It is important that a service truck be well stocked with a full line of replacement parts when servicing and repairing refrigeration systems. However, it is also important that a service truck be stocked with items to assist a technician in doing the job safely and efficiently.

Many times these necessities are overlooked. Below are some practical items to carry on a service truck. Accidents can happen while on a service call, and a technician should be prepared. Every service truck should have a first aid kit, which should include:

  • Quality cloth bandages.

  • Quality fabric tape.

  • Alcohol and iodine prep pads.

  • Micropore (surgical) tape.

  • Sterile pads and gauze.

  • Antiseptic ointment.

  • Ammonia inhalant.

  • Sponge packs.

  • Instant ice packs.

  • Sterile eyewash.

  • First aid cream.

  • Burn gel and bandages.

  • Bee sting swab and spray.

  • Aspirin and acetaminophen.

    A technician should also carry a Manufacturer's Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for any flammable or hazardous chemicals being carried on the truck. If the service truck were ever in a major accident, the fire or police department would need to know how to handle these chemicals.

    Other Essentials

    Refrigeration service can be a messy job at times, so it is a good idea to carry an extra set of work clothes in the truck. It is nice to have a clean set to change into before the next job, if needed. Keeping these clothes handy will enhance a technician's professional image. It is also a good idea to carry a set of winter gear to use when working in a walk-in freezer or in extreme outdoor temperatures.

    A service truck also should have a library of technical information and a listing of technical support phone numbers. This will come in handy when troubleshooting difficult systems.

    Carrying some extra service tools is smart. It is very frustrating when a tool breaks on a job. Many technicians carry an extra set of refrigeration gauges and hoses, plus an extra multimeter.

    A service truck should also have a good supply of batteries for all of the test instruments on board.

    Carrying an extra tank for a torch is also a good idea - tanks always seem to run out right in the middle of an emergency call.

    Many times there is no 115-V outlet close by to run a recovery machine, vacuum pump, or lighting equipment, so carrying an extra-long extension cord is a good idea.

    Lighting always seems to be an issue when servicing refrigeration systems. It is a good practice to carry numerous types of lighting equipment, from battery-operated to freestanding.

    Keeping an assortment of cleaning supplies is also very helpful, including plenty of rags. A broom and shovel, and even a small shop vac, will be of good use. Also keep an absorbent material, such as cat litter, on hand for messy oil spills.

    Develop your own stock of service aids and keep them on hand.

    Joe Marchese is owner of Coldtronics, Pittsburgh. He can be reached at 412-734-4433,, or

    Publication date: 12/01/2003