Air Conditioning Inspections Explained

Why does my air conditioning need to be inspected?

Having your office’s air conditioning assessed is part of the government’s efforts to reduce energy consumption, operating costs and carbon emissions, whilst improving energy efficiency. As your energy assessor, we are able to highlight any possible improvements to the operation of your existing air conditioning system. We can additionally talk you through the possibility of upgrading your older, over sized system with a new, energy efficient system.

There is an additional incentive to improve or replace older air conditioning units with modern systems as the replacement of refrigerant is restricted by legislation in older units.

As the building owner or manager, your obligations and statutory duties of care in the operation of air conditioning units include inspections of these systems in addition to your normal duties. Inspection, maintenance and cleaning programmes all help to maintain the ability of your air conditioning to provide a healthy and comfortable environment for building occupants, as well as limiting the escape of refrigerant gases.

Air conditioners that require inspection

The Energy Performance of Buildings (Inspections and Certificates) Regulations 2007 only affect air conditioning systems that have an effective rated output of more than 12kW. This includes systems of individual units that produce less than 12kW individually, but more than 12kW when their effective rated output is combined.

What is effective rated output?

Effective rated output is the maximum calorific output in kW stated by the manufacturer of your air conditioning system when delivered during continuous operation.

What do air conditioning inspections cover?

When we inspect your system, we look at the refrigeration and air moving equipment, as well as the controls of your system. We may also examine available documentation that will help us to understand your air conditioning system.

The point of the inspection isn’t to identify hazards or unsafe aspects of your air conditioning, such as its installation, operation or maintenance. If you would like this to be included, you should specify prior to the inspection.

What you can expect from the resulting report

After your inspection, you will receive a report where you’ll be provided with information on the efficiency of your air conditioning system, as well as advice on how to improve it.

You can be sure that your report will include the following:

  • The efficiency of the air conditioning system and suitable suggestions on improving it.
  • Any faults identified and how you may want to fix them.
  • How adequate your equipment maintenance is, and any ways you can improve it.
  • The adequacy of your system controls and their settings, along with any improvements that can be made.
  • The current size of your air conditioning system in relation to the cooling load.
  • A summary of our findings and the key recommendations for improving your air conditioning.

There is no legal imperative to act on our recommendations, but by doing so; you will have a far more efficient and cost effective air conditioning system.

Occasionally, building owners and managers find that by carrying out suggested improvements on their air conditioning system and their central heating will see a reduction in costs. This happens in cases where the two systems are unnecessarily in use at the same time due to inappropriate controls or settings.

In cases where the air conditioning system is already well understood, documented and with available records, the inspection report could be relatively brief. You would still receive suggestions of alternative solutions not considered.

All reports contain the following information:

  • The address of the building in which the air conditioning system is located
  • The name of the accredited air conditioning energy assessor
  • The name and address of the energy assessor’s employer
  • The date of the inspection
  • The name of the government approved air conditioning scheme of which the accredited air conditioning energy assessor is a member

Additionally, for all reports produced from the 6 April 2012 onwards, a valid report reference number should be included. This number is generated once the report is lodged on the central register.

Who’s responsible for obtaining your air conditioning inspection?

If you’re in control of the operation of your air conditioning, you must:

  • Make sure an inspection has occurred in accordance with the requirements and timetable of regulations
  • Keep the most recent inspection report provided by an energy assessor
  • Ensure anyone who takes over air conditioning responsibilities receives all inspection reports

If you’ve been given the responsibility for the control of the air conditioning system, but have received no previous inspection reports, you must have one carried out within the first three months of being in control.

Responsibilities with respect to other inspection procedures

You will need to keep the air conditioning report in a safe and secure place, so it can be used to inform subsequent inspections. One of the best places to keep it is in your building’s log book, alongside ongoing maintenance and other energy records.

What we look for during the inspection

  • We check the refrigeration equipment and its associated heat exchange systems, looking for any indicators of damage or lack of maintenance that significantly reduces the efficiency.
  • The efficiency of air being delivered, and checking the state of the filters and heat exchangers.
  • The system controls, including:
    • the temperatures to which the treated spaces are to be conditioned
    • the time periods during which they’re conditioned
    • the appropriateness of the control zones
    • the potential for cooling to be operated at the same time as heating
    • the method of refrigeration capacity control
    • the method of air flow rate control

If your air conditioning system is controlled by a building management system, you may need to arrange for relevant aspects of this information to be extracted from the management system prior to the inspection.

Author: Gareth Whalley
Sharing my vast knowledge in the Air Conditioning and Mechanical services field especially in HVAC installation, service and maintenance across a broad range of sectors, including Healthcare, Education, Transport, Banking, Retail and Commercial developments.