A Care and Maintenance Guide for Lab Equipment

Inside a scientific laboratory, one can find expensive apparatus and equipment pieces that are used for research, experiments, and medical testing. Funding a science laboratory is expensive, and those who are using it should always remember that they need to maintain order inside the facility. Many research centers across the world with a built-in laboratory have a series of rules and regulations that the scientists and staff should always follow. These rules and regulations would prevent the laboratory from excessive wear and tear, and it would protect the expensive apparatus and equipment inside.

Typically, each laboratory has several apparatus and equipment pieces that require extensive care including laboratory sinks, fume hoods, fume chambers, laboratory countertops, flaskscrubbers, dishwashers, glass containers and beakers, canopy hoods, and evidence drying cabinets. Laboratory staff strictly follow the protocol because they do not want to cause any damages on these pricey items that are being kept inside the laboratory. Here are some of the most common steps on how the laboratory staff is trying to promote order and cleanliness inside the facility.


Proper Maintenance for the Fume Hoods and the Fume Chambers

The fume hoods and the fume chamber are where the sample is being isolated or quarantined to avoid being inhaled by anyone inside the facility. This is important especially in a chemistry lab where experiments are being conducted more often. With the fume hood and the fume chambers activated, those who are working inside the facility would not be at risk of inhaling the chemicals that are produced by experiments. It is also important for the staff members to look after the fume hoods and fume chambers, checking if there are traces of chemicals left inside the apparatus. Having an equipment piece that is filled with trace minerals can be deadly and this is what the science laboratory is trying to avoid.

To clean the fume hoods and the fume chambers, the laboratory should look for an outsourced cleaner or a direct hire. The decision on who the research facility would choose is based on the experiences of the applicant, and they should also show their skills on cleaning the fume hoods as well as the fume chambers. After the cleaning process is completed, the staff inside the laboratory would be able to use their equipment without thinking about the harmful chemicals coming from the equipment. They should also look at the seals of the apparatus, and make sure that the chemicals being tested inside it are contained. It would be a bigger problem if more people started getting sick because the fume hoods and the fume chambers are not locked tightly.

Sometimes, the fume hoods and the fume chambers might experience minor damages from using it over and over through the years. The facility should invest in repairing these minor damages because if they will be ignoring it, these small damages can become larger and it would cost the facility a lot of money to buy new equipment. The fume hoods and the fume chambers can normally experience several damages because of how it is designed. When someone is using this equipment continuously, it can alert the user that the equipment is already running for so many hours and it might fail if it is not properly maintained.

The facility should also remember how they would calibrate their fume hoods and fume chambers. Most laboratory staff tend to forget this stage, and they would just resort into using the equipment immediately after it has been announced that the repairs have been completed. Calibration is important in getting the most accurate data, and some laboratory apparatuses and equipment are having an incorrect reading because it has not been calibrated. Make sure to remember this stage every time the equipment is undergoing maintenance.


Making the Laboratory Countertops Clean and Organized

The laboratory countertops are where the sink is installed, and it can be found inside the laboratory being used as a platform where other items or devices will be placed upon. The laboratory countertops should be kept clean all the time, and the staff can use a cloth to remove the stains that have appeared on the laboratory countertops. Alternatively, they can also use specialized cleaning chemicals that would make their countertops look sparkling clean. The laboratory countertops are among the easiest to wear because it can be damaged anytime, and many laboratory countertops are stained by different chemical reactions or being chipped off because of accidental scratches.

Taking Care of the Laboratory Sinks

The laboratory sink is commonly located on a countertop, and this is where the scientists are washing their hands and the smaller equipment like test tubes and cylinders before coming into contact with a specimen. If there are chemical experiments that are going on inside the facility, it is important because the sink can act as immediate disposal for hazardous chemicals, and if someone came into contact with these chemicals, they can reach for the sink and have it washed off. A laboratory without a working sink can be dangerous, and scientific experiments can end up having awry results. It is recommended that science laboratories should have a sink equipped on their countertops.

