Air Conditioners Are Target For Copper Thieves, Atmosphere Suffers

aircondtioner armoured protected photo

Image creditProperty Armor

A few years ago we would write about how you couldn't walk down the streets of Philadelphia without looking for missing manhole covers, and how entire lamp-posts were being stolen in Baltimore. The recession stopped that, but commodity prices are high again and thieves are back, looking for metal. There is a lot of it in air conditioner condensers, and they are connected by only two pipes and a wire. The Consumerist says it's a favorite quick money-making method for drug addicts.

But there is a side effect that isn't being mentioned: the loss of refrigerant. When the pipes are cut, it is released to the atmosphere; most of the units are old enough to still have ozone-layer destroying freon, or R22. Older units are heavier and probably are preferred targets as well, having more metal.

phaseout-refrigerant image

Image credit Honeywell

According to the EPA,

The Clean Air Act does not allow any refrigerant to be vented into the atmosphere during installation, service, or retirement of equipment. Therefore, R-22 must be recovered and recycled (for reuse in the same system), reclaimed (reprocessed to the same purity standard as new R-22), or destroyed.

But tell that to the meth heads. More at the Consumerist

More on Copper Theft
Copper Theft Rises 67%, Causing Major Disruption to Britain's Railways
Meth Heads Go For Recycling
Better Late Than Never: Copper Thieves on FBI Radar

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