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Calibration vs. Bump Tests for Portable Gas Detectors

Calibration vs. Bump Tests for Portable Gas Detectors

Portable gas detectors are vital tools used across various industries to identify hazardous gases, oxygen-deficient or enriched environments, and atmospheres that are immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH). To ensure these devices function correctly, regular testing and calibration are crucial.

Wide-Ranging Applications
Portable gas detectors are used in numerous scenarios, such as verifying safe atmospheres in confined spaces or checking for dangerous environments during plant maintenance. These devices help protect workers in potentially hazardous situations. Routine calibrations and bump tests are essential to maintaining compliance and safety.

Calibration vs. Bump Tests
Calibration and bump tests both involve exposing the sensors to known gases, but they serve different purposes:

Calibration: This addresses sensor shift, a common issue where sensors lose sensitivity over time. Calibration introduces a known quantity of gases to the device, producing results like “pass with no adjustments,” “pass with adjustments made,” or “fail.” A “pass with no adjustments” indicates the sensors are accurate, while a “pass with adjustments” means the sensors are losing sensitivity but are still functional. A “fail” means the sensors are too degraded and need replacement.

Bump Test: This test is quicker, typically lasting 15-20 seconds, and checks for obstructions and verifies that all alert features (like alarms and lights) are working correctly. Bump tests do not recalibrate the sensors but ensure they read gases within an acceptable range.

Testing Frequency

  • Calibration: Recommended every six months, though specific guidelines may vary by country or organisation.
  • Bump Tests: Generally advised before each day's use, with increased frequency if the device experiences physical shock or high contaminant levels.


Benefits of Proper Calibration and Bump Testing

  • Safety: Ensures accurate gas detection, protecting workers from hazardous environments.
  • Compliance: Meets state, federal, and industry standards, preventing non-compliance fines.
  • Productivity: Reduces risks of incidents and work stoppages due to gas leaks or exposures.

Proper maintenance of gas detectors through regular calibration and bump tests ensures safety, compliance, and productivity, making them indispensable tools in hazardous environments.

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