Despite whatever tall stories you might have heard regarding the use of ancient lab apparatus from veteran scientists, your scientific equipment does need to be thoroughly maintained and even replaced completely from time to time.
This even goes for the sturdiest of Bunsen burners. Without sufficiently utilizing the right kind of equipment, you may be putting your experiments and your research in jeopardy, or at the very least, failing to get your hands on the best results available.
It is often the case that the fresher your equipment, the easier it is to maintain in the first place.
While it is true that lab equipment can last for many, many years, and much of it is designed to do so, it will need replacing eventually, no matter the item in question.
When exactly should you replace your equipment, though? And how often?
It depends on the equipment
Starting with the most obvious and only definite answer – it depends on the equipment. Some machines, like an x-ray diffractometer, for example, are designed to be somewhat future-proof, as companies like Malvern Panalytical endeavor to make their machines highly upgradeable.
This can allow you constantly customize your machine to fit your changing requirements in the chemical analytical department.
Generally, your science equipment will be able to perform its role for many years if it is properly maintained, but machines that are made up of many perishable parts of tech that need to come into close contact with extreme temperatures on a regular basis are the most likely to burn out.
As a loose guideline, you should probably evaluate the possibility of replacing or refurbing your equipment once a year at the very least, but this is just for assessment’s sake; you will likely find you do not need to replace your machines for a long time if you can clean them properly.
Consult the manual
If you are unsure as to whether or not a piece of equipment needs replacing, then why not consult the manual? There will likely be directions to help you gain a deeper understanding of when you should expect a change.
You could always consider contacting the manufacturer directly, too, as they may even have a guarantee in place should anything go wrong and you need a replacement as soon as possible.
If that fails, they may be able to send someone to help or perhaps advise you on what to do next.
Check for the warning signs
If you pay attention to the warning signs, you should be able to immediately recognize when a piece of equipment needs replacing.
Some of these signs might include:
- General wear and tear/rust/discoloration – If your equipment is starting to look a little battered and bruised around the edges, it might not be operating with any less vigor yet, but it is probably time to conduct an assessment of its effectiveness at least. Plus, if you are working with samples, this may contaminate your experiments.
- Inconsistencies with lab results – If your results are not what they should be, or your final numbers and findings keep changing uncontrollably, it is probably time to upgrade.
- If it sounds suspicious/different in any way – An obvious one, but if you don’t keep an ear out, you could be in harm’s way.