Air Conditioner & Heat Pump Theft – How to Protect Yourself

Strange as it may sound, heat pump and air conditioning theft is a serious threat that could leave you without cooling in the middle of a sweltering Northern Virginia summer. Heat pumps and air conditioners both contain copper coils and other copper parts. The continued high price of copper has encouraged thieves to steal copper from outdoor heat pump or air conditioning condensing units to sell as scrap.

If your outdoor unit falls victim, you’ll need to call in a technician to replace the missing parts and clean up the refrigerant contamination. If, as often happens, thieves steal the entire condensing unit, you will have to replace the entire air conditioner or heat pump.

Taking a few precautions will help you avoid all that expense and hassle:

Impede access: The simplest way to reduce the risk of heat pump and air conditioner theft is to install a fence around your outdoor unit. Specially designed cages are also available for purchase. If your air conditioner is on the roof, make sure there’s no easy way to climb up.

Install a refrigerant alarm system: Depending on the design, an alarm will sound either when a sudden refrigerant loss is detected or when both refrigerant and power loss are detected. Some models also send a signal to the police.

Post an alarm sign: Whether or not you plan to install an alarm, consider putting up a sign warning would-be thieves that your unit is protected by an alarm. To get one of these signs, contact a heating and cooling professional. It’s one of the cheapest, easiest ways to prevent heat pump and air conditioner theft.

Use a motion detector: A properly positioned motion detector will alert you to anyone moving around your outdoor unit and will switch on a floodlight to scare off the thief. With a motion-activated security camera, you also can capture video of the intruder.

Consider GPS technology: Some advanced theft-prevention devices use GPS satellite technology to monitor for unauthorized entry to the area around your outdoor unit. If any is detected, you and the police will be notified immediately.

Implementing these simple precautions and raising your awareness can ease your mind and keep your home comfortable all year round!

About Modern Mechanical and One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning: Serving Loudoun, Fairfax, Northern Virginia and the entire Washington, D.C., region with prompt, punctual, friendly, technically superior home services since 2009, including HVAC repair and replacement, diagnoses and parts, and indoor air-quality analysis. Call One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning today at (571) 421-1888 or make an appointment at Please stay connected with One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning on our Facebook page at to keep up with how you can help us continue to help our community and our world.

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