When, Why and How to Decommission Commercial Air Conditioning

While commercial air conditioning systems are built with longevity in mind, they are not designed to last indefinitely. Like any mechanical system, they undergo wear and tear over time, which means their efficiency, reliability and overall performance may gradually decline.

Read on to learn more about when and why you might consider the decommissioning process, and how to go about getting the job done.

When and Why to Decommission an AC Unit

Several factors signal that a commercial AC system may be approaching the end of its operational life. These include:

Age: commercial air conditioning systems typically have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. Beyond this period, the system's components may experience increased wear, leading to diminished performance and efficiency.

Maintenance costs: as air conditioning systems age, the frequency and cost of maintenance tend to rise. If you find your business constantly investing in repairs and replacement parts, it may be more cost-effective in the long run to decommission the system and invest in a newer, more reliable model.

Obsolete technology: advancements in air conditioning technology occur over time. Outdated systems may lack the energy efficiency and features of newer models, leading to higher operational costs and decreased performance.

Environmental impact: older systems may use refrigerants that contribute to environmental issues, such as ozone depletion or climate change. Decommissioning allows for the replacement of these systems with environmentally friendly alternatives.

Changes in building use: if your business undergoes changes in occupancy or purpose, the existing air conditioning system may no longer meet the updated requirements. Here, decommissioning becomes necessary to assess and adapt the cooling solution to the new demands of the space.

How Do You Decommission an Aircon Unit?

Decommissioning a commercial air conditioner is not something you can do yourself - it requires the expertise of an experienced contractor that is F-gas certified

This is because the decommissioning process involves handling refrigerants, which are regulated substances due to their potential environmental impact. F-gas certification ensures that the contractor has the necessary skills and knowledge to safely recover and dispose of refrigerants in compliance with environmental regulations.

Once you’ve chosen your contractor, you can expect them to take the following steps and actions.

A Preliminary Assessment

A qualified engineer will conduct a thorough assessment of your air conditioning system, considering factors such as its age, overall condition, and compliance with current regulations. 

This initial step allows them to understand the unique characteristics of your system and determine the best approach for its decommissioning. 

They’ll also review existing documentation, including maintenance records and installation specifications, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the system's history.

Environmental Considerations

Environmental responsibility should be at the forefront of the decommissioning process. 

Reputable engineers will focus on the safe extraction and recovery of refrigerants, employing specialised equipment to minimise any release of harmful substances. 

They’ll also identify and handle any other hazardous materials, such as oils and chemicals, following stringent safety protocols.

System Isolation

The decommissioning process will then begin with the meticulous disconnection of your air conditioning system from power sources and associated utilities, including electrical, water, and gas connections. 

Ensuring a safe and controlled environment, the team will then depressurise the refrigerant lines to prevent the release of residual gases during subsequent component removal.

Component Dismantling

Systematic disassembly of your system will follow, with engineers using appropriate tools and techniques to minimise damage to components during this intricate process.

They’ll also identify any components or materials that can be salvaged or recycled, contributing to a sustainable and environmentally friendly decommissioning.


Accurate records will be kept throughout the decommissioning process, with detailed documentation explaining the condition of components, actions taken, and any challenges encountered.

This documentation serves not only as a record for your reference but also as proof of compliance with regulations. 

Professional Disposal

Your contractor will then arrange for the safe and compliant disposal of all materials, particularly hazardous waste. 

They’ll use certified waste disposal services to make sure that your system's components are handled with the utmost care, meeting all regulatory requirements.

Site Restoration

With the decommissioning process complete, a good contractor will thoroughly clean the area, removing any debris or residues left behind. 

They’ll leave the space not only decommissioned but also ready for potential future installations or modifications. 

They should also provide you with a comprehensive overview of the decommissioning process, addressing any concerns you may have and offering guidance on future HVAC system considerations.

Professional AC Decommissioning in the East Midlands

Decommissioning a commercial air conditioning system is a task that demands expertise, precision and a commitment to environmental responsibility. 

At Loughborough Air Conditioning we have years of experience in this area, so if you’re looking for commercial AC decommissioning in the East Midlands, we’re happy to help.

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