After visiting a local site to assist with the final stages of an air conditioning installation, what I found frustrated me and I wanted to get it off my chest.
The customers are property developers and plumbers, they have purchased a house to redevelop and decided to add air conditioning as an added benefit. To keep costs down they decided to purchase a system from an online store – here comes the frustrating part…
At no point did they have to provide any FGAS certification before purchasing the equipment, it was sold with 5 meters of copper and what the customer described as ‘plasticine’ to put on the flare joints.
When I arrived, I had a ‘head in hands’ moment. Annoyingly these systems are sold to unqualified people, installed poorly (to an engineer’s standards) which then go on to cause problems for the end user and the environment.
Engineers, like me, who spend the time to learn the trade, go on the courses and pay to be accredited then have to come along and fix it.
The customer admitted that it was “false economy”, he saved some money by buying the system online, however because of their inexperience and lack of training when they installed it, it’s going to take an experienced engineer to rectify and ensure it complies with FGAS regulations which is likely to prove costly not only in time but also having to hunt for leaks in tight loft spaces and above finished ceilings.
It would be a bit like us trying to do our accounts, we can add, subtract and navigate a calculator but when it really comes to it, do we know what we are doing? No, that’s why we pay someone who is well trained and experienced. It also means we comply to all the deadlines and the tax man is happy!
Another thing to consider is air conditioning does not come as ‘one size fits all’. A survey needs to be completed to consider room size, room use (e.g server room, office, laboratory, warehouse etc), solar gain – the list goes on to determine the right application and sized unit. Installing a system that is too small for the room can create its own problems starting with inefficiency, higher running costs and a shorter life span.
This goes back to the point about false economy. Once it’s up and running, it will likely end up needing repairs which could prove costly as it will have no warranty. Having a system supplied and installed by an accredited company means you’ll not only benefit from the peace of mind it’s installed as per current regulations and is compliant but also the equipment has a warranty period of a minimum of 3 years.
Whether you’re thinking of having air conditioning installed or whether you need a service on your existing equipment always check the company is FGAS accredited.
So, what is FGAS anyway?
F-Gas is used to describe fluorinated gases which are used as refrigerants in air conditioning (including vehicle air con) and commercial refrigeration systems.
And what are FGAS regulations?
If you manufacture, supply, install, service or maintain air conditioning or refrigeration systems or are involved in the manufacture of fluorinated gases there are regulations and legislation you need to comply with. In particular 517/2014 relates to leak prevention and recovery, qualified technicians are expected to demonstrate the relevant skills to stop gases getting into the atmosphere.
What does all that mean?
In layman’s terms it means that anyone with an FGAS certificate has had to learn a number of skills and legislation before taking both theory and practical tests to prove they are competent to be handling refrigerants. Legislation also requires all systems with fluorinated gases to be maintained and leak checked at least every 12 months.
You can check for accredited installers on the Refcom website www.refcom.org.uk/refcom-register where you can search by company name or find reputable companies in your local area.