Technicians relatively new to the Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) business often stuff their vehicles with tools and gadgets in an attempt to be prepared for every eventuality on the job. While this is laudable from the preparedness aspect, it is very likely that many or even most of those handy tools will go unused for months or years. To save time and guesswork, here is a list of some truly useful tools that every HVAC technician will make use of at some time on the job.
1) A Multi-Purpose Meter
At the top of the list of required tools for an HVAC technician is a good multi-purpose meter. At various times a precise reading on home air temperature will be important, as well as other factors such as the humidity, so the effectiveness of an air conditioner or dehumidifier can be tested. Meters can also measure overall air quality and provide measurements on particulate matter, carbon dioxide and other gases.
2) A Voltage Meter
The level of electricity coming from an HVAC unit such as an air conditioner, furnace or heat pump is good to know, particularly for safety reasons. This can be measured with a good multimeter, which measures voltage, current, and resistance, and is available in either analog or digital formats.
3) A Leak Detector
Leak detectors can save a lot of time and effort for a technician because they can quickly pinpoint the location and severity of a leak in an HVAC system. Recent technology advances in this area allow technicians to use thermal imaging devices for leak detection, though these devices may be a bit more pricy.
4) A Hex-Head Nut Driver
Nowadays, many HVAC systems are constructed using metric sizing on bolts and screws, so having a hex-head nut driver is becoming a practical necessity on the job. Obviously, since there can be an enormous variety in the size of fittings, the greater number of sizes in your toolbox, the greater the likelihood of having the right tool for the job.
5) A Refrigerant System Analyzer
One very common duty of all HVAC specialists is having to deal with air conditioners. This being the case, a tool for measuring refrigerant level is essential, since one of the most common problems associated with cooling systems is that the refrigerant level has dipped too low to be effective. A refrigerant system analyzer will do the trick, and provide other useful benefits as well.
Some of these tools, such as the multi-purpose meter, the refrigerant analyzer, and the leak detector, are very useful for homeowners to have on hand, since they can help narrow down a problem when calling or consulting the technician about an issue. But in general, anything other than taking simple measurements and doing simple maintenance should be left up to the professionals, since all modern HVAC systems should be handled with care and respect.
Everyone is aware of how HVAC systems these days are becoming more and more efficient, and using less energy, but it isn’t just the systems themselves that are improving. Relatively new technologies like thermal imaging are helping to pinpoint problem spots faster and more accurately, so technicians have to educate themselves on both the newer tools of the trade and the newer kinds of systems as well.
One prime example of new HVAC system technology is our an old friend, the heat pump. It still stacks up very nicely against air conditioners, which have a single function as opposed to the dual capability of the heat pump. Some of the newest heat pumps are now equipped to be effective even in temperatures near zero degrees, overcoming what was seen in the past as a drawback to using them as a heating solution.