The Copper in Your Heat Pump Condenser: A Potential Gold Mine for ThievesThroughout the country, copper theft is on the rise. Private residences, commercial businesses, restaurants and even churches have been burglarized for copper. Here’s what you need to know to protect your outside A/C or heat pump condenser from copper theft:

What Are Thieves After?

Specifically, thieves are seeking the copper in the condenser coils in heat pump condensers and air conditioning units. In some cases, copper thieves will burglarize units with mixed copper/aluminum coils, despite the fact that they don’t obtain as much refined copper. Since residential units usually contain less than $25 worth of copper, most thieves will burglarize an entire neighborhood at once, or burglarize a commercial property with multiple units, which can garner up to $75 per unit. Despite the fact that thieves gain less than $100 from stealing the copper in your residence or business, replacing a dismantled air-conditioning unit or heat pump condenser can cost upwards of $2,500.

Common Protections Against Copper Theft

To deter potential copper thieves, some homeowners and businesses have resorted to the following techniques, which can be helpful in preventing copper theft.

  • Shrubs. Hiding your air conditioning unit in shrubs may make it more difficult for a thief to detect copper. However, a copper thief can use shrubs to his advantage by shielding himself from public view while burglarizing your unit. Whether shrubs or other camouflage is better depends on how much traffic passes in front of your home. If your home has frequent traffic, leaving the condenser out in the open makes the most sense.
  • Discreet location. Some homeowners try to hide their conditioning units in a difficult-to-reach area. However, one church recently had seven air conditioning units burglarized on a rooftop.

Best Protection

The best protection against copper theft is placing the unit in a cage and also placing a security system in the area. Deter potential theft by setting up signs notifying potential thieves of your alarm. Some homeowners even invest in special heat pump condenser alarms to ensure their safety.

For more information on protecting your outside A/C or heat pump condenser, please contact us at Paschal Heat, Air & Geothermal. Our company has served residents in northwest Arkansas area since 1968.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Springdale, Arkansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about heat pump condensers and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock