Autoclave Maintenance Guide: Bye Costly Downtime

Why do you need an autoclave maintenance schedule?

Having a regular autoclave maintenance schedule ensures safety and prevents unnecessary lags in production that can cost your organization money.

Your autoclave’s safety and efficiency depend on you following the proper maintenance procedures for your vessel.

Because a drag on production isn’t good – especially not for your bottom line.

So, what puts your autoclave out of commission?

We’re going to take a look at the situations that will sideline your autoclave.

We’ll also talk about how important it is to have a fixed schedule for autoclave maintenance and safety inspections, and look at how maintenance tasks should be spread out over the year.

Let’s dive in.

How can you avoid costly downtime if your autoclave fails?

You can avoid costly downtime by:

  • Creating a fixed autoclave maintenance schedule.
  • Spreading out maintenance tasks over the year.

What puts your autoclave out of commission?

Certain scenarios will cause your autoclave to be unusable. You can’t put it back into action until the repairs are made AND the autoclave has been inspected.

Your autoclave will be taken out of service if:

  • The door wedges are heavily worn or missing entirely.
  • The door safety interlock is malfunctioning.
  • The door’s O-ring seal is leaking under vacuum and/or pressure, or if it has noticeable damage.
  • The surfaces where the door seals are pitted, corroded, gouged or damaged.
  • Any autoclave components are visibly leaking or show signs of leaking. This includes nozzles, nozzle reinforcing pads, support, shells, and heads .
  • The autoclave supports have cracked welds, heavy corrosion or show other signs of stress.
  • The pressure relief valve has a leak or doesn’t totally seal off.

Set a fixed schedule for safety inspections

The ideal way to set up your annual routine is to create an established schedule, which should include a comprehensive, item-by-item maintenance and safety inspection.

Maintenance and safety inspections must be documented and copies should be given to safety personnel and other company supervisors.

Tank Fab can help you with this. Here’s how:

  1. Setting up guidelines for safety inspections that are unique to your specific autoclave system.
  2. Tank Fab personnel are also available for consultation on a per diem basis.

Next, let’s dive into what your autoclave maintenance schedule should look like.

Your autoclave maintenance schedule

Some tasks need to be done with each cycle, while others should be done weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly.

Here’s what you need to know.

Each autoclave cycle

  • Visually examine the door wedges to make sure they’re adequately lubricated and that they don’t have any damage.
  • Inspect the door’s metal sealing faces and O-ring surfaces for built-up debris and any other foreign materials. Remove and clean as necessary.
  • Keep in mind that the O-ring needs to be replaced at the first sign of any leakage. Failing to do so could cause the door’s sealing surfaces to deteriorate. Gasket installation should only be handled by properly trained  autoclave maintenance personnel.
  • Check the door safety interlock to make sure it is motion free and alignment is correct. Clean and adjust as needed.

Monthly autoclave maintenance

  • Autoclave door
  • Inspect all pump hydraulics equipment for cleanliness, damage, and leakage. Make sure there’s an adequate amount of hydraulic fluid in the reservoir.
  • Examine the door’s locking ring and door head for clearance, alignment and that the interlocking parts are working smoothly together.
  • Inspect the door wedges for foreign substances. If you find anything, use a solvent to clean. Lubricate each of the faces of the wedges with the right type of grease.
  • Check the inside surface of the door locking ring for anything that doesn’t belong. Use a solvent to clean any dirt, grit or grime you find, then, lubricate with the proper grease.
  • The door O-ring should be wiped clean. Look for signs of cuts, cracks, spits and flat spots that indicate permanent compression.
  • Door hinge bearings need to be wiped clean and examined for splits, cracks, signs of looseness and give. The bearing should be sitting flat against the hinge arm and the adjustment bolts should be firm. Lubricate as needed.
  • The door lower hinge thrust washers need to be inspected for excess grease and dirt that has built up around the washer. Wipe it up and lubricate as necessary.
  • Check the door locking ring rollers for dirt and debris. If there is some, clean it with a solvent. Lubricate, as needed, making sure that the rollers are making appropriate contact with the shell and locking ring.
  • Inspect the plumbing and ensure piping strainers and filters are clean and in good working order.
  • Examine the manual pressure gauge to make sure it’s working.

Quarterly autoclave maintenance

  • Check the autoclave door O-ring groove to see if it requires cleaning.
  • Reset the hydraulic pump settings for the door – but only if it’s needed.

Yearly autoclave maintenance tasks

  • Adjust the hydraulic pump settings for the door. As the door’s wedges and/or bearings wear over time, you may need more hydraulic pressure to completely lock the door’s locking ring.
  • Test your autoclave’s pressure safety valve, being careful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • You should have your autoclave’s manual pressure gauge calibrated by a professional calibration company.

Stay on top of autoclave maintenance

You can’t afford to skip the autoclave maintenance tasks that need to be handled after every cycle, month, quarter and year.

Follow this guide to keep maintenance – and safety – on track.

You won’t experience the hiccups that can slow down production and put a damper on your revenue.

Author: Jeffrey Lippincott

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *