Do torque wrenches need special sockets?

Taking apart a large piece of equipment, like a geyser, car engine, or the HVAC units in your home requires some special tools to be done properly. However, when reassembling these parts, the tools become even more unique, and the need to have some tools that fit the job is important. Seemingly the most expensive and sensitive hand tool you will be using is the torque wrench, raising the question: should you be using special sockets for your torque wrench?

No, you do not need to have special sockets with a torque wrench. The wrench itself will not come with any sockets for your to use. The manufacturers of sockets already consider that the sockets may be used on torque wrenches and have made them out of materials to handle the torque that you may be using. Sockets will only bend or snap when put under extreme pressure from an impact gun. (Source: Asking Lot)

Usually, people will be using their normal sockets before pulling out impact sockets. Not only does this save money, but it can be costly to replace a 10mm impact socket. Understanding what parts can be used on your torque wrench, what the special adjustments are to them, and why you should never extend the handle of a torque wrench is vital to proper DIY work.

Can you use an adapter or an extender on a torque wrench?

You can easily use an adapter to lengthen or change the size of the sockets for your torque wrench, as these do not directly affect the overall torque being applied. The only thing that they change is the size and length at which the torque is being applied, with the only caveat being that there is a length limit and an angle limit. For adapters that change the length of your torque wrench’s reach, it should be noted that using something too long will cause a twist in the metal, making the torque reading inaccurate. (Source: Honda Tech Forum)

This causes the reading that the torque wrench has to be lower than the torque that is applied. Usually, people who need to use extenders and a torque wrench have hardened steel extenders, as these would not twist as much as normal extenders. Most torque wrenches are already quite large in socket sizes, but some sockets can require significantly larger wrenches.

Some limits can be adapted, with a normal torque wrench being fine for some jobs. If you have larger bolts than your hand, not only won’t your torque wrench have the right level of torque, but the handle will also not be large enough to apply enough torque to tighten the bolt. If your DIY project requires such a strong torque wrench consider renting one from a specialist.

What sockets should be used on a torque wrench?

For everyday projects, you should be using the normal sockets you are using with your other socket wrenches. These sockets are usually rated to handle more torque than your wrench will be able to apply, as torque wrenches are not meant to be used with extension bars. However, if you are sure that you will be using the torque wrench daily, normal sockets may wear away faster than you planned.

Industrial locations, machine shops, and mechanics usually buy a set of impact sockets that they use on everything from their hand sockets, impact guns, and torque wrenches. These sockets are significantly more expensive and will usually last a lifetime if they are not abused. However, these sockets are significantly more expensive, and if you are only doing DIY projects will never be needed as the torque ratings you have will not reach that high. (Source: ABS Gulf)

For home projects, the torque ratings are there to ensure that you are not stripping the threads or over-torquing something going into wood. Doing any of these will mean that the bolts are not appropriately secured and fall out over time. Using a set of normal sockets will take you just as far as impact sockets if you are sure never to abuse them, which includes not using them to hammer in a stubborn bolt.

What does using an extension rod on a torque wrench do?

When you are loosening a stubborn, rusted-on, twenty-year-old bolt, the best friend you will have on your socket wrench is an extension bar. This increases the total amount of torque that you are applying to the bolt, ensuring that it comes loose, usually only failing when the bolt strips, rips off, or the socket twists.

However, you should never use an extension bar on a torque wrench when tightening something. Not only does this cause the torque wrench to have a reading that is far below the actual amount of torque being applied, but it will also break the wrench. Torque wrenches are extremely expensive, and contrary to popular belief, they can be susceptible to outside forces.

When using an extension bar, you can easily bend and damage the wrench’s internal components, causing it to either no longer be a torque bar or just measure entirely wrong. If you cannot reach the required amount of torque that the bolt requires, you can technically use an extension but will need to calculate with math to accurately guess how much torque you are tightening a bolt. (Source: Find an Answer)

What is the difference between a torque wrench and a normal ratchet?

Torque wrenches have special settings that allow you to adjust a nut or bolt’s tightness to a specific foot-pound or newton meter. This allows you or the next person to work on the system, adjust the bolts to the same level, ensure equal pressure is applied, a tight seal, and that the bolts are not stripped. (Source: Stackexchange)

Normal ratches have no adjustable torque setting, having only the option to adjust the overall direction that you are tightening in. When using ratchets, you will typically tighten until hand tight on most bolts that you are using. This can cause bolts to either be too loose or too tight, depending highly on the person that is doing the tightening.

The most common place where you will see people using torque wrenches is their cars or sealed containers. Bolts used on these systems need to be precisely tightened to the specs given in a manual, which is why hand tightening them will not work to ensure proper seals. Car lug nuts, for example, need to be tightened to specific torques but are often overtightened as people are either not aware or do not care.

What should you not do with a torque wrench?

You should never exceed the maximum torque of a torque wrench, and you should stop turning once it has clicked. The torque wrench should never be extended with a simple pipe, barring situations where there is no alternative, as you will most likely damage the wrench. Further, the wrench should never be adjusted while it is being used.

Each of these can and will most likely cause permanent damage to be done to your torque wrench, causing it to be inaccurate and unusable for its main purpose. People may often find a bolt that is just slightly higher than what their wrench can do. However, this accomplishes nothing but breaking the torque wrench.

Further, most standard torque wrenches that you can buy at hardware stores will be right at the maximum of what a standard set of wrenches are capable of handling. Using the torque wrench for things it is not meant for will have devastating effects. These wrenches are not like ratches that can handle a fair few bashes.

Final Thoughts

Torque wrenches are perfectly compatible with normal sockets. However, if you know you will be a bit rougher, it may be worth getting a few more expensive impact sockets. For everyday use, sockets that you already have will be great, and when securing HVAC systems, pipe seals, or pressured systems, the normal sockets will do everything you need from them.

Whatever you do, always make sure you know where your torque wrench is; it is one thing that people love to help you lose!

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