need help choosing basic tools.
My name is Brian and I have 25 years in the oil heat industry. I'm currently studying HVAC at our local community college. I am 2 semesters away from a certifiate and 5 semesters away from an associates degree. I also have my universal epa certificate.
I've been out of work since the beginning of April due to a bicycling accident. This Monday I'm going back and will be riding with the company's main AC tech. My main question to you guys is what are the basic tools I'll need to do service. I'm just looking for what I would need walking up to the job.
When I do oil service I carry a 5 gallon pail with a bucket boss drape and a ton of tools in one hand. I also carry a smaller pail that holds my push-pull pump, strainers, filters and oil bucket in the other hand. I don't think I'll need near this much for AC but I'm just starting.
I know that my 6in1 screwdriver opens up the compartment to the condenser. I have my gauges, a fieldpiece multmeter along with a clamp-on temperature probe and a gallo gun. I don't know what tools or equipment the company supplies. So what else do I need to carry and how do you guys like to carry your tools.
I carry a six way, sidecutters, a 6" Bahco adjustable wrench with the pipe wrench back, my meter with temp probe, a few wire nuts in my pocket, and a set of 5 jumper wires with clips and a t-stat screw driver when I start an unknown call.
That is usually enough to assess the issue.
Then I return back to the van and get whatever part(s) or other tools needed.
Unless it is an oil call. Then I grab my entire oil box, as I have a separate set of tools all packed neatly into a metal three drawer tool box, with a few common parts, just for oil.
Hey Brian- I too am new to HVAC work and could benefit from this too. Here's what I carry so far:
Set of JB gauges with low-loss valves (or at least get low-loss fittings)
UEI hvac meter with temp clamp (ideally your meter has capacitance too)
basic set of wrenches or at least an adjustable wrench
basic set of sockets with extensions (for reaching deep in to condenser fan brackets,
good gloves (already froze a couple fingers so WEAR gloves lol! Also why I got the low-
loss valves, not to mention it's EPA recommended).
Fin comb/brush for cleaning and straightening fins on coils and evaporators. Our condensers are thru-the-wall and collect a lot of debris (especially the first floor apartments) so frequent brushing and flushing out is important.
I also have a shrader valve core removal tool - not too expensive and allows you to remove/replace bad and leaky valve stems without losing refrigerant. So far I have to say at least 80% of the calls I have done where a charge was needed, the valve stem was loose or faulty. Tightening or replacing the stem stopped the leak, hopefully
Oh and after saying that, a leak sniffer comes in handy (I don't have my own yet but so far i have access to an old TIF one we have in our shop)
I used to use a bucket buddy but it's too awkward and the pockets on the outside, the tools keep catching on stuff. So I set up a separate tool box for my HVAC stuff (got a maybe 24"w x 12"d x 12"h plastic box with a tray, put all the small tools like the core tool and etc in the tray, and the others in the bottom. Works nice for now.
Hope that helps somehow, and I look forward to seeing what others recommend too!
Thanks for the info Chris. I know we will get great advice here. Looks like we won't have to wait long either!
Originally Posted by Carbonite
Thanks sonewalred. I'm making a list of the suggestions here. Glad to know I'm not the only oil heat guy here.
Originally Posted by stonewallred
BTW, I see you are down in North Carolina. Is there much oil work down there? I'm on Long Island. It's said that this area has the highest concentration of oil heat customers in the US. But it has really slowed down in the last few years. I guess the economy and the new equipment is the cause of this.
There are old oil furnaces around, along with oil fired boilers in some churches.
I ain't an "oil man", but I do work on them.
Winter has been slow here for the last couple of years.
A huge rush right at the beginning of heating season then slower than molasses running up hill in the dead of winter.
But summer has been rolling the same time period.
So it breaks even.
Thanks for the link SmallBlockCoup. I've seen it before but couldn't find it. I'm bookmarking it this time.
