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GC Troubleshooting—The Problem with Gas Leaks


Gas leaks are one of the most prevalent and troublesome problems when doing gas chromatography. They can negatively affect your chromatography in a number of ways, and we share some examples here. We also offer a few suggestions on when and how to leak check. 

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Hello, chromatographers, and welcome to another Restek Tip. Let’s talk about the importance of leak checking our gas chromatographic system. It’s advice that you’re given all the time – to leak check, and leak check, and leak check again. But why? Why are we given this advice all the time? Well, the fact of the matter is with a high-pressure instrument and numerous seals and connections throughout, leaks can always crop up in a GC instrument. So, we want to be checking for them on a regular basis. But then the question is, well, so what? What’s the big deal if I do have a leak? And the truth of the matter is it is a big deal. And in a few different ways.

First, if we have a leak, we’re disrupting our flow path. That can result in loss of sample, poor chromatography, or other issues. So, we certainly want to eliminate those in order to get the best chromatography possible. But there’s another problem as well. Leaks can allow materials to get introduced into the system as well, especially compounds like oxygen. Why is oxygen a big deal? Well, oxygen is a pretty effective column killer and can damage many gas chromatographic columns. So, we certainly want to have a leak-tight system to get the most lifetime out of our GC columns.

What do we do about all of this? Well, we leak check regularly. And ideally, we use an electronic leak detector. We want to avoid liquid leak detectors. Those liquid materials can get actually sucked into the instrument through those leaks and can contribute to contamination. So, that’s a little bit of why leak checking is so important. And again, the idea of making sure that we use an electronic leak detector regularly to look for those leaks throughout our instrument. Thanks very much for joining us for this Restek Tip.