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What Are the Basics of Gas Detector Calibration?

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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2016
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Gas detector calibration is done to check if a detector is working properly. To determine if a gas leak detector is functioning, it must be exposed to the respective gas, as is done with any chlorine or carbon monoxide detector on site. A gas such as carbon monoxide can be easily measured, but it is first necessary to establish a baseline from which the monitor triggers an alarm, or the zero point. Otherwise, traces of gases in the ambient air could cause false readings in the device. Calibration also involves a process of mixing the gas to make sure detection occurs when other gases are present, so it is known that the detector works in ambient conditions.

Calibration gas is often needed to calibrate a detector. This is accomplished by using pressurized bottles of gas, either in light, disposable forms or highly pressurized tanks that can store extremely hazardous chemicals. Pressure monitors and regulators, as well as flow restricting devices are used with these, because any deviation from standard operation can cause life-threatening conditions. Safely transferring the gas out of the tank depends on an assembly that can regulate pressure.

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Conducting gas detector calibration in a clean area is important. If the process is done successfully, then the unit doesn’t need to be calibrated for at least a month. Any detector, such as a toxic gas detector, can be bump tested after use, meaning that its accuracy is checked without any other adjustments being made. If it is easier to use one gas over another, because a similar gas is simpler or safer to work with, then cross calibration is possible. Operator manuals instruct on how to make calculations that lead to accurate gas detector calibration measurements.

Gases can be mixed during detector calibration if the proper mixture isn’t available. Needles and syringes are used to measure gas concentrations during this process, and the gas mixture can be stored within non-permeable material bags with valves. For industrial environments, there are gas detector calibration kits, designed for specific gases. These can save manufacturers money as well as ensure accuracy because they have been designed for the job.

Gas detector calibration is important for industrial safety. Every business needs to schedule calibration for its gas detectors, and know when the calibration gas is beyond its effective usable date. Both worker safety and regulatory compliance is ensured when the function of gas detectors is tested on a regular basis.

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