New F-gas document sparks outrage as restrictions lifted

DEFRA has said that F-gas servicing without recovery does not require certification

New F-gas document sparks outrage as restrictions lifted
DEFRA say the legislation has not changed, only the legal interpretation has been revised.

F-gas restrictions do not apply for the servicing of Mobile Air-Conditioning (MAC) systems, such as those found in passenger cars, and are only enforceable for the recovery of F-gases, the Environment Agency has announced.

The notice comes just weeks after the public body issued documents to F-gas wholesalers, retailers and technicians in the mobile air-conditioning sector, explaining that it was no longer legal to sell F-gas refrigerant for MAC servicing in passenger cars.

In the latest F-gas regulation document released last month, the Environment Agency said: “Following further examination of the legislation, DEFRA believes that such restrictions do not apply for the servicing of MAC, only for the recovery of F-gases from such systems.

“Therefore, the UK Government believes that it remains legal to sell F-gases for use in mobile air conditioning systems to those who do not hold recovery qualifications.”

The clarification was made following questions raised by industry stake holders.

A DEFRA spokesperson told GW: “The legislation has not changed, it is the legal interpretation which was questioned and has been re-examined.

“Servicing without recovery does not require certification.”

Legal loop-hole

The announcement has raised serious concerns for James McClean, managing director of MotorClimate and CompressorTech, who argues that it has created loop-hole.

Speaking to GW, Mr McClean said: “If you’re only charging refrigerant into the system and not recovering, you don’t need a qualification.

“It’s opened up the aftermarket to say they’re not recovering, they’re just charging but the reality is, everybody in the automotive market recovers, recycles and recharges.”

He explained that the legislation applies to factories that build air conditioning systems and charge them on the production line and said that it’s not suitable for the service sector.

“They’ve not looked at the big picture, they should have carried out a consultation with the automotive industry before making any changes,” Mr McClean added.

DEFRA told GW that the Environment Agency will continue to enforce the requirement that people undertaking recovery must be certified.

“If garage staff are recovering gas without the relevant qualification then they will be acting unlawfully and the Environment Agency will be able to take appropriate enforcement action,” a DEFRA spokesperson explained.

Have you invested in F-gas qualifications to comply with guidelines published earlier this year? How do you feel about garages that may now get away without the relevant certification? How can this grey area be better policed? Leave your concerns and comments below.

Click ‘More Details’ below to view the Environment Agency document.

21 Comments

  1. Here we go again so the rogue so called independent garages out there who never comply with legislation get away with it again. The Hard working Independent who follows the rule book to offer a complete safe service is again penalised.

    Reply
  2. Here we go again so the rogue so called independent garages out there who never comply with legislation get away with it again. The Hard working Independent who follows the rule book to offer a complete safe service is again penalised.

    Reply
  3. To stay completely legal I had to get the F-Gas C&G Qualifications, saying that you don’t need to be qualified to apply gas to the AC system is mad.
    So you can easily say that a car came in with the system already opened and all you did was evacuate it and recharge it, now it’s all good to go..? Total nonsense, expelling used gas or Virgin gas is the same, be it from recovery or recharging it, if it leaks it’s still going into the atmosphere.
    It’s like saying, you can have a gun but not the ammo just in case you use it..!! Any chance of a refund then..?

    Reply
  4. To stay completely legal I had to get the F-Gas C&G Qualifications, saying that you don’t need to be qualified to apply gas to the AC system is mad.
    So you can easily say that a car came in with the system already opened and all you did was evacuate it and recharge it, now it’s all good to go..? Total nonsense, expelling used gas or Virgin gas is the same, be it from recovery or recharging it, if it leaks it’s still going into the atmosphere.
    It’s like saying, you can have a gun but not the ammo just in case you use it..!! Any chance of a refund then..?

    Reply
  5. If systems are only being ‘charged’ they very likely have a leak, where does the gas go????

    Reply
  6. If systems are only being ‘charged’ they very likely have a leak, where does the gas go????

    Reply
    • In Automotive AC, the rotating seal on the compressor will always leak a little. Unlike most other systems where the whole system is sealed. Over time, they do – and will always loose pressure.
      I wonder if this change of heart is because there are so many people topping up only, it’s impossible to police.
      I agree that it’s daft though.

      Reply
  7. I have F-Gas trained staff which cost a lot of Money, I still do not understand why you need to be Trained on a Machine Which will not let you put gas into an open System. The only time you touch the A/C system is to connect the High And Low pipes, The rest of the time you are entering number on the machine key pad. Where is the Risk ??

    Reply
  8. I have F-Gas trained staff which cost a lot of Money, I still do not understand why you need to be Trained on a Machine Which will not let you put gas into an open System. The only time you touch the A/C system is to connect the High And Low pipes, The rest of the time you are entering number on the machine key pad. Where is the Risk ??

    Reply
  9. I echo Lee’s comment above, we are a small independent workshop and invested fortunes in training and equipment, the cowboys win again. you cannot correctly service or repair air-con systems without recovery. I’m feeling a bit miffed as we could have put the cost of certification to better use.

