There are numerous gases, some humanly detectable and others not, leaking around in the places we frequent that could be potentially life threatening to us living, breathing beings if they exist in excess of healthy concentrations. Luckily, there are gas detectors and indoor air quality monitoring systems to detect and alert us when levels become undesirable and potentially lethal. But what good are these systems if their readings are unreliable or inaccurate or alarms aren’t going off when they should be? It isn’t uncommon for us to hear that gas detectors that have been installed have never been serviced, even though government regulations such as Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines and many companies’ operation and safety manuals state they should be serviced on a regular basis.
It is important to realize and remember that a gas detector is a safety device and a properly functioning gas detector could be the difference between life and death. The purpose of a gas detector is to monitor and measure potentially lethal gases (or lack of oxygen) in the workplace and other areas people frequent such as supermarkets, hospitals, schools, enclosed parking facilities, indoor pools, ice arenas, and many more. If the gas detector readings reach a predetermined level, other safety precautions are triggered such as turning on visual and audible alarms, starting ventilation fans, shutting down equipment, calling the fire department, etc.
Making sure the gas detectors are working properly on a regular basis should, without question, be part of a scheduled maintenance program.
To maintain a gas detection system, it is important to inspect each device, conduct a bump test on all the sensors, (unless a full calibration is being done), do a calibration (when required) and record the results in a maintenance log.
Do a physical inspection. Check the unit for wear and tear, tampering, accidental or deliberate damage; for cracks, water damage, loose screws or wires and make sure there isn’t a buildup of dust on the outside or inside of the enclosure.
Decide if you are doing a bump test or a full calibration. Monthly maintenance at minimum requires a bump test, especially for applications involving more dangerous gases and interactions with people, such as Ammonia sensors in ice rinks and Chlorine or Ozone sensors in swimming pools. If the bump test fails or if 6 months have passed since the last calibration, a full calibration should be done.
Keep a maintenance log. All bump tests and calibration functions along with notes about performance, anomalies or otherwise should be noted in a log book. This information could prove useful for troubleshooting or proving due diligence, etc.
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