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Important samples? In a hurry? Forgotten anything?

Avoid the walk of shame to tell the boss you need to repeat yesterdays GC analysis ...
because you forgot to check something really simple.


1.   Check your cylinders. Gas chromatography, not unsurprisingly, needs gas. If any cylinder pressure is low, there’s a risk the gas will run out during the run. Even if there’s sufficient gas, low pressure allows organic contamination in the cylinder to evaporate and enter the chromatogram.

If in doubt, change the cylinder, it’s just not worth the risk.
   
2.   Verify you’re using the correct carrier gas. Both at the cylinder and in the GC configuration.
   
3.   Check your inline filters. If they’re exhausted then change them. You might have got away with it until now, but you can guarantee they will cause problems on the run you really need to work.
   
4.   Change your septum. Don’t argue, just do it.

   
5.   Inspect your liner. If in doubt throw it out.
   
6.   Verify that the GC has been programmed with the correct column dimensions. This is essential to ensure the GC delivers the correct flowrate and split ratio.
   
7.  

Verify the correct flowrate, temperature, split ratio and other inlet information (e.g. gas saver time) have been correctly entered and that the displayed instrument readbacks (pressures, flows and temperatures) look right.

   
8.   Verify the column has been correctly cut, fitted and that there are no leaks. If in any doubt, take it out, replace the ferrules (if necessary), cut, measure and fully re-install it. Verify you are using the correct column.

You can watch our 5 minute video guide to GC Column installation below.
   
   
9.   Verify you are using the correct column.
   
10.   Double check all steps of the temperature program.
   
11.   Verify that all detector settings (temperatures, gas flows etc.) are correct and that instrument readbacks look right.

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The Flame Ionization Detector

   
12.   Double check that all sample and standard vials are in the correct position in the sampler tray.
   
13.   Verify the software sample queue matches the vials in the autosampler rack and that the runtime is correct.
   
14.   Verify the correct syringe and injection volume are set on the autosampler.
   
15.   Make sure you are using the correct and clean wash solvents on the autosampler.
   
16.   Run a test injection and verify it looks right.
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Use our last minute checklist to give yourself the best chance of a successful run.

It only takes a couple of minutes before you dash off home.


Colin Towers
(BSc.(Hons), MRSC, C.Chem, GPhc)
 

This article was written by Colin Towers.

After graduating with a degree in pharmacy, Colin went straight into private industry to work as an analytical chemist. He did several years of high throughput routine QC testing using primarily HPLC, with several further years as an instrument troubleshooting and maintenance specialist on a variety of instrumental analytical techniques. The next roles led to a further 11 years on the bench in contract analytical testing as a method development / validation specialist, primarily in LC-MS/MS, GC-MS, HPLC, GC, AAS and SPE on a huge variety of applications. This was supplemented by a 3 year lecturing contract teaching the analysis of controlled drugs and analytical toxicology as part of a forensics degree course, then 2.5 years working as a community pharmacist in the East End of Glasgow.

Colin joined Crawford 3.5 years ago to work as a technical specialist, trainer and consultant.

'Initially self taught in LC-MS I learned the hard way, so if there's a mistake to be made or something to break, I've probably done it in my early stages. Years of practical, hands-on experience in operating singles, traps, triples, Q-TOFs and currently an Orbitrap. Coming from a contract background it's been drummed into me from an early age that everything has to be done as practically, quickly, accurately, reliably and compliantly as possible.'


 

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