Easy Ways To Protect Your HVAC Unit From Thieves

hvac protectionIf thieves pay a visit to your yard, they’re probably not after your lawn furniture. More likely, it’s the condenser coil inside the outdoor component of your central air conditioner. As scrap copper prices rise, air conditioner coil theft statistics are soaring. Copper tubing incorporated in a typical residential A/C coil brings around $20 at a recycler. Not a huge payoff, but quick, easy cash—an experienced thief can remove a coil in less than 5 minutes.

For the homeowner, what’s left behind is considerable expense to restore cool comfort. Since indoor and outdoor coils are a matched set, frequently both must be replaced even though only the outdoor coil was stolen. Due to the steep cost, installing an entirely new system may actually make more sense. The best option, therefore, is effective A/C theft prevention. Here are some tips to get that done:

Make It Difficult

Thieves prefer the easiest, lowest-risk option. The most foolproof way to discourage them is to install a commercially available steel cage that totally encloses the outdoor A/C condenser unit. The lockable design allows access for routine servicing. For the typical thief seeking a simple five-minute job, however, these sturdy cages are a definite dealbreaker. In most cases, a more vulnerable unit at some other house down the street quickly becomes Plan B.

Make It Hard To Hide

Illuminate the area around the air conditioner at night with motion-sensitive lights. Be aware that vegetation you may have planted to cosmetically conceal the A/C also hides anyone who may be stealing it. Cut back bushes and hedges so the unit is clearly visible and criminals are conspicuous.

Make It Loud

Because stealth is critical when stealing an air conditioner from an occupied residence, audio alarm technology helps protect against theft with loud alerts. Some alarms sense the pressure drop when thieves cut the refrigerant line to remove the coil. Others are triggered by loss of electricity when power to the unit is shut off.