It’s That Time of Year – Preventative Maintenance and Calibrations

We’ve come to that time of year again, when our HPLC systems are due for their preventative maintenance and calibration.  We have 6 HPLC systems all staggered within a 3 month window for calibrations and preventative maintenance.  It’s fun to be able to work on the instrument – take it apart, replace and clean parts, and put it back together again.  Having worked at a large company we used to have to call a technician just to change a lamp. Now it’s up to us to maintain and troubleshoot the instruments, which is something I really enjoy.

We primarily use Agilent brand HPLCs here at Velesco.  Not to endorse one company over others, however Agilent’s 1100 (and 1200) HPLCs are much easier to service.  For a small company like Velesco, it’s very important to be able to perform many service activities on our own.  Of course, we do employ certified repair persons if the repair is too complicated.

Of particular importance when performing preventative maintenance on an Agilent 1100:

– Clean the pump pistons and ensure the piston rods are free from scratches
– Replace the pump seals – this may be required sooner than your PM if the seals become worn (which may cause leaks around the pump head and therefore low pressure)
– Replace the PTFE frit in the purge valve– this may be required sooner than your PM, for example if you’re experiencing large pressure changes (possibly due to contamination)
– Run the detector diagnostic tests and change the lamp if needed
– Clean the needle and needle seat, and replace if necessary
– And if you need to replace the seal in the metering unit, careful when loosening the unit…it’s springy!
– Clean HPLCs are much more trouble free than dirty instruments.  Make sure to clean every appropriate part, especially on systems that see a lot of buffer use.

Getting to know the inner workings of the instrument by performing the PMs and calibrations, has helped us become much quicker at troubleshooting any instrument issues that arise.  And once the preventative maintenance and calibrations are complete, it’s nice to have the assurance that our systems are running properly and are suitable for all of the analytical testing that we carry out here at Velesco.

Agilent has great how-to guides and videos online.

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