If you have a lab that handles any kind of toxic or acidic chemicals, you probably have a fume hood or two. Fume hoods make it possible for your employees to safely conduct processes that require harsh chemicals for adequate completion. If you have a fume hood, your employees probably use it every single day, which means it gets quite a bit of wear. With all of this wear, how do you know when it's time to replace your existing fume hood with a new, updated option? Here are a few simple signs that your lab is likely better off with a newer option:
While this might seem like a simple sign, it's very true. As technology advances, so does the efficiency of products. You know that a 2016 car is generally much safer than something built in the 80s right? Well, the same goes for your lab equipment. A newer fume hood is going to be able to better eliminate exposure to dangerous chemicals and will handle your processes more efficiently, without question. If your fume hood is more than 10 years old, you need a new one. It's likely that that old one could be putting your employees at risk, and it's certainly costing your laboratory more money in energy than a newer model will.
The Sash is Broken
The first thing to go with fume hoods is the sash. That's because frequent use puts a lot of strain on the cables, pulleys, or sash glides, which causes them to break down more quickly. If your fume hood has seen better days and the sash is broken, it's probably cheaper in the long run to simply invest in a new one. The newer model will offer a better ROI and will cost you less over time than if you just replaced the old sash.
Your Lab Has Expanded
If your lab has expanded since you first purchased your existing fume hood, but you haven't added in more fume hoods, you'll want to consider upgrading. Additional procedures usually mean more chemicals, and often chemicals that your standard fume hood might not be equipped for. For example, if you've begun to use acids within your standard fume hood, you'll start to see etches in the sash, which makes it difficult for your employees to see. Acid can also cause build-up in the interior of the hood, which is unsafe for both you and your employees. If you've increased in either lab size or function, it's time for a new fume hood. Fume hoods exist, first and foremost, to keep your employees safe. If you don't have the proper model, you're putting them at risk.
You Need More Space
In the same vein of lab expansion, you might need a new fume hood if the old one has simply become too small for your processes. If you see employees completing procedures outside of the fume hood, or if it's a hassle to complete a large process in a small fume hood, it's time to upgrade. A bigger, more modern fume hood will increase productivity and simplify the process.
Your HVAC System is Maxed Out
A final consideration to make when upgrading to a new fume hood is how your air system is functioning. Traditional, older style fume hoods make use of ducts that essentially suck out chemical fumes and push them into the exhaust system. While these fume hoods work very well, they can put a lot of strain on the air supply to your lab, and also cause major temperature fluctuations.
One way to make your air supply consumption a little bit lighter on your lab is to consider new, ductless fume hoods. These are extremely efficient fume hood options that offer your lab a bit more flexibility. They can be placed anywhere within your lab, and since they're ductless, they don't have to hook up to your air supply or ventilation. If your mechanical system is older and you're worried about maxing it out, these types of fume hoods are excellent options. They offer significant savings in energy and supply air, and since they can be put anywhere, they also give you the option of more space.
Your fume hoods are one of the most important appliances in your laboratory. They keep your employees safe and they're necessary to complete a multitude of processes. If it's time for a new fume hood for your lab, or if you're not sure what your best upgrade options are, get in touch with the experts at Multi-Lab. We've been designing and installing laboratories for years and we'd love to help answer any questions you have. Give our office a call at 616-846-6990 or contact us online today!