HVAC Troubleshooting Tools: What Do Your Employees Need in their Pockets?
Among the most important aspects of being an HVAC technician are the tools the tech works with. Here’s a list of some general hand tools as well as more specific tools for the HVAC trade. Anyone involved in HVAC work should be familiar with them, and well trained in how to use them for various HVAC troubleshooting and maintenance tasks.
- A hammer with a fiberglass handle is often needed for a wide range of functions.
- Pliers are used to work with wires, pipes, and bolts. Small, medium, large, and needle-nose sized pliers are useful.
- Screwdrivers are used in a variety of tasks, including prying apart venting. Choose a range of sizes, including Phillip’s, hex and flathead. Handles should be insulated to protect the tech from electrical shock.
- A flashlight is necessary to peer around in the HVAC system. Some technicians use headlamps.
- HVAC techs need a 24-volt cordless, battery-powered drill, with different bits to drill holes in closet or attic to run wires.
- Wrenches should include a crescent, with a range of sizes; also a pipe wrench for gas lines.
- Use pipe cutters for cutting through metal, including 1/4-1/2-inch.
- Use a staple gun to secure joists and foil lines for greater airflow.
- Extension cords are needed to hook up to non-battery-powered tools. Make sure it’s long enough to do the job — at least 50 feet, and maybe longer, and that it’s industrial grade.
- Crimpers cut sheet metal and wires, and for crimping connectors. These also work for stripping wiring.
- Tin snips are used for cutting metal for ductwork.
Tools for more specific HVAC jobs are:
- Gauges test pressure for refrigeration, to determine if there is a leak. The manifold gauge is one such tool. Manual gauges were used in the past but now newer digital gauges have become more popular.
- A reciprocating saw is used to cut through various materials, including drywall, pipes, wood, old condensers, or sheet metal, without changing power tools. Usually the HVAC company furnishes the blades so that the technician can keep the saw supplied with sharp blades, as dull blades can botch a job and make it take longer.
- Thermometers are used to record temperature changes to determine if refrigerant needs to be added, or if equipment is functioning properly. The HVAC thermometer is specialized for HVAC work.
- Multimeters protect HVAC technicians from electrocution. The multimeter checks for electrical current, so the technician can determine if voltage is present. It helps detect current at switches, outlets, or wires.
- Hand seamers bend, flatten, or shape metal for ducts. With this tool, the technician does not need to pound metal on a board to shape ductwork. The clamp end grabs the metal and bends it evenly.
- Awls are used for scoring the duct metal so you can get a straight cut. The awl is also useful for punching holes in sheet rock and wood, as well as sheet metal.
- A vacuum pump is used to suck moisture and air out of air conditioning lines, which helps the technician determine which lines have been leaking before the system is recharged with refrigerant. This helps avoid charging defective lines and wasting refrigerant. There are a number of different types of vacuum pumps so the technician will likely need the guidance of the HVAC business owner to make the best choice.
- A refrigerant scale helps the technician eliminate the guesswork involved when charging a system with refrigerant. Too much or too little will cause the air conditioner to not cool properly, and can also lead to breakdowns and equipment failure, necessitating expensive repairs. A refrigerant scale allows the technician to measure precisely how much refrigerant goes in the system.
- Mobile software is increasingly a part of the HVAC technician’s toolbox. HVAC software and a mobile app allow the technician to provide quick, accurate estimates, and to communicate easily with the business office or with customers. Technicians often need access to schedules, equipment records, contact information, service histories, and other data, which they can obtain with a tap of the screen rather than rushing back to the office to look at paper files, or even having to make phone calls.
Learning the Tools of the Trade
The employees who will be responsible for HVAC maintenance and troubleshooting at your business may be familiar with some of these tools, but perhaps not all. It’s a good idea to ensure your employees are properly trained by experienced HVAC professionals in how to use any tools in HVAC applications.
A quality HVAC instruction course can teach your team how to use these tools properly so they work safer, more confidently, and more efficiently.
Why not look into NTT Training’s five-day, hands-on “HVAC: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning” seminar? Contact us today to learn more!