Troubleshooting 101

Like most folks who work in the lab, you likely have had some downtime in the lab due to various reasons, like a column, instrument, sample prep, standards, and even application or method conditions.

Troubleshooting then commences. Details are often needed, in order to get the bigger picture.

One of the most important troubleshooting tools is the ability to perform true back-to-back comparative runs, where only one variable (like a column in question for instance, or a standard) is changed at a time. All other variables (instrument conditions, condition of the liner and inlet, etc.) would then be held constant. Running the comparison, one immediately after the other, is a great way to isolate and test various components or consumables.  Another isolation strategy would be to switch inlets, or GC instruments even, but using the same column in question. Performing blank runs and comparing to the typical run also can yield valuable information. If the problem goes away after making the comparison, then that component or variable in question is very likely the cause. If the problem remains however, then it would likely NOT be the variable or consumable being tested, and the problem lies elsewhere.

If help is still needed, then the run conditions and the two comparative, labelled chromatograms, could be sent to our technical service team. The chromatograms should be labelled with the product information, such as the catalog# and the serial number(s) to the columns. Likewise, the same would be done for standards, where the catalog# and the lot# are listed on each of the chromatograms.

Remember –  Change only ONE variable at a time when troubleshooting. Keep records of what troubleshooting steps were done and the results. Keep a preventative maintenance (PM) log book up to date.

Stay tuned for more…

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