Why is regular maintenance important?
- Ensures your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems operate safely at optimum performance. Like a car engine, HVAC systems do not maintain energy efficiency levels or operate as effectively or economically without regular maintenance.
- Increases system life expectancy.
- Reduces the risk of inconvenient and expensive breakdown.
- Validates your manufacturer’s warranty. Proof of appropriate, regular maintenance is a requirement of most warranty terms and conditions. This usually covers mechanical failure and replacement of parts. If maintenance is not carried out and a failure occurs, then your warranty will be void.
- Meets health and safety recommendations and legal requirements.
The Governments Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
Section 6-Ventilation of the HSE states:
“Mechanical ventilation systems (including air-conditioning systems) should be regularly and adequately cleaned. They should also be properly tested and maintained to ensure they are kept clean and free from anything which may contaminate the air.”
Keeping HVAC equipment clean and regularly maintained is therefore a health and safety requirement. Our last blog post, The Cold Truth of Working Temperature Regulations, outlined how businesses that fail to comply with the HSE guidelines can face serious legal action and expensive fines.
F Gas Regulations
These stipulate that you are required to check for leaks:
HVAC systems contain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are types of fluorinated greenhouse gas (F gas).
The most common F gases found in HVAC equipment are:
- R410a (HFC)
- R407c (HFC)
- R22 (HCFC)
Companies that operate or maintain equipment containing F gas must meet several requirements, including carrying out leak tests and maintenance.
Only trained personnel can carry out work on equipment containing F gases, including:
- Testing for leaks
- General maintenance
- Disposal or decommissioning
Engineers must hold a valid and recognised FGAS qualification.
Under the F Gas regulations, users/operators are responsible for stopping leaks if they occur. The engineer who services and maintains the unit shares this responsibility. They must inform the user if they suspect a leak and assist them in rectifying it.
HVAC equipment, which contains F gases above a certain threshold, is required to be checked for leaks at specific intervals.
How often does it have to be maintained?
In order to work out how often your system needs to be maintained and leak checked, you first need to find out:
- What type of refrigerant it contains
- What quantity of refrigerant it is charged with
This information is usually on a label on the condensing (outdoor) unit. Alternatively the information can be found in the O & M Manual (handover documents) provide by the contractor at the time of installation. If you cannot find the information, simply ask your HVAC maintenance provider.
Once you have this information you can use the table below to work out how frequently you should be maintaining your equipment – as a minimum!
|Interval between maintenance||1 Year||1.3–12kg||2.4–23kg||2.8–27kg||3–29kg|
|3 Month||127kg +||240kg +||280kg +||300kg +|
What documentation is required?
The equipment operator equipment, and the company that maintains it, must keep the following records for equipment requiring F Gas checks:
- Quantity and type of gas in the equipment when it’s installed
- Quantity and type of gas added during any maintenance (e.g. leak repairs)
- Details (name, address and certificate number if relevant) of any companies that install, service or decommission the equipment
- Dates and results of all mandatory leak checks
- Measures taken to recover and dispose of gases when you dispose of the equipment
Does it need to be maintained more than the minimum requirement?
Put simply – it depends.
Certain environments are more prone to poor air quality, pollution and chemicals and therefore equipment should be maintained more regularly. For example, many chemicals, products and sprays used in hair salons and barbers can quickly block the filters.
In addition, some companies rely heavily on their HVAC equipment and its’ functionalities – such as humidification, de-humidification and air purification. Medical facilities and laboratories may require more frequent maintenance to keep air quality and humidity at a constant level and the HVAC equipment maintains effectiveness.
What should be included in maintenance?
Maintenance should include cleaning and testing, including (but not limited to):
- Visually check for leaks
- Clean filters (in some systems filters may require replacing regularly)
- Check on/off temperatures
- Check pressure switches
- Check condenser coil
Who is responsible?
Both the operator and the servicing company share responsibility for ensuring regular checks are carried out and any potential leaks are reported and investigated.
It is both the operator and servicing companies’ responsibility to stop any leaks.
For more information visit the government website: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/eu-f-gas-regulation-guidance-for-users-producers-and-traders