Ensuring that your office air conditioning undergoes the correct maintenance, management and upgrades over time isn’t just a matter of following the rules. It creates better conditions for your workers, thus improving productivity in the process! Utilising compliant methods during installation, maintenance and repair is integral to fulfilling environmental requirements too. In fact, your choice of air conditioner could save the planet as well as help to unlock numerous advantages for your organisation and the staff within.
There are numerous pieces of legislation that relate to the installation, use and maintenance of air conditioning units in the UK. As compliance experts, we’ve been helping our customers meet their legal obligations as requirements evolve. This way, they can increase compliance levels, honour environmental commitments and transform their workplaces for the better. The phasing out of the R22 refrigerant has been at the centre of legislative changes since 2015. R22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) that, until it was banned, was commonly used in air conditioning. After being banned for use in new equipment back in 2004, it is now illegal to use virgin, recycled and reclaimed HCFCs during servicing, maintenance and repair.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at why the R22 refrigerant, which was known and loved for its cooling qualities, is now outlawed.
The ozone needs our help
The main reason that the R22 refrigerant was banned is due to its effect on the ozone layer. Like all HCFCs, the R22 gas is an ozone-depleting substance which once released reacts with the ozone layer, causing significant damage. Over time, this damage has helped a greater level of UV radiation to reach the surface of the earth. The presence of greater levels of radiation has resulted in higher temperatures, leading to increases in cataracts, sunburn and skin cancer.
It’s not just our individual health and well-being that’s being affected. Ecosystems are being destroyed due to the temperature rises, with changes equating to smaller, poor quality crop yields across many countries.
Although older air conditioning systems that use R22 gas can still be used, under the legislation air conditioning technicians like us can’t complete work which involves breaking into the circuits that contain this harmful refrigerant. With a deadline of January 2020 for the complete phase-out of R22, increasing compliance now will ensure you don’t incur any penalties down the line.
We can provide an R22 replacement to ensure your system is fully compliant. Checking for leaks on a six to 12 monthly basis is another must under the legislation as per this government guidance:
“If you continue to use refrigeration or air conditioning equipment containing HCFCs, you must take measures to prevent leaks of HCFCs, like regularly maintaining your equipment… HCFCs are hermetically sealed in equipment if any part of the product that contains HCFCs is permanently sealed shut. Most commercial and industrial refrigeration and air conditioning systems aren’t hermetically sealed. You must ensure any leaks are repaired within 14 days and check the equipment again within 1 month to check the repair has been effective.”
For advice on staying compliant, please contact our team direct. You can also download our free compliance checklist for further details.