Since 1st January 2015 it is no longer legal to top up or replenish a system using R22 gas.
R22 replacement solutions are available that provide cost-effective and highly energy efficient upgrades for existing R22 systems.
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What is the R22 Phase Out?
Under terms of revisions of the EU Ozone Depleting Substance Regulations of 2009 that became active in January 1, 2010, there are a number of provisions affecting businesses that use the refrigerant R22. Businesses and individuals who fail to comply with the R22 Phase Out regulations are subject to prosecution and severe financial penalties. This is important legislation that is deemed vital to protecting the ozone layer. Businesses that use significant amounts of the R22 refrigerant pose threats to the environment. Every entity that uses R22 should be aware of the R22 Phase Out mandate.
Who is Affected?
The R22 Phase Out applies to refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment that relies upon R22 and applies in cases where the R22 refrigerant was purchased prior to the end of 2009. Businesses or individuals who use equipment that contains more than 3 kg of R22 must immediately comply with the relatively new law.
Furthermore, as of January 1st, 2015, it will be against the law to use recycled or reclaimed refrigerant. Anyone or any business that recycles refrigerant or uses reclaimed refrigerant should check with a licensed refrigerant provider of HVAC provider to confirm that they are within the law.
After January 1, 2015, equipment that uses R22 can still be in use as long as the equipment does not need a refill of the refrigerant to operate. Additions of R22 are prohibited as of January 1.
Recycled and Reclaimed Refrigerant
Owners of refrigeration equipment must understand what they are dealing with when it comes to recycled or reclaimed refrigerants. Recycled R22 is recovered refrigerant that has only been subjected to a basic cleaning process. The process usually includes mechanical filtering or a moisture removal process. Today, it is against the law to offer recycled R22 refrigerant for sale to third parties or to be given to third parties as a gift.
Reclaimed R22 is recovered refrigerant that has been chemically reprocessed to specific standards. Reclaimed R22 refrigerant must be held in labeled and easily identified containers. The labels must contain the batch number, name and address of the reclamation facility.
Operations that use recycled or reclaimed refrigerant R22 for service or maintenance are obligated to record their activities and the means by which they acquired the recycled or reclaimed refrigerant. These entities need to submit documentation if summoned.
Special Requirements for Use of R22
Any cylinders or equipment that contains recycled or reclaimed R22 must be labeled accordingly. Additionally, all systems that use R22 currently must be leak tested. Systems with a R22 charge of 3 kg or more must be checked for leakage at least once every 12 months.
Systems that contain 30 kg or more or the refrigerant must be leak checked once every six months. Meanwhile the regulations states that systems containing 300 kg or more of R22 must be checked for leaks every three months. This equipment must also have a fixed leak detection system installed.
Those organisations that use 3 kg or more of R22 refrigerant must record the quantities used and added. These organisations must also record the name, address and contact information for the provider who services the equipment and who supplies the coolant. Records pertaining to R22 must be kept separately from other coolant and maintenance records that the organisation regularly maintains.
Any facility that stores recovered R22 must also meet certain standards. The EU standards obviously stress high degrees of accountability regarding the management of R22. Facilities that store R22 are required to register with the Environment Agency as an exempt waste facility and operation.
Notes of Interest
Most equipment that relies on R22 pertains to air-conditioning. When the law was passed, much of this equipment in use in the UK was in good shape and could be expected to perform for many years. New replacements for R22 have been approved. However, any organisation attempting to use the substitutes on pre-existing equipment should be careful It is best to have the equipment and alternative refrigerant evaluated independently, on piece of equipment at a time.
Alternative refrigerants may work on one unit but not on another. In many instances, small packaged units can be refurbished but there are no guarantees. If you need to deal with an R22 issue, be sure to contact a licensed provider to discuss all your options.
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