F-Gas Regulations UK: What Are Your Legal Obligations?

If you’re the designated operator of any systems containing a qualifying amount of refrigerant gas, you’re required to comply with rules laid out under F-Gas Regulations

Although these regulations were introduced by the European Union, since leaving the EU the UK has maintained its commitment to the correct control and reduction in the use of F-gases. As such, requirements under EU regulation remain in force, now covered by GB legislation.

We’ll update this article if and when any new laws come into place.

What is F-Gas Used For?

When we talk about F-Gas, we refer to fluorinated gases like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). These are used as refrigerants in HVAC equipment, including air conditioning and process cooling and refrigeration systems

F-gases like HFCs were introduced as a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly replacement for ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

They do, however, still have Global Warming Potential (GWP), and it’s because of this that the F-Gas Regulations were developed.

What Are the F-Gas Regulations?

F-Gas Regulation came into place in 2006 in response to the Kyoto Protocol, with the aim of minimising the impact of F-gases to the earth’s atmosphere.

When handled correctly, F-gases are generally safe. The regulations are there to ensure compliance, and relate to anyone involved in the production, sale, distribution, usage or recovery of F-gases themselves, and systems that make use of them.

This includes ‘operators’ - essentially anyone responsible for the operation and upkeep of equipment containing refrigerant gases. 

Your Legal Obligations under F-Gas Regulations

Here’s what you need to know if you’re the designated operator of such equipment:

  • Any work undertaken, including installation, maintenance, repair and decommissioning, must be carried out by a company with F-Gas registration, like a REFCOM accredited service provider
  • You’ll need to have your systems checked regularly for any signs of leakage by a qualified engineer. How often this needs to be done will be dictated by the amount of refrigerant in use. Where a leak is detected, it must be repaired immediately, and checked again after a month. 
  • If your system contains more than 300kg of refrigerant, you’ll need to install leak detectors. These too are subject to regular testing.
  • All qualifying equipment must be clearly and appropriately labelled, stating the specifics of the F-gases in use, including quantity and type.
  • You’ll need to keep detailed records relating to your systems, including the F-gases in use and relevant quantities, leaks found and repairs undertaken, maintenance history inclusive of any changes in refrigerant levels, and details of the company and engineers responsible for that maintenance.
  • When your equipment reaches the end of its lifespan, you must make sure F-gases are correctly recovered and either recycled, reclaimed or destroyed by a qualified professional. 

To ensure your legal obligations are met, it’s advisable to invest in Planned Preventative Maintenance for your HVAC system. This should be based on the exact specification of your equipment, the quantities of refrigerant used, and its purpose.

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