Chiller servicing and FGas : What does this mean for the operator and their service agents?

High capacity water chillers form the back bone of many large scale cooling systems servicing large offices, data centres, processes and many others. Whilst increasingly VRV/ VRF systems are being utilised in many small to medium sized offices, water chillers are still extensively used in larger systems. Advantages include centralisation of the primary refrigeration system to one accessible place- here leak testing and containment procedures, as well as engineering activities can be carried out more easily with less disruption to business activities.

Planned chiller servicing and FGas compliance systems are critical to maintaining these machines in optimum running order, and for the operator/ owner to meet their regulatory obligations in terms of the FGas regulation No. 842 2006. Regulation has had a defining influence in the refrigeration industry over the last 25 years, not only on working practices, but also greatly influencing the design and development of new technologies.

The Montreal protocol 1987 was the first to set in place a structured phase out of chemical substances (CFC’s) that were shown to deplete the Ozone layer, in the process making much equipment obsolete. The following Kyoto Protocol agreement ratified in 1997 addressed concerns about the potential global warming effects of certain gases including CFC’s extensively used in the refrigeration industry.

In a further tightening of regulations regarding the global warming potential of F-gasses covered by the Kyoto Protocol, the F-gas regulation (EC) No 842/2006 was introduced by the European Union to help meet their obligations as set out in the Protocol- thus, the principal objective of the F-gas regulations is to contain, prevent and thereby reduce emissions, direct and in-direct, of F-gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol.

Indirect emissions of CO2, ie, additional emissions generated by in-efficient machinery, are now an important consideration of all our chiller maintenance programmes. Direct emission (leaks to atmosphere) risks are reduced and controlled by regular leak testing, site refrigerant logging and protocols to be followed if leaks are identified- repaired.

The F-Gas regulations stipulate the following minimum leak testing regimes

  • At least once a year for systems containing over 3kg of refrigerant.
  • Systems containing over 30 and less than 300kg of refrigerant in any one refrigeration circuit must have a documented leak test twice a year.
  • Systems containing over 300kg in any one refrigeration circuit must be tested four times in one year.

The above inspections can be halved by having a maintained refrigerant leak detection system in place. For refrigerant systems containing over 300kg it is a requirement that a leak warning system is fitted, so by default generally these systems only require inspection twice yearly, although it could be argued that generally as a duty of care, equipment holding such large quantities should be serviced quarterly, including leak testing. It should also be remembered that in such systems, loss of refrigerant and/ or running in-efficiencies can lead to large financial losses. In short, good servicing can pay for itself.

So, as can be seen there are important regulatory requirements and financial implications for all operators of air conditioning systems. Customers who take the long view appreciate that good servicing practices can ultimately save considerable energy, material and breakdown costs. That’s not to say that the current financial climate does not have an impact on what could possibly be seen as a burden. This makes it all the more important to employ a technically competent company that has a good understanding of all the issues, which can advise and tailor maintenance programmes to suite the needs of a client.

Advanced Cooling Solutions offer chiller servicing programmes for all makes, including amongst others, Carrier, Trane, McQuay, Climaveneta, Geoclima, Daikin and many more, including chillers fitted with the new Turbocor compressor. We can tailor a chiller servicing and FGas maintenance programme to meet your individual on site technical, financial and regulatory requirements.

We maintain chillers serving all applications including building air conditioning, process cooling, data centre cooling systems and many more.