A relatively new, cheap and highly dangerous drug may be lurking in your backyard: the coolant in your air conditioner. This coolant, which can be inhaled or “huffed,” causes a dangerous and potentially deadly high. Luckily, you can protect yourself and your community by installing a safety cap on your air conditioner unit.
Because air conditioner coolant inhalation causes a quick high, it’s becoming an increasingly popular drug. Since the product is readily available in air conditioning units, abusers have no trouble finding access to the chemical. Coolant huffing causes disorientation, uncontrollable laughter and a stumbling gait. Coolant and other inhalants also block oxygen flow, which can lead to brain damage and death.
What to look for
Since all A/C units use coolant, any homeowner’s unit could potentially be tapped and abused. In addition to the dangers individual abusers faces, the loss of refrigerant compromises your system’s performance. If you notice repeated instances of the A/C failing to keep the home cool, contact an HVAC professional. Have your contractor check the air conditioner’s coolant levels. A lack of refrigerant could indicate theft or a leak.
How to protect your air conditioner
- Install a safety cap. Safety caps fit over the valves that release refrigerant. Fitted with a key, the caps can only be removed by unlocking them, keeping your A/C access-proof from thieves and abusers.
- Fence in your A/C unit. Be sure to keep the fence posts at least two feet away from the sides of the system. This will help provide adequate ventilation for the unit.
For more information about air conditioner safety, contact Smoky Mountain Heating & Air. We serve homeowners throughout the Asheville area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air conditioners and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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