In recent years, scrap metal thieves have discovered easy pickings: your home’s external air conditioning unit. Metal harvested from our outdoor AC condenser are worth a small fraction of the entire unit, but that doesn’t stop thieves from hijacking a vulnerable system for peanuts.
Most of us have our homes insured against theft, but it may still be worthwhile to be proactive to discourage or prevent such an event from happening to your home. Upgrades that can safeguard against theft of your valuable AC equipment may cost less than your insurance deductible. And, preventing theft from happening in the first place will ensure you’re not sitting around in stifling heat while you wait for a check from your insurance company, and for the new unit to get installed.
If there have been reports of air conditioner or plumbing metal theft in your area, it’s a good idea to set up security measures now. Many local police departments, including the Columbus Police, have online portals you can search to see what types of crimes are being committed in your area. You’d be wise to check it out and be prepared before it’s too late.
One of the most effective deterrents to theft is a sturdy cage installed over the condenser unit. These rarely cost more than a few hundred dollars to have one professionally installed. A high-quality, strong enclosure makes it difficult, and time consuming, to steal a condenser, causing the thieves to move on to lower hanging fruit.
The most important factor to keep in mind: be sure any enclosure is designed to allow maximum air circulation around the condenser. Common cages are designed to allow this, so you would be wise to purchase a professionally installed model. If the condenser can’t expel the hot air properly, your system’s energy efficiency will suffer and possibly break down prematurely.
Also, consider installed a hinged cage that uses a padlock. This will allow quick access by HVAC service techs when it’s time to perform maintenance or repairs on the equipment.
Next on the list is security lighting around the AC unit. Not only will it prevent theft of your AC, it could also act as a deterrent to other crimes. Even the most inexperienced thieves will avoid a brightly lit area, even though it takes just a few minutes to steal a typical AC condenser.
Some of today’s home security systems have products that can communicate with the air conditioner directly. Some work by simply monitoring the flow of electricity and/or coolant through your AC, then send a signal to the security system if there’s an interruption. Sounding an audible alarm or calling the police automatically can help keep your AC system from theft even when you’re not at home.
Check the area surrounding your air conditioner condenser to ensure there is no foliage or natural growth that would allow someone to hide. Even things like lawn furniture should be relocated so there are open lines of sight to your air conditioner. An added benefit is the AC unit will be able to breathe easier without being crowded by overgrowth.
When a thief makes off with copper or aluminum from an AC condenser, that doesn’t always mean it’s a total loss. You want to give yourself a chance to recover any stolen equipment, and the best way to do that is to scribe or etch your last name and the unit’s serial number into the metal in a hidden spot. Also be sure you have that information saved somewhere for easy access should you need to supply it to the local police.
While air conditioning isn’t a necessity in our modern lives, it’s sure is a great convenience. Don’t be inconvenienced by theft of your outdoor AC condenser unit. If you need help moving an existing unit, or installing a new unit that mysteriously disappears, call Pickerington Heating & Cooling at 614-837-4026 for quick, reliable service.