Theft-Proofing the Copper in Your Air Conditioner Condenser

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You may have heard about how thieves are taking the copper out of air conditioners to sell to metal recyclers. Considering the discomfort and expense you'll experience should this happen to you, protecting your air conditioner condenser is a smart move. 

The panels surrounding the condenser are fairly easy to remove and a copper thief can cannibalize your system quickly. It's a problem in regions where almost all homes have central cooling systems, like ours, and you're especially vulnerable if the condenser sits on the ground. 

As a rule, having to replace a condenser in a split system usually involves replacing the air handler too, to make sure both sides match. Although taking the following steps will cost some money, the cost of replacing your entire cooling system is far higher than the cost of implementing any of these precautionary measures. 

  • Air conditioner cages. These are metal cages that surround the condenser and only you and your HVAC contractor can open them. Besides preventing copper theft and vandalism, it also stops the possibility of someone draining the refrigerant from your system to inhale it. Not only does this cost you to replace, the price could be exceptionally high if yours uses R-22, which is being phased out by the U.S. EPA. R-22 is more toxic to the environment and poses serious health hazards to those who come into contact with it.
  • Wiring it to your security system. It's possible to have the company who installed your home security system include the air conditioner condenser. Anyone who starts to tamper with it will sound the alarm and send a signal to the monitoring agency.
  • Installing a separate security system just for the condenser. Security system products are available to monitor the electrical charge or refrigerant pressure inside the condenser and sound an alarm when it changes. 
  • Putting security lights over the condenser. Lighting it well will discourage thieves from meddling with your condenser in the dark. 

To learn more about protecting your air conditioner condenser, contact McWilliams & Son Heating and Air Conditioning. We provide top-notch HVAC services for the Lufkin and Nacogdoches area.