    Reply
  10. I echo Lee’s comment above, we are a small independent workshop and invested fortunes in training and equipment, the cowboys win again. you cannot correctly service or repair air-con systems without recovery. I’m feeling a bit miffed as we could have put the cost of certification to better use.

    Reply
  11. It’s impossible to charge a used system without some, even trace, amount of recovery, once a system has been in use it’s got contaminated oil, which under vacuum will release traces of gas as well as recovery the contaminated oil (hence the need to store and dispose safely of recovered oils).
    As has been stated if a car has “no gas” then there is a bigger issue, why! Almost certainly it has a leak, and that might be only evident under pressure (not vacuum which can suck seals back into form, if only temporarily!!). They are opposite forces, and the operational system does not operate in a complete vacuum! Plugging in a machine and pressing keys is not enough, it’s dangerous.
    We are F-Gas certified, and any service, repair or bodyshop garage that handles air conditioning systems would be irresponsible and probably unlawful to ignore the real facts, and the responsibility they have to the environment we all live in.
    Just recharging blindly without thought or question is missing a core aspect of the legislation, not to mention a sales opportunity for both diagnostic and repair services.

    Reply
  12. It’s impossible to charge a used system without some, even trace, amount of recovery, once a system has been in use it’s got contaminated oil, which under vacuum will release traces of gas as well as recovery the contaminated oil (hence the need to store and dispose safely of recovered oils).
    As has been stated if a car has “no gas” then there is a bigger issue, why! Almost certainly it has a leak, and that might be only evident under pressure (not vacuum which can suck seals back into form, if only temporarily!!). They are opposite forces, and the operational system does not operate in a complete vacuum! Plugging in a machine and pressing keys is not enough, it’s dangerous.
    We are F-Gas certified, and any service, repair or bodyshop garage that handles air conditioning systems would be irresponsible and probably unlawful to ignore the real facts, and the responsibility they have to the environment we all live in.
    Just recharging blindly without thought or question is missing a core aspect of the legislation, not to mention a sales opportunity for both diagnostic and repair services.

    Reply
  13. We’ve spent time and money training staff and as usual it looks like we may be done for by those who ignore the rules. Be nice to have a level playing field in an industry that already has a poor rep for cowboys

    Reply
  14. We’ve spent time and money training staff and as usual it looks like we may be done for by those who ignore the rules. Be nice to have a level playing field in an industry that already has a poor rep for cowboys

    Reply
  15. I was told by my local gas supplier they could not supply me R134a unless I had an F-Gas certificate. I sent them the document from the Environment Agency (Thanks for the download) they called me back and said they were not aware of this document and how many 10kg cylinders I wanted as its on special offer!!! What a complete shambles! They also told me that the previous document from the EA stated that they could only sell F-Gas to people who had an F-Gas qualification, but it has been changed by Defra so that retailers can sell DIY canisters to the general public………….That means less customers for us doing the job properly, and more gas for the atmosphere!! The only reason they buy the canisters is because the gas has leaked out, so where do Defra and the agency think the new gas is going to go………..Its certainly not going to stay in the system until the leak is repaired!

    Reply
  16. I was told by my local gas supplier they could not supply me R134a unless I had an F-Gas certificate. I sent them the document from the Environment Agency (Thanks for the download) they called me back and said they were not aware of this document and how many 10kg cylinders I wanted as its on special offer!!! What a complete shambles! They also told me that the previous document from the EA stated that they could only sell F-Gas to people who had an F-Gas qualification, but it has been changed by Defra so that retailers can sell DIY canisters to the general public………….That means less customers for us doing the job properly, and more gas for the atmosphere!! The only reason they buy the canisters is because the gas has leaked out, so where do Defra and the agency think the new gas is going to go………..Its certainly not going to stay in the system until the leak is repaired!

    Reply
  17. I actually don’t use a machine, it’s too easy, because I do diagnostics I use the proper method, glasses, recovery pump, vac pump connected to vac gauge, NItrogen gas for leaks, it may take twice as long but I know it’s 10 times a better job guarantee, although I loose repeat business because it’s a permanent diagnose, fix and running… DEFRA needs to beware of its descision, it’s out come and it’s foreseeable risk to public and environment.

    Oh well, back to burning old tyres again and pouring antifreeze down the drains..

    Reply
  18. I actually don’t use a machine, it’s too easy, because I do diagnostics I use the proper method, glasses, recovery pump, vac pump connected to vac gauge, NItrogen gas for leaks, it may take twice as long but I know it’s 10 times a better job guarantee, although I loose repeat business because it’s a permanent diagnose, fix and running… DEFRA needs to beware of its descision, it’s out come and it’s foreseeable risk to public and environment.

    Oh well, back to burning old tyres again and pouring antifreeze down the drains..

    Reply
  19. Yet again more confusion for the automotive industry!!!! Which ever way we look at it FGAS is here to stay, if you have a qualification as per regulation, there’s no need to worry. If you have no qualification and get caught there’s no excuses!

    Reply
  20. Yet again more confusion for the automotive industry!!!! Which ever way we look at it FGAS is here to stay, if you have a qualification as per regulation, there’s no need to worry. If you have no qualification and get caught there’s no excuses!

    Reply

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