In the gas detection industry, caring for the instruments you use on a regular basis is important. A gas detector is not working to its full potential unless it is calibrated to the correct measurements and can detect gases with precision. Not having a calibrated instrument can lead to a multitude of problems for you, your business, or operation that can easily be fixed or avoided. Here, we will explain the reasons why calibrations are important to conduct on your instruments on a regular basis.
Safety-The safety of life and property is the number one reason why gas instruments should be calibrated regularly. Gas detectors monitor for toxic gases and combustible atmospheres that are odorless and invisible to humans. If your company is working with these dangerous gases and chemicals, there needs to be a reliable method to detect for any warnings or signs of danger. If the instrument is not showing correct measurements, this could lead to lapses in judgment that snowball into completely catastrophic situations. Exposure, damage, and loss of life are only some of the consequences that can result from instruments that are not calibrated.
Wear and Tear-Like any other tool or instrument, gas detectors and their components wear down over time. Many variables can cause the instrument to waver from its original or accurate calibration. The sensors inside the instruments will chemically degrade over time as they are used, and even more so if they are exposed to high concentrations of the target gases and vapors. Environmental factors, such as humidity, high and low temperatures, and weather conditions take a toll. Even dropping the instrument once or jostling it enough to cause vibration or shock can throw off the calibration. It is important to understand all the factors that can cause calibration drift. Even if the instrument appears adequately presentable on the outside, there could be problems on the inside that are only detectable if the instrument is opened or serviced.
Liability-For documentation and legal purposes, calibration should also be a regular and consistent routine. When calibrating the instrument, documentation of some sort, whether on a spreadsheet or certificate, should be made in order to track the characteristics of the instrument. When one goes back to look at the overall history of an instrument, they should be able to see when the instrument was calibrated and serviced, and the issues that arose in those instances that required correction. In the legal system, values that are tracked by gas detection instruments will only be considered reliable if the instrument is calibrated and working to its full potential. Keeping track of calibrations and recording them regularly is the correct way to protect yourself should any liability or safety issues arise.
So how often should you calibrate your gas detector? That is a wide-ranging question that depends on a variety of factors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends doing calibrations before each use. However, if the schedule of use is irregular, there should be additional calibrations and checks in between uses to make sure the instrument remains in working order. The International Safety Equipment Association (IESA) recommends doing a bump test, a qualitative test that confirms that gas can get to the sensor(s) and that all the present alarms are functional, before each use. However, bump tests do not test for the accuracy level of gas present, so it is also important to conduct a full calibration if anything about the bump test is awry. We at Bomark recommend, at the very least, a monthly calibration of any of the instruments that we sell, including those from RKI, TSI, and Honeywell. This ensures that inside and outside issues can be checked, and the instrument maintains a constant record of care and service.
We have been repairing and calibrating gas detectors and environmental equipment for over 25 years. Contact us or fill out a service form if you have any questions about calibrations, or need help with a calibration or repair.