Checking F gas equipment for leaks

Your responsibilities to check equipment for fluorinated gas (F gas) leaks.

If you use the following equipment, you’re responsible for getting it checked for F gas leaks:

  • stationary refrigeration equipment
  • stationary air-conditioning equipment
  • stationary heat pumps
  • stationary fire protection equipment
  • refrigeration units of refrigerated trucks and trailers
  • electrical switchgear
  • organic Rankine cycle

If you rent out equipment, you may be responsible for leak checks rather than the end user, depending on the rental agreement.

Responsibility for stopping leaks of F gas from equipment is shared between:

  • users of equipment containing F gas
  • service technicians who install, maintain or dispose of the equipment

How often you must check for F gas leaks

How often you must check for leaks depends on the:

  • amount of F gas in the equipment
  • global warming potential of the F gas (how much the F gas contributes to global warming)

Frequency of equipment leak checks for common HFCs

Frequency of leak checks Equivalent weight of carbon dioxide that the equipment contains (tonnes) HFC 23 (kg) HFC 227ea (kg) HFC 404A (kg) HFC 410a (kg) HFC 134a (kg)
At least once every 12 months 5 to less than 50 0.3 1.6 1.3 2.4 3.5
At least once every 6 months 50 to less than 500 3.4 15.5 13 24 35
At least every 3 months 500 or more if contained in electrical switchgear or organic Rankine cycles, that were installed before 1 January 2017 34 155 127 240 350
With automatic leak detection 500 or more for all equipment other than electrical switchgear and organic Rankine cycles that were installed before 1 January 2017 34 155 127 240 350

Find out how to calculate the weight of an F gas in carbon dioxide equivalent

There’s no maximum period of time between leak checks on:

  • hermetically sealed refrigeration and air conditioning systems unless they contain F gas equivalent to 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide (that’s equal to 2.6kg of HFC404A or 7kg of HFC 134a)
  • refrigeration systems in vehicles, except refrigerated trucks or trailers

If you install a system to automatically detect leaks, you can double the period of time allowed between leak checks. For example, with a leak detection system you must check a product that contains F gas equivalent to 5 tonnes of carbon dioxide every 2 years.

When to fit automatic leak detection

You must fit a leak detection system if your equipment contains F gas equivalent to 500 tonnes or more of carbon dioxide. This does not apply to electrical switchgear or organic Rankine cycles installed before 1 January 2017.

Mass of gases commonly used in refrigeration, air conditioning or fire protection equivalent to 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide

F gas Mass of gas equivalent to 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide (kg)
HFC 23 34
HFC 508B 38
HFC 507A 125
HFC 404A 127
HFC 434A 154
HFC 227ea 155
HFC 422D 183
HFC 438A 221
HFC 410A 239
HFC 407C 282
HFC 134a 350

The leak detection system must alert you, or a service company responsible for your equipment, if it detects a leak.

You must have your leak detection system checked:

  • every 6 years on electrical switchgear
  • every year on all other equipment containing F gas

If you find a leak

If you find a leak during a check, you must repair it as soon as possible and repeat the test within a month to check the repair worked.

You are breaking the law if you don’t have the right leak checks in place, or don’t fix leaks. You could receive a civil penalty. See the Environment Agency enforcement sanctions policy

Published 21 August 2019