Why Cleaning and Maintaining Your Air Conditioning Unit is More Important than Ever

June 19, 2021

Much has been made about the collective necessity of hygiene since the WHO (World Health Organisation) declared Covid-19 a pandemic on the 11th March, 2020. 

For much of 2020 the ‘Stay at Home – Protect the NHS – Save Lives’ slogan featured prominently on the Prime Minister’s nightly news bulletins. The hashtag #StayHomeSaveLives and #COVID19 dominated 2020 what’s trending on Twitter. More recently, ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ replaced the Stay-at-Home slogan, but the message was clear: let’s work together until we’ve beaten Covid 19.

Thankfully, as of June 2021, there is light at the end of the tunnel with Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, determined to reduce restrictions as much as possible by the 21st of the month.

Now, of course, that date is a few weeks away – and there have been rumblings that the UK government may decide to delay lifting all restrictions on social contact until they have more information about the spread of the Indian variant – but for the time being at least, Cheshire and the northwest, like everywhere else in the UK, have a clear roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions. 

Despite everything that has been made of washing our hands, wearing facemasks and shielding ourselves from the vulnerable, something that has been less publicised is that given Covid-19 is transferred through respiratory droplets, having a well-ventilated interior environment is crucial to stemming the tide of infection. 

Are we saying that without sufficient air conditioning, you face a much higher risk of contracting Covid-19? Absolutely not. What we are saying is that there has seldom been more important to service and maintain your air conditioning systems and units. 

Interested in why you should consider getting your air conditioning systems and units maintained? Keep reading below.

Why Air Conditioning Inspections Are Required 

When air conditioning systems and units are improperly serviced, dirt, dust and bacteria accumulate. This will affect the health and well-being of everyone in the building. Not only that, a well-maintained and properly serviced air conditioning unit reduces carbon emissions, improves operational efficiency and reduces cost.

But there’s more. Not only do poorly maintained air conditioning systems and units exhibit all these drawbacks, but, in many cases, they fail to comply with the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012. Anyone who fails to keep or provide a simple air conditioning inspection report may be issued with a penalty notice. The current fixed penalty is £300. A further penalty may also be issued for failing to provide a Trading Standards Officer with a copy of said air conditioning report within 7 days of request. This penalty is fixed at £200. 

So, if you’re unsure if you’ve had an air conditioning inspection report, it’s definitely, worth checking out!

When Are Air Conditioning Inspections Required?

All air conditioning systems with an effective rated output of more than 12kW must be regularly inspected by an energy assessor. These inspections must be completed no later than 5 years apart. 

Should you need your first inspection to be completed, this must be carried out as follows:

  • All systems in service on or after January 1st, 2008, must have had an inspection within 5 years of the date when the system was put into service
  • Any other air conditioning systems with an effective rated output of more than 250 kW must have had their first inspection completed by January 4th, 2009
  • Any air conditioning systems with an effective rated output of more than 12kW must have had their first inspection completed by January 4th, 2011

Who Is Responsible for Making Sure that the Inspection is Completed?

Whomever is responsible for the day-to-day running of a building is responsible for making sure that an inspection is completed. This could be a building or facilities manager or in, for example, a smaller commercial office, the office manager. 

There are specific guidelines that the person responsible for maintaining the air conditioning unit must adhere to. They must:

  • Ensure an inspection is completed in accordance with the requirements and the timetable of requirements
  • Keep a copy of the most recent air conditioning inspection report provided by an energy assessor
  • Provide any air conditioning report to any person who will be taking over the responsibilities of managing air conditioning systems, if managing the air conditioning change

Remember: should the management of an air conditioning unit be passed to another person, and the report NOT be provided by the previous operator, the unit must be inspected within 3 months of the new operator taking control of the unit

Essential Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Employers in Cheshire, the northwest – and across the UK – are responsible for making sure that all workspaces are sufficiently ventilated and that a comfortable temperature is maintained. This is clearly laid out in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Warfare Regulations) Act of 1992.

Where this is achieved by a HVAC unit or system, employers are responsible for making sure that the system is maintained in good working order by yearly checks as well as maintenance and repairs when necessary. 

Air conditioning installers and engineers must hold requisite expertise to not only install and maintain air conditioning units and systems. Moreover, competent professionals must have the expertise to use R32 (an HFC refrigerant classified by EU regulations as flammable). 

The core legislation as outlined by the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) covers the following statuary requirements:

F Gas Inspections

Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-Gases) are more harmful to the environment, having a greater effect on global warming, than carbon dioxide. Regular air conditioning system or unit inspection must be carried out by a F-Gas certified engineer in the following timescales:

  • Every 3 months for systems with more than 300kg of refrigerant 
  • Every 6 months for systems with more than 30kg of refrigerant 
  • Every 12 months for systems with more than 3kg of refrigerant
British Standard 

BS EN 15004 states that a F-Gas certified engineer must always undertake any inspection for all air conditioning units or systems with an asset number. This is in accordance with EC Regulation 82/2006 which states that all leakages, repairs and gas recovery to prevent escape should be completed and a complete service log kept. 

Energy Efficiency Inspection 

An energy efficiency inspection must be completed by a registered energy assessor within 5 years of the air conditioning system or unit being installed. This also includes any air conditioning systems or units that have been installed in all commercial buildings since 2008. 

All inspections must be carried out in-line with government regulations. Air conditioning engineers must be permitted safe access to systems and/or units – those responsible for the air conditioning systems and/or units may also be asked to accompany assessors during the inspection.

During the inspection, assessors will examine the system/unit, paying particular attention to the integrity of the refrigeration, the filters, heat exchange and rotating fans. System controls will also be examined, with assessors looking for any obvious faults, evidence of misuse, sensor placement and settings.

Remember: the inspection will NOT assess any risks to public health – although the assessor will be required to immediately notify the person responsible for the air conditioning system/unit of any immediate threats to safety. 

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

An energy performance certificate (EPC) is evidence that an air conditioning system or unit is operationally efficient with low operational costs, carbon emissions and energy usage. All buildings bigger than 500 msq that have been occupied since April 2008 must have an EPC. An EPC is valid for 10 years. 

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Air Conditioning Unit is More Important than Ever

Of course, there are obvious reasons why cleaning and maintaining your air conditioning unit is more important than ever; Covid-19 has made us more vigilant about public health than ever before. 

However, making sure that your air conditioning units – and systems – provide operational finesse is not something that’s strictly limited to the pandemic. It’s something that should be focused on whether there’s a pandemic or not. 

The best way to make sure that your air conditioning systems and/or units safeguard building occupants from bacteria and viruses, reduce carbon emissions and operational cost is to have an air conditioning engineer examine the system/unit. 

So, whether you’re concerned with the performance of your air conditioning system or unit, believe that your air conditioning system/unit has not been inspected since it was installed or if it has developed a fault and are in the Cheshire or northwest area, Climate Air Conditioning Services can help you.

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