Getting Started in the HVAC Industry: Important Tools of the Trade

Is a career as a heating and air conditioning (HVAC) technician right for you? Generally speaking, if you enjoy a challenging job that varies from day-to-day and are not afraid to work in confined spaces, this could be a career path worth considering.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the HVAC industry is expected to grow 21% by the year 2022–a growth rate that’s double the national average for all occupations of 11% (BLS). In this sense, HVAC technicians generally enjoy great job stability and have no shortage of work. Plus, once you’re certified as an HVAC technician, you have the opportunity to work for an established heating and air conditioning business, or be your own boss by working as a contractor.

Since you’ll be working with potentially dangerous equipment and materials, such as refrigerant and high voltage machinery, you’ll need to reach a high level of understanding regarding different types of HVAC systems, their inner workings, and how to handle them. As such, you’ll be required to choose one of the following options before starting your career:

From there you have the opportunity to begin making, on average, close to $44,000 per year (BLS). When you first get started, however, you’ll need to make a bit of an up-front investment by purchasing some basic HVAC tools. You’ll use many of these tools on a daily basis while on the job. Here’s an HVAC technician tool list to get you started.

Electrical Testers

One of the most important tools for an HVAC technician is a quality electrical tester. After all, you’ll definitely be working with electricity on most jobs. You should be aware that there are two kinds of electrical testers: one that simply detects the presence of electricity and one that actually reports the output. For additional safety, you’ll want the latter.

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Sturdy Step Ladder

When working on heating and air conditioning units, you’ll often need to reach vents and ducts that could be many feet in the air. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure that you carry a basic step ladder in your truck or van at all times. Typically, a ladder that extends to four feet is sufficient, but for places with higher ceilings (and thus higher ducts and vents), you may want to go even bigger. Just make sure that the ladder can be compacted small enough to easily fit in your vehicle.

Caulk Gun

One of the most common types of services you’ll likely perform as an HVAC technician is that of sealing and repairing leaky ducts and vents. Many homeowners request this service as an affordable and simple means of boosting energy efficiency. As such, you’ll need a non-drip caulking gun (along with plenty of caulk) to seal gaps and holes that you find during your inspections.

Wrenches

When working on heating systems that connect to a gas line, you’ll definitely need a set of reliable pipe wrenches. Make sure that you purchase these HVAC hand tools in a variety of sizes, as there are many different diameters and configurations of piping you’ll run into on a regular basis.

Levels

When installing thermostats, air conditioners, furnaces, and the like, it’s important that everything be perfectly level. Therefore, you should pick up a few levels (preferably magnetic ones) that you can use on the job. The last thing you want is for a thermostat to be thrown out of whack because you didn’t make sure it was properly leveled before you installed it.

These are just a few of the HVAC technician tools you’ll want to pick up in order to prepare for your career as an HVAC technician. If money is a concern, consider picking up a few tools on this HVAC tools list here and there as you go through your apprenticeship or trade school education to lessen the burden.