Accessorize your gas detector

November 5, 2008
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A common sight in the service department of any gas detection company is waterlogged gas detectors. Many people still attach their gas detector to a rope and lower it into a confined space to investigate the atmosphere. Often, the detector is accidentally submerged in water and sludge that has collected at the bottom of the confined space. Sensor ports may become clogged with dirt and debris, preventing diffusion of gas. Sensors or the internal circuitry of the detector can also be permanently damaged by the water.

A better approach to resolving the problem of waterlogged instruments is to find an alternative solution to lowering the detector itself into an unknown area. A wide variety of accessories are available to customize your detector to suit your application. Sampling at various levels in a confined space is part of best safety practices and must be properly executed to have an accurate picture of the environment you are about to enter. Accessories can make obtaining a representative sample and other aspects of your job easier and safer.

Simplify sampling
Gas hazards have different densities in relation to air, which can cause stratification in a confined space. Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is heavier than air and may settle just above the ground while displacing oxygen. In a sewer where organic matter is decomposing, H2S may collect above the liquid in dangerous levels, while a safe, breathable amount of air exists above it.

Workers who enter a sewer may have safe levels of oxygen in their breathing zone as they are descending; however, dangerously high levels of H2S may exist lower in the sewer. Other activities and work being performed in a confined space, such as cleaning, degreasing, welding and painting, may also create unsafe atmospheric conditions. Continuous monitoring is essential in case of sudden changes in the atmosphere. In any of these applications and many other situations, sampling at various levels is integral to safety.

If your detector is a diffusion model, purchasing a manual aspirator pump or external electronic sampling pump and a suitable length of tubing will allow you to take samples at various levels without lowering your detector down into a confined space. When using a pumped detector, hydrophobic and particulate filters can be used to prevent dirt, debris and moisture from entering the detector and damaging the sensors or electronic circuitry.

Guard against damage
Sampling floats, manual aspirator pumps, electronic pumps and filters not only make your life easier, but can prolong the life of your detector by preventing unnecessary damage. Your gas detector manufacturer may also have a variety of carrying accessories available to protect your instrument. Cases to carry your confined space entry equipment, holsters that attach to your belt, arm bands and hard hat clips are just a few items available.

Gas detectors are designed to be durable instruments capable of performing in extreme conditions. However, sometimes additional protection may be desirable to prolong the life of your detector. Several gas detection instrument manufacturers produce concussion-proof boots that can be slipped onto the detector. These external rubber boots not only keep the detector cleaner but provide an additional level of protection in case the instrument is dropped.

Aid maintenance & compliance
Accessories are not only useful for certain applications, but can aid in detector maintenance and compliance. Instrument docking stations have automated the following processes:
  • Recordkeeping
  • Bump testing
  • Calibration
  • Recharging
Calibration and bump test records are essential in demonstrating that a company’s detectors are properly maintained. A gas detector about to be used today may have been calibrated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations months ago. Even if it has been used each and every day since the last routine calibration service, it’s possible that it’s not functioning properly.

The only way to confirm that a gas detector is functioning and is capable of responding to gas is to expose the instrument to a concentration of target gas high enough to initiate an alarm situation while the instrument is in operating mode. This procedure is often referred to as performing a functional bump test and is a key to the safe use of portable gas detection equipment. Documenting history of a gas detector’s bump testing ensures adherence to best safety practices.

Now, with the development of automated calibration and functional bump test systems, the process of bump testing and keeping a record of it can be as easy as pushing a button. These automated systems simplify the calibration and bump test procedure as well as saving time and money.

Automated calibration and docking stations may also be a good option to recharge your fleet of gas detectors. Your instrument manufacturer should have a range of alternative charging options available. Whether you are charging a single detector on the go with a vehicle charger or several detectors with a multi-unit cradle charger, your gas detector provider can help you find a suitable option.

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