Your lab is in charge of important valuables (e.g., vaccines, biological specimens, blood samples), and properly caring for the refrigeration units that house them can prevent costly mistakes. The following three tips can help your clinic save money, improve efficiency, and reduce sample contamination.
Know How Your Scientific Refrigerators Work
You understand the safety procedures down to the letter. But do you know how scientific refrigerators work? Understanding how scientific refrigerators produce cold air, even in the most general terms, can improve the way you operate, clean, and move your units. It can also help you find the source of a particular problem sooner, which could help you avoid costly replacement costs.
While scientific refrigerators do not house the same items as the ones located in your kitchen, they still operate in the same way. Refrigerators use a substance called refrigerant, which helps move heat around like evaporation. The refrigerant is made up of molecules that can change liquid or gas. This refrigerant goes through different small pipes and parts.
In the compressor, the refrigerant starts out as vapor. The molecules that make up the vapor in the compressor get compressed and squished together. This causes the vaper to turn into a hot, high pressure gas. The newly formed gas gets pushed through the condenser coil located on the back of the fridge.
When it moves up the small tube, the gas loses some heat. The heat inside the pipe enters the lab because the lab air is cooler than the hot gas.
The gas in the condenser coil tube loses so much heat that its molecules slow down, and it changes into a liquid. The liquid then flows into the valve, otherwise known as the throttle.
After traveling through the throttle, the cold liquid then travels through another tube and eventually ends up in the fridge’s evaporator coil. This makes the liquid the coldest thing in the fridge.
The cold liquid then absorbs as much heat as possible from the inside compartments because the liquid refrigerant is now colder than the inside of the fridge. The liquid evaporates when energy flows into the refrigerant. It then becomes a vapor, which goes back into the compressor and continues to complete the cycle repeatedly.
Properly Store Each Unit
If you don’t keep up with refrigerator maintenance, your samples may become contaminated. Your facility or laboratory could also face a non-compliance citation from the FDA. The important valuables in the refrigerator may also cost your organization money if damaged.
In order to ensure maximum functionality, your top-mounted refrigerator needs a minimum of four inches of space around it. But the more space, the better.
Regularly Clean Each Unit
It’s also important to clean the fridge’s interior.
You should clean the surface and wipe down handles a few times a day with bleach. If you are deep cleaning, remove the current contents of the refrigerator and place them in a different one. When you are cleaning the refrigerator (whether you are deep cleaning or otherwise), you will need to wear gloves, googles, and a lab coat. Different refrigerators contain different contents—some of which may be biohazardous—so it is especially important to take any necessary precautions that will insure your safety.
You will then want to wipe down all the surfaces within the refrigerator with an effective solution of baking soda and warm water. It is also critical you remove frost because it will harm temperature consistency, energy consumption, and more within the refrigerator.
You should also regularly clean filters. Daily cleaning can go a long way in preventing long term damages to your refrigerator.
Move Each Unit With the Utmost Care
Although a typical lab does not move its refrigeration units around all that often, you might find yourself doing so under certain circumstances. Your scientific refrigerators, although tough and durable, require more attention that you might think. Do not rush through the process—take your time. A broken unit is not a useful one, and you will have to either pay for maintenance or buy a replacement. Take the following steps to insure the exterior and interior remains safe.
You will want to give yourself enough time to complete a safe transportation. But before you move one lab refrigerator, you want to move its contents to another. Disconnect the power source, and make sure the new power source is working properly. You also want to make sure the equipment is directly connected to the building supply and.
If the until has a compressor mounted with boles and spring clips, make sure it is tightened before transportation. You will also want to remove the condensate vaporizer bracket because you could accidentally damage it during the move. If you need to tilt the fridge to get it through a door, do not use it right away. Let it sit vertically at the new location for 36–48 hours.
Once you have taken care of the prior steps, you will then want to vertically place the refrigerator on a standing dolly or handcart. You should always handle the mounted condenser with the utmost care because of the tin-gauge steel surrounding the unit. Once the refrigerator is at the desired location, turn it back on and wait for it to reach the correct temperature restoring the contents.
Refrigeration is incredibly important within the pharmaceutical, medical, and scientific industries. Refrigerators contain temperature-sensitive items, such as vaccines, blood plasma, biological specimens, and other significant samples and specimens—protecting these materials requires your attention. Before finding quality cold storage for your needs, it is good to understand how refrigeration works in the first place to avoid possible issues that could harm the important contents and cost your lab money. You also want to know where you should store each unit and the proper cleaning techniques. You want to follow the necessary steps to stay up to code. Refrigerators can also be sensitive to moving, so take the right steps that will help your refrigerator last.