A gas detector is a device that has the ability to detect the presence of certain gases. They not only provide safety but also serve as a critical diagnostic tool that supplies a safeguard against the hidden dangers of certain harmful and toxic gases. Determining the type of gas detector that is right for your needs can be tricky since there are a range of different models, uses, and environments where they can be used. It’s probably a good idea to first break down the types of gas detectors and the people that will benefit most from their use.
Home Gas Detectors
If you’re looking for a home gas detection system you’ll first want to determine the type of gases that may be present in your home. Here are a few that may be cause for concern:
Carbon Monoxide has caused the most accidental poisoning deaths in North America. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and virtually imperceptible. It’s considered a silent killer. Installing carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home can help identify these gases (CO) and allow you to take the appropriate action to prevent harm to yourself and family.
Radon gas is an organic radioactive gas that originates from decaying uranium. It is also invisible and according to the Surgeon General, is a known carcinogen. Radon has the ability to leak into a home through fractures in the foundation. If there is radon in your home the radon can create a serious danger to you and your family’s health. It can be detected with a low cost radon detector.
Natural Gas is a source of natural energy that is typically used in homes for cooking and heating. The main ingredient of natural gas is methane which is an extremely flammable chemical compound. If a natural gas leak should occur inside a home, the risk of fire and explosion can be a consequence. Many gas companies will add sulfur to notify everyone in the vicinity that a leak has occurred. A gas detector can be a vital safety detection tool that can notify you of potential danger.
Most home gas detectors can be powered by either ordinary AC outlets or use standard NiCad batteries. They will usually broadcast warnings through a sequence of audible and visual signals when gas levels reach a dangerous threshold.
Gas Detectors for the Workplace
Every year workers are injured unnecessarily in accidents where leaking toxic or combustible gases are present. These accidents can be prevented if there were certain gas monitoring devices in place.
Professional gas detectors can be used to identify a variety of dangerous gases as well as detect areas of oxygen depletion. They are used by a number of professionals that require precise measurements and calibration. Most professional gas detectors are easy to use and can be utilized in any vicinity where gas concentration levels are a concern. They are typically also required for certain work areas by OSHA and the EPA. Some of the more notable industries that use portable gas detectors include firefighters, chemical industry and textiles, power plants, steel mills, oil & gas refineries, parking garages, sewage treatment plants, food/beverage, pharmaceutical, hospitals, and medical labs.
A successful gas detection strategy very often will incorporate both portable and fixed detection gas detectors.
Fixed gas detectors utilize sensors that are placed in certain critical locations of a work environment to provide long term service and detection. These sensors can use a number of technologies that include electrochemical cell, metal oxide semiconductor, catalytic-bead, or infrared sensor. If any dangerous gases are present an audible and visual alarm will sound.
There are typically a few ways to determine where to add these sensors. One approach is to place the sensors in the vicinity of where a potential leak is most likely to occur. The second approach is to position sensors in close proximity to areas where concentrations of gas may collect.
Portable gas detectors can be used in large and small areas alike and can be carried in your pocket or clipped to a belt. They are usually more convenient (if properly calibrated daily) than having a fixed system installed. As an individual travels from area to area, the portable gas detector monitors the air for specific toxic or combustible gases. When they sense a toxic or combustible gas, they immediately warn the technician through audio and visual alarms. Since lives are on the line, frequent calibration is often necessary to ensure proper functioning.
Bump Testing Portable Gas Detectors
To verify the functionality of a portable gas detection system, a bump test is often performed. A bump test is simply a way to make sure the sensors of the unit are working properly. It is achieved by temporarily exposing the detector to higher concentrations of certain gases to make sure the instrument is working properly. So in essence, it is a safety measure that should be done each day to verify the gas detector’s alarm functions by simulating alarm conditions for each sensor.
Gas detection is a complex detection process and before choosing the right type of gas detector, careful analysis must be completed to identify the potential hazards. Gas detectors are a key contributor to the hazard management process and if applied correctly, can save lives and property.