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Air con meltdown or storm in a teacup?

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Property owners may have less reason to be alarmed over changes in air-con regulation than might be suggested by recent press coverage of R22 fluid claims Claire Battye, Commercial Property Partner.

Conventional wisdom appears to be that as of 1st January 2015 all owner-occupiers, landlords and tenants will automatically incur huge costs in replacing their air conditioning or refrigeration systems because of the phasing out of R22.

Many air conditioning systems and refrigeration units use R22 as the refrigerant gas/fluid.

Under EU Regulation 2037/2000 the use of virgin R22 in new or existing equipment has been illegal since 1st January 2010; but the use of recycled refrigerant has still been permitted. Topping up has thus still been possible.

From 1st January 2015 the use of reconditioned R22 fluid in new systems or for topping up will be banned completely.

Claire Battye commented: “Reports in the property press suggest that those responsible for property maintenance costs will be faced with huge bills for replacing the guts of their air-con systems and are suggesting early action.

“In reality there is no need to replace R22 until the first occasion after 1st January 2015 when the system needs topping up. That could be years away. In any event it only costs about £30 a kg and the system will not need replacing—just flushing and refilling. To do that for a 3,000 sq foot building is likely to take a single man day of work. Hardly a major investment.

“Obviously the state of repair of the air-con system and whether it contains R22 should be the subject of survey and enquiry for those buying or leasing properties but it is hardly the end of the world if the system still contains R22.”

R22 is one of those chemicals which if released to the atmosphere will contribute to depletion of the ozone layer. It should only be removed by a qualified engineer and must then be disposed of in accordance with regulations.


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.