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Refrigeration Repair Tools

Refrigeration repair requires specialized tools which enable the technician to work safely, legally and efficiently. A high volume of work demands top quality tools which soon pay for themselves through efficiency and durability. A technician can never have too many tools–but these are the essentials.

Multimeter

A hand-held multimeter measures voltage, resistance and current on any electrical components of the refrigeration unit, such as the blower and compressor. Look for a compact, lightweight model. Prices start at around $15.

Thermometer

An essential troubleshooting tool, a thermometer capable of reading -30 degrees to 120 degrees Fahrenheit quickly confirms the temperature of the condensing unit, evaporator coil and refrigerator cabinet. Look for a glass stem encased in metal for rapid response. A magnified dial for easy reading and convenient pocket clip are excellent features. Prices start at around $6.

Refrigerant Leak Detector

Sniff out refrigeration leaks quickly with a portable leak detector capable of detecting CFC, HCFC and HFC. Look for a goose-neck probe that gets into tight places. Most feature one-hand operation. Prices start at around $175.

Refrigerant Recovery Unit

Capture fluorocarbon refrigerants in an EPA certified recovery unit to protect the environment and comply with federal law. Look for a portable unit that handles most refrigerants including R410a and is capable of vapor and liquid recovery. An 80% shutoff valve is a good safety feature. Prices start at around $700.

Refrigerant Recovery Tank

Refrigerants must be held in a refrigerant recovery tank for recycling or recharging back to the original refrigeration unit. Multiple tanks will be required for work with different types of refrigerants. Prices start at around $120.

Welding Torch Kit

Soldering components, brazing and sweating pipes require a portable welding torch kit with both oxygen and acetylene tanks to weld the copper, steel, aluminum and brass that are commonly encountered in refrigeration units. Look for a complete kit with attachments, cutting tip and eye protection thrown in for good measure. Prices start at around $180.

Manifold/Gauges

A gauge manifold adds or removes refrigerant, checks operating pressures and performs other necessary functions. Dial and digital gauges are available. Look for a set that works with high (R-410a) and low pressure refrigerants (R-134a).

Vacuum Pump

Use a portable high vacuum pump to remove moisture and air from refrigeration unit prior to recharging with refrigerant. Standard hose attachments collapse under high pressure so use copper tubing or metal hose. Prices start at around $180.

Valve Core Remover

A Schrader valve allows access to the refrigerant circuit. Remove the Schrader valve core with a valve core remover to attach equipment for testing, evacuating and charging a refrigeration unit. Look for a set with the remover and handle for a quarter inch valve. Prices start at around $40.

Service Valve Wrench

Service valves require a specialized wrench with a ratchet and a fixed end. The fixed end is used for “cracking” or slightly opening the valve. The ratchet end is used for a full open. Look for a reversible wrench. Prices start at around $15.

Non-Specialized Tools

Include a heavy duty outdoor extension cord, flashlight, adjustable pliers and an adjustable wrench in the tool box. A five-in-one screw driver guarantees access to all types of panels. Be sure to have one handy.

About the Author

Diana Lea is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin with more than 20 years of technical writing experience. She is a certified Florida master gardener and writes extensively on gardening topics for various websites.