HVAC tools are important to contractors who pride themselves on performing excellent work for their clients. Whether you buy your supplies at Home Depot or through another vendor, it is important to understand which tools are most helpful for heating & cooling projects in 2020.
Making sure your team has the latest and greatest tools isn’t just about pleasing the customers – it boosts worker morale too. When you give your team everything they need, they won’t have to work so hard. And when technicians don’t have to work so hard, they are generally happier.
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Pretty much every trade has its own specialized set of hand tools that are essential to the work. There is some overlap, however. For instance, some hand tools that are important for HVAC work are also used in plumbing. You will see what we mean in a moment as we highlight some of the essential hand tools every HVAC technician should be equipped with:
- Shears – Cutting into sheet metal is a big part of HVAC installation and repair as vent work commonly needs to be altered in some way. Steel shears are essential to make long, straight cuts into sheet metal and if you can, find a good pair with an insulated handle.
- Aviation Snips – For cutting into ductwork more comfortably when a curve is needed, aviation snips are crucial. As the name suggests aviation snips were originally developed to cut metal for aircraft. But now they are a staple in the HVAC industry for making curved cuts into ductwork and cuts that require a change of direction at some point.
- Tin Snips – Tin snips (both left and right) make cutting into round ductwork much easier. They will help your technicians make longer, straighter cuts into ductwork which is usually required when making an HVAC system more energy-efficient or watertight.
- Pipe Wrench – This is one of the tools that a plumber and HVAC technician will likely have in their bag. HVAC appliances like gas furnaces and water heaters are hooked up to utility lines. As an HVAC contractor or technician, you will have to connect and disconnect these lines on service calls. A good pipe wrench therefore cannot be overlooked. The best pipe wrenches have ductile iron handles that will actually bend before they break. They last a long time and they give you a warning before they completely fail.
The career of an HVAC technician is essentially a prolonged practice is precision. Measurements of all kinds in HVAC need to be precise. Refrigerant is no exception. Putting too much refrigerant can put undue strain on an air conditioner’s compressor. Putting too little will render the system incapable of maintaining the desired temperature. A refrigerant scale is therefore needed to carry out service calls and detect leaks the right way. A good scale will allow you to use exactly the right amount of refrigerant so you won’t have to make a second service call for the same problem.
Think voltage meters are only used by electricians? Think again. Voltage meters are yet another tool that is extremely important in multiple trades. Voltage meters allow you to test for live wires and outlets before working on them. They will also allow your technicians to see if systems are putting out the amount of energy needed to power certain HVAC systems. Voltage meters are therefore very important for the safety of your team and to help them diagnose and fix common HVAC problems.
Vacuum pumps allow your technicians to suck out moisture and air out of ductwork. Why is this important? It’s important for maintenance and cleaning jobs but also for leak testing. Vacuum pumps can help your technicians pinpoint a line leak before they do something like charge the system with refrigerant; saving lots of time, money and risk.
A good cordless drill goes a long way in the HVAC industry. Make sure your team is equipped with cordless drills with all the necessary bits. One of the most important parts of a drill kit that many HVAC contractors overlook is a drill bit sheath. A drill bit sheath can help your technicians avoid puncturing holes in refrigerant lines when installing test ports. A drill bit sheath will also help prevent creating leaks in the ductwork that can throw off static pressure readings. At any rate, it is also a good idea to ensure that all your technicians have at least 2 batteries on hand for their drill to make sure they will be able to complete all-day projects.
Top HVAC Tool Brands
Now that you know what types of tools you need, you should consider the top brands for HVAC tools. After all, a tool is only as good as its manufacturer. Trust is probably the number one consideration for contractors looking to invest in heating and cooling tools, especially when it’s for their business and employees. Let’s take a look at some top brands:
Milwaukee tool is considered one of the most trustworthy brands for HVAC. They’ve been in business since 1924 which gives contractors an idea of how reliable they are in the marketplace. They are known for appealing directly to “real users” rather than just marketing their tools for anybody. Milwaukee makes trade-specific equipment that is built for durability.
Fieldpiece is near and dear to the HVACR community. They make hand-held test instruments that are crafted specifically for HVAC contractors. They were the first to offer modular expandability which allow for contractors to test the majority of parameters with only a single meter. The HVACR powerhouse now offers additional tools such as manifolds and scales.
Hilmor is another popular brand for HVAC tools. They are known as one of the more innovative manufacturers and provide considerable value to contractors. Whether you are looking for gauges, hoses, manifolds, or another type of equipment, Hilmor is going to provide a solution, and an innovative one, at that. Check out their duel readout thermometer.
Other Equipment Considerations for HVAC
When you equip your team with all the tools mentioned above, you give them the best chance to service your clients professionally. The tools that your team of technicians carries reflect directly on you, the owner of the company. Be sure you are sending them out into the field with everything they will need to represent your company in the best possible light.
As an HVAC contractor, you have to view quality tools as an investment. Equipping your team with the tools they will need to get jobs done effectively and efficiently will only benefit your bottom line and endear your company to your customers. From simple yet essential hand tools to advanced measuring equipment, this list will help you and your team prepare for the rigors of the field.