Regular leak tests carried out by a qualified technician

A key obligation for end users will be to carry out regular leak tests on all plants that contain HFC refrigerants.

Basic Size Threshold

All equipment containing less than 3 kg of HFC refrigerant is exempt from the regular leak test. For hermetically sealed equipment (see below for definition) the size threshold is 6 kg.

Leak Test Interval

The regularity of leak tests is dependent on the size of the plant and whether automatic leak detection equipment has been fitted. The table below summarises the leak test intervals for different size ranges.

Frequency Normal systems Hermetically sealed systems
None <3 kg <6 kg
Annual 3 kg to 30 kg 6 kg to 30 kg
6-monthly* 30 kg to 300 kg 30 kg to 300 kg
Quarterly* >300 kg >300 kg
* Half this frequency if fitted with automatic leak detection

Hermetically Sealed Systems

The threshold is 3 kg for most systems, but is increased to 6 kg for a "hermetically sealed system". This is defined in the Regulation as:

"a system in which all refrigerant containing parts are made tight by welding, brazing or a similar permanent connection which may include capped valves and capped service ports that allow proper repair or disposal and which have a tested leakage rate of less than 3 grams per year under a pressure of at least a quarter of the maximum allowable pressure".

Examples of hermetically sealed systems include domestic refrigerators and small self-contained commercial systems such as bottle coolers, display cabinets and ice makers. Any system requiring on-site fabrication of refrigerant pipework is unlikely to fall into the hermetic category (even if it has a hermetic compressor).

What is a leak test?

The regulation requires a leak test to be carried out by an appropriately qualified technician using hand-held leak detection equipment such as an electronic sniffer device. A technician must check any parts of the system where leakage is a reasonable possibility.

Required Qualifications.

The regulation specifies that personnel carrying out leak tests must be suitably qualified. At this stage the qualifications required to carry out the leak test are still unclear. The Commission is trying to agree a framework that will help specify minimum requirements. These will need to be transposed into national legislation in each member state of the EU. Further information about qualifications will be posted on the Figaroo website as soon as possible. It is worth noting that the qualifications for leak testing may be different to those qualifications there will be required for more "intrusive" activities such as leak repair, refrigerant removal and addition and general plant maintenance.

Implementation Date.

The requirement for regular leak checking begins in July 2007. For a small system between 3 kg and 30 kg that require an annual leak check this implies that the first test must have been carried out before July 2008.