R22 Replacement

R22 Replacement: If your air conditioning system is over 15 years old, it might contain R22 gas – read the below to help you avoid any costly surprises.

R22 Phase out and illegal usage

R22 fluid is a cooling fluid which is used in some refrigeration and air conditioning systems. Since 1 January 2010, it has been illegal to use virgin R22 replacement fluid in the maintenance and servicing of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. However, the continued use of recycled or recovered refrigerant has been permitted and therefore, the maintenance of these systems has remained relatively simple for landlords and tenants, dependent on who has the responsibility for the maintenance under the lease.

However, as of 1 January 2015, the use of this substance has been banned completely. This could have a big impact on both tenants and landlords as we outline below.

Practical points for tenants:

1. If a tenant is about to take a new lease or extend a lease, it should think very carefully about the air conditioning system and the length of the term, and what will be required of it at lease termination.
2. If a tenant already has a lease which expires post 1 January 2015 and has an air conditioning system using R22, it should consider now whether the system can use a drop-in replacement gas as an alternative to R22 to save itself costs on termination of the lease.
3. All tenants should examine carefully whether it is themselves or the landlord who is responsible for the air conditioning system in their building.

Landlords will also be impacted by the change in legislation, particularly those who own multi-let buildings and who may therefore be responsible for the air conditioning system and who try to charge any repairs back through the service charge.

Practical points for landlords:

1. Landlords may find that tenants are more reluctant to take extensions of leases in buildings with R22 systems and may be more likely to operate break clauses to avoid the potential increase in dilapidations liability.
2. Landlords should also check leases to see whether they are responsible for the air conditioning system and whether there is scope to recover this through the service charge. If so, they should consider the termination dates of the leases to ascertain the best time to undertake replacement work to avoid arguments from tenants whose leases are close to expiry.
3. Landlords should ensure that their appointed building surveyor is aware of the upcoming change in legislation to ensure nothing is missed on dilapidation inspections.

What are your options?

Total System Replacement
This involves replacing all parts of your air conditioning system, including outdoor and indoor units, pipework and electrical wiring. It ensures you have the most up to date equipment with the lowest running costs and is the best long term solution to the R22 Phase Out.
In some cases it is impossible to re-use existing components and in these cases the only available option is a total system replacement. However, this approach requires the highest initial capital outlay and increases the length of time it takes to complete the installation. It is worth exploring all options beforehand to make sure the one you choose is right for you.

Replace Outdoor and Indoor Units
By making use of your existing infrastructure, including pipework, wiring and power supply, you could cut installation costs by up to 50% and minimise the impact on your organisation. This approach significantly reduces installation time and comes very close to matching the benefits of a complete replacement, giving you improved performance, running costs and energy efficiency.
Major manufacturers offer advanced partial replacement options that involve fitting state of the art units into your existing system. It also guarantees that your piping network is clean, suitable for reuse and free from the banned R22 refrigerant.
You can also take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade your system, increasing the capacity or number of units. This will bring your existing infrastructure up to speed with your organisation’s current needs. We will work with you to design a system that is truly fit for purpose, saving you money by using the foundations you already have in place.

Use a ‘Drop-In’ Refrigerant
Drop-in refrigerants mimic the function of R22 in old systems without the legal implications or negative environmental impact. However, the term is somewhat misleading. In reality, it is impossible to use a substitute refrigerant in an air conditioning system without complex re-engineering and recommissioning. Taking this approach will diminish your system’s reliability and performance, leaving you at risk of system failure or unplanned downtime. Maintaining your ageing system will become increasingly expensive and many manufacturers will not support the use of alternative refrigerants due to the problems they cause. Drop-in refrigerants should only ever be used as a short term measure. Even then, it is vital that they form part of a suitable replacement plan. While drop-in refrigerants may reduce your immediate capital spending, they are not cost-effective solutions to the R22 Phase Out and should be avoided where possible.

For more information or a no obligation quote for our specialist R22 replacement services, please contact our friendly and professional team on 01904 630414 or info@climatix-group.com.

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