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Support and Maintenance

Maintenance can so easily be overlooked or forgotten and few would notice the missed maintenance visit.  Some Facilities Managers stretch the period between maintenance visits (or even drop out the maintenance altogether) so as to reallocate the assigned budget to more needful matters or simply make a proud saving on the outgoings of a business.  However, with air-conditioning there are other expenses that will silently increase and add additional costs to a balance sheet, and the overall affect can involve more expense than if the maintenance were carried out normally.

For example, dirty heat exchangers are less able to transfer heat and this causes the system pressures to increase, adding increased strain on the system parts.  This is like driving a car slowly up a very steep hill, compared with running it along a nice level road.  Also, the compressor and other moving parts have to operate for longer periods to provide the same kW-duty, to maintain the same room conditions.

With infrequent or rare maintenance visits, or with a frequent skimpy 'wipe-and-run' maintenance regimen that some contractors offer in return for your payments, the usable years of life that a system should potentially have given are curtailed.  The increased strain on the system and the extra run-hours increase wear on components, which brings closer the day when systems require expensive repairs and brings closer the day, at the end of their usable life, when they finally require replacement.

The recently-installed and younger systems do not yet express the weeks, months and years being secretly thrown away by ignoring maintenance.  It will be quite some time before their shortening life becomes apparent to an owner, when it is far too late to ask: "How is it that a system that should have lasted 10-15 years needs replacement so soon?  Why are we buying two installations when one should have lasted the whole period?"

Systems approaching old age will, not surprisingly, express a more dramatic response to poor maintenance and will demand expensive repair work.  This is especially the case with aging R22 systems that could have several remaining years of good service in them.  Also, their situation is exacerbated by a scarcity of R22 spare parts, as manufacturers no longer feel a duty or interest in supporting the phased-out R22 equipment.  Where a spare part cannot be sourced, a new system is necessary.  Thus one should give extra care to these systems until ready to replace them.

Breakdown of office air-conditioners (and the repair work) normally causes some distraction to staff production.  That business cost is unpleasant enough but where a single air-conditioner serves a vital computer server room - servers upon which the whole business has come to rely - a breakdown can mean customer upsets and huge cost implications for a business.  To reduce the potential for such breakdowns, as discussed above, it is good management practice to arrange regular and thorough maintenance visits.  Of course, it is also a prudent measure to install a standby system to support the computerised functions.

Without thorough maintenance, systems use more electricity (compounded with the fuel tax levy, soon to be taxed directly from Brussels), and this quietly draws additional funds from a business.  It is often very hard to notice this particular loss within the general electricity bill, especially as each new bill has significantly higher unit prices.  And, there are normally many changes within the business too, making it difficult to compare with previous bills.

Are the maintenance engineers that visit your site experienced and REFCOM-qualified engineers, or are they school-leaver types?  Take a look at your room air-conditioners and notice if the grilles are dirty or if there are dirt trails from the outlets.  Does your outside unit look sad and neglected?

If your air-conditioning systems are not maintained or your maintenance contractor gives an ineffective service support, it would be worth calling our Maintenance Manager.  We would be very interested in caring for your systems.

Refrigerant Leakage

In addition to verifying the system operates correctly, checking electrical connections, adjusting and checking of the system components, sensors and safety devices, and all the necessary cleaning involved in a maintenance visit, our engineers carefully inspect for any signs of refrigerant leakage, check joints with an electronic leak detector, and verify that the system performance does not suggest any lack of refrigerant.

From an environmental viewpoint this is of course very important but since July 2007, this has been the legal responsibility for the owners (end-users) of air-conditioning systems.  Many do not realize they are breaking the law through this neglect and they risk significant penalties from their local council.  Systems with more than 3kg of refrigerant MUST be checked for leaks annually.  Larger systems require more frequent inspections and other provisions.  (Note: our engineers check ALL systems or leakage, as a matter of course, as part of their standard maintenance actions and issue a report on this for your records.)

Note: where leaks on a system exist, the owner must arrange for the system to be repaired 'with haste' to limit the loss of gas into the atmosphere.  And, once repaired, the system must be rechecked within the following month to ensure the system remains leak-free.

Build-up of Bacteria and Viruses

And, not of least importance, air-conditioners have to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to address the build-up of bacteria and viruses on heat exchangers etc, inside the Room Units.  Customers and representatives of other businesses notice poorly maintained aircon systems, which has a PR cost.  In the more serious cases, one's own staff can become unwell, working in poor room conditions and take time off work to recuperate, which is another hard-to-spot cost to a business.

Therefore, at Firstgate, we give high importance to thorough and regular maintenance of our customer's air-conditioning systems, so that they obtain efficient electrical usage and efficient run-life for their investment.

Our Service & Maintenance Engineers

Our service and maintenance engineers are experienced, competent, and trained up to at least the minimum levels now required by law.  They are technically able to install, maintain and repair all types and brands of air-conditioning systems, from the simple room air-conditioners through to the banks of VRF and VRV systems for large office blocks.  Even air-conditioners built into luxury horsebox vehicles deserve good service & maintenance support. 

Our engineers carry frequently needed spares and materials on their vans so that minor repairs can sometimes be resolved during the initial visit.  We also have business accounts with most of the leading suppliers of aircon spare parts and materials, enabling quick procurement of replacement parts when stocked in the UK.

Clients are alerted before we start repair work on a time and materials basis.  Where possible and practical, we can prepare an estimate for customer approval in advance of the repair work for approval before starting the repair work.

Upon completion of the repairs, our engineers issue a report and the work areas are left clean and tidy.

We are familiar with working in occupied premises and carry out the site work with a minimum of disturbance to the customer's staff and any visitors.  Our engineers fully observe the Health & Safety at Work Regulations and site safety procedures in their work.

Company F-Gas Registered & Approved by REFCOM

Firstgate Services Ltd is approved and registered as an F-Gas Company by Quidos in respect of Installation, Commissioning, Servicing and Maintenance of air-conditioning and heatpump systems. 

NOTE: Since July 2009, all companies that employ engineers to install, service and maintain refrigerant air-conditioning systems are legally required to register their business. Nevertheless, many businesses undertaking this work are not registered and trading illegally.  If you are found to be using unregistered businesses for installation, servicing or maintenance of your aircon systems, you will have to answer to the Local Authority.

The F-Gas Regulations place strict obligations on the owners of the air-conditioning systems and if employing a business that is not F-Gas Certified, the customer would be at risk to various enforcement measures.




Contact us now to obtain a service and maintenance support proposal for your air-conditioning and heatpump systems.  

Call us now on 01342-314971 and ask to speak with the Maintenance Manager.