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Fume Hood Maintenance Procedure: What’s Involved?

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Fume hoods are local ventilation devices used in industrial and scientific workplaces to limit exposure to hazardous fumes or vapour. A fume hood is a typically large piece of equipment, acting as a makeshift barrier between worker and chemicals. Two main types of fume extraction hoods exist: ducted and recirculating (ductless). The fume hood maintenance procedure for both variants of fume hood remains more or less the same.

Are you working in a role that exposes you to harmful gases and chemical fumes? For the safety of yourself and your co-workers, it is vital to have a clear fume hood maintenance procedure and conduct regular fume hood inspection as system failure can result in toxic chemicals leaking into the air. Fume hood maintenance should involve daily, periodic, and annual inspections at different levels of intensity.

If you’re looking for expert fume hood maintenance and repairs in Brisbane, you’ve come to the right place. As well as supplying and installing high-quality fume extraction systems, Searose Environmental provide detailed fume hood inspection, fume hood calibration and fume hood cleaning services across Queensland. Our fume hood repairs and maintenance servicing will ensure that all of your fume extraction units meet Australian standards and are performing to their maximum capability.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to know if your fume hood needs maintenance, fume hood calibration, a typical fume hood maintenance procedure, as well as outlining the fume hood inspection requirements.

Signs You May Need Fume Hood Maintenance:

If you have reason to believe your fume hood has been damaged, fume hood maintenance should be undertaken immediately.

Signs that can indicate a need for fume hood repairs and service include:

  • The fume hood won’t collect fumes
  • Loss or inconsistency in power supply to fume extraction unit
  • Cracks or holes in the cables of extraction ducting
  • Clogging filters
  • Strange noises coming from the extraction system
  • Constant vibrations

If one or more of these signs are present, fume hood maintenance procedures should be conducted imminently.

Fume Hood Maintenance Procedure

All labs and industrial workplaces should have a fume hood maintenance procedure that is understood by all operators and followed every time. Searose Environmental’s fume hood maintenance procedure is guided by the Australian standards, providing full compliance to AS2243.8. Note that all personnel using the fume hood must be fully trained in operating the equipment. A general outline of a fume hood maintenance procedure is as follows:

1. Work Practice Controls

To prepare the fume hood for work, alarms and monitors must be checked to indicate proper operation. Observe noise and air movement. If these checks indicate low airflow, stop working, lower the sash and notify everybody to leave the area – they may be exposed to harmful gases. Ensure all surrounding employees are aware of fume hood inspection requirements before operating equipment.

Where possible, set the sash at the lowest position. Close all windows and doors in the laboratory.

2. Working in the Fume Hood

  • Keep foot traffic around the area to a minimum
  • Avoid excessive movement in front of the fume hood. This may negatively impact airflow.
  • Keep rear openings clear
  • Clear the surrounding area of equipment such as paper, towels, vials etc., to avoid them being drawn into the hood’s ventilation system.
  • Keep alarms and monitors on – do not even turn off
  • Do not place your head in the fume hood
  • Do not use the fume hood as storage for other equipment

3. Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn at all times. Equipment worn will depend on the type of fume hood and chemicals that are present. Lab coats must be buttoned up. Gloves pulled over the wrists of the coat, not worn inside the coat.

4. Cleaning the Fume Hood

Clean the interior, exterior and fume hood sash periodically, wiping the areas down with a soap solution and rinse. Note that all personnel should wear PPE equipment when cleaning the fume hood to protect themselves as per the fume hood maintenance procedure.

5. Overall Maintenance

  • If the fume hood is not functioning, call the facility service centre.
  • After maintenance and repair work has been performed (new motor, modifications, relocations etc.), airflow must be checked to certify fume hood performance.

For this fume hood, assume the duct lining, fume hood lining, and internal exhaust components are potentially contaminated with chemical residue. Goggles, an air-purifying mask and nitrile gloves must be worn. After maintenance work is completed, remove PPE gear and wash in warm, soapy water to decontaminate.

6. In the Event of Exposure

If an employee is exposed to harmful gases, medical attention must be seeked immediately. Call 000.

How Often Should Fume Hoods Be Inspected?

Fume hood inspection should be conducted periodically regardless of if you or your co-workers believe that the fume hood is still operating effectively to prioritise safety.

It would be prudent to have a fume hood inspection every three months as a general rule of thumb. In addition, a re-evaluation should take place whenever there is a change in the ventilation devices.

When discussing how often should fume hoods be inspected, operators should perform visual inspections daily and assess whether there is airflow blockage near the opening. Operators can also observe the inward flow of air and engage in fume hood cleaning daily.

Fume Hood Calibration

Fume hood calibration must be undertaken so that the equipment operates effectively.

One of the most essential fume hood calibration tests is the airflow face velocity test. The purpose of this test is to confirm that the average airflow face velocity meets the specific requirements of the required configuration. The speed at which air is drawn into a fume hood is greatly important for the safe operation of a fume hood – speed that is too high or low can compromise worker safety and overall performance. If face velocity is too high, air turbulence will occur between the fume hood face and a worker. If face velocity is too low, the hood will not adequately exhaust harmful fumes from the room. Therefore, the airflow face velocity test is the most crucial aspect of the fume hood maintenance procedure.

Face velocity is a measurement of the speed at which air enters a fume hood’s face opening. Generally, it is recommended that a fume hood’s face velocity is between 0.3m/s (60 fpm) and 0.5m/s (100fpm).

In saying this, the airflow face velocity test should be conducted alongside two other tests. These tests will also test the fume hood’s ability to contain and exhaust fumes. The first is referred to as the ‘tracer gas containment test’. This test involves releasing gas inside the hood while a gas monitoring device is placed in the estimated breathing zone of a worker near the fume hood. This measures the presence of gas outside the fume hood. The second test is referred to as ‘airflow visualization with the digital collection’. A smoke stream is created at various points in the fume hood work area. Proceeding this, one can visually assess the airflow currents that are present inside the fume hood. Data is then collected digitally for more accurate results.

Furthermore, certain external factors can affect a fume hood’s ability to contain hazardous substances. These factors include the location of the fume hood within the workplace setting, the laboratory air supply location and distribution and the amount of equipment stored within the fume hood.

Most safety standards state that only an airflow face velocity test is necessary. However, to be completely confident in a fume hood’s ability to prevent exposure to hazardous gases and chemicals, it is highly recommended that all tests are undertaken.

Choose Searose Environmental for Fume Hood Maintenance Procedure

Searose Environmental understands the importance of safe fume extraction in any industrial setting. Regular maintenance is crucial for fume extraction units as system failure can result in harmful physical damage. At Searose, we can provide scheduled maintenance, major fume hood repairs, calibration, and cleaning. Our expert team are experienced in operating such equipment and can ensure continued support and safety. With a combined 40 years of experience in the industry, Searose is passionate about safe work environments. Give us a call today on 1300 48 48 49 to receive a free quote!