As odd as it may sound, problems with your air conditioner may have you calling the police. Sometimes, criminals take advantage of the fact that air conditioner units are out in the open, unless they are window units. Air conditioners have contents that some criminals may find valuable. Here are a few ways that your air conditioner may be affected by criminal activity.
Low refrigerant due to huffing
Someone may be stealing refrigerant from your air conditioner to huff it. Unfortunately, as many as 1 in 5 American teenagers have huffed products that are commonly found in households, including refrigerants from air conditioning units. Refrigerant huffing is done by removing the cap of the refrigerant container inside the air conditioner, and inhaling the contents. This causes the person to feel high, but it kills brain cells and can lead to death caused by cardiac arrest or organ failure.
If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant and there is no leak to be found, there may be a chance that someone is huffing from it. Refrigerant in air conditioners is contained in a closed loop system. If there are no leaks, it means that the refrigerant may have been removed. Call your HVAC technician to investigate further. Then, if this activity is suspected, call the police. You may save someone's life.
Missing copper tubing due to theft
Copper is a hot commodity that can leave you feeling hot in your home when it's missing from your air conditioner. Copper tubing is what holds the refrigerant that cools the air for your home. Thieves know the value of copper, so they steal it and sell it to scrap metal buyers. Fortunately, many scrap metal buyers check for signs that the copper someone is trying to sell to them has been stolen. Unfortunately, there is no way for them to tell where the copper came from. However, most of them keep good records of who has sold them scrap metal in case the authorities come to investigate after someone has reported that their copper is missing.
When the copper is missing from your air conditioner, it will not cool at all because there is no refrigerant in the unit to cool the air. If you call your HVAC technician and they tell you that your copper tubing is missing, you will need to call the police to report the crime. Then, the police will check the local scrap metal buyers to see if anyone had recently sold the same type of copper tubing to them.
AC unit catches fire due to black market refrigerant
Due to new safety regulations and the phasing out of polluting refrigerants, substitute refrigerants can be found on the black market. The Environmental Protection Agency has not approved the substitute refrigerants that are sold on the black market. Some of them may contain propane, which could cause air conditioners to explode when HVAC technicians work on them.
Before you have your air conditioning repair technician work on your air conditioner, you will need to tell him if you put more refrigerant into the system and where you purchased the refrigerant from. If your purchase was made through anyplace other than reputable home improvement centers and hardware stores, you will want to call the police or the FBI. Keep in mind that you won't be in trouble for unknowingly purchasing these types of refrigerants; the sellers are who the authorities are after.
Now that you know of three examples of when calls to the police may be necessary, you may be better able to recognize these criminal activities if they happen to you.