6 Ways to Protect Your Building’s HVAC Unit From Theft
Building owners and managers know that HVAC units provide an extremely tempting target full of valuable metal and components that can often be easily stolen. The following guide provides six practical and effective ways to protect your HVAC unit from theft.
Why Are HVAC Units Targeted?
- HVAC units contain valuable metal: Most HVAC units contain copper pipes and coils. This metal can be sold to salvage yards and recycling companies, often with no questions asked about where it came from.
- HVAC units are often in secluded areas: Many times, HVAC systems are installed in out-of-the-way locations where they’re not easily seen. These can include roofs or hidden areas behind buildings This may improve the aesthetics of the area, but it provides an environment where thieves can operate more easily.
- HVAC units are portable: Some smaller HVAC units can be stolen whole after refrigerant lines and power cables are cut. How to Protect Your HVAC Unit from Theft
- Install an alarm system: Alarm systems are available that can monitor the specialized characteristics of an HVAC unit. Install an alarm system that sounds if the HVAC system is tampered with or damaged. You can also get an alarm that keeps track of refrigerant line pressure and sounds if the refrigerant lines are cut or damaged. Some of these HVAC system alarms can also create a loud siren-like sound if an attempt is made to move the unit.
- Put the HVAC unit in a cage: Construct a heavy metal cage around the outdoor HVAC component to keep unauthorized individuals from getting near it. These cages are usually very strong and take a long time to break through. This keeps thieves from having the time to quickly access the unit and get away. A tall fence can also help prevent easy access to the equipment, but may be easier to get through, or over, by a determined thief.
- Increase outdoor security: Boost the amount of lighting in the area of the HVAC system and incorporate motion detectors that turn lights on when movement is detected. Motion detectors can also be integrated into alarm systems. Install video cameras that give you constant visual surveillance of HVAC units and the surrounding area. Even realistic fake cameras can improve security if thieves aren’t able to tell they aren’t real. Make sure lights, cameras and other security equipment are installed at a height that prevents intruders from damaging or destroying them. If you have security personnel, make sure they take extra care to check on HVAC equipment and maintain a frequent visible presence in the area.
- Reduce accessibility: You can help protect your HVAC unit from theft by reducing or eliminating accessibility. For example, make sure that no ladders are left on the side of buildings that can allow access to the roof. If possible, move the exterior parts of the HVAC system to a more visible location or a spot where it’s more difficult for thieves to operate.
- Install a wireless GPS tracker: Put a wireless GPS tracker on your HVAC unit. If the unit is stolen, you can find out where it is, which will assist you and the police in finding the thief.
- Take steps to frustrate thieves: For example, paint copper lines a bright color. This makes the material traceable and reduces the chance it will be purchased by a salvage company. Or you can attach the HVAC unit to a strong concrete base that makes it difficult to remove.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information on how to protect your HVAC unit from theft, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!