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34 Essential Tools for HVAC Work (With Prices)

June 7, 2023 6 min. read
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HVAC pros like you have a lot of tools to keep track of, whether you’re an apprentice building your personal toolkit or a small business owner starting from scratch.

To help you manage your tool allowance or budget startup costs, we’ve got a complete list of tools you’ll need as an HVAC tech or installer, along with average prices.

All these tools cost $1,040–2,940 in total, but you can likely start with just some and purchase more as you need them. Use this downloadable HVAC tool list and our guide below to buy what you need right away and be prepared for HVAC work.

Basic hand tools

Plan to spend $210–490 for all of the following hand tools, which you’ll need for most HVAC repair, maintenance, and installation jobs: 

  1. Screwdriver set ($10–30): Keep flathead and Phillips screwdrivers in various sizes to install and replace parts, open control panels, complete sheet metal work, and secure HVAC components in place.
  2. Adjustable pipe wrench ($10–30): You’ll use this to tighten or loosen threaded pipes and fittings during installation, repair, or maintenance work.
  3. Pliers or plier set ($15–45): Needle-nose pliers and channel lock pliers are useful for gripping, bending, and cutting wires. Slip-joint pliers have adjustable jaws that help you grip objects of various sizes.
  4. Tape measure ($5–20): Use any tape measure to take precise measurements of components and equipment, whether you’re replacing or installing.
  5. Hammer ($10–30): Find a lightweight hammer with a comfortable grip, and keep it handy to secure brackets and tap objects into place.
  6. Tin snips ($10–35): Cut and shape sheet metal and other thin materials with either straight snips (to cut notches and slight curves) or offset snips (to maneuver longer cuts and keep your hands safe from sharp material).
  7. Hand seamer ($30–60): A straight-jaw hand seamer helps you bend and shape sheet metal to securely connect sheet metal pieces. Use a crimping hand seamer to join and connect sheet metal pieces.
  8. Staple gun ($20–40): This helps you secure joists and foil lines in your ductwork.
  9. Wire strippers ($15–40): Use these to safely remove insulation from electrical wires before making electrical connections for an HVAC system.
  10. Tube cutters ($15–25): For most residential work, smaller cutters (e.g., half-inch cutters) will cut through copper and plastic tubing cleanly. Get a wider pair for commercial systems with larger tubing.
  11. Duct knife ($20–30): To cut ductwork or fiberglass insulation for HVAC installs, use a duct knife with a serrated blade.
  12. Tube flaring tool ($25–50): This helps you create smooth and precise flared ends on copper tubing to help refrigerant flow properly in an HVAC system.
  13. Torpedo level ($20–35): You can use any kind of level to ensure accurate horizontal and vertical alignment during installs, but a torpedo level is portable and handy for tight quarters.
  14. Hex keys ($5–20 per set): You’ll find hexagonal screws and bolts often in HVAC equipment, so keep hex keys (also called Allen wrenches) in your tool bag.

READ MORE: Free HVAC parts markup chart (+ calculation guide)

Power tools

Essential HVAC power tools can cost you anywhere between $115 and $445 if your company doesn’t provide them for you. Here are the power tools you’ll need:

  1. Power drill ($20–80): You’ll need a drill or driver to install and fasten components for all kinds of HVAC units. You can use an impact driver to drive screws and fasteners with higher torque and efficiency.
  2. Handheld power saw ($30–130): This is a must-have for cutting through metal, wood, plastic, and PVC when you need to modify or install new components. Use a reciprocating saw when working in tight spaces, or a jigsaw for more intricate cuts.
  3. Circular saw ($40–130): A large, circular blade can easily make long, straight cuts into larger pieces of material. This type of saw is best for ductwork fabrication, trimming, and framing work.
  4. Angle grinder ($25–105): Use this to cut, grind, and polish materials used for HVAC installations.

Specialized HVAC tools

You can expect to pay between $360 and $1,045 for all these specialized tools used for HVAC troubleshooting, installs, and more complex repair and maintenance tasks:

  1. Multimeter ($30–40): This device is essential for testing and measuring voltage, resistance, and continuity in electrical circuits.
  2. HVAC/R thermometer ($60–150): Use this to measure air and refrigerant temperatures accurately and make adjustments when necessary.
  3. Manifold gauge set ($35–85): Analog, digital, and Bluetooth gauges can all help you measure and monitor refrigerant pressure levels and temperatures in HVAC systems to check that they’re working properly.
  4. Psychrometer ($60–130): This tool measures the airflow, relative humidity, and wet-bulb temperature in an HVAC system to help with accurate diagnosis and optimization.
  5. Nitrogen regulator gauges ($65–110): Keep these gauges handy for when you need to check and regulate the flow of nitrogen gas in an HVAC system.
  6. Coil fin straightener combs ($10–30): When the aluminum fins on an AC unit’s evaporator and condenser coils get bent out of shape, a coil fin straightener stores them to improve airflow and prevent coil damage.
  7. Core removal tool ($10–30): Use this to properly remove the service valve from an air conditioning system so you can replace or reinstall it without losing refrigerant.
  8. HVAC data logger ($100–500): This handheld device helps you monitor and record a system’s temperature, humidity, and pressure over time, providing valuable data for analysis and system optimization.

FREE TEMPLATE: Download our HVAC installation checklist

If you’re starting an HVAC business, account for these costs in your HVAC business plan under your startup costs.

Many established HVAC companies provide their crews with expensive, specialized equipment like refrigerant recovery machines, storage tanks, and scales, as well as vacuum pumps and core drillers—but check with your employer to be sure.

READ MORE: HVAC technician job description: free template and guide

Safety tools

You can’t complete a job when you’re hurt or when property is damaged. Budget $355–960 for these safety tools to protect yourself and your customers:

  1. Personal protective equipment (PPE) ($85–275): It’s a must to invest in proper protective equipment, including safety glasses or goggles, cut-resistant gloves, steel-toed boots, and respiratory protection like duct masks.
  2. Lockout/tagout (LOTO) devices ($200–500): Proper lockout/tagout protection is part of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. LOTO devices isolate and de-energize equipment to prevent machine startups while you’re working.
  3. Voltage tester ($20–35): Use a non-contact voltage tester to verify the absence of electrical power before working on electrical components.
  4. Safety harness and fall protection kit ($50–150): Secure yourself in a harness when working in elevated areas or on roofs to prevent falls and injury.

READ MORE: HVAC inspection checklist guide (+ free checklist download)

Pro Tip: See what tools every HVAC pro needs to keep handy by joining Join Walter Washington, owner of Washington A/C & Heating, on a tour of his HVAC van setup.

Walter’s van is fully stocked with $10,000–15,000 worth of the professional tools and equipment you’ll need for quick fixes or major HVAC repairs. You’ll find out what tools to keep around—and where to store them—to save time, stay safe, and get the job done right.

Business management tools

If you’re managing or dispatching HVAC crews, tools that streamline those processes are just as important as drills and multimeters.

Consider these business management tech tools that help you respond service calls faster and keep customers happy:

  1. Fleet management software uses GPS to locate, monitor, and track the efficiency of your work vehicles. FleetSharp is a great option for mapping out more efficient routes and reducing fuel costs. This tool’s pricing varies by number of vehicles.
  2. HVAC service software like Jobber provides one platform to schedule and assign service calls quickly, dispatch technicians on time, manage client details, and stay on top of invoicing—without the paperwork and administrative headaches. Jobber is available at a range of prices, but you can try it for free with a 14-day trial.

Originally published in February 2021. Last updated on June 7, 2023.

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