Copper Theft – Will it Impact You

Everyday across the country businesses and homeowners are being targeted for theft, but some of the recent thefts are occurring outside the buildings as thieves are taking advantage of the increased value of scrap metal. People head out or return from work or go to open their business in the morning to discover their air conditioning unit does not work, only to find out it has been vandalized and all of the copper tubing has been removed.

Copper has long been the material of choice of many plumbing applications due to it durability, ease of use and its relative low price. It is easy to work with and is easily malleable making it ideal for use in many applications, including in air conditioners. It transfers heat quickly, which is a major function of the air conditioner and is used on nearly all air conditioners, residential and commercial, and since they often sit outside the home or business are an easy target for thieves.

Walking outside and seeing your air conditioning unit dismantled and all of the copper tubing cut out can be devastating enough. Now, you will need to call a contractor to come out and repair the unit and contact your insurance company and hope the damage is covered under your insurance policy. Not all policies will cover the damage and, if it does, your deductible will still come out of your pocket. Repairing the system could cost upwards of $3,000 depending on the type and size of unit you have installed.

In addition to the tubing, the refrigerant will also need to be replaced, which can be an expensive proposition in itself. All of the costs associated with the theft of copper from your air conditioner are on top of the fact you will not have it to use for the time it takes to have it repaired. While this will represent the majority of the repair costs, additional damage to the housing will add to the overall cost.

Why thieves are targeting air conditioners is partly because of the ease of getting into them and the fact most are located in an isolated area outside the building. Units that are hidden from view for aesthetic reasons are usually targeted while the homeowner is at work, but it doesn’t mean they won’t visit at night and take off with the copper.

Commercial properties may believe their air conditioning unit is safe from copper thieves since many are located on the roof. However, with the price of copper going for an average of $3 a pound, it can provide an incentive for thieves to take the chance. Businesses with their units at ground level are possibly more susceptible to copper thieves, but that doesn’t mean those with units on their roof should be complacent.

Homeowners and commercial property owners should consider contacting their heating and air conditioning contractor to go over the available options for protecting their air conditioning unit from theft. Each unit and each installation is different and your contractor will be able to offer the best cost-efficient means of keeping your air conditioner from being targeted for copper theft.

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