Originally Posted by SmallBlockCoupe
Originally Posted by earlburnermann
That thread helped me figure what were the most common tools that techs had so I could make good decisions on what tools I should get while I was still in school.
7/16,1/2,9/16 combo wrenches
3/8x7/16 open wrench
10" and 6" adj.wrenches
10" or 12" channel locks
6" or 8" needle nose
1/4,5/16,3/8 and 5/32 nutdrivers
several GOOD screwdrivers imho Klein may be the best there is
AA mini mag flashlight
folding allen key set
decent meter to read volts, amps,continuity and temperature (I use several as a one size fits all doesn't really)
tubing cutter (large and small)
Beyond that,the skies the limit.Whether you do any installation work or light sheetmetal will also affect what you may chose to invest in.Better to not buy a cheap tool of any kind as they tend to fail when you need them most.Hope this helps and sorry for the length of this post.
I am going to repeat alot of what has been suggested but I have a tool bag backpack set up that I have about 95% of the tools I use when running service.
A small tackle box with wire nuts, crimp connectors, screws.
an impact drill
11in1 screw driver
1/4, 5/15, 3/8 nut drivers
phillips and standard screw driver (small controls driver, 5" and 6" driver)
2 cresent wrenches
2 channel locks
refrigeration service wrenches
multimeter with amp clamp and temp probes
2 stick thermometers
folding allen keys
electical tape, scotch brite, and a small rag
and when I didn't have my truch and was riding with someone I also had
a socket set
a pair of tin snips
a tubing cutter
This got has served me very well as a basic set up. Once you get your own truck you will aquire tools like crazy, atleast I have. O yeah, a flash light and folding razor knife are always a good thing to keep on yourself. Good luck!
I recently started out and this is one of the biggest issues I had too. Its hard to know what you need until you don't have it but that doesn't help much does it lol. I will also repeat much of the same things that have been said but my advice to you is get the basics immediately, even if they aren't a great brand. After you get an idea what you need and even more what tools you like the best, invest in them over time. Buying a full stock of tools will quickly deplete your bank account so buy cheap now and work on getting the good stuff.
These are the things I carry in my pockets or on my person at all times to every call in every situation. (Quite often even when I'm not at work.)
Flashlight, and a good one, this is not some place to skimp
Lutz 6-in-1 (includes 2 flat 2 philips 1/4 and 5/16 nut runner)
Folding razor knife (a must for every occasion)
Volt alert "pen"
Ball point pen
Stat driver with schrader tool on the other end
6" crescent wrench
cheap stick type digital "kitchen" thermometer
These are the things I carry in my "go-to" bag, the one I grab out of the van the most often. The most important thing is a good tool bag with a shoulder strap, but that preference is up to you.
-Mulitmeter with temp probes that includes amp probe and does capacitance
-Various screwdrivers including several flats and philips as well as some small controls screwdrivers
-Various wrenches from 1/4 up to 9/16
-Small socket set from 1/4 to 9/16 and corresponding ratchet
-Combo wire strippers/cutters/crimpers
-Small divided box with wire nuts, crimp connectors, screws and the like
-Allen key set
-16' tape measure
-1/4, 5/16, 3/8 nut runners
-A philips, flat and 1/4, 5/16 "stubby" screw drivers (more handy than you would think)
I most often use a small fraction of those per day but thats a good idea of what you need to be prepared. Obviously a good set of gauges and a good pair of gloves are important and I have also found a good pair of sunglasses to be important too. One thing I didnt include but I use everyday is a 12v impact driver, you can get by without one but once you use one you will never go back.
Every thing else I leave in the truck almost all the time. A pipe wrench and pvc cutters get good use too but those aren't imperative right away. Like I said, get all of this stuff and then replace them along the way with better versions. Once you get in the field you will know what works best for you. Most of these tools can be had for pretty cheap, the specialty stuff gets expensive.
The only true knowledge is the pursuit of knowledge