To clean the laboratory sinks, the laboratory can either outsource someone who can do the job or hire someone who can clean it directly. When cleaning the laboratory sink, make sure that the water is running, and then start looking for any obstructions that are present in the tubes. Make sure that any chemical that has been disposed of into the sink has been flushed out completely. The cleaners should also do a test whether the sink is efficient in flushing out all of the water, and if it does not flush out the water completely, they need to do an alternative approach on how they can remove all of the dirt and external materials that might have clogged the sink. Once the task is complete, the staff inside the laboratory would notice that the sink started working fine once again.

Preventing the Fragile Glass Containers and Beakers from Breaking

The glass containers are important in a laboratory setting because this is where most of the samples are being kept. Without these containers, the samples would never be stored properly, and they can be prone to breakage. The glass containers should always be washed with soap and water after it has been used as a storage container for a liquid or solid sample. The glass containers can be kept on a rack that would hold them vertically, and it would also lower down the chances of the glass containers from breaking. If a glass container slipped off the hand of the staff working inside the facility, they would need to clean it up immediately because the small broken glasses can easily injure someone.

Beakers are containers that have a particular measurement helping scientists obtain a sample that has a definite amount, and they require the same treatment as glass containers. Beakers are also fragile and can break easily if someone accidentally dropped it. To take care of beakers, the staff should always clean it with soap and water after it has been used for an experiment. They should be wiped with a clean cloth after it has been washed and leave it as it dries. Beakers should be stored on a shelf or cabinet so they are protected from damage by outside forces.


Keeping the Ventilation Running with Canopy Hoods

The canopy hood is used to provide proper ventilation inside the laboratory. Normally, when scientists are performing experiments, they want to see are the complete effects of the experiment. Most of the time, they would need to use the workspace to observe the chemical reaction happening on a sample. To prevent other scientists from inhaling the chemical-filled fumes, the canopy hoods should be activated. Over time, the canopy hood would accumulate dirt, and the laboratory staff needs to clean the ventilation system so it will cycle clean air through.

If the laboratory staff are unsure about what they need to do, the facility should call on an expert that can help the facility in cleaning their canopy hood. The simplest way to clean the canopy hood would be shutting off all electrical connections near the canopy hood. Then, use a cloth to clean the canopy hood and remove all of the dirt and grime that might accumulate on it. The ventilation would work better if the canopy hood is properly maintained and cleaned, and if it is ignored, it could have negative effects on those who are working hard to achieve new scientific data.

Keeping the Flaskscrubber Clean

One of the most frequently used devices inside the laboratory is the flaskscrubber (also known as a dishwasher). The flask scrubber is a big apparatus inside the laboratory which is designed to clean the flasks and test tubes that are too difficult to reach, and many laboratories buy the flaskscrubber because it can save them a lot of time cleaning the equipment.

If a laboratory has a flaskscrubber, a major responsibility is keeping it clean, and it is important to run through several empty cycles on the hottest setting in order to get rid of any lingering chemicals or odors. Just like any other piece of equipment, a flaskscrubber will eventually break or malfunction, and when the flaskscrubber fails, it should be immediately reported so a technician can come.

Cleaning the Evidence Drying Cabinet

Mimicking the powerful heat from the sun, the evidence drying cabinet is where most of the samples are kept to dry out. It is important to clean the surface area of the drying cabinet as well as have a professional take the drying cabinet apart to clean out the technical side. If any type of spill occurs, this should be immediately cleaned up based on specifications on the material spilled and drying cabinet material.

For staff who are working inside a scientific laboratory, they need to understand and practice how to keep the facility well-maintained. Without the maintenance for this laboratory equipment and apparatuses, the laboratory would quickly become deteriorated and drive people away from these scientific laboratories that did not comply with the requirements. Cleaning lab equipment and furniture is crucial because having dirty items will contaminate future laboratory work and findings.