Purchasing a refurbished autoclave can be a smart investment — especially if you’re a fledgling laboratory or startup biotech company with limited funding. While going with a used autoclave may be less of an expenditure compared with a new purchase, selecting a refurbished autoclave should not be taken lightly.
For example, it’s important to ensure the autoclave has gone through the same strict safety testing and inspection protocols as a new sterilizer. In addition to safety, one should inquire about a variety of other factors as well.
This blog sums up the six most important questions to ask your vendor before purchasing a refurbished autoclave.
1. Is the vessel clean and free of pitting and corrosion?
Most autoclaves that come out of service are many years old and extremely dirty (i.e. have dried media on the chamber surface). When purchasing a refurbished autoclave, it’s critical that the chamber is cleaned and repolished to a high luster finish. Ask to see pictures and if the chamber is pitted in any way (small pits develop on stainless steel that has been corroded by chemicals, over time). If the chamber is pitted, DO NOTbuy this product.
2. Do you perform hydrostatic testing on your refurbished autoclaves?
Once repolished, make sure the chamber in your refurbished autoclave has gone through hydrostatic testing — a process that involves filling the chamber with water and pressurizing it to many times the normal operating pressure per the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) guidelines. Also known as a “hydro test”, this process is crucial to checking the integrity of the chamber welds.
Additionally, verify that the chamber has an ASME nameplate and national board number. Older chambers may not possess this nameplate and should not be “reused” in the field. In almost all jurisdictions within the USA, it is illegal to install an autoclave without proper ASME certifications and paperwork. Additionally, most insurance companies will require it.