The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 state that: “It shall be the duty of every employer or self-employed person to ensure that any gas appliance, installation pipework or flue installed at any place of work under his control is maintained in a safe condition so as to prevent risk of injury to any person.”
Recently the HVAC sector has been strongly focused on the September updates to the Energy-related Products Directive (ErPD), which deals with the design and manufacture of products. To comply with it, heating systems and other energy-related products must show satisfactory levels of energy performance and reduced carbon emissions.
In addition to having a positive effect on energy efficiency and the environment, compliance should produce major cost benefits for all energy users.
The emphasis on design and production of energy-related products could put the issue of maintenance on the back burner – but it should not. This is not only for reasons of safety, which are the priorities of the Gas Safety Regulations. Well-maintained equipment is more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, and less expensive to run. Ensuring regular servicing meets very similar objectives to those promoted by the ErPD.
Gas-fired infrared radiant heating systems have a reputation for reliability and for providing lengthy and efficient service. Often, users neglect to carry out regular servicing and maintenance because of their very dependability. But to maintain performance and comply with industry regulations, it is vital that gas-fired radiant heaters and temperature control systems are professionally checked and tested according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
This issue is so important because:
- a gas safety certificate is required for all gas-driven heating systems, including infrared radiant heaters;
- the optimum energy-saving benefits of gas-fired infrared systems lead to low operating costs and have a positive impact on the carbon footprint of a building, but these benefits will only be achieved if the correct maintenance schedule is followed;
- early detection of wearing parts by skilled service engineers avoids potentially expensive repairs and downtimes; and
- failure to apply an effective maintenance programme can adversely affect insurance claims in the event of system malfunctions.
Planned programmes of preventive maintenance will ensure the safe, reliable and efficient operation of a gas-fired infrared radiant heating system. They will also provide the element of cost predictability instead of unforeseen expenditure from repair faults that have gone unnoticed.
Experienced, qualified engineers employed or recommended by the system manufacturer should also be aware of the latest product developments and be able to assist businesses in their decision making about when to consider making any changes or upgrades to their heating systems.
Servicing and maintenance may not have the high profile of the design and manufacture of new technology, but in the HVAC sector it can play an important part in retaining the energy efficiency and the safe operation of heating systems and appliances.
Steve Sherman is managing director of Schwank UK