As HVAC-R contractors and technicians, we rely on our tools every day. And as all tradies know, to do quality work, you need great tools. Investing in the best tools your budget allows is a good starting point, but whether you buy top of the range or opt for the budget brand, if you don’t look after them, they won’t last.
There’s a simple way to avoid throwing your hard-earned money down the drain: take care of your tools. The good news is, you don’t have to spend hours doing it – keeping them safe and in top shape is as easy as storing them well, keeping them clean and taking security seriously. Here, we’ll share our top 3 tips to help you keep your HVAC-R tools in great shape with minimum fuss and effort.
Start with Your Toolbox
How and where you store your tools has a big impact on their lifespan. If your toolbox is the picture of chaos, not only will your tools get bashed about more than they need to, you’ll also waste a heap of time looking for that tube cutter or wrench every time you need it.
While you don’t have to be a neat freak, there are a couple of simple things you can do to bring some organisation to your toolbox. Start with an assessment – is it the right size and does it have the right compartments for your needs? If not, look at changing it. If it’s overflowing, you may even find that splitting your equipment up into a main toolbox for everyday items, and smaller toolbags for things you only use on specialised jobs makes life easier.
Clean and Maintain Them
Sounds simple enough, but after a hard day on the job, cleaning tools is probably the last thing in the world you feel like doing. And while you don’t need to do it every day, or even every week, don’t fall into the trap of putting it off for too long. Usually a quick wipe over will be sufficient, but occasionally a bucket of soapy water and sponge might be in order if they’re really grimy – just dry them well before you store them. Your power tools will benefit from a quick blow-out with an air-compressor to get rid of any lingering dust too.
You should also keep an eye on the wear and tear and performance of your tools. Check them regularly for faults or damage. It’s worth it, because when you pick up problems early, there’s a good chance you can fix it yourself, or get it repaired. This saves you the time, effort and cost of replacement.
Take Security Seriously
Unfortunately, tool theft is a real issue for tradies. To avoid being a victim, be smart and keep yours safe. Most tool theft occurs when equipment is left unsecured in a ute. A theft could happen when you’re parked outside a customer’s home or office, in your own driveway, or even in the carpark at the shops when you’ve stopped for lunch.
If possible, always keep your tools out of sight. At a minimum, have a lock on your toolbox and secure it to your ute. Remember, the average padlock can be easily broken with a pair of bolt-cutters, so don’t skimp on your lock. It’s worth engraving your tools too, as this makes it easier for police to identify them if they’re stolen, and harder for thieves to sell them. You should also have an inventory of your tools and insure them – that way if the worst happens you’ll at least be covered.
Bottom Line on Caring for Your Tools
Tools are a tradies best friend, so be sure to look after yours. When you put some thought and effort into their storage, maintenance and security, your tools will be reliable and long-term companions.
Over to You
Have you got a top tip to share to help HVAC-R tradies look after their tools? We’d love to hear it!