Sensor drift in gas detectors

Gas sensors drift. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when and by how much. When gas sensor drifts, your gas detector might not go off when the gas levels reach a dangerous level, putting you and your employees at risk.

According to OSHA, there are seven factors that contribute to sensor drift:

  1. Degradation of phosphorus-containing components
  2. Degradation of lead-containing components
  3. Gradual chemical degradation of sensors and drift in electronic components that occur normally over time
  4. Use in extreme environmental conditions, such as high/low temperature and humidity, and high levels of airborne particulates
  5. Exposure to high concentrations of target gases and vapors
  6. Exposure of electrochemical toxic gas sensors to solvent vapors and highly corrosive gases
  7. Handling/jostling of the equipment causing enough vibration or shock over time to affect electronic components and circuitry

If your gas detection sensors are exposed to any of these factors, it is important that you calibrate your gas detectors more often and not just bump test them.  (A bump test only confirms that the gas detector can sense that gas is present; it does not tell you if the instrument is still properly detecting low and high levels of the gas or how accurately it’s performing.)

Maintaining your gas detectors shouldn’t be difficult to do. The calibration itself is quick and easy, but this procedure seems to get lost in the shuffle as countless other tasks pile up.

How often do your gas detectors really need to be calibrated? Instrument manufacturers typically recommend that each sensor is bump tested daily and calibrated monthly.

The problem with this recommendation is that it is based on the gas detectors being in a perfectly clean environment that is not too hot, cold, wet, or dry. This is an ideal situation for gas detectors, not a realistic one. The fact is: gas detectors will be placed in all sorts of environments, each requiring a different level of sensor care.

At RAECO, we understand how the calibration process can go wrong or be forgotten altogether. Your employees might not be properly taught the calibration process, or they might be too busy and the procedure gets over looked. If that’s the case, call us!  We’d be happy to take care of your system’s field calibration and make sure you can trust your gas detection systems again.

Want to learn more about our calibration services? Visit

Learn more about portable gas detectors and monitors and fixed gas monitoring systems at

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