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Securing AC condensers from thieves

Securing AC condensers from thieves

Nothing hurts a landlord’s pocketbook or pride like being the victim of theft or vandalism. Prior to PEX plumbing the main security issue facing landlords and homeowners in St. Louis and around the country is copper theft, but there are many other temping targets at any property. One particularly expensive and “easy to steal” component are AC condensers.

With thousands of dollars of materials and labor tied up in every condenser, the impact of their theft can be tremendous. Especially when they are stolen during the middle of the summer when high temperatures make living without AC more than just an inconvenience.  Thankfully, there are two very simple ways to protect yourself. One is to put your condensers on the roof of the property. What thieves can’t easily reach, they are unlikely to steal. Unfortunately this method is not very cost effective if you have an existing HVAC system and takes forethought and more expensive installation.

Another tactic, which is more adaptable, is to enclose your condensers in a cast-iron cage to deter theft. Not the most beautiful method of protection, but effective nonetheless. There is no 100% surefire way to stop a determine thief, but the more difficult it is to target you condensers, the less likely you are to be victimized. If you employ this added security, as well as traditional security methods such as property security lighting, you should be able to rest more easily.

If you are interested in installing one of these cages at your property, it will set you back about $250 for each condenser (installed). I’ve heard good things about Superior Security Iron (314-382-3081), but just about any iron shop or HVAC contractor should be able to point you in the right direction. As with anything, you will likely find bulk discounts if you shop around. Might be a worthy investment for a little peace of mind.


Matt Kastner

Matt Kastner is an Investment Real Estate Consultant at St. Louis Real Estate Society in St. Louis, Missouri. He is also develops properties on the side through Threshold Properties. When he isn't representing investors in the purchase or sale of multifamily properties, rehabs, foreclosures and other income producing properties, he is often taking on rehab projects himself. He lives in South St. Louis and has been in the real estate business since 2004.

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5 thoughts on “Securing AC condensers from thieves”

  • Dave Lewis

    April 15, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    When there’s mention of putting a condenser unit on the roof, I always thing of something I learned as an A/C repairman and installer (years & years ago..

    When the condenser is above the evaporator ( the coil in the furnace), the oil in the refrigerant from the compressor tends to get trapped in the lower parts of the system. This deprives the compressor of the oil which is essential to the longevity of the machine.

    It’s necessary to install *oil traps* in the suction line to collect that oil in “puddles” so the returning freon can move it back to the compressor in the condensing unit on the roof. These will be little “S” shapped bends in the copper pipe, much like the traps on drains. These should be bent into the copper at about 10 foot intervals. It’s also good to have a bit more compressor oil put in the system during the original installation. There is a trick to doing this, and any competant A/C mechanic should know all about this. They may not be doing this these days, though, because it’s a good way to get to sell another unit sooner.

    Good luck to all.

    Dave Lewis
    in Soulard

  • Jeff Nelson

    September 24, 2008 at 10:44 am

    I build cages – Its called the con. cage . I have it listed on craigs list Kansas city under general!!! It is nicer than the one pictured here!! also not as easy for theifs to get in to but still tec freindly!!
    There are pics on craigs list along with the info! There selling like hotcakes!!

    Jeff Nelson


      June 10, 2012 at 8:17 am



  • David

    March 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Gorilla Security Strap

    Guard against vandalism and accidental damage.

    On site measuring, unique anchoring methods allow for serviceability. These Gorilla Security Straps are our top sellers due to its simple but effective design. Unlike other security cages, These straps can be anchored to a concrete pad or wall mounted and removed and reinstalled in minutes .

    Gorilla straps can be custom made to any sizes or configuration. Exclusive folding capabilities make for inexpensive nationwide shipping.

  • jeff nelson

    July 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Look up thanks Jeff nelson sorry for the long delay!


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