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Securing your vacation home HVAC

Posted on: March 9, 2014

Couples who’ve diligently saved, retirees, even jet setters—these are all people who’ve reaped the rewards of hard work: a vacation home in West Volusia County. With a second home comes all the joys of being able to live in more than one place and escape a cold winter up North. But with second home-ownership comes the responsibility of maintaining the home—as well as securing your vacation home HVAC unit safe while you’re away.

Securing your vacation home HVAC

Securing your vacation home HVAC

One of the most pressing concerns vacation homeowners have today is air conditioner theft. Clever thieves scour the neighborhoods—and online sources, too—looking for signs that homeowners aren’t at home. Criminals are looking for a return on stolen parts, including the copper wiring used for the refrigerant system, just one component that commands a high value on the used parts exchange.

How at risk are you?

Theft of HVAC components is on the rise, and everyone is at risk. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, theft of copper (as well as brass, bronze and aluminum) is up 36 percent from 2010 to 2012, compared to the number of crimes between 2009 and 2011. Copper is earning top dollar on the market, perhaps due to the high number of foreclosed homes remaining unoccupied. In some communities, these abandoned homes are being stripped of valuable components like copper, plumbing and electrical.

What will happen if you do nothing?

The problems that result from theft of the unit include a costly replacement system, which can run several thousands of dollars. If someone steals the copper wires, you’ll be facing a costly repair that may or may not be covered by the warranty or your home insurance policy. Lastly, if an individual steals only the refrigerant from the system, you may not even know the theft occurred. But you will eventually. You see, when an air conditioner runs with too little refrigerant, a snowball effect begins, which includes poor system performance, higher energy bills and wear and tear on the internal components.

What’s the best way to secure the HVAC unit?

The good news is, in spite of thieves’ efforts, there’s a lot vacation homeowners can do to prevent HVAC theft.

Keep it private

First and foremost, don’t announce that you’re leaving town on social media sites. Here’s just one example why not. Let’s say you post a picture of your home’s picturesque backyard and type out a grand farewell about how you’ll miss the view and your porch. Anyone with a little technology know-how can find your home’s address on Google Earth, and wait till you’re gone to make a move.

Fake normalcy

Do what you can to make it appear as though someone is at home. If you have to enlist the help of friends or neighbors, do it. If you have to pay someone to switch the lights on and off and mow your grass, do it. If thieves can’t see signs that you’re not at home, they’ll be less likely to target your home for a theft.

Lock it up

Didn’t think it was possible to lock up your HVAC system? Well, it is—if you buy a cage or install custom fencing around the system. You can secure access to the electrical box, too. A savvy thief will want to disconnect the power before removing the system; otherwise, he’ll risk electrical shock. If the thieves can’t shut off the electricity, they might move onto the next home.

Install security devices

Make it harder for thieves to conduct their elusive activities in the dark. Install motion-sensor lighting around the unit and consider purchasing security cameras, too. If thieves make off with the unit, the security footage will help police catch them. If the camera is visible, it may even deter the thieves.

Deter copper thieves

You can buy a special A/C alarm that will sound—loudly—if criminals tamper with the copper wiring.

Track it

Another option to consider, installing GPS on the outdoor unit gives homeowners and the authorities a way to track the unit. If thieves take off with the system and you become aware of it quickly—and before they detect the device—you’ll be able to locate its whereabouts and hopefully get it back before it’s disassembled for parts.

Enjoy all the benefits that your vacation home offers, but be wise about the risks of leaving town. For more information about the safety of your HVAC system or to schedule a service appointment, contact Jacob Heating & Air Conditioning today! We proudly serve our neighbors in West Volusia County with air conditioning, furnace and heat pump solutions, as well as dehumidifiers and indoor air quality services. Just give us a call today!