Author Topic: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?  (Read 1013 times)

slackmax

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Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« on: December 21, 2018, 06:55:33 AM »
Hi,

I noticed yesterday that one of the caps that protect the freon ports was off on my heat pump. It was sitting on the concrete slab right below the port.

I can't believe the cap rotated itself off over the years and came off by itself. I didn't remove it.

So of course I'm left wondering who took it off and why.

I googled it and sure enough, there are 2 types of life forms(?) that will remove a freon cap. : 

 1) Idiot kids who huff the fumes by poking something into the port valve, like a valve on a car tire, to release the freon, and get high by inhaling it.

2)  ****bags who collect it and resell it, or use it in their own heat pumps.


My heat pump is a 1996 model so it has whatever freon they were installing in 1996.


The heat pump still works. So maybe the "life form" didn't actually remove any freon. 

There are "locking" freon caps you can buy, I found out. May check that out.

I guess this is more of a rant than anything. I can't believe there are such ****bags out there who would do this kind of thing. (Well, maybe)


Anyone ever hear of this?





Cadman

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2018, 07:06:29 AM »
Apparently it's also a thing with AC units. A friend had his replaced this summer and learned that tamper-proof caps were a local requirement. That was the first I had heard of such a thing.

nereo

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2018, 07:11:26 AM »
Stealing freon is a new one on me, but if there's some value there I wouldn't put it past the dumb*ss thieves. 
I've lived in areas where our work truck had it cadialic converter sawn off for the metals inside, where gas was occasionally siphoned out of vehicles (including my own, twice) and where people were hospitalized for trying to steal the copper wire right out of live transformer boxes. 

It takes a unique level of desperate and stupid to attempt, but it happens. 

Did you report it to your local PD?  IME they won't do much for you per-se, but it will put it on their radar, and if its happened to you it's probably happened to a half dozen other people, and its almost always someone local.

maizeman

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2018, 07:27:27 AM »
Has your power bill increased noticeably?

If people syphoned off a pound or two of R22 per unit they could easily make several thousand dollars by hitting a number of houses and it wouldn't break any of the units, just make each one have to work harder to move the same amount of heat.

slackmax

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2018, 07:50:37 AM »
Has your power bill increased noticeably?

If people syphoned off a pound or two of R22 per unit they could easily make several thousand dollars by hitting a number of houses and it wouldn't break any of the units, just make each one have to work harder to move the same amount of heat.

The heat bill is about the same as ever.

 I monitor the temperature coming out of the vents in relation to the inside and outside temps, and it is about the same as last year.

I did notice the heat pump was making a weird squeaking burbling sound about a month ago, but I thought it was related to high water from ponding that came up into the bottom of the unit. The sound is gone now.   

Is R22 more valuable than other freon?  Do you think R22 is what is in my 1996 heat pump?

   





Cromacster

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2018, 07:52:53 AM »
Whats a ****bag and why do they need freon?

slackmax

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2018, 08:01:51 AM »
Stealing freon is a new one on me, but if there's some value there I wouldn't put it past the dumb*ss thieves. 
I've lived in areas where our work truck had it cadialic converter sawn off for the metals inside, where gas was occasionally siphoned out of vehicles (including my own, twice) and where people were hospitalized for trying to steal the copper wire right out of live transformer boxes. 

It takes a unique level of desperate and stupid to attempt, but it happens. 

Did you report it to your local PD?  IME they won't do much for you per-se, but it will put it on their radar, and if its happened to you it's probably happened to a half dozen other people, and its almost always someone local.

Some folks moved in next door last year that make me think of the Breaking Bad show. I immediately suspected them, but in the past my suspicions of people in these situations have proven wrong. Who knows, probably is them.

Not crazy about getting police involved.

 

maizeman

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2018, 08:48:06 AM »
Has your power bill increased noticeably?

If people syphoned off a pound or two of R22 per unit they could easily make several thousand dollars by hitting a number of houses and it wouldn't break any of the units, just make each one have to work harder to move the same amount of heat.

The heat bill is about the same as ever.

 I monitor the temperature coming out of the vents in relation to the inside and outside temps, and it is about the same as last year.

I did notice the heat pump was making a weird squeaking burbling sound about a month ago, but I thought it was related to high water from ponding that came up into the bottom of the unit. The sound is gone now.   

Is R22 more valuable than other freon?  Do you think R22 is what is in my 1996 heat pump?   

R22 is the older refrigerant that the world is supposed to completely stop making completely in the near future. In 2013 we made 63 million pounds of it, the quota dropped each year so that in 2018 we only made 9 million pounds, in 2019 we can make 4 million pounds, and then no more from 2020 onward, so the only supplies available will be those "recovered and reclaimed" from existing air conditioners/refrigerators/heat pumps, etc.

Most older air conditioners (and I assume heat pumps) require it to run, so the price has been shooting up as manufacturing ramps down. My old AC is was late 90s model (I think '98?) and required R22, so it wouldn't surprise me if your '96 heat pump used the same stuff.

nereo

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2018, 09:17:05 AM »
Whats a ****bag
A person with poor morals, like someone who would steal freon

Quote
why do they need freon?
presumably to sell, though possibly to use in their own refrigeration units; as maizeman has illustrated it is becoming increasingly expensive.

Not crazy about getting police involved.

Your call of course, but the police can't monitor and patrol for crimes they don't know about.  As I've said, if someone did this to you they've probably done it to a half-dozen other people.  These sorts of criminals tend not to be very bright IME, and once the police start paying attention they're often caught.  Won't help you but might help your neighbors.

slackmax

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2018, 02:38:13 PM »
OP here. I called a local HVAC place and asked about freon theft from heat pumps and the guy said he had never heard of it from any of his customers.

He said the caps just vibrate off sometimes, over the years of use, and that that was what he thought happened. I hope so !

Cadman

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2018, 08:48:02 PM »
Whats a ****bag
A person with poor morals, like someone who would steal freon

Quote
why do they need freon?
presumably to sell, though possibly to use in their own refrigeration units; as maizeman has illustrated it is becoming increasingly expensive.

Not crazy about getting police involved.

Your call of course, but the police can't monitor and patrol for crimes they don't know about.  As I've said, if someone did this to you they've probably done it to a half-dozen other people.  These sorts of criminals tend not to be very bright IME, and once the police start paying attention they're often caught.  Won't help you but might help your neighbors.

If only they were selling it...turns out it's a popular thing now for teens to huff it.

sol

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2018, 10:24:08 PM »
What equipment would one need, in theory, to harvest R22 to generate a little side income?  Asking for a friend...

libertarian4321

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2018, 04:51:05 AM »
Whats a ****bag and why do they need freon?

A thief.  A criminal.  Some low lives will steal anything they think they can make a buck on.


tralfamadorian

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2018, 08:17:48 AM »
R22 jugs are getting expensive but that's mostly for "virgin" new refrigerant. Maybe when the confluence of low production and large numbers of older units still in service happens there will be a market for reclaimed but for now? I'm with everyone else that if the cap didn't work itself off, then it was most probably someone stealing it to get high.

pjm123a

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2018, 08:09:59 PM »
I believe there are newer refrigerants now that can be used in compressors that originally used R22. A good replacement choice is R407c. Note that these different refrigerants cannot be mixed. I think that HVAC guys are supposed to tag the compressor if they change from R22 so that the next HVAC guy doesn't inadvertently put R22 back in it.

slackmax

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Re: Is Stealing Freon from Heat Pumps now a Thing?
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2019, 10:55:59 AM »
Thanks.  Did not know that.