Laboratory equipment can last a long time. At iQ Labs, we’ve seen our fume hoods last more than 30 years. But no matter how much you invest in laboratory maintenance, there will come a time when it’s necessary to renovate or replace. Let’s take a look at some common signs that it’s time for a laboratory update.
1. Safety Issues
Safety is the top priority in any lab environment. If there’s a safety issue with laboratory equipment, casework, or accessories, it should be addressed immediately. That may mean repairing a piece of equipment or replacing it entirely.
Fume hoods, for example, are incredibly durable pieces of machinery. However, they’re also susceptible to corrosion. Heavy acids can corrode the fume hood, especially if it hasn’t been specially built to withstand them. A corroded sash should be replaced immediately to maintain proper airflow and prevent shattering.
Other parts may have safety issues that aren’t as visible. Consider, for example, the ductwork that connects a fume hood to the blower on top of the roof. The ductwork is essential for ventilating harmful gases from the fume hood and maintaining a safe working environment in the laboratory. Safety problems with the ductwork may not be easily spotted but are dangerous to the entire lab if not addressed quickly.
2. Efficiency or Productivity Loss
Like any work environment, efficiency and productivity are important in a laboratory setting. Efficiency can be incorporated into the original design of the laboratory itself, maximizing productivity by placing equipment, accessories, and storage in optimal locations.
However, older labs may not have been designed with productivity in mind. Today, there are a variety of laboratory products you can use to improve laboratory productivity, including:
- Mobile furniture: Workstations and storage units can be fitted with lockable casters to allow you to move them throughout the lab.
- Height-adjustable furniture: Workstations with adjustable height fit a variety of workers and students and are more easily adjusted to become ADA compliant.
- Self-closing doors: Fume hoods with self-closing doors provide a safer work environment and may be required depending on state and local regulations.
- Removable panels: Some lab cabinets and fume hoods can be customized with removable bottom and back panels, depending on your needs.
- Demonstration fume hoods: Dual-entry fume hoods, also known as demonstration fume hoods, make it easier for teachers to demonstrate processes to students, making the learning process more efficient.
- LED lighting: Today’s fume hoods typically come with LED lighting as standard to make it easier for scientists to conduct their work with visual clarity.
- Variable air velocity (VAV) fume hoods: VAV fume hoods are more energy efficient than constant air velocity (CAV) fume hoods, resulting in greater energy savings for the lab.
3. Aesthetic Wear and Tear
Even the highest-quality products eventually succumb to wear and tear. Some signs of use are simply aesthetic eyesores, while others are signs of safety issues. Common signs of wear and tear include:
- Rust: Rust or corrosion is a dangerous safety issue. If your equipment is rusting, you should replace it immediately.
- Stains: Staining usually isn’t a cause for concern. At most, it’s just an eyesore.
- Warping: If the glass on a fume hood sash has warped, it needs to be replaced. Stainless steel can also warp over time.
- Cracks: Cracked sashes on fume hoods affect the airflow and need to be replaced.
- Burns: Like stains, burns are usually just an unfortunate sign of use, not a safety issue.
Of course, you’re welcome to replace any laboratory equipment as you please, even if it’s just for aesthetic purposes. Newer products may be more resistant to wear and tear, making them worth the investment. For example, old chemistry lab countertops may be riddled with burns and stains, while newer epoxy-resin countertops are built to withstand them.
In general, though, high-quality lab equipment should last for years to come. At iQ Labs, we’ve worked with clients whose fume hoods have lasted 30, 40, even 50 years! They may not have looked as nice as newer models, but what mattered was that they worked just as well.
Update Your Laboratory
It’s important for the safety, efficiency, and productivity of your laboratory to repair or replace equipment when necessary. Our team at iQ Labs has years of professional experience helping people renovate existing labs or break ground on new ones. No matter if you’re updating, renovating, or starting from scratch, our high-quality fume hoods, casework, and accessories are guaranteed to last for years for use. Contact us today to learn more.