One of the more recent crime trends that has hit the U.S. involves the theft of copper and other valuable metals from various sources, including the outside unit of split-system air conditioners and heat pumps. Under cover of darkness, the thieves will strip all of the copper wiring and coils from the outside compressor/condenser unit, or in some cases, they might even drive up, cut the refrigerant lines and haul the whole unit away in the back of a truck.
When your outside unit gets stolen, you’re facing a major expense, and possibly even replacement of your whole HVAC system. If the surviving inside component of the A/C, the air handler, is an older model, you’ll probably have a hard time finding a compatible outside unit. At the very least, you’ll likely never match the efficiency of the original matching pair.
Protect your HVAC system by taking one or more of the following precautions:
- Anchor your outside unit to a concrete pad that’s set deeply into the ground. Use thick bolts to secure the equipment to the concrete. While a determined thief can defeat this sort of security, it probably will require more time and noise than he’s willing to risk.
- Install motion-sensitive lighting around the outside unit of your HVAC system. Setting up an alarm system is a wise choice as well; if anyone messes around with the outside unit or its refrigerant lines, the alarm will sound.
- Buy a specially designed cage to cover the outside unit. It should have a lockable hatch to provide access for maintenance and service.
- Plant landscaping near the equipment (the sort that doesn’t lose its leaves in the winter), or otherwise hide it from the street. Conversely, if you live on a busy street, leave the unit unobstructed. Not many thieves will attempt their crime near a heavily trafficked area.
- Install the outside unit behind a locked fence. If you have a good watchdog, that can’t hurt either.
For more tips on protecting your Portland area home’s HVAC system from thieves, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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