Being an HVAC technician is a great way to make a living and is perfect for anyone looking to turn an honest day’s work into a nice paycheck. However, any HVAC tech will tell you that their solid pay is earned, not given. A career in HVAC takes hard work and requires a number of specialized tools to get the job done right.
What’s in an HVAC Technician’s Toolbox?
Read on to learn more about what’s in an HVAC tech’s toolbox and how these tools are used to perform everyday HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance tasks.
Common Tools Used by HVAC Techs
Here's a list of common tools that are almost always found in an HVAC tech's toolbox. These tools aren't just good for HVAC techs but are used by many skilled tradespeople.
- Pliers - From grabbing stubborn wires to clipping them, pliers are a must-have for any HVAC technician.
- Gloves - HVAC techs wear gloves every day to protect their hands. Because the job involves so many smaller tools, it’s important to wear thin gloves that allow you to work with these tiny instruments.
- Wrench - It’s important to have wrenches of all sizes, as each job requires a variety of pipes, nuts, and bolts. They’ll be used to tighten and loosen mechanisms so you can complete your work.
- Hammer - A hammer is used any time an HVAC tech needs to drive something back into place or to shape metal and pop rivets.
- Mask/Goggles - Protective equipment like masks and googles keep your eyes and lungs safe from small debris and projectiles that may loosen on the job.
- Screwdriver - A variety of screwdrivers will be found in every HVAC tech’s toolbox to tighten or loosen screws of all shapes and sizes.
- Tin Snips - Tin snips are very important when creating custom HVAC duct components out of metal ductwork.
- Caulking Gun - Every good HVAC tech has caulking guns and a few types of caulk on hand. It's important to seal up any seams, and the caulking gun is often the tool for the job.
- Step Ladder - An HVAC technician must often use a step ladder to access out of reach areas such as registers and grilles in the interior of the home when providing duct work cleaning.
- Extension Cords - HVAC technicians use construction grade extension cords. Good cords include ones with lighted ends, resistance to oil and chemicals, and cold weather flexibility. 12-gauge cords are generally a good bet if the cord is 50 feet long, but be sure to check the manufacturer recommendations for your power tools.
Tools Just for HVAC Techs
This section contains a list of tools that are used mainly by HVAC technicians.
- Fin Comb - When condensing units have bent fins due to the elements or poor workmanship, a fin comb is used to straighten them.
- Folding Bar - An important tool in your arsenal, a folding bar helps make precision bends when working with sheet metal.
- Manifold Gauges - Various gauges are used to find leaks in any lines, measure refrigerant levels, and identify pressures across any number of heating and cooling systems.
- Refrigerant Recovery Machine - These machines are used to recover used refrigerant and hold it safely until it can be disposed of according to regulations.
- Tubing Cutter - A tubing cutter is used to cut the copper pipes used inside AC units.
- Vacuum Pump - Creates a vacuum and is used to get rid of excess gas, air, or water from the components in a newly installed HVAC system.
Other Tools an HVAC Tech Might Use
- Cordless Drill - Cordless drills speed up many processes and experienced HVAC techs generally have at least a couple of drills, extra batteries, and many different drill bits. They're great for drilling holes in metal ductwork, wood, and even concrete. Plus, cordless drills are great for working in confined spaces.
- Electrical Testers - Electrical testers, or multimeters, are used to test for electrical currents in wires. This tool helps you understand issues with electrical wiring and keeps you safe as you complete your work.
- Reciprocating Saw - The reciprocating saw is used to cut through a variety of materials. You can use different types of blades to cut through materials like metal, aluminum, drywall, wood, and others.
An HVAC tech has many tools in the toolbox, but the most common tool is hard work. That blue collar work ethic is why HVAC techs averaged $57,460 in 2022 (bls.gov), and the reason the top 10 percent of HVAC technicians earned $82,630.
One of the best parts of a career in HVAC is that the harder you work, the more you can earn. HVAC techs are almost always in-demand. It’s a growing field, and through one of our partner schools, you can be ready to break into the field in as few as 6 months!