How I Have My Gear Loaded for Work
Your HVAC tool bag contains what? It’s always fascinating to observe how different HVAC tool choose to set up their tools, equipment, and service vehicles. You can learn a lot from the experiences of others, which is why I know I am always searching for stuff like this. I always try to use the best possible configuration for my work. Here, I’ll talk about the tools and equipment I keep in my service bag, as well as the specific functions they serve.
Everyone’s circumstances will mandate a somewhat different tool bag loadout based on the equipment they operate on; I can attest to the fact that it took me a lot of trial and error to find out what worked best for me. Now that I’ve settled on a reliable system, I like to travel lightly between jobs while still being able to handle the vast majority of service calls and routine maintenance tasks.
My Gear Loaded for Work
My present setup involves using several bags, or “kits,” as I like to think of them, for various kinds of labor and maintenance. As of right now, I have five tool bags set up. Now we are ready to get inside my “Everyday Carry” service bag. For any future repairs, diagnoses, etc., I’ll be using this one. I use a Veto Pro Pac MC as my go-to service bag right now. In my opinion, this is one of the finest HVAC tool belts available for maintenance jobs. If you’re an HVAC technician, you can fit everything you need for a majority of service calls inside one backpack.
Veto Pro tool bags are my go-to because of their sturdy construction and stylish appearance. It seems like the pockets were made with working professionals in mind. You’ll find standard-sized compartments on one side to hold your assortment of hand tools, and bigger pockets on the other to handle your voltmeter, drills, and other power tools.
A water gauge with a Pete’s Plug
Is an essential HVAC tool for any commercial HVAC technician who spends much time servicing hydronic water loops in chillers, heat pumps, or boilers for household water or heating. It is convenient to be able to access gauge ports for purposes such as measuring pump differentials, and flows, confirming that a portion is drained and isolated, and even removing the gauge and using the needle to bleed air.
Belimo Serice Wrench
These actuators are notoriously difficult to access and need a Belimo Serice Wrench rather than just a deep socket. Because almost whatever I work on is metric (except these actuators), I merely threw a Belimo combination wrench into my service bag instead of a heavy set of individual wrenches. Adjustable wrenches of 8mm and 10mm sizes.
Klein 4-in-1 – We covered this tool in our previous piece on 10 Tools under $30. Klein’s assortment of #0 and #00 Phillips bits, 1/8″ and 3/32″ slotted bits, and a swiveling tail cap provide for a wide variety of connection options, even for T-stat terminals and other unusual control card types. Once, I’d simply bring along one of the free “control screwdrivers” you can get at the counter of most hardware stores, but I’ve noticed that their slotted heads are now too broad to fit into the vast majority of control board terminals.
The purpose of a charging manifold is to conduct electrical current, hence short-refer gauges are inappropriate. When I go out to do repairs and maintenance, I never bring one with me. I swapped to these instead. In a separate bag, I have a set of wireless probes. I can get a read on the machine’s condition using a few short gauges or smart probes. If the unit needed repairs involving refrigerant, I would have to return to the truck to get either a canister of refrigerant or a recovery cylinder. They are compact enough to throw in my suitcase without taking up too much room, and the 90-degree low-loss fittings provide me with the greatest options for connecting the gauges to ports with limited space. The Teso Smart Probes that I use also have similar low-loss fittings installed.
Needle Nose Pliers, Wire Cutters, Wire Strippers, and Channel Locks. If you’re going to buy hand tools, I suggest getting ones of acceptable quality but not going overboard on price. With time, the cutting edges of tools like wire cutters and strippers wear out and need to be changed. These tools won’t hold up if you buy them for pennies on the dollar. Bending and breaking of the metal will occur, and the channel locks will no longer lock but instead continually slide. I’ve had excellent luck using Milwaukee equipment, but I imagine you could get by with anything from a respected HVAC tool manufacturer.
Insulated Screw Driver Set
A set of insulated screwdrivers isn’t something you’ll always need, but there are times when having one would be a huge help. To end the day, just grab a pair of Wihas. To my mind, they are not prohibitively pricey and are worthwhile.
The use of an inspection mirror is something else that has already been covered. There need to be inspection mirrors in the hands of every service technician. Providing visibility into previously inaccessible areas, this tool may help you locate the source of a refrigerant leak, check the quality of a braze job on a coupling’s reverse side, and much more. Versatile, low-cost, and easy to carry along.
I also carry an extra pocket thermometer in my purse in case I lose the one I have on me or leave it in the van or a vent.
8-inch and 6-inch crescent
I didn’t want to weigh down my tool kit with a complete set of ratcheting box wrenches, so I just brought those two. With the 6″ wrench, you can access tight spaces, and the 8″ Milwaukee crescent opens wider than any other wrench I’ve tried. This set provides me with an assortment of wrench sizes.
A lightweight and inexpensive tool, a fuse puller. Channel locks are what some folks go for when they need to pull a fuse, but I like to be a bit more careful and use the proper tool for the job.
To properly maintain and repair valves, a service wrench is a necessary instrument. Avoid using your crescent or channel locks, as doing so might round off the stem.
One of the nicest purchases I made for my service tool bag was this tool pouch with a 1/4″ Drive set. My tool bag fits a complete 1/4″ SAE and Metric set, giving me a wide range of options in a compact size. In here, too, I store a few bit drivers for use when I need to land a blow. All socket adapters measure 1/4″, a 5/16″ magnetic bit, and a 3/8″ magnetic bit.
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