8 HVAC Tools You Should Never Be Without

Have you ever heard the old adage, “a craftsman is only as good as his tools”?

Whether you plan to tinker with your air conditioner or launch a new career as an HVAC technician, you should always have the right equipment on hand. With proper tools, you can pinpoint problems and make precise adjustments in record time.

Not sure what to put in your tool bag?

Here are a few items you should always have with you.

1. Work Gloves

As an HVAC technician, you’ll deal with a variety of potentially dangerous scenarios. Sharp metal edges, scalding hot water, and shorting electrical circuits can leave you with severe burns, cuts, and other injuries if you don’t take the proper precautions. Work gloves can provide you with an extra layer of protection so you come away without a scratch.

Most professionals recommend wearing comfortable, well-fitted leather gloves when handling razor sharp metals and insulated rubber gloves for electrical applications.

2. Safety Goggles

HVAC technicians and mechanics spend a lot of time in humid environments with shifting changes in temperature. And those who install or repair heating and cooling systems may have to do some minor welding to ensure parts hold together properly. Wearing safety goggles ensures your vision remains unhindered and protected from flying debris.

If you can, look for OSHA-certified protective eyewear that feature side shields. If you already wear prescription glasses, find a pair that fit comfortably over your current lenses.

3. Electric Wire Strippers

Repairing a heating or cooling system requires an intimate knowledge of their electrical components. For some repairs, you may need the bare end ends of the wires to connect with terminals or other wires. Electric wire strippers enable you to cut away the plastic coating on electrical wires while leaving the wire’s core intact.

If you need to save space in your toolkit, consider purchasing a wire stripper that also functions as a wire cutter and crimper. With one tool instead of three, you can save time sifting through your bag for the right one.

4. Lineman’s Pliers

Sometimes electrical wires in heating and cooling systems can prove stubborn and difficult to manipulate. Lineman’s pliers, or combination pliers, feature a gripping joint at their snub nose and a cutting edge in their craw. This makes them a good choice for gripping, twisting, bending, and cutting wire and cable.

Keep in mind that heating and cooling systems expose your pliers to a great deal of moisture and damp. This may leave your pliers prone to rust and corrosion. When purchasing pliers, look for tools with an anti-corrosion coating, or be prepared to frequently clean your tools with steel wool and commercial cleaner.

5. Right- and Left-Handed Snips

When installing or repairing ductwork, you may need to cut pieces of sheet metal to ensure proper fitting. For these difficult jobs, you’ll want right- and left-handed snips (or shears). This handy tool can make precision cutting feel like an effortless task.

If you need to cut a curve, be sure to pick the appropriate snips for the job. Most snips come color coded to help you decide which one works best: red for left-hand curves, green for right hand curves, and yellow for straight cuts.

6. Open End Wrench

When many people envision a wrench, they often picture an open end wrench. It has a U-shaped opening that grips the face of the bolt or nut. This shape enables HVAC technicians to work in enclosed spaces because they can flip the wrench over as needed. With an open end wrench, you’ll have an easier time fastening and unfastening nuts and bolts.

This nonadjustable wrench comes in a variety of sizes. Purchase a full set of open end wrenches so you always have the right fit for the task at hand.

7. Seaming Tongs

Also known as hand seamers, seaming tongs are a versatile tool necessary for a variety of sheet metal applications. They help you draw layers of metal together for easier cleating or bending work.

When you look for a pair of seaming tongs, try to find ones with bending depth marks on the tong jaws for more precise adjustments. If you can, purchase a pair with a non-slip grip for more comfortable work.  

8. Duct Stretcher

If you plan to install HVAC systems rather than simply repairing them, you’ll want to have a duct stretcher in your kit. Duct stretchers aligns and pulls ductwork together in one hand, so you can use your other hand to place the drive cleat.

Purchase a duct stretcher with multiple spacing holes. This allows you to adjust your stretcher to span greater distances or work in the tightest corners.

Do You Have the Right Tools for the Job?

These are just a few tools you’ll common find among HVAC technicians. But if you don’t know if you have the right tools for the job, don’t hesitate to contact a professional for help.