Basic Maintenance Guide for Fume Extraction Systems
Metalworkers face serious health risks every time they clock into work. These hazards are something metal shops can’t avoid; they’re a natural part of cutting, folding, and welding metal pieces. But while a shop cannot completely eliminate these threats, it can take the steps critical to mitigating the danger and significantly improving staff member safety.
One of the most important steps a shop can take is to utilize fume extractor systems, filtration systems that vacuum out harmful gasses and particulate matter. Using these extractors is one thing, but long-term maintenance and ensuring they provide the necessary safety is another. Be aware of how to take care of your fume extractors and have a basic maintenance guide for fume extractor systems.
The Importance of Fume Extractors
To begin, a shop needs to understand the necessity of a fume extractor; it’s often the most critical piece of equipment preventing work-related injury and sickness. When staff members work with metals, such as cutting and welding pieces, that act can create chemical fumes or kick up small particulate matter. If a shop does not attempt to vacuum these substances, the gasses and particles will spread throughout the shop, but not before the employee working directly in front of the matter inhales something toxic.
Allowing these substances to spread throughout the shop will lower the quality of air, potentially harming other workers beyond those at the source of the contaminants. A fume extractor sucks up these substances, both gasses, and small metallic particles, and stores them in a safe location. Mobile welding fume extractors prevent the spread of hazardous materials and ensure that employees do not expose themselves to dangerous situations.
Maintenance To Keep in Mind
As mentioned, it’s not enough to purchase extractors; you need to maintain regular repair and maintenance schedules. If your shop neglects to take adequate care, these machines can quietly fail; they will not function as intended and allow the spread of hazardous materials under the illusion of safety. Be aware of what you and your employees need to do on a regular basis to guarantee your shop’s air quality does not take a sharp dive.
Clean Out the Dust Tray
When consulting a basic maintenance guide for fume extractor systems, arguably the most frequent service your shop needs to do is cleaning out the dust tray. Obviously, this is the compartment where your extractor stores the heavy particulate matter it sucks up, holding it in a safe place for you to dump at your convenience. A buildup of sediment is a constant issue you need to deal with, and ensuring your dust tray is free from this buildup is a daily job.
Letting the tray hold more debris than the design allows for can lead to drops in performance, lowering the efficiency of your extractor. Aside from decreasing effectiveness, an overflow in your dust tray can damage internal systems, causing wear and tear throughout your extractor. This will only lead to more mechanical issues, significantly affecting the reliability and safety of your equipment.
Inspect All Filters
Aside from your dust tray, you need to regularly inspect your filter for any excess buildup of debris. Your filters will absorb much of the smaller particulate matter that the dust tray can’t safely store, holding it until you clean out or replace your filter. But like your dust tray, your filter can clog with sediment.
Most larger fume extraction systems will have a pressure differential gauge to alter when the filter clogs with material. But this feature is absent from most smaller systems, meaning you’ll need to check on the filter yourself to catch any excess buildup. Letting your filters clog with sediment will stress the entire system, decreasing the strength of your extractor’s suction. Just like a clogged dust tray, an overwhelmed filter will not adequately vacuum fumes and dust, exposing employees to dangerous materials.
Have Clean Compressed Air
In order to clean your filters, most shops use compressed air to blow out the sediment buildup; however, you need to be aware of the cleanliness of the air you use. If you use dirty, oily, or wet compressed air, then it will negatively affect your filters.
Contaminating your filters with any type of liquid, causing it to become moist will drastically lower the effectiveness, thus endangering employees. Ensure the air you use to clean your filters is dry and clean; otherwise, you’ll only spoil your filters and make them worse for wear.
Broken Seals and Leaking Gaskets
Because of how fine the dust is and the nature of gasses, you need to ensure your extractor’s seals and gaskets are up to par and can contain all material. Worn-out seals will allow fine particulate matter to escape, nullifying the effects of the extractor. Broken seals and gaskets can also cause your extractor to use more power to do a less efficient job, compensating for the decrease in airflow efficiency.
This not only increases the danger to your staff members, but also puts a strain on the electrical system, as the machine needs to draw more power. Regularly inspect your equipment’s seals and gaskets to preempt any mechanical failings; letting your filtration system leak for too long can quietly affect your employees without them realizing the danger of their work.
Check on the Extractor’s Motor
The core of your extractor is the motor; if that fails, there won’t be any power to suction the dust and fumes. The motor’s job is to facilitate the vacuum effect, as well as cooling the system with the use of cooling holes. Any blockages to these cooling holes can result in the system overheating, leading to unnecessary wear and tear and breakdowns.
One of the most common symptoms of a clogged motor is noticeable vibrations and strange noises coming from the motor’s compartment. These signs indicate that there is some sort of blockage preventing the motor from functioning unimpeded. Be on the lookout for these signs; noticing them early and fixing them immediately will prevent more extensive damage.
Always Take Care of Your Extractor
Your fume extractor is one of the most effective pieces of equipment you’ll have to prevent your employees from inhaling hazardous materials. Know how to take care of the system and maintain a regular service routine to decrease the odds of staff members succumbing to preventable illnesses.