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How to Calibrate Gas Detectors

Calibrating your gas detector properly is essential if you want to achieve reliable and accurate results. Calibration involves programming your device to recognize one or more specific substances, and making sure the detector is taking accurate measurements of those substances in the atmosphere. The first step of any calibration procedure is, therefore, to determine the substances you need to target and choosing a gas detector that can recognize all of them.

Calibration gas is a vital tool in all calibration processes for fixed devices combustible substance monitors, LEL meters, PID meters and portable, hand held atmospheric monitors. Calibration gases are cylinders of pure compounds at known and standard volumes and concentrations, and are essential to providing accurate calibration results.

These known volumes are used to test a device’s accuracy and adjust it to a higher standard if needed. Calibration cylinders are often available in calibration kits, which also include necessary equipment such as plastic tubing and flow regulators, in a robust carry case.

The consequences of not calibrating your gas detectors are very high indeed, as a faulty monitor will make your environment appear to be completely safe while you are in fact in constant risk of explosion, sudden poisoning or chronic disease. The task of calibration therefore comes with a high degree of responsibility, and is intimidating to many.

To avoid human error, some atmospheric monitors have been designed to be calibration free. These are usually disposable devices which are entirely maintenance free; the only task the safety officer needs to remember is to replace the detector once its battery dies after a year or more.

As with all high risk safety procedures, there is a comprehensive set of standards relating to the calibration of gas detectors put out by the Australian Government. These standards also relate to the correct selection, installation, use and maintenance of atmospheric monitors in the home, environment and workplace. The Australian standards concerning environmental analysis outline various acceptable calibration and test methods for hazardous situations.

One of the most important safety standards in this field is the directive for all gas detectors to be calibrated immediately before each use. This means that hand held devices cannot simply be taken out of storage, or even straight out of the manufacturer’s packaging, and given to workers, but must be thoroughly and individually tested for performance first. Fixed and continuous gas detectors must also be calibrated periodically to avoid slippage in accuracy.

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