Air Conditioner Theft: It Can Happen To You!

You've probably seen or read at least one news clipping in the past six months about theft from homes and businesses.  I'm not talking about TVs or gaming systems but rather air conditioners, water heaters, copper guttering, etc.  You might think, "Why would someone steal an air conditioner?" or "My air conditioner would never get stolen because I live in a nice neighborhood."  Fact is: it can happen to anyone.  There are, however, a few things that can be done to deter someone from stealing your HVAC unit.

First of all, why would somone steal an air conditioner?  The answer is because people try to get money for the copper and scrap metal.  It really doesn't matter what city, town or neighborhood you live in, an air conditioner is vulnerable.  We get calls from homeowners, landlords and business owners who have experienced this.  Your insurance company may cover the loss but you'll still have a deductible to pay and the inconvenience of being without air conditioning!  While nothing will guarantee that this won't happen to you, there are some things you can do to deter someone from your home or business:

  • Have a motion light around the air conditioner.  While theft doesn't happen only at night, lighting is helpful.
  • Have a cage installed around the air conditioner.  Cages are typically bolted to a concrete pad or are concreted into the ground.  They are typically made of steel and come with padlocks.  Again, this is not theft-proof, but a thief may not target your home if they have to take the time to try to cut or damage the cage in order to get to the air conditioner.   
  • Look at having an alarm system installed on your air conditioner.  There are a couple of types of alarms.  One is similar to a car alarm.  If the air conditioner is tampered with, it will set the alarm off creating a loud noise.  While it doesn't notify the police, a thief isn't likely to stick around while an alarm is sounding!  Another type of alarm is one that can be wired into your security system.  If the alarm is wired into your home or office security system, it would set the security system off just like it would if someone were to enter your home.

It's unfortunate that this topic even has to be discussed.  However, being pro-active might save your air conditioner.

Is a New Lineset Necessary When Replacing an Air Conditioner?

We provided a quote for a new air conditioner recently and the customer asked this:  "All I want is a new air conditioner.  What is a lineset and why did you quote that?"

That's a great question!  First, the lineset is what carries the refrigerant from the coil in the air conditioner to the coil in the furnace.  Now, why would we quote a new lineset with the new air conditioner?

You may have heard that there are two types of refrigerant.  If you have an older air conditioner, it likely uses R-22 refrigerant.  New air conditioners use R-410 refrigerant.  R-22 is being phased out by the EPA because there is chlorine in it which contributes to ozone depletion if it leaks out of the system.  Eventually, all air conditioners and heat pumps will use R-410 refrigerant.  R-410 is an ozone friendly refrigerant.

These two types of refrigerant contain different oils and do not mix well.  R-22 contains mineral oil which doesn't mix well with POE oil, which is in R410.  Therefore, running R410 refrigerant through a lineset that once carried R22 refrigerant will eventually be detrimental to the system.  It will ultimately shorten the life span of the compressor.    Ideally, the best option is to run a new lineset so there's no chance of the two different oils mixing.  If a new lineset is not an option for whatever reason, a flush can also be done.  This is a chemical used to flush out the R-22 that ran through the lineset.  It is effective, however, it's not likely that 100% of the oil will be flushed out.  Therefore, we recommend a new, clean lineset when possible.

During the quoting process, the technician will look at the placement of the current lineset to determine if a new lineset can be run.  There may be some measures that have to be taken, such as a new bulkhead, to install a new lineset.  In the end, this is still important to consider the lineset to ensure that your new system is running top-notch for years to come.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the two types of refrigerant, the phasing out of R-22 or linesets!