of readings (such as in pounds, kilograms and ounces) and the higher the weight capacity the better.
The Robinair Slimline Electronic Refrigerant Scale is most certainly the best bet for a professional HVAC engineer for the reasons stated above. While its 100lb weight capacity can be exceeded by other similar products, there just isn’t a rival for quality.
A wiring job can be made easier with a pair of crimpers and there is no denying that there is a vast difference in quality between a cheap pair and a decent pair. The results of your crimping can vary depending on the type of terminals you are using of course, but there’s no doubt that crimpers are a handy tool to have for hard wiring jobs that could crop up often.
The Titan Tools wire terminal crimpers that we would suggest are very reliable indeed. With these you have the ability to adjust the amount of compression the tool applies and it has a ratcheting mechanism to give you so much more control.
While not entirely being one of the must have HVAC tools, a caulking gun is always good to have on hand but could always just sit in the van until you need it. Sometimes you will be required to seal around any ducts or vents that you have been working on. Caulking guns are a relatively affordable tool but there is a range in quality between them.
The caulking gun by Newborn is drip free, fits 10oz cartridges, is a good price with most vendors and is comfortable to use with its thermoplastic grip and trigger. The pressure rod also works really smoothly in comparison to similar caulking guns which have the ratchet style.
Must Have HVAC Safety Equipment
Steel toecap shoes or boots are a must in any workplace and just as important as your selection of must have HVAC tools, as you will most probably know. They protect your feet from dropped tools or any other hazards. Other than your work boots, you should also a clean and comfortable pair of sneakers.
Choosing a pair of steel toe boots is normally a matter of preference when it comes to branding, material and size availability. A highly recommended brand in the construction industry is those offered by Caterpillar as they are real leather meaning they are durable and are relatively comfortable to wear.
Gloves protect your hand form abrasion, damage from tools, make it more comfortable to carry heavy objects and protect them from burns and exposure to chemicals. There are different types of gloves an HVAC technician may want to keep with them.
As a standard pair you need something versatile; a pair of gloves that are durable and tough enough to protect your hands form damage but also allow you to still be able to handle tools easily and perform dextrous work. Ironclad General Utility Work Gloves are great as long as you get the right size for you.
Safety glasses are very important as damage to the eye can have lasting consequences. The goggles will protect your eyes from chemical and particulate exposure and from physical damage from flying debris.
The Dewalt safety goggles are affordable, resistant to fogging and are very tough. They have an elastic head band so that they don’t accidentally fall of your face whilst you are working which is a hazard with other similar goggles.
Workplaces and some tools are really loud and at certain decibel levels over long periods of time can damage your hearing. Ensure that you have a pair of ear muffs available when at work so that you can slip them on when power tools are being used.
Decibel Defense offer some great ear protection which are designed to keep your hearing in tact after exposure to extremely loud noises. The headband that holds the ear muffs together is padded and has fabric stitching giving you as much comfort as possible.
These are the most important tools you’ll need when working as an HVAC technician but depending on your state, the kind of climates and humidity levels you are working with and the contracts are regularly called to you may find some tools are more important than others.
If you think that we have missed any tools out of this list of must have HVAC tools, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments and we can see about getting your suggestion added!
About the Author
Dave Miller is a HVAC technician with over 10 years in the industry. Dave created HeatTalk with the ambition for it to become a resource for individuals looking for answers, whether they be a layman, student or a professional.