Why Is It Important to Regularly Calibrate Gas Detectors?

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.

Explaining the Importance (and Accuracy) of CO2 Detection

As we return to some sense of what many consider normalcy, we have had to adapt our thinking and keep an open mind in order to make people feel safe. Vaccines do exist and production is ramping up on them, but the virus that causes COVID-19 still exists as well and will continue to exist for some time. Until that day comes, and the virus is considered eradicated, we must find a way to balance between complete societal shutdown and irresponsible, shortsighted gathering. A compromise between economic prosperity and sensible safety measures is attainable.

Gathering in indoor spaces has been considered a risky activity during the pandemic. Restaurants, bars, and gyms have taken the biggest hit, losing business both from closures and then restrictions in capacity. Some areas have had the luxury of expanding or fully transitioning into outdoor dining, which is considered safer and less likely to cause transmission, as air circulates freely. However, in areas such as New York and New Jersey, it has been tougher to do this full heel turn because of the colder climate. The challenge for businesses who either do not have the space to enlarge their outdoor footprint or the weather to rely on outdoor completely is ensuring an indoor space with enough ventilation from the interior or exterior to keep the risk of contracting COVID-19 through airborne droplets low.

This is where CO2 detection comes in. The pandemic has led to a boom in people monitoring the amount of carbon dioxide in spaces. Because we exhale carbon dioxide when we breathe, the idea is to monitor CO2 in the air in order to determine how clean the air is in the space, and thus the likelihood that COVID-19 or other airborne pathogens could be lurking there. The “normal” level of CO2 is anywhere around 415 ppm, and any level higher than that demands a heightened sense of attention. There are several variables to consider when monitoring the CO2 level. The number of people in the room, when larger, will likely lead to a higher CO2 level. If patrons are socially distanced and the ventilation is adequate, then there is likely no cause for concern if the level is somewhere in the 700-1000 ppm range. If the level reaches higher than 1000 ppm, however, there is probably an imbalance in one of the two. The “rebreathe fraction,” the amount of air in a space someone breathes in from another person, can be around 1% at 800 ppm. Since it does not take a large particle to breathe in the virus that causes COVID-19, this could potentially be dangerous based on the variables of the space. And of course, the CO2 monitor has no ability to measure for COVID-19 or any other virus, just the risk level that is represented by the ppm. So even if the ppm of the space is the normal 415 ppm level, you could still be at risk for COVID-19 even with the precautions taken.

The calibration of the instrument is a factor in the accuracy. Bomark sells several instruments, both mounted and portable, that can help you or your business achieve CO2 monitoring. The TSI Quest EVM-7 simultaneously measures particulates and gas concentration in real-time. These monitors measure select toxic gases, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), relative humidity, temperature and air velocity, including CO2 up to 5000 ppm. The RKI GX-6000 is a powerful hand-held instrument that is capable of simultaneously monitoring up to 6 gases, including CO2 up to 10000 ppm. And the RKI Beacon 110 is a fixed system that is microprocessor controlled, versatile, simple to install and operate, and priced to be the industry’s best value single gas detection controller. This instrument can measure CO2 up to 10000 ppm.

We want to help you ensure that your business is safe for you, your employees, and your customers. Keep us in mind as the pandemic continues, and continue to stay safe.

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H2 Detection in Battery Rooms

Hydrogen is quickly becoming established as a major source of power. Infrastructure such as stationary back-up power systems and fuel cell technology are becoming more prominent as they are appreciated for their effectiveness in storing energy. However, it is important to make sure that your home or business continues to diligently monitor hydrogen detection levels, as not doing so can prove costly.

Typically, lead acid batteries are stored in battery rooms as they charge and await use as a backup energy source. When charging, the batteries generate hydrogen gas that emits into the battery rooms. If used to depletion and needed to charge at a higher rate, the batteries will give off a more sizable amount of hydrogen. The lower explosion level (LEL) of hydrogen is 4 percent. This means that if 4 percent of a given volume is filled with hydrogen, it could ignite, causing damage to both life and property. A ventilation system is required per Section 502.5 of the New York City Mechanical Code in order to keep the maximum concentration of hydrogen to 1 percent of the total volume of the room. However, this should not be your only line of defense in ensuring that you remain safe from hydrogen buildup.

Bomark has several fixed detectors in stock that monitor for buildups in hydrogen and other potentially dangerous gases. The RKI Beacon Series simultaneously displays the gas type, readings, and status for up to eight channels of gas detection, along with alarms and strobes for visual and auditory alert. The Model PS 2 is a multipurpose gas monitor utilizing a MOS (metal oxide sensor) for long lasting and low maintenance detection at the LEL or PPM levels of many gases or vapors, making it a perfect low-cost solution for hydrogen detection in battery rooms. And the Honeywell Sensepoint XRL is a flammable gas detector for the detection of potentially explosive gases, or as a toxic gas detector for the detection of a range of toxic gas hazards. The XRL connects to a smartphone app that allows the user to choose alarm set points, run test procedures and automatically generate a commissioning report, which you can send from your phone to other stakeholders or store for easy access in a safety inspection.

Stay protected from future disaster by preventing it before it happens, and continue to stay safe in general.

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