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How To Protect Your Commercial HVAC System From Theft & Damage

How To Protect Your Commercial HVAC System From Theft & Damage

Just like any other piece of equipment or machinery, it’s important that you protect your commercial HVAC system from theft and damage. There are many valuable components within HVAC systems that make them attractive to thieves, just as there are many potential sources of damage that you should be aware of. 

This article explains what to look out for and how to prevent your HVAC system being stolen or damaged. 

Why Would My Commercial HVAC System Be The Target Of Thieves?

Thieves are mainly opportunistic criminals: they’ll only strike when the best opportunity presents itself. So, if you don’t implement proper precautions for your HVAC system, its risk of being stolen increases. But why would someone want to steal any part of an HVAC system in the first place?

  • Valuable components: HVAC systems have components that can be harvested and sold for recycling or spare parts. Recycling companies and junk yards, for example, often buy copper coils from HVAC systems without asking about the source. The heat exchanger unit in your HVAC system has particularly valuable copper coils, which is why thieves are interested in them.
  • Convenient to transport: Many external HVAC units are compact enough to be removed and transported relatively easily. Because of the way HVAC systems are constructed, skillful thieves are also able to unbolt the components and remove the lines and cables without much trouble.
  • They’re located out of sight: External units of HVAC systems, like the heat exchanger, are typically located outside of commercial buildings, often hidden from view at either the back of the premises or on the roof. This means that would-be thieves have the opportunity to steal these units without being noticed.

4 Ways To Protect Your HVAC System From Theft

Attempted theft or actual theft can irreversibly damage your HVAC system, making it necessary to replace the entire unit or, at the very least, invest in an expensive repair. Even if you’re covered by insurance, it still creates hassle and disruption to your business. Luckily, there are a few measures you can take to reduce the risk of HVAC system theft. 

Just like other crimes, HVAC theft is likely to occur if there is motive, means, and opportunity. While you don’t have any control over the first two factors, you can minimize the amount of opportunity a thief has by making it more difficult for them to access your unit in an inconspicuous or straightforward manner. 

Here are our tips for protecting your HVAC system from theft:

  • Have bright lights on the premises: You can deter a would-be thief if the exposed HVAC unit is in a well-lit area, or by installing motion-activated lights. If your premises are very bright, thieves will have second thoughts because there is an increased risk of being seen. This way, you’ll protect not only your HVAC unit from theft, but the rest of your commercial space as well. 
  • Install an alarm system: If it isn’t practical to have bright lights switched on all night on the premises, you can instead install an alarm system  – or you can do both! With an alarm system in place, thieves who attempt to remove the HVAC unit will trigger the alarm. This is a great way to disorient and deter thieves.
  • Put the HVAC in a cage: Putting your HVAC unit in a cage can provide protection not only against thieves, but also against impact damage, such as from a falling tree branch or during a hail storm.

How Might My Commercial HVAC System Get Damaged?

There are many ways for an HVAC system to become damaged. It could be damaged by bad weather, like hail storms or flooding – even cold temperatures can negatively impact your HVAC system. External units are also at risk of being damaged by freak accidents, such as a fallen tree branch or a car crash. While your unit can also be damaged by attempted theft, human error, or system malfunction, these are usually avoidable if safety measures, maintenance protocols, and anti-theft procedures are followed.

4 Ways To Protect Your HVAC System From Damage

Bad weather and other types of external forces can cause irreversible damage to your HVAC system. When protecting your unit from this kind of damage, think about some of the following tips:

  • Consider the location: Before installing your system, you should first make sure that the location is safe. To avoid flooding, install your HVAC unit in an area that is on a platform higher off the ground or on the roof and thus less likely to flood. You should also make sure that the location isn’t near trees or parking spaces, as this could increase the likelihood of a branch falling on it or a car crashing into it.
  • System maintenance: Flooding isn’t the only factor that can cause water damage – heavy rain is also a top contender. Fortunately, you can prevent such damage by carrying out regular HVAC maintenance and inspections, including all the various parts and components, such as the heat exchangers and the ducts. This will help you identify small issues before they become big and expensive problems.
  • Install a protective cage: You can put a cage around the external part of your HVAC system to protect it against impact damage, such as from hail storms and falling tree branches. Doing this will also protect it from theft, which, as we’ve explained, is a common cause of damage.
  • Take all the necessary precautions: 

-If you have trees near your building, make sure to get their branches trimmed if a storm is expected. 

-You should also double check your system’s wirings to prevent short circuits during heavy rains or storms. 

-You can also install hail guards, which protect against impact damage whilst maintaining good airflow, as well as flood walls, which can keep excess water away.

If you’re in the Kansas City metro area and would like to chat about your commercial HVAC system, contact us today for your customized quote.