Four Misunderstandings about Gas Detection That Could Cost You

Four Misunderstandings about Gas Detection That Could Cost You

Industrial Scientific | Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Every person who depends on a gas monitor deserves to have reliable equipment. But beyond that, everyone also needs a quality gas detection education. To understand and react appropriately to gas readings, users need to know the basics of how gas detectors work. Unfortunately, many people who wear monitors on a regular basis lack this baseline gas detection education.

Today, millions of gas sensor readings will be taken. Many of those will lead to important safety or operational decisions. If those are being taken with poorly maintained instruments or by users who have misunderstandings about gas detection, what will be the result?

Below are four common misunderstandings about gas detection that, if not set straight, could lead to serious consequences:

  • “OL” or “OR”: These do not mean “OK.” These are indications that the sensor has “pegged out” or reached its over limit (OL) or over range (OR). If a user is seeing this reading from a diffusion gas detector, then they are currently exposed to that hazard. This is because with diffusion gas detectors (but not pumped models), you must be in the hazard to detect its presence. Furthermore, if this “over” reading is from an LEL sensor, that doesn’t mean that the explosive environment is too rich to burn. Quite the contrary, that “over” reading means you are in an environment that could lead to an explosion.
  • The “2 X 2” rule: Take your time. When using an Industrial Scientific gas detector with tubing, users must abide by the “2 X 2” rule. The rule calls for two minutes of sampling time PLUS two seconds for every one foot of tubing attached to the monitor. If you are sampling with 20 feet of tubing, you need to take 2 minutes and 40 seconds for every four feet of space you’re measuring. The sampling time is dictated by the amount of tubing attached, while the number of samples is dictated by the size of the space.
  • Bump testing: You can’t avoid it. Despite what you may hear in sales pitches, all gas detector manufacturers include in their manuals something like “bump test prior to each day’s use.” Bump tests check sensor and alarm functionality and are the only way to ensure your monitor is working properly. Without daily bump testing, your monitor could fail to alert you to gas hazards.
  • Calibration: The key to accuracy: If a gas detector is not regularly calibrated, readings will gradually decline over time. Therefore, manufacturers recommend calibrating monthly. One common argument against the need for routine calibration is using a bump test to validate sensor performance. A bump test is designed to ensure an instrument will detect the presence of a gas, not to validate the accuracy of the measurement. Calibration is not a particularly challenging or time-consuming process, so commit to just a few minutes each month in exchange for the peace of mind of knowing that your gas detector is working properly.

Take the time to educate users about gas detector functionality before a misunderstanding leads to irreversible damage.

Industrial Scientific is committed to educating users on how to operate and understand gas detection equipment to enhance their culture of safety. With a variety of training options, including online videos, instructor-led webinars, and in-person Gas Detection Made Easy classes, our courses are designed to meet any training need.


Learn more about training courses from Industrial Scientific.