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Responsible Refrigeration Article 48

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Article authored by our Director, Barney Richardson:

Many registered Practitioners are often faced with a dilemma when called out to an installation whether it be a refrigeration plant or refrigeration associated with air conditioning. The plant is in a poor state and at some point in its life has been ‘butchered’ making it seriously compromised. The inspection process can take several hours depending on the size and complexity of the installation to do a comprehensive survey. 

What should be done with regard to a non-compliant installation? Some people will say compliant with what. Firstly there is the original manufacturers’ manual and specification, then there is the Pressure Equipment Regulations and SABS standards in particular SANS 10145. Every Practitioner registered with SAQCC Gas will have covered these aspects in their training and assessment for registration. People forget! Therefore the rule that a refresher course must be completed for renewal of registration.

When the installation is not in good shape and not compliant, a quotation for the examination of the plant should be prepared and submitted to the client and then if accepted, an inspection and test report should be prepared. The report must list the defects and recommended remedial action to bring the plant up to standard. Then a quotation for the cost of repairs and remedial work needed.

The contractor through his registered practitioner must be careful in preparing the quotation to cover the cost of parts and components required and the hours of work that will be necessary for the reinstatement of the plant. Every plant or installation is different and will therefore require careful examination and assessment before preparing and submitting a report. It should be remembered that we are talking broadly here because the different types and sizes of plant, from room air conditioning units and packaged air conditioning units to larger commercial and industrial refrigeration plants.  

There is a further complication when the phase-out of refrigerants is considered. If the system is charged with say R22. Then it becomes a consideration to make major changes and to use a more acceptable refrigerant replacement. The selection of an alternative refrigerant requires a certain engineering skill and understanding of the performance of the refrigerant being considered for the operating conditions of the plant in question. Sometimes this would be yond the capability and skill of the practitioner who should seek engineering advice from a person with the knowledge in this area.  

Some clients don’t want to spend the money to carry out remedial work which places a burden on the practitioner. The client should be made aware that his insurance provider might not want to reinsure the plant if it fails to meet the required standards and the work is not carried out by a registered practitioner.

After all the remedial work and repairs have been done a Certificate of Conformity must be given to the plant owner or user signed by the practitioner responsible for the work. If there was a work team doing the repair work then the senior supervising practitioner, who must have witnessed the work done, signs the Certificate of conformity.

It must be remembered that where room air conditioning units below 18kW cooling capacity are repaired a Category ‘A’ practitioner may sign the Certificate of Conformity. If the installation is larger the practitioner responsible must be a Category ‘B’ within the scope of work that he/she is registered.

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