Step-by-step instructions to easily, quickly and safely shut-down your GCs

In this current economy with stay-at-home recommendations/requirements due to the coronavirus, it has been unfortunate that many laboratories have been or will be forced to temporarily close their doors until the spread of the virus decreases enough that the stay-at-home orders are rescinded. If you find yourself in this distressing situation, sometimes it is difficult to think clearly. As a result, I was asked to put together a checklist for our customers which will (hopefully) assist them by providing step-by-step instructions to easily, quickly and safely shut-down their laboratory GCs (and related instrumentation/equipment) for a few days or a few weeks.

 

A.  Extinguish any detector flame and/or electrical current/power to the detector.

 

B.  Turn off any and all instrument heated zones. These included injection ports, ovens, transfer lines, valves, detectors, etc. This also includes non-GC related equipment, including those used for sample preparation.

 

C.  Once everything is cooled to ambient (or slightly above), it’s time to begin powering-down the instrument and stopping the flow of any gases needed for the instrument to operate; the exact order will depend on the specific instrument.   For example, if a mass spectrometer is involved, there is usually an instrument command “Vent” which will automatically perform all necessary shut-down operations. For other instruments, the process may be much more manual (hands-on).

 

D.  Now that the gases have been turned-off at the instrument (point-of-use), it’s time to turn off the gases at the source. If cylinders provide the gas, turn off all shut-off valves, those which may be built into the regular and those downstream of the regulator.   Turn off the valve which is built into the gas cylinder. If the gas/gases are supplied by a gas generator, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for shutting-down the generator.

 

E.  Turn off the power/electric to the instrument.

 

F.  If the GCs will not be used for a week or more, it’s usually a good idea to remove the GC column. To do so, make sure all heated zones are cool to the touch, make sure all gases have been turned-off and that any pressurized column/zone has been allowed to reach atmospheric pressure. Remove the column and store in the box or bag or container it came in, in a safe place out of direct sunlight.

 

G.  Perform similar shut-down procedures for the remaining equipment/instrumentation in the lab.

 

H.  On a separate note, I would also suggest inspecting your reference standards. Make sure each and every ampule/vial/container is kept at the recommended storage temperature/conditions and that every cap is properly tightened and that there are no puncture marks in the septa. You may also want to use a Sharpie® marker to mark the level of the liquid in the vial so that you can be assured that nothing leaked/evaporated during its storage.

 

I hope that you have found this helpful during these difficult times. If you have any questions about this or any other post I wrote, feel free to contact me.   Thank you